Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

April - May 2018


Dear friends

‘Pebbles’ (see page 6 of this issue of the Parish News) made the children of Englefield Primary School glad when he emerged from hibernation. Some were concerned that he had spent the winter in the fridge (as is appropriate for a hibernating tortoise). It is hard to tell the difference between a live tortoise and a dead one! The children were reassured by Pebbles’ ‘bursts of speed’ and appetite for his favourite food as evidence that he had emerged into the land of the living. Bursts of speed, however defined, are not usually associated with tortoises but the term does bring to mind Aesop’s familiar fable of The Hare and the Tortoise.

As you no doubt remember, the over-confident hare takes a nap during the race only to find that the tortoise crosses the finishing line first. Before we dismiss this fable as an instructive but fantastic tale, it is interesting to note conservation geneticist Taylor Edwards’ reminder that in the Olympics you don’t have just one race, but sprints and cross country, too (BBC Earth 9/2015). In a sprint the hare would win hands down. In an endurance race it might be more even. But once the course is prescribed, the results are likely to be different: hares tend to live in a particular area, do not venture too far away from their home territory and ‘tend to run in circles, and not travel very far. To cross a finishing line, you have to go somewhere.’ 

Fascinating though chelonians may be (what a marvellous name for the tortoise and his kin), far more important are the truths the fable imparts: like the Tortoise, we have a race to run - it isn’t a sprint, it’s a life-long marathon in which we take one step at a time. Through perseverance the Tortoise finished the race; through pride the Hare failed to win. As we run, we are encouraged in the biblical letter to the Hebrews to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’. This Easter we have watched Him on His agonising way to the Cross where He took our place and bore our sins, until with His final breath, He cried triumphantly ‘It is finished’. He had crossed the finishing line and on Easter morning he rose as Victor over sin and death. Now he cheers us on along the path he has blazed, to ensure that his followers will share his victory and finish the race.

Pebbles encourages us, as winter ends and spring buds, to awake from spiritual hibernation and follow the Lord Jesus on whom our faith depends from first to last.

Running together, with you

Nick and Harriet