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Rector’s Letter May 2017

“My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.’”
(Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

To my mind this is one of the most joyous passages in the Old Testament, perhaps in the whole of the Bible. It is a celebration of the new life of spring and the hope and joy that this season brings. This celebration is set within a book, the Song of Solomon (or the Song of Songs), which can be read both as a wonderful celebration of human sexual love and also the love between God and the human soul. In the passage the lover invites his (or her) beloved to celebrate their love in the context of the new life of nature.

Spring begins rather tentatively in March, gets going in April, and really bursts into life in May. So it’s not surprising that May is associated with fertility, both human and in the world of nature around us. Quite possibly May customs such as dancing around the maypole had their origins in ancient fertility rites.

Many Christians keep May as a month particularly associated with Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Why should this be? In his poem The May Magnifcat, Gerard Manley Hopkins asks just this question:

“May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why….”

He goes on to speak of how, in her motherhood Mary is at one with all the mothering going on in nature in spring and how the joy seen in nature reminds her of how, as an expectant mother, she praised God in her Magnificat. Underlying this, I think is the notion that Mary’s fertility in bringing the Christ to birth can be compared to the fertility of nature in Spring.

So spring can be for us both a celebration of the new life of nature, a celebration of human sexuality and love, a celebration of Mary’s motherhood and spiritual fertility, and of course of God’s love for each one of us.

And of course, with all this going on, we continue to celebrate the new life of Easter, the new life offered to us by the risen Christ. Truly a month for rejoicing!

Fr. John

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