title="Baldons Parish Council in Oxfordshire">

From Reverend Teresa Stewart-Sykes: Are we there yet?

No, I’m not talking about Brexit! I’m talking about journeys. What a journey my husband Jon and I have had so that I can take up the post of Team Vicar in the Dorchester Team! Jon has left a town that he has lived in all his life (Dorchester, Dorset by weird coincidence); we have just sent our last two children off to university and are experiencing an ‘empty nest’; and we are both embarking on new challenges in our working lives. Our physical journey to Dorchester has been challenging but very exciting!


November is a month that draws us all on an emotional journey too, a journey during which we remember those who no longer walk with us. All Souls on 2nd November is a date in the Christian calendar when we commemorate the faithful departed, giving thanks for their love, the joy of their memory and recall the Christian hope that we will be reunited with them in the Kingdom of God. November is also a time for remembering those who gave their lives to protect our democracy and freedoms; in the words of the epitaph written by John Maxwell Edmonds and inscribed on the war memorial at Kohima: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”


Are we there yet? Whatever journey we are on, whether it’s a physical, emotional or spiritual journey, I have been wondering if the destination is less important than how we get there? It might be particularly helpful to think about who we journey with especially if we are on an emotional journey or remembering and mourning a loved one. Are we travelling alone or with friends who are supportive? When times get tough, it’s good to have someone to lean on, someone who will put the kettle on and just listen. Maybe a challenge for us this November is to ask ourselves, can I be a friend like that? Can I help someone who is struggling through these dark months?


Are we there yet? My experience of journeying to live in the Dorchester Team has also made me reflect on the importance of how we travel. Sometimes it’s good to slow the pace of our lives in order to make room for what’s important. We often find ourselves frantically rushing from one activity to another in order to achieve our destination, but perhaps taking a more leisurely pace will enable us to look after ourselves, to de-stress and to be more available to enjoy the company of our family and friends? How often do we stop and remember God in the midst of our daily routines? Mindfulness and meditation are very ‘on trend’ these days, but the most mindful activity is prayer, especially a simple repeated prayer such as “Be still and know that I am God”. Try it and have a go this November, give yourself a bit a space and give God a window into your heart.


Are we there yet? I still feel that I have stuff to unpack from my recent journey, and very soon our children will be journeying home from university, bringing a whirlwind of noise and activity to the Vicarage! Whatever your journey is this November, look after yourself and look out for those around you who might be struggling; and know that God will be with you every step of the way.


Rev Teresa