Keats’ ‘gathering swallows twittering in the skies‘ have gone and last week I heard the plaintive call of a chiff chaff, a sign that other migrants are on their way back south, to warmer climes. We’re left alone to contemplate with the sad autumnal song of ‘the redbreast whistling from a garden croft’. We feel we’ve been watching summer’s ‘soft dying day‘.
The season of the late performers, the Michealmas daises, is here. They revel in all their late glory, the best kept till last.
‘And still more, later flowers for the bees.
It’s as if the last ‘ouzings‘ of Keats’ apple cider press ‘drip hours by hours‘ and we relish the last drops, reluctant to have to stop.
Like the last gleaners in the harvest fields we’re gathering the few ‘left overs’. Some late flowers in the garden are brought in and treasured for an indoor display. We’re keen to keep the show going for as long as possible. Summer tries to hang on as if reluctant to leave, while ‘almost autumn’ waits patiently to take her place. The songs of spring and summer may have gone but autumn has its own melody with which to serenade us.
—— ‘Thou hast thy music too’.
With the flowering of the Michaelmas daisies and the start of the Michaelmas Term at colleges, schools, and in the legal world, we’re reminded that September 29th is ‘St Michael and all Angels’ Day’. As one of the Quarter Days in medieval England it was the festival that marked the ending of the husbandman’s year; harvest was over and the baliff, or reeve, of the manor would be making out the accounts for the year. Even today some leaseholds and rents are settled on these days and this month the Lord Mayor of London is elected. Our Financial Year begins on the first Quarter Day in early April’
The Work of Angels
There’s a sense of mystery concerning angels. They’re sent by the ‘God of Surprises’ who delights to surprise and bless us for good. In a world where there are also evil influences at work, the angels are God’s messengers sent to guide, strengthen, guard, protect and encourage us. The Bible is full of them. They appear specially active at the birth of Christ, watching over young children, and when the early Christians were in danger, and they will be active in the final ‘harvest’ at the end of history.
Troubled Jacob in the Old Testament story in Genesis chapter 28, caught a glimpse of heaven touching earth. He saw a stairway with its top in heaven and the angels coming and going in their work. If we did but realise it they’re active everywhere bringing to our lives peace, hope, and a taste of heaven.When we see them working, Jacob’s exclamation could be ours:
“Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not.”
‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’
(New Testament letter to the Hebrews 13 verse 2 – King James Version)
How much we may be missing – unaware of the work of these heavenly beings going on around us on our behalf. When we open our ‘doors’ and lives to show hospitality and kindness to strangers, who knows, we may be entertaining angels unawares, or even Christ himself.
I saw a stranger today.
I put food for him
in the eating-place
in the drinking-place
in the listening-place.
In the Holy name
of the Trinity
He blessed myself
and my family.
And the lark said in her warble
Often, often, often
in the stranger’s guise.
An early Celtic ‘Rune’ of Hospitality
“I was a stranger and you invited me in” – Matthew’s Gospel 25 verse 35
Thank you so much for being my ‘visitor’ today. Please come back with me for the next post where I hope to be walking the fells of the Lake District with the poet William Wordsworth.
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