A friend has just emailed me to remind me that today is the “Glorious 12th”, the start of the grouse shooting season. A day that is no doubt glorious for the shooters and those whose livelihoods depend on shooting, perhaps less so for the grouse, although, like most game birds, they are reared specifically to be shot. More generally.mid-August for me at least is a time I still associate with annual family holidays; a week away at the seaside, hoping the weather would be dry, the car loaded with enough baggage to keep an army in the field for a month. It is also the time which I associate with the work of harvest going into overdrive and it is noticeable how our local farmers have taken advantage of marginally drier weather to get busy with the combines; clouds of dust rising from fields, with tractros working late into the evening. No holiday for some in the coming weeks.
Our lives are built around rhythms, still largely determined by the cycles of nature. In rural parishes we are probably more aware of these than city-dwellers and I am grateful for the patterns they impose on our lives. They help remind us that we are but parts of something larger; the seasons will come and go long after we are gone and were celebrated by our answers before we were born. The Christian Church has inherited a pattern of seasonal worship that has roots deep in the Hebrew Bible, to a time when the regularity of seasons of sun and rain were really a matter of life and death and these were used to remind people of their dependence on God. Today, the changing seasons still help us to connect with that which is beyond us and to help us meet our spiritual needs.