As you know, we were all invited to write a letter to FEIG to mark the celebration of 10 years of travelling and learning together as a community, and a Fresh Expression of Church here in Gloucester.
The idea was to have written the letters to have ready to display at the celebration gathering at the Cathedral early in August.....and despite being gently reminded by El, we didn't manage to put anything together in time. We are sorry it has taken us so long......
It was more that we simply couldn't articulate what FEIG had meant to us, rather than forgetting to contribute, and it is still difficult, even now, to express, and to summarise the 7 years of our time with you all. When you share life with people rather than “do Church” ( I think you will understand what we mean by this!) there is something so deeply transforming about it that words can't convey, but you just KNOW it has really mattered, and made a difference in you.
We feel that our letter could be summed up by simply saying “THANK YOU “...
thank you to all of you, past and present who founded and rooted and grew FEIG as a community, and thank you to God for our time with you.
We will always appreciate how a group of creative, young, tech savvy! , questioning and endlessly stimulating people were so welcoming to a couple of “oldies”, and felt we also had something to give. In fact we were so touched when several of you had told us that we were a bit like the parents in the group!....mind you, that didn't always mean we were any wiser than anyone else! On the contrary, it seemed that the wisdom in the group wasn't “owned” by anyone exclusively, including those who led...but seemed to arise out of our gathering, and the space that was made, as we shared our questions and our challenges.
We loved the inclusivity, and the diversity. We loved the weekly sharing around a table with great conversation grounded in reality, and good food. We loved how the Cathedral was a big part of our life, and the many opportunities we had to meet there, and discover its hidden places, and revel in the atmosphere of prayer and worship which seemed to ooze out of the stones. We will always remember the wonderful Feig feasts, and the opportunity they gave us to offer the hospitality and welcome of God to all . We met so many people especially at the pre-Greenbelt events, and each one expressed their faith and journey with God differently, which was wonderfully enriching.
It was at one of these events, we walked a Labyrinth for the first time, which was a very significant experience for both of us, and helped us enormously, as we considered the huge transition we were having to make in our lives at that time.
When the babies started to come along, and families grew, it was so special for us to watch these little ones growing up, and to go with the flow, as our life as a Community inevitably had to adapt to their needs. - we'll always smile at the memory of the first “Bounce and Brunch” for example, which was greeted so enthusiastically by so many young families from the local school, as well as our own friends and Community families. And how generous of the Cathedral to accommodate us in the Chapter house... we could just imagine Jesus there, saying “let the children come...!”
It was a joy and a privilege for us to be part of all this messiness and chaos, as our own family were all grown up by then, and we could have the fun of being with the kids, but not have the responsibility of 24/7 care...a taste of grandparenthood maybe?
We not only shared each others' joys ;-births and marriages and celebrations -but also walked through some dark valleys together too...there was illness, and fear and doubt and confusion and loss, but somehow, knowing we were in each others hearts as we each carried our sorrows and burdens helped us, and made them easier to bear..
We knew it was time for us to leave Gloucester in 2014. . a year which brought much change for us, and involved a lot of letting go, and it was certainly one of the hardest tasks for us to let go of FEIG.
We miss you all, we love you, we will never forget you, and we will always be grateful for how our lives have been enriched by your friendship.
And we will always carry you with us in our hearts, as our own life journey continues.
So dear FEIG -
“Go forth with the vision of God
Sail upon the ocean of His love
and may the Sacred Three
encircle you, enfold you and uphold you
until we all come at last
to our eternal home”
and our love and our prayers go with you always
Jennie and Peter.