From To a Mouse by Robert Burns

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,                                                                                         
Often go astray
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,                                                 
An leave us nothing but grief and pain
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,                                                             
e’e = eye
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

My dear Companions and friends,

I’ve set aside the email I had already written to you. I hope that I will send it in the not too distant future. For now a few words about the ‘Emergency’ which is affecting everyone across the globe. A fortnight ago I had the rest of the year planned out – a trip to the Isle of Man to do a quiet day, to preach and even to broadcast; Holy Week in London; several trips to Walsingham; glory on the Mary Peter’s Track; General Chapter (which despite all my grumbling I actually enjoy) holidays in Belfast and even an auction. Much has been cancelled and everything else is provisionally.

To make matters worse I will not be able to see most of you for some time. Worst of all the religious practices which I have relied on almost all my 76 years are painfully curtailed. I know that we are all in the same boat and many of you are grieving, anxious, in discomfort and confused. I write to you to let you know that I love you. Every night I will light a Candle for the Companions and the CR family. I will also be praying for your special needs or worries.

Please remember who has called us. As he was in the boat with the frightened disciples so he is with us. As he walked to Calvary so we walk with him now. But remember that as he met with those on the road to Emmaus, and at the empty tomb, and by the lakeside so he is risen and with us always.

You may not be able to get to church; you may miss all that is familiar to you. Remember you are the Body of Christ, you are the sacramental sign of his presence in the world. We can be together in the Communion of Saints, in our prayers for each other so long as we look to Christ our brother and the source of our union.

I will light my candles about 9.15 as we go to say Compline. Could I suggest that either at that time or Evensong time you pray with the Community for the needs of the world? You might say an office or a section of one but even a short arrow prayer will help us to remain in touch with God and each other. And keep an eye on the Community Website – those who know how to do such things (and I am not one) are hoping to stream some services so that we might be more visibly present to each other.

“He hasn’t mentioned the auction at all!” True, for in view of all that we have to face the auction seems a bit trivial and like the rest of our programme 5th September must be provisional.

However, when things get back to normal the Community’s need for financial help to carry out its works and obligations will be greater than ever. We will have lost revenue from retreat house, b&b guests, the shop and the various events at the Centre. I had been planning on a modest result from this my final auction but now I think we should go all out for the best one yet. There are some good things from this time of Emergency. I have been able to get my room tidier than it has been and I’m about to begin on my office (but that might take a lot longer. I have been able to study a bit better and I have been able to give time to the auction. I have got the catalogue up-to-date, I’ve sorted and boxed items. I have even made up a couple of boxes from my film library – it’s heart breaking but I will never read them all and I have kept the most useful ones. I’ve also made up a box of annuals but not my best ones – no Tiger Tim or Billy Bunter. So if you find yourself confined and bored please go treasure hunting – let me know what you find and when they sound the ‘all clear’ we’ll be ready.

My love to you all, God bless you.

John CR