St. Nicholas Church, Silton, Dorset

   St Nicholas Church
   Silton, Dorset
   SP8 5PR

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Dear Friends,

 Many of us have a special affection for our birth-month.    I was born in September 1942, so you will not be surprised when I tell you that I love September.  When this came up in a recent conversation, there was another person who was also a September baby – and she declared that she did not like September at all because it was marking the ending, the dying, of the year.  September and October marked the exhaustion of the year.  You will fully understand that I spoke out with a much more positive viewpoint of the autumn, and especially in favour of glorious September.

 I was born in one of the small houses on our family farm; a couple of fields distant from the rickyard where the men were feeding the sheaves from the corn-ricks that Grandfather had thatched into the threshing machine with clouds of dust that gave this harvest-scene an artistic soft-focus.  This memory is formed by the many subsequent threshing scenes in which I had to help as soon as I was old enough; my job, together with a cousin, was to wheel the sacks of newly-threshed grain round to the granary;  there each sack was winched up to the grain store, ready for the mill below.

 We had not received the small group of German P.O.W.'s at that stage in the War;  they came later and were a great help to Grandfather and his two sons – one of whom was my father.  They taught me to say 'Good day', 'Good morning' and 'Good bye', but you could hardly describe me as speaking fluent German by 1945 when I was but 3 years old!  I still have a hazy image of those men, far from their homes, in my mind's eye to this day.

 September reminds me of the beauty that comes with maturity. How right and good it is to give thanks to God for the harvest of the fields and orchards and gardens.  The maturing process is also found in the wisdom of the farmers and gardeners which they acquire year by year, through the Monty Dons of this world giving the benefit of their expertise.   All of us can benefit from different ways of doing things in order to have a successful growing season and a harvest worth the hard work that has been necessary.   It would be a poor year indeed if there were no improvements for which to give thanks in this time of harvest.

 I give thanks for the mature way in which Silton is facing the future in a time of change and new developments.  You only have to go round a traditional event like the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show to see new machinery and equipment on display; unusual breeds of animals large and small;  and it is a delight to see how traditional skills produce so many new variations on display in the craft tents.  It would be quite unfair to dismiss the show as the 'same old things year after year'.

 Yes, the year changes; and change may well be unwelcome to some; but not to me; I suppose it's being a September baby that I see the beauty of maturity in the autumnal countryside changing around us.   Changes may challenge us older (but hopefully wiser) folk, but the next generation of younger people seem more than capable to deal with and indeed look forward to those challenges.   The ages of some of the youngsters leading their prizewinning animals in the Grand Parade showed me that the future is safe in their young hands. God bless them.

 Let not September and October be signs of decay and despair, but rather let their beauty and fruitfulness cheer your hearts and enable you to put your trust in God who is the source of all life and growth, and will see us through every challenge and change.


God bless you.                                                                                      Bede Cooper

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