Minister's letter

A message for the summer


from Jo Strange




As many of you are aware, behind the Rectory in Winterbourne there are several fields.  I have to be totally honest and admit that since moving here in September nearly 4 years ago, I have not really taken much notice of these fields.  That was until the Lockdown!!  As a regular swimmer (not a good one but somebody who feels the physical and mental benefits of early morning exercise) I suddenly felt bereft of my opportunity to swim and decided to try walking as a ‘lockdown replacement’ and hence the start of an incredible journey with God!





As one of many people who has an underlying health issue and therefore the need for extra care, the field behind our house at 5.30am seemed to be the safest place for me to start this new exercise regime. 


In the first couple of weeks I felt very restricted – I can remember saying (or more like ‘moaning’) to Malcolm that the 2 fields felt a bit like a prison exercise ground and to be totally honest I felt very sorry for myself, trapped and quite lonely.  These feelings were expressed to God regularly as I tramped around the fields – Him hearing my moans and groans day after day!!  I am so grateful He is a patient God!


However, as God so often does – an amazing transformation has happened over the weeks.  From feeling like a prison exercise ground, with no freedom, the two fields have evolved into a very very special place to me.  A ‘thin space’ – a place where one’s closeness to God is almost tangible!  Of course, they have provided the space for me to continue to exercise and thus stay fit but so much more than that.  During my daily walk I have been more and more aware of God’s presence with me and His love for me.  Over the 4 months I have had the intense joy of watching God’s beautiful world blossom from early spring into summer – beautiful grasses (I never realised how many there are), wild flowers in abundance, trees moving from those first signs of life into a beautiful green canopy and of course the amazing bird song.  In addition, I have regularly been joined on my walks by deer.  As I have been submerged into nature I have been totally overwhelmed both by the beauty of God’s creation and the amazing complexity and interdependence of it.




It has also been a time of God challenging me – on one particular morning I clearly heard God suggest to me that it was time I forgave someone from my past who had hurt a person very dear to me.


During this time I have carried the same fears that many of us have about the virus, fears about our loved ones, fears about what the future may look like but I have felt the freedom to express these to God which has been incredibly liberating. 


I know I am not alone in having found this a fearful, difficult time but just like my experience above God walks with us, He understands all our feelings, He feels them with us and He will not forsake or leave us.  That is true for that moaning walker mentioned at the start of this and it is true for each of us!! 



It reminds me of that amazing passage in Romans 8:


‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ – and I feel at this time we should add Covid 19 to those things which CANNOT separate us from God’s love.  


I am determined as we move into the ‘new normal’ to continue to value and love my God given ‘thin space’ behind the rectory and not let the busyness of life mean it is neglected.  We all need to find that quiet space to allow God to remind us that He does indeed walk with us every step of the way – whether we are aware of his presence or not and that indeed is something to be thankful for!!!




Blessings, Jo

Jo Strange,

Licensed Lay Minister

Fromeside Benefice