Friday, 29 October 2010

Before the darkness of an uncertain winter

Half-term week saw a visit to the glorious Westonbirt Arboretum, only about half an hour's drive from here, The trees were spectacular in the intermittent autumn sunshine, the leaves flaming away into the sky, the old year's tribute to the future, before the darkness and uncertainty of winter close in.

It will be an uncertain winter in all kinds of ways, perhaps meteorologically least of all. And in the crisis which envelops us, spare a prayer not just for the clergy (this has gone with the Anglo-Catholic territory for close on twenty years now) but for their wives, who find themselves caught up in a crisis not of their making, and liable to be facing uncertainty on all fronts and, potentially, economic hardship and considerable disruption to their lives. I sometimes think in the midst of the rhetoric on all sides, all the essential need to acknowledge the fact that a priest's vocation has to embrace the cross for the sake of the furtherance of the kingdom, we forget that the real emotional casualties of the years of constant attrition and desperate uncertainty are those who wish to do nothing but support their husbands' vocations through every eventuality. Establishment Anglicanism, for all its propaganda about a married priesthood, pastorally tends to treat its clergy wives very badly indeed (particularly, I have to say, those of the orthodox, who seem to be regarded by many as 'guilty by association.') There are real people involved in all this.

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