Southfields’ Sketches: Reflections from the Senior Chaplain
When our self-esteem and sense of worth feels low, it’s important to remember that we are ‘beloved’ of God. And if God might not be a concept with which we are entirely comfortable, then we have people in our lives to whom we are ‘beloved’. Remembering this can restore just enough of a puff to the wind in our sail that we can get on with the day at hand.
That was my message in mid-week Chapel services this week and it was a well-received reminder for Marlburians. Mid-week readers were drawn from among the team of new Sacristans – Archie Griffin (C3 U6); Oliver Gardener (PR U6) and Stella Irwin (SU U6).
On Sunday morning I officiated a Multi-Faith service of Remembrance at Highclere Castle, commemorating the centenary of the First World War, at the request of Lord and Lady Carnarvon. It was a thrill to work with colleagues from other world faith traditions. Lord and Lady Carnarvon’s son Edward (BH 2013-18) graduated just last year from our College, and is now off to his first choice of university to study politics!
The Master offered an address at the 10.15am Chapel service here, and she spoke about the importance of asking questions, yet avoiding sharp and debilitating scepticism.
At 5.30pm, the Shell participated in a ‘casual’ chapel service before their barbecue. My appreciation is extended to Mr. David Du Croz, who shared a couple of stories about OM’s who had fought in the First World War, and of how this led to a questioning of their own faith, most understandably. The attention paid by our pupils to David’s talk was remarkable.
Omer Gursoy (LI Sh) read, very well, a very tricky lesson from St.Paul.
My rovings round were particularly extensive this week. It was heart-warming to hear Brigitte, in Domestics, tell me how respectful the pupils are of the ‘fabric’ in the boarding houses. And I visited Anthony, the Houseman in Turner, whose mother died just last week in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Ethel-Anne was 96!
Excitingly, the Chapel Vestry is due for refurbishment, and Kurt, one of our two College Surveyors, has created a wonderful plan for some substantial oak cabinet and storage space. This will be a gift from an OM in honour of his brother who was an RAF pilot who lost his life in the Second World War.
Things are ‘super busy’ in the Sani where new pupils are registering for the first time, and Head Nurse Becky Bull has scheduled me for ‘bedside visits’ which I look forward to as a chance to get to know and help still more pupils from across the College.
Wednesday morning, early, I made my weekly visit to A House where I offered company to Mr. Finlay during ‘Chits’. His humour is legendary and I sense the pupils don’t mind terribly having come to see him, even if it is a ‘disciplinary’ matter!
It was a great pleasure to be in Barton Hill on Wednesday night to bring the boys ‘House Communion’. They helped me with their thoughts concerning the Gospel this upcoming Sunday, about which I will be preaching at the 10.15am College Eucharist.
I’m really pleased to say that I have been successful in getting an invitation for our Choir to sing Evensong at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Details to follow!
I was offered a detailed tour of Turner House by Jules Gaillard (TU Hu) and Finn Pigott (TU Hu). They drew my attention to the amazingly varied skill-set of their House tutors and pointed to it as an enormous strength. Gregor Macmillan, the Housemaster, has plans to join his house with Murray House at Wellington College, my old stomping grounds of nine years, in fundraising for a school in Mozambique.
On Wednesday night I entertained the B1 Shell to squash and nibbles in Southfields and Thursday night more than a few of the new Lower Sixth came to visit Southfields for the first time.
As Beak-in-Charge of the Charity Think Tank, I was pleased to welcome 14 members of the Lower Sixth, who have been tasked with investigating the charitable efforts already in existence here, as well as coming up with some of their own ideas.
And it has been amazing to see the requests already coming in from various pupils from various houses to sign up for Confirmation classes – both Roman Catholic and Church of England.
This Sunday the 8.30am service is officiated by the Assistant Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Janneke Blokland, and I will be officiating and preaching at the 10.15am College Eucharist. The Sunday Speaker Series convenes at the usual 6.30pm in the Garnett Room. This week’s speaker is Mr. Jonathan Grew from ‘Workfit & the Swindon Downs’ Syndrome Association’.
Oh, and Rollo the Beagle, my constant companion, has just reminded me to say how much he loved the Steeplechase but wasn’t sure why he wasn’t allowed to run along!
Until next week, every blessing!
Reverend Tim Novis