It is about this time of year that the advertisements for peat briquettes begin. Summer evenings turn chilly, golden fields of wheat prepare to yield their harvest, orchards begin to drop apples and hedgegrows glisten with ripe blackberries. Autumn in all its splendour is upon us. Some look back to summer and lament the loss of length of day and the warm breeze, others look ahead to winter and shiver at the thought of dark and wet days shortening. To do either might be to miss the gory of autumn, a season of harvest. Spring was for the sowing, summer for the growing, and now its time for the gathering and the giving thanks.
The cycle of seasons is the clock around which ACCORD planned the celebrations of many faces of marriage. A Spring Sunday in February harnessed the romantic possibilities of St. Valentine’s Day and offered prayer and support for the young love of those preparing for marriage. A Lenten celebration called us to the reconciliation that heals ruptured relationships, and Trinity Sunday in summer’s glory, was an occasion of celebration for Family Life and all that is held together in the bond of Marriage.
Now we prepare for the fourth and last celebration and the spirit is once again the recognition of God’s grace in our lives of spouses and the children born of their married love. The fourth celebration is entitled Remembering with Thanks. The invitation to parish communities is to focus on the presence among us of tow special groups those who are celebrating milestone anniversaries after 25,30,40,50 or more years together, and those who are widowed.
Thinking first of the special anniversary, how often over the years have we seen the photograph on the mantle showing the generations of a family. White-haired parents sitting shyly in the middle of their offspring, who are standing shoulder to shoulder with their spouses and with one eye to their own children squatting on the ground before them. This is all an expression of pride in and for Mum and Dad on this special day. Grandparents, children, spouses, boy friends, girl friends, grandchildren, cousins – the whole mix of people who are a family because of the commitment and love expressed in a wedding ceremony all those years ago. This family has their place among all the families of the parish as their special day has a witness value to all who are married, aspire to marry or live without their spouse.
The second group are those who have experienced the joy of married life and the pain of death. They are young and old, some have lost their partner after sudden illness, accident, advancing years, suicide or other circumstances. Some have had their family reared others must provide for themselves and their your family. All of those who are widowed are unique in our community for faith and all are deserving of a moment when their loss is recognised and their contribution to family and community cherished, and autumn seems like the right moment. The children of a widowed parent often make great effort to provide for their well being and exercise a ministry of care and compassion.
From the prayer of Remembrance
“Standing before the map, seeing the point that we are at,
We pray for the grace
To accept the different stages in our marriage;
To be able to look back with gratitude
And to look forward with anticipation
And around in awareness,
Confident that God’s grace is in this very moment
If we but had the clarity of vision to see it”.
From the payer of the Widowed.
“We pray today for all who are widowed among us,
who live in this tender and delicate state,
bearing the pain of absence and silence,
carrying a loss that is irreplaceable,
no matter what kind words we speak.
May boundless Compassion be with all who are widowed,
May they sense the touch of infinite Compassion”.