Monday, 9 May 2011

The vicar of The Parish

I refer to our mooring as "The Parish". This is to preserve our privacy, security and generally to help smudge our exact location on the map of North Cambridge. (This may seem a tad paranoid to you, but there are some internet savvy thorough-going nutters out there.....).

Anyway, I must forestall further digression by returning to our titular priest.

We have a vicar.

Her name is Pam, and she is the vicar of Waterbeach and Landbeach.

Though she and her lovely husband Trevor live in a house, they also own a beautiful boat called "Sunflower", which moors a mile or so downstream of us.

Like her owners, "Sunflower" is a bit special. She's got an electric motor, some serious traction batteries, a massive solar array, and a back-up genny that kicks in on a long cruise if the amps in the traction bank drop too low.

(Yes, I have introduced them to The Ducks: James was with child to see the inside of the engine room.....)

Now, one normally takes tea with vicars.

However, normalcy aboard Pippin is somewhat different to the rest of the world.

We take Prosecco with the vicar, and I'm very happy to say she and Trevor take Prosecco with us!

We were quietly gettin stuck in to a bottle aboard "Sunflower" the Sunday before last, when Pam mentioned a letter Archbishop Rowan had written in reply to a six year old girl who had sent him a letter demanding 'God: the answers......'

I reproduce it here with some some trepidation: this is not, after all, a 'preachy' blog. I would also like to make it clear that I respect all faiths and no faith: but this letter is pretty much where I lay my spiritual hat.

Here it is:

"There’s a charming article in today’s Times by Alex Renton, a non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?” The Rentons were taken aback: “We had no idea that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God,” says her father. He could have told Lulu that, in his opinion, there was no God; or he could have pretended that he was a believer. He chose to do neither, instead emailing her letter to the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace” – and this was the response:

Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers.

It’s a difficult one!

But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu

Nobody invented me, but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised.

They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from.

They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible.

From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.

I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf.

Lots of love from me too.

Archbishop Rowan


  1. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant on its own but even better framed by your flowing way with the English. My heart and eyes are overflowing, and I have a lot to ponder on my evening walk; with gratitude from the AFC.

  2. For accuracy sake: sorry John, I'm not Vicar of Waterbeach and Landbeach, that's Lucy! I'm an associate priest.