Revd. Margaret Kirk has been a Unitarian Minister for 16 years, providing pastoral oversight at the Whitby chapel for most of that time.
She was minister of St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel in York between 1998 and 2009 whilst providing pastoral oversight at Whitby and regularly takes services for congregations in the wider Yorkshire Unitarian Union.
She writes an occasional `Thought For the Week` for the Whitby Gazette. The most recent one is printed here:
Thought for the Week 7th October 2016
Autumn`s Mellow Fruitfulness
Last Sunday, we were celebrating Autumn and one of our regular visitors to the chapel brought with her John Keats poem To Autumn to read. The well known line - `seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness`, reminded me of how amazing it was that in his very short life Keats was able to write such a beautiful poem.
He wrote To Autumn in 1820. Two years before, in 1818, he`d been nursing his brother Tom who was dying from the family disease of tuberculosis; that same year he fell genuinely in love but discovered that nothing was going to come of it, and by 1820 he knew he too had the family disease. He died in Rome in February 1821 at the age of 25 years and four months.
There is something to be learnt from his example. There is so much of swelling beauty about this time of Autumn and Harvest; so much richness, so much warmth of colour, that even though we may not be poets, we might profitably spend time dwelling with it rather than being drawn into the commercial pressure of looking ahead to December. This is the time for quietness and reflection. It is truly a mellow time and also a melancholy one, as we know nature`s vibrancy will fade.
Spring and summer are busy times; we go places whilst there is more light; we make plans; we travel; we clean and paint, we take on new challenges, new skills but then Autumn sets a different tone. It requires us to slow down and live in the present, absorb the colour and a different quality of air; pause, feel and see the change as trees lose their leaves whilst branches are laden with berries �" yellow, black and red. The light has lost the brightness of Spring but gained that misty golden haze of Autumn.
Taking advantage of this season means allowing time for its richness to seep into us �" body and soul and let its bursting colours give us joy. Maybe this way we find some balance, some poise before the days darken. ,br> Two days after Keats composed To Autumn he wrote to a friend saying: `How beautiful the season is now..how fine the air….I never like stubble fields so much as now �" Aye, better than the chilly green of the Spring.`
Thought for the Week 13th May 2016
`Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.` That line comes from one of our nation`s favourite hymns: ` Morning has broken like the first morning.`
The sound of a blackbird singing is one of the most amazing and rapturous sounds we can hear at this time of the year. It heralds spring. As well as the blackbird`s song, another thing I love about this time is the green freshness of newly spreading leaves. Look really closely at these new leaves and you find they have a silky softness. Their special kind of greenness only lasts a few weeks before the darker, more mature green develops. This green is so fresh and bright whilst the leaves are still furled, and the fact that the fresh greenness only lasts for a short while is part of what makes Spring such a precious time of the year.
Philip Larkin in his poem Trees, imagines them, dead throughout winter, coming into leaf and proclaiming ` Begin afresh, afresh ,afresh`.
`Begin afresh` because the world of nature is so beautiful and so precious and we need to care for it; maybe too, begin afresh because we need to wake up and shift our perspective, use the urgency of Spring time to see things differently and try again where we have failed before; Begin afresh, because we have got stuck in ways of doing things that need to be understood differently.
Hildegard of Bingen writing in the 12th century in her native lush Bavaria, as famous as St. Hilda of Whitby, was also an abbess who wrote about the greening and blossoming of life. God was not about sin and redemption she declared. but about `the great and fiery force sparkling in everything that lives.` God was `where meadows glow, in unseen winds, in the mild moist air, in the exquisite greening of trees and grasses.`
There is no time so blessed with the outpouring richness of the natural world as Spring time. We do not need to be church goers to experience the sense of wonder and gratitude that we can feel in our hearts at this special time but perhaps we need poets and priests to awaken us to its beauty and help us to begin afresh. Email:
Mobile: 07946 487321