St James Ministry Team

A blog from the Ministry Team of St James Church, Colwall, Herefordshire, UK


The enduring melody

The January issue of The Clock (our parish magazine) often tends to be short of copy, so when Caroline rang me a day after the deadline to say that we didn't have a Dear Friends (the introductory letter) I decided that one had to be produced pronto. My mind was full of Michael Mayne's book The enduring melody at the time, so the article was all about not defining people by the illness they are suffering - we may be ill, but we are still part of the human race. It was against the "Does he take sugar?" syndrome.

Having composed the letter and sent it off, I started having second thoughts. For a start, it is not a particularly cheerful theme for the new year issue, but I also thought I was going too far into the separation of soul and body. In fact illness can dominate your life: a serious illness becomes part of you whether we like it or not. And in fighting illness, our spiritual nature has a great influence in the healing process. The body is not a machine and our spiritual life cannot be separated from our bodies. This of course raises all sorts of problems, like what happens to us when we die: there is a lot more on this in my web site, but I think that in practice many of the problems can be resolved by thinking about how and in what situations we are using words like the soul.

When we are talking about goals and purposes for life, we don't pay too much attention to the body - unless your goal is to be an Olympic athlete and that alone. But if you are talking to someone who is ill, you want them to use their spiritual resources to make them better. And if you are talking to someone looking after a sufferer from Alzheimer's then you have to recognise that the soul is ebbing away and that ultimately looking after them is like putting flowers on a grave - a mark of respect for a life that is no more. Sometimes we think of the soul as being separate from the body (that is, we are only thinking about the spiritual aspects of life) and sometimes we need to recognise that the soul is simply one aspect of the body.


The environment blog

Amid all the turmoil just lately, I have been busy setting up web sites for the village, including one for the Colwall Greener group. We won't let up on environmental activity in the church, but this is where the activity of the village will be centred, so I shall delete our own environmental blog, having transferred all the posts to the village one. The new blog is run using WordPress which means it is entirely hosted on the village web site itself and so you don't have to open a Google account to contribute.