Saturday 30th May 2020

Dear Gwen,

Well your last letter has caused quite a flap, at least in the garden!  The butterflies are up in arms or in their case up in wings.  Apparently, though my grasp of speaking Lepidopteran is very limited, they have taken issue over your implied assumption that their attention span is somewhat on the lower end of the spectrum.  However their main concern is the parallel being drawn to us humans at all.  This makes the Red Admirals, Cabbage Whites and every colour or pattern in between somewhat uncomfortable.  Thankfully I see just a hint of colour coming in the emerging buddleia flowers, so all being well this will cheer up our six-legged friends.


Thinking of the buddleia, we’ve had a cultivar, and I believe I remember the name correctly, called ‘Black Knight’.  Its flowers are a really deep purple.  I was going to write ‘colour’, but thought I’d take a chance you knew I wasn’t talking about the heavy metal group bearing the same name!  The buddleia is quite a resilient and opportunistic plant it seems to me, grabbing a hold on any crack or gap in a wall or hedge to establish seedlings.  As for the exquisite smell of their raspberry perfume, well I wish all the butterflies and other insects happy feeding!  Another deep purple that is nearly in bloom in the garden is the stink lily we have.  This is quite a contradiction with the most outrageously large blooms, but with the smell of rotten meat!  I assume it’s all to do with the insects they are trying to attract.  Horses for courses and perfume for pollinators I guess applies.


Apologies if my use of Ecclesiastes put that song into your head.  Unless of course you are a fan of that particular song and therefore this may be a good connection to be reminded of.  My goodness, you have to be so careful with what you say and write with all these sensitive butterflies around!  We’ve written before on Bible versions, but your comment on my use of ‘contentment’ and the distinction between contentment and happiness made me think of the Good News Bible’s use of the word ‘happy’ instead of ‘blessed’.  The beatitudes of Matthew 5 bring it out particularly strongly.  In my mind being blessed goes far deeper than feelings of happiness.  I do value and appreciate the Good News Bible, not least for the simple and effective line drawings some editions have.  But as I think of being happy, I am happy when I have a Jelberts, Kelly’s, Roskilly’s, Callestick Mauds, Morelli’s, Tickety Moo or Mackie’s ice cream (insert your ice cream of choice), depending where you are in Cornwall or the UK.  However for me this state of being happy is quite different from the blessing experienced, for instance, in comfort received during mourning.  Contentment is a precious thing and what a privilege to be able to help one another in our progress along this road (less travelled by).  I think we’ve both known those who are content in themselves and the world around them.  Like the apostle Paul, we can still strive to reach his ideal of contentment ‘For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.’


I don’t think I’ve seen the ‘Lost for Words’ screenplay you mentioned.  It must have been good, with such great actors in it.  It made me think of one of the old ‘Play for Today’ type dramas from years ago, which starred Fulton Mackay and Norman Wisdom as patients on a cancer ward.  Like you, I would need to view it again to appreciate what it all meant.  One of the things that struck me was that this was the first serious role I had seen Norman Wisdom in.  I remember him making Her Majesty the Queen smile as he walked up to be knighted and did his well-known trip on the carpet.


It’s the simple things that can have the greatest impact.  Although not scientifically proven in our house it is almost invariably the case that the film labelled ‘hilarious comedy, filled with laugh out loud moments, five stars’ is one to be avoided.  Unless, of course, you want to use up two or more irreplaceable hours of life in watching the movie, in the hope that your sense of humour would emerge (butterfly-like?) to match the glowing reviews.  Yet I suppose it’s good we are all different otherwise one book, one film, one song, one piece of music, one work of art, one flavour of ice cream would do us.  And what a dull world it would be then.


You make some good observations with regard to listening, watching and the times to be silent.  I will try to find the poem you mention.  Your appreciation of the Holy Spirit as a gentle breeze reminds me of Elijah on Mount Horeb and being spoken to by almighty God.  As God passed by it turned out that it wasn’t in the powerful wind, earthquake and fire that God was heard, but rather in the sound of a low whisper.  In this consumer age all too often we, the church included, want to be entertained and all our senses challenged.  Elijah had dramatic experiences aplenty, but when on his own and removed from all other influences he hears God as a whisper.  I believe it is significant, perhaps especially so now, that God says, ‘be still, and know that I am God’.  It is a great comfort at Pentecost and amid pandemics that our loving God enables us to meet with Him, even when we cannot meet with each other.


With love in Christ,


Truro Methodist Circuit, Cornwall    |   01872 262907