Martin's Blog - July 2017

Squirrels and Ground Elder 
We have an abundance of grey squirrels in the vicarage garden. A few years ago the diocese ordered a cull but they are now back with a vengeance. They have chewed several large holes in the wooden fascia underneath the guttering of the old garage building so they can continue nesting in the roof. We are waiting for repairs to be carried out for about the third time since we arrived seventeen years ago.
I thought we had squirrel proofed our bird feeder. We have a  large squirrel baffle which prevents them climbing up from the ground. Occasionally I oil the upright as well so they slide down gracefully with a bemused look on their faces. This week I was stunned to find one had wrapped itself around the bird feeders and was helping itself. I shooed it away then watched to see how it managed it. Up the tree it went, all the way along a slender branch (which had of course grown since last year), then it launched itself through the air to land on the nuts!
Out came the loppers, down came all possible branch launching pads and we have defied them again...for the time being.
Ground elder, though, has won hands down. Sue has spent hundreds of hours over the years digging it up all around the garden but it remains entrenched and always will. Some things you can’t change however hard you try and you have to live with them as best you can.
Living Stones
One of my favourite occupations here has been to slip into church on my own and spend time quietly absorbing the peace in the building, a space which has been prayed in for nearly 170 years. I look at the stones and imagine that each one represents a person who has been part of the congregation during that time. Whether alive or dead each one is still held in God’s love and care. Now Sue and I are soon to take our place amongst those absent ‘living stones’.
St Peter, in his first letter (Chapter 2 verses 4- 5) urges us to come to Jesus, a living stone and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is a lifelong process and we have to trust each other to God knowing that where ever we are, whatever happens to us, we are always under his watching, loving eye.
One totally unexpected happening in June was to receive a letter from Archbishop Sentamu inviting me to become an Honorary Canon of York Minster. The Admission and Collation took place at Bishopthorpe Palace on June 13th. A very short lived canonry but an incredibly kind gesture by the archbishop. So for the remainder of my time here I will be CANON BAL dock again. As Zoe said, this is good news for those friends who still write to me as Rev Canon from my time as an Hon Canon of Sheffield Cathedral in the 1990’s.
Who got the banana?
So to say goodbye...

At the very end of a long and beautiful book about India by Vikram Seth, entitled A Suitable Boy, one of the main characters is on a  train that is drawing out of a station. She watches an old monkey slowly and painfully making its way towards a banana which someone had thrown from the train. Then she spotted a young nimble monkey racing towards the banana from the far end of the platform. The train gathered speed and she never discovered which monkey reached the banana first.
But God knows.

And he holds all our beginnings and endings and the times in between in his care.
Go well and go with God.