February is a month of transitions and also of journeying.
In terms of the seasons, we are emerging from a surprisingly mild winter (the daffodils by my front door were in bud in December!) and we are looking towards the coming of Spring. The mornings are getting lighter (I’m not in the dark any more getting up for my Uckfield F.M. “Thought for the Day”, which is a relief!) and there is a sense of renewal.
In the Church year, at Candlemas, which we will celebrate this year on Sunday 3rd February, we cast a last look backwards at the Christmas Crib, and also a first look forwards towards the journey of the Cross in Lent and Easter. Mercifully this year Ash Wednesday on March 6th doesn’t crash in for a while (Easter Sunday this year is on the 21st April – almost as late as it can be), so we have a little space to take stock, not just of the life of our Church communities, but of our own life journeys as individuals.
To help us, can I suggest a little book Bishop Martin has written for us - “A Way of Living”? It is a little guide through the seasons, and aims to help develop our personal Rule of Life in the context of the journey each of us undertakes. In some ways it follows on from the Ignatian Spirituality Course a number of people used last year. Bishop Martin has written it as part of the “Year of Vocations” initiative which all the churches in Chichester are undertaking in 2019, and is offering it to us as our Father in God, as the lead Pastor of our Diocese.
There are a few copies at the back of each of our churches: I can get more if we run out!
Enjoy February: may it be a blessed part of the Pilgrimage we all take together this year!
Love, Fr. John
I would like to focus on tortoises this month. These animals are in a group of reptiles called Chelonians that also includes turtles and terrapins. Tortoises have existed since before the dinosaurs, that is, they appeared on the earth about 220 million years ago.
There are at least 3 species of Mediterranean tortoise, and during the 1950s and 1960s many of these animals were collected and brought to England in large numbers then sold in pet shops. Thankfully, this practice is now illegal. However, many tortoises remained stranded on our north Atlantic island which is warm enough for them to survive but too cold for them to breed, so their gene line is destined to die out. All we can do is take good care of them and try to give them a good life.
Thankfully, there are organisations in the Mediterranean region that are helping the wild populations to recover. Also, some British owners are incubating eggs laid by their tortoises in incubators and hatching them out in captivity, but it is a labour-intensive practice and takes a great deal of time and care. The young tortoises have to be kept under electric lamps for many years.
Tortoises hibernate from about October to April. They naturally and instinctively bury themselves in the ground, which generally remains warmer than the winter air. It is generally believed now that allowing them to do this naturally, rather than packing them away in a hay-box is better for the tortoise. The tortoises heart-beat slows-down and they enter a state of torpor. However, if it gets very cold, they can dig themselves in deeper if necessary. Then, when the sun begins to warm the ground during March/April the tortoises gradually heave themselves out of the soil and find a place to sunbathe which warms up their bodies allowing them to search out food and water.
Tortoises eat a range of herbs including dandelions, sow thistles, wild lettuce and grasses. They will also feed on the occasional dead animal as a protein supplement. They do live a very long time, and it is not unusual for tortoises to live well beyond 100 years.
All the bells were purchased from the Whitechapel foundry of William Mears and bear the company’s name, the date 1779, and inscriptions.
Church Clock Restored – 10th November 2011.
|4th Jul 2011||
Five months after the Clock was removed (on the 4th July 2011) for cleaning and overhauling, the mechanism was reinstated, and together with the repainted, and re-gilded, clock faces the town has its landmark timepiece back in action.
|12th Nov 2011|
The clock was made in 1883 and although on the clock’s ‘setting dial’ it bears the name of a local man and the word Uckfield, it was, in fact, made by Thwaites and Reed of Clerkenwell in London. It is typical of their design at that time and very similar to their clock in the Knightsbridge Barracks in London. The clock features dials that are unusually placed, being on the out-built mountings on the four sides of the spire. Likewise the clock itself is also unusually mounted because it is above the bell-frame in the belfry and on a level with the base of the spire.