Outlook Issue 12 Winter 2010
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Spiritual Life
Prayers for Hatty One of the names appearing in the St. Mary’s pew sheet for thought and private prayer over many months has been that of our daughter Harriet (Hatty) Terry. Hatty, who is 21, has been seriously unwell for the last eight years and her dad Charles – a former regular in the church choir – and I are very grateful for your prayers. I knew that there was something the matter with Hatty when she was eight but none of us had any idea that her feelings of unease were the first signs of severe psychosis. Slowly her fears increased and she developed obsessions and compulsions to try and control the chaos that she perceives around her. She cut herself to try and excise the badness which she believes is at her core and she pleaded with me to help her find relief from her constant pain. When she was 13, she was moved into foster care because her psychiatrist said that her only problem was her relationship with me. At home she had a pattern of two or three settled months followed by a crisis and this same pattern occurred with all four foster placements. She had periods of assessment in adolescent units and her confidence was eroded as time and again she was treated for attention-seeking behaviour. We know now that every second of Hatty’s life is filled with the most terrible torment. She believes that we are in mortal danger. To protect us she must perform certain ‘tasks’ which bizarrely will cause us serious harm –one of the many incongruities of this cruel condition. Hatty is very unusual because, despite the severity of her psychosis, she is still able to have a good relationship with us. She knows that she is prayed for each week and she seems comforted by that. I pray that Hatty will get better – not in the sense of complete recovery, but that each day will become slightly easier for her. Most of all I pray that Hatty will find the strength to stay alive a little bit longer. There is a worry that if we are praying for someone who remains unwell despite our prayers, we will lose our faith as a consequence. In an era when education and entertainment are delivered to us in pre-digested, bite-sized chunks, the Church of England sometimes seems nervous about us facing any challenge. I did not choose this path but our experience has somehow drawn us together The bleaker our circumstances are, the blacker the humour that bubbles up from deep within us. The words ‘comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit’ could have been written for Hatty. Even if you have only come to know Hatty’s name on the St. Mary’s pew sheet, please continue to pray for her. Julia Terry What price cyberspace? Are we nearly there? Famous words from the back seat of the car - maybe you heard them this summer on your holiday. 10 miles from home and another 200 to go! And that’s not the only kind of journey. There’s the little matter of the journey of life. The journey of ideas, of relationships, hopes and fears. For some, the journey of faith – are we nearly there? For most of us, no way! And is there such a place as “there”? An end point? A settled life-style? Fixed views? Rock-solid faith? Or is the whole point of this process that there’s no such place as “there”. You may stop for a breather, but you do not arrive. Life shoves you on, through planned and unplanned changes – still journeying. It’s in this spirit that we meet in the Emmaus group at St. Mary’s, getting challenged to move on, and finding ourselves, sometimes, in very strange territory indeed. “Who is my neighbour?” – was the old chestnut of a question that turned out to be just such a challenge. Never mind the folks next door, how about that lot in cyberspace? Not gossiping over the fence but on twitter? Not meeting face-to-face, but on Face-book? And what have we gained by living in this vast new human neighbourhood? What have we lost? What price, cyberspace, in terms of human relations? In a society that’s increasingly fragmented, have we found a new way of being joined-up? Is it a better way? More accessible, varied, rewarding? Is it a safer way to be engaged, in words and pictures, without the living, breathing presence of another, without commitment? If the whole human race is on a journey, has it fetched up among the aliens after all? What price “Face-book” – a social meeting place on the net, where you don’t stand about with a drink, or huddle over a cup of cocoa, but log on and get swapping messages. And why that odd name, “Face-book? For myself, I can read a book, and I can read a face. And I know which is more real for me. I can interact with a face, take risks with it, get mad with it, care about it, draw life from it. Not so – or not so much - with a book. Now more than ever, do I need to know who my real-life, living-breathing neighbour is. Jill Hawes