Those of you who wander down Rectory Lane on a regular basis may have noticed changes to the front of my garden. Basically there is, marginally, less ivy than there was, fewer brambles and a large gap in front of the Lads’ Club. The gap used to be filled with brambles, ivy and dead trees, now all safely burnt. What will go into the gap eventually has yet to be decided; for now, the gap gives me, not just an uninterrupted view of the Lads’ Club, but also a clearer view into the field beyond and what for me is one of the quintessential views of Saltwood. When I am long retired and sitting in whatever Care Home I end up in, I will think back fondly to the spring lambs playing in the field on Rectory Lane. The lambs in the field, with the church beyond is an image that sums up Saltwood for me. It is a popular vision for many. One of my colleagues in the Diocese who is heavily involved in rural matters uses, as her default thankyou card, Kay Hygate’s picture of our church with lambs in the foreground. She thinks this card just sums up what an English country church should be. (If you haven’t seen the card yet, it is available, at a very reasonable price, in church). We are rightly proud of our church and how it looks and how it is maintained. I have become rather blasé about being complimented wherever I go in the county about our churchyard. But of course it looks wonderful only because of the dedicated team who work to make it so. When people hear that I come from Saltwood and comment that it must be wonderful to live there they are really commenting, not on the views or the location but on the people who make up our community. A church isn’t really a building; it is a group of people who gather to worship God, and a village isn’t a collection of houses in a nice location; it is a community living and working together for the good
of all. We are so fortunate in Saltwood; as well as our excellent Care Homes we have Brockhill Performing Arts Academy, St Augustine’s and Saltwood Schools, The Castle Hotel and Saltwood Club, Champion and Co, the General Stores, the Lads’ Club and the Village Hall, Saltwood Cricket Club and now a wonderful new café. I hope you have all managed to get into Bertie’s by now; if not get along as soon as you can. Clare and David and their family will make
you very welcome, and the food is excellent! And I like to think that we also have a rather nice, welcoming church.
Our life in this lovely place is all about people and our relationships with each other. In this Easter season when we rejoice that God’s Son not only died for each of us but that he rose from the dead and opened for us the gates of glory, we can do no less than to love and care for each other, as God has loved and cared for us. One of the images of the Risen Christ is of a lamb, so as you watch the lambs in the fields over the next weeks, give thanks that we live in
a wonderful place and think about how you can make it even better.