I am very grateful to everyone who supported for me and my family since the death of my mother earlier this year. I thought I would share a letter written by my father for his local parish magasine. I hope you find it an encouragement.

Dear friends, by the time you read this, if all goes well, our lives will have become much busier. Children at school with the accompanying school run, more commuters and fewer at home workers, less eating “en famille “ and more meals out.

As a result we shall probably be exposed to more noise.

Much of it we could do without, but we can get uncomfortable if it’s too quiet. Hosting a supper party we may seek to avoid awkward silences by prattling along rather nervously.

Now that I live alone I’ve discovered periods of silence have increased. My first instinct was to try to block them out with radio or TV or spend more time outdoors hoping the birdsong would drown the motorway. However I also realised I was going to bed and getting up earlier and that silence was more comfortable at 6 am rather than 6 pm. I’ve therefore extended and slowed the tempo of my morning prayer and hopefully will be able to keep this up when the autumn shadows lengthen. I’ve noticed an improvement in my well-being and calmness and interestingly many religious traditions liken the mind to a pool of water in which we can only see our reflection when the surface of the water is still.

Trying to be quiet can be stressful and counter- productive, far better to be ourselves and wait for the moment when we can feel at peace. In the Old Testament the prophet Elijah was told to go and stand on a mountain and wait for the Lord to pass by and give him a message for the Israelites. Elijah observes successively, a wind so strong it is breaking rocks in pieces, an earthquake and a fire. Knowing how all powerful God is, Elijah expects Him to appear in each of these but it is not to be. Finally there is a “sound of silence “. When he “hears” this he wraps his face in his mantle, and goes to the entrance of a cave where God gives him instructions.

Hopefully we can, in the words of the hymn “Be still and know that I am God “. We may then, I trust, understand ourselves and our purpose in life better, thereby increasing our well-being and our ability to help our friends and neighbours in their time of need.

With every blessing, Philip.