I don’t know about you, but our day-to-day life at Letton Hall is quite significantly affected by the changing seasons. Although our efforts at horticulture are modest, we find ourselves thinking about winter planting as the summer flowers begin to die away and look fondly at the mower, wondering how many more cuts we will have to do this year and whether we’ll have a dry enough day to get on to the grass! With rain forecast, our thoughts turn to the many maintenance tasks inside the buildings, that have been neglected as we were more active outside during the summer months. The season is changing.
Many of us are familiar with the changing seasons as a perennial metaphor for life. Perhaps the most famous Bible passage to develop this metaphor is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ‘A Time for Everything’. Surely there is a wisdom in knowing and accepting the times and seasons we pass through?
This morning, in our staff prayer time, we looked at the account in Luke 4:1-13 of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. Again, the image of the desert as a metaphor for dry and testing times in our lives is a familiar one, yet not to be seen as an entirely negative experience. St. John of the Cross and other mystics have helped us to see that such dark nights, or desert times can be valuable seasons to help us in our journey towards understanding our union with God.
As we looked at the passage, we noticed that in the first verse, where some translations tell us that Jesus was ‘led by the Spirit into the desert’ several others show us that a better translation is ‘in the desert’, with footnotes suggesting that Jesus was ‘led under the Spirit’s influence’, or as one translation has it ‘Jesus was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness (desert)’. The thought here is that Jesus was not abandoned into his time of testing, but accompanied and guided in it by the Holy Spirit. He was able to grapple with the tough questions and temptations as he drew on the encouragement of the Spirit’s presence. When, despite his physical hunger, he quoted the scripture ‘man does not live by bread alone’, he was living out that reality, there and then!
How would it change our experience of dry or arid seasons in our lives if, by faith, we could see that we are not abandoned into them, but are led in and through them? That these difficult seasons, far from being negative and pointless, are in fact ones that God can use to help us grow in our knowledge of Him and fellowship with Him?
So, we have a new website – and it’s looking good (well, we think so!) There is, however, one small problem…
No-one likes a static, uninteresting website! To be really effective (they say) a website needs to be constantly updated with fresh content, like videos and blogs. Never let it get out of date! Keep it fresh! Connect it up to social media!
The trouble is, for those of us with responsibility for this website this is unknown territory and there is a whole new world to explore and skills to learn. But learn we will! So this is by way of an experiment, a test, if not a trial… Can we succeed in posting one new blog on the live site (the others were written as the site was being put together) and even get some response to it?
So, help us out. Take a look at the new website, browse the blog posts and maybe be kind enough to encourage us with a reply? Who knows, we might even post some more!
Each week at Letton Hall we enjoy seeing our many guests and visitors but Letton teems with life, even when they are not here! Our neighbours fields are home to flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, but one of the great privileges for the team members who live on site is the variety of wildlife that surrounds us, especially in the summer months.
Letton Hall have just recovered a Food hygiene rating of 5 (the highest possible) which represents a great achievement by our team.
For over a year now, we have been working away at repairing and refurbishing the many sash windows at Letton Hall. It is slow and painstaking work and costly too, but the status of the Hall as a Grade 2* listed building makes it essential for us to do the work with care and attention to detail. Many, if not most of the windows were put in when Sir John Soane built the house! So, we are required to use the right materials, including beautiful new oak for sills and rails, the correct type of glass and special preservatives and paint that will protect the windows in the future. We can’t just replace everything with plastic, sealed unit double glazing and, to be honest, that would look terrible!
During their stay, most of our visitors to Letton Hall are very focussed on their own activity or event and rightly so. The buildings and grounds, whilst they are much loved and appreciated, are perhaps not the most important thing to them. Time together, growing and learning, Christian fellowship, fun, laughter and good food – all of these help to make up the Letton experience, and the place itself offers a lovely setting for these.