I seem to have spent quite a lot of time over the last two weeks in and around tents and marquees.
Here at Bishopscourt, there has been a marquee in the garden and it has been wonderful hosting people for garden parties amid sunshine and rain: clergy and lay leaders, people from charities and organisations, children and adults – and all of it I hope has been about welcome, being present together and perhaps having a couple of hours of different rhythm.
Then, in recent days, the tents and marquees have been erected outside the Cathedral for the Three Choirs Festival. Again, whether in pouring rain or glorious sunshine, there has been an atmosphere of welcome and people gathering to be present together in different ways amid the beautiful music.
In all of this I am reminded of John 1, verse 14, and the fact that the Greek actually speaks of the Word becoming flesh and ‘pitching his tent’ among us.
Perhaps August is a good time to reflect on this, not least as some people spend time in different places, many even in tents. And whether our August does or does not involve some sort of tent, I pray there might be some differently-shaped days in which our eyes, ears and hearts are open to encounter Christ’s presence, even in unexpected ways; and that we might make space to dwell with Christ and one another more deeply. This might be about spending more time dwelling in scripture and prayer; or reading a specific book; or spending more time with family and friends, or those we don’t yet know. It might simply be about taking time to notice and attend to our surroundings more closely as we seek God’s presence.
I am also very aware, as August approaches, that many people are feeling tired and weary at this end of the academic year, whatever our age. It’s therefore a good time to remind ourselves that the one who pitched his tent among us, as the Word made flesh, is also the one who continues to say, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
With my thanks and prayers for an August of different rhythm and places of rest.