It’s wonderful to live in a beautiful Dorset farming village that it off the beaten track. Unlike a lot of villages around here time has stood still, the population is less mobile and many of the villagers are related to each other. (I am still trying to work out all the connections). We have lived here for nearly 7 years but suspect it will need to be 70 to truly belong. The community here is lovely and welcoming to new villagers but there is a strong continuity with the past and an accepted way of doing things, giving it a somewhat 1950’s feel at times. Perhaps that is what outsiders like about the place; a nostalgic yearning for the close knit communities of the past. It makes it hard to do things differently.
There is something about belonging to a place even if you now live miles away. On a normal Sunday the congregation at All Saints is tiny and hardly viable but when two or three are gathered together Jesus did promise he would turn up. On special occasions the church is packed and the whole village turns out because even though they have very little faith, this is their church and it belongs to them, and they want others to ‘keep the services’ there going.
I had a glorious moment this morning (my second service of the day) as I read some banns of someone who had grown up here, I looked up and there was a couple who had come back to the village this summer to be married and someone else who was married here this time last year. So I did a quick straw poll and found out that nearly every adult there this morning had been married in that church. There are not many places left like this and I don’t think it is going to last. Most of the children here won’t be able to afford to live here. But, even if they don’t have a Christian faith there is a sense that this church is theres and they belong to it and they want to come back to it. It is good to feel rooted in a community.
When my children make their break for freedom, I hope there will be a community somewhere to which they feel they belong.