Gardens - Planting - and God.
We’ve recently had College Hall, in the Cathedral Cloisters, re-decorated. Many of you have been there and, through a series of Deanery evenings, over the years, have enjoyed cathedral suppers provided by the Friends, often with the Dean playing ‘Songs from the Shows’ as ‘music while you eat’. These have proved ideal occasions for Deaneries to come together - to worship together - to eat together - to enjoy fellowship together.
The hall - remodelled in 1753 as a venue for the Three Choirs Festival - now looks splendid, with its ‘blazer red’ walls. One of the features of the hall is an extraordinary plaque, placed in the hall on a previous restoration in the 1670s. The plaque shows a garden, with plants growing, and from a cloud above emerges a hand (God’s hand?), holding a watering can and watering the plants. Around the edge of the plaque is a Latin inscription:
Hortulanus rigat - Dat fructum Deus - The gardener plants, but God gives the growth.
It’s a lovely image of our co-operation with God, I always think. Yes, we acknowledge our dependence on God for so much in life - yet we also acknowledge that we need to be ready partners with him - ready to listen, to reach out, to hear His voice - ready to sow seeds, in anticipation of a rich Harvest. We need that spirit of partnership.
In so many ways, this is what we are doing as a diocese now. We’re listening to God’s voice - we’re responding to what we believe is His will for us - we’re sowing seeds, confident that, however small we believe our contribution to be, by placing these hopes and aspirations in God’s hands, we will, with Him, expect a rich Harvest.
But we need to be equipped for this partnership. That’s why it’s so important for us, as a diocese, to be part of this month’s events to ‘Inspire’ us to this partnership. I’m sure you’ve all got the dates in your diaries: Monday 14 November 6.30 - 9.30pm Craven Arms Community Centre, Thursday 24 November 6.30 - 9.30 Hereford Cathedral.
These will be ideal opportunities for us to gather and to be inspired with new ideas to further that spirit of partnership with God, and we look forward to meeting one another at one of these events.
The College Hall plaque is about looking back and looking forward. It’s a fascinating historical survival and takes us back to an earlier age in the life of the cathedral but it also has a message which is for now and for the future - about confidence and faith in God’s love and care. I reckon that’s a rather good image for what we’re about as a diocese, or in those marvellous words of that great peace-maker of the 20th century, Dag Hammarskjold:
For all that has been - Thanks!
For all that shall be - Yes!
A view from the Dean of Hereford