Rev Danny Crosby

From the Minister

New College Oxford was founded in the 14th century. At its heart lies a dining hall that features expensive oak beams across its ceiling. Now these great beams had lasted about 500 years, but during the late nineteenth century an entomologist discovered that they had become infested with beetles and needed replacing. This was a big problem for the college for such beams, of sufficient size and quality, would be hard to find and expensive. One of the college’s junior fellows suggested that there might be some worthy oaks within the college lands. The college had, when it was formed, been endowned with land scattered around England and run by the college forester. The forester was called in and asked if there were any such oaks on the college lands. He paused for a moment and then a reassuring expression appeared on his face and he said “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.” It seems that when the College had been founded a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. It seems that this plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for over five hundred years. Each forester was told that “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.” So it would appear that the founders of New College Oxford were not just obsessed with themselves and their time and place. They thought of their legacy, of the generations that followed. PAUSE This story, whether true or apocryphal, has become a foundational tale of those who advocate for the “Long Now Moment”, which has developed in response to the fast paced instant society that we live in today, one that does not really think of the future and has a kind of disrespect of the past. The innovative musician, producer and composer Brian Eno is one of the key proponents of the “Long Now Moment”, he became interested in long now living after moving to New York. He was shocked at how instant and insular the people living there were. It was almost as if nothing existed outside of the moment folk were living in or the widows of the buildings they were enclosed within. He has said that: “"Now" is never just a moment. The Long Now is the recognition that the precise moment you're in grows out of the past and is a seed for the future. The longer your sense of Now, the more past and future it includes. It's ironic that, at a time when humankind is at a peak of its technical powers, able to create huge global changes that will echo down the centuries, most of our social systems seem geared to increasingly short nows. Huge industries feel pressure to plan for the bottom line and the next shareholders meeting. Politicians feel forced to perform for the next election or opinion poll. The media attract bigger audiences by spurring instant and heated reactions to human interest stories while overlooking longer-term issues - the real human interest…” As we step further into 2019 let’s not just passively live in the short now, thinking only of ourselves and how we feel this moment. Let us extend our compassion beyond the confines of our little ego-centric worlds. Let’s think beyond the skin and walls we live in and develop compassion not only for those who live today but for the generations that are yet to come. Let us instead begin to live in the “Long Now Moment” and expand our empathy and bring the moment that we live in fully alive, remembering all that came before and to build a legacy for those who follow, so that our lives will prove worth dying for by the legacies of love that we leave behind. Love and respect Rev Danny Dates Wednesday 20th February “Our Common Search from Meaning” spiritual and philosophical