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Well, I seem to have become the town crier for the AATW community. It’s something I relish, since it nearly always means that I am conveying good news, related to The Good Newsย and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Today marked Jessica’s last day on her old job, in which we watched in awe as she staged a demonstration of how meteoric one’s career could be if one, was honest, forceful and not cowed by a bureaucracy. From a part-timer to the PA of the big boss in a bit more than a year, and probably the best PA a man has ever had.

Congratulations, Dearest Friend ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

As all of us who have worked in a corporate environment know, the strain is great, and all of us who know her well cheered in relief when she decided to go back to teaching the little ones. Not to mention that it is her first love, and now she carries an immense amount of administrative know-how that I suspect her new employer will be most grateful to have.

And this is where I get to tell you that she will be MIA for the next week as she reprises her pilgrimage to Walsingham. Rather than me telling you about it, there are several articles about Walsingham on the site from her last visit, nearly two year ago. It hold a deep personal meaning for me as well, because it was on that trip, that our friendship deepened immeasurably, this was when something other-worldly moved both of us and we became in our terminology, ‘dearest friend’ rather than merely good friends. Being a rock ribbed Protestant, I have no especially good argument, but Jess found me much more open to The Lady after this.

And so, that you’ll know one or the other of us wrote this, a bit of the poem we have both quoted so often, from Sir Philip Howard

Weep, weep, O Walsingham
Whose days are nights,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.
Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven turned into hell,
Satan sits where Our Lord did sway,
Walsingham, oh farewell!

And yet for those of us at the watchtower and especially perhaps for me, Walsingham turned out not to be about the past and regrets and destruction but about new beginnings, and deepening relationships between people and their God.

This would be the point to say how much we all, and I especially will miss her for the week. As I told her yesterday, I will miss the emails from the McDonald’s along the way, but it is a time for her and her Vicar to really get to know each other. and so

And so, in some ways, we mark an ending, but we also note a joyful beginning, as when she returns she will be returning to her first love, as the Assistant Headteacher of a Church of England primary school. I’d call those some very lucky students because if she can teach us old curmudgeons, she can surely teach the bright young children, and so our heritage is passed on. Mathew Arnold says it well I think.

Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill;
Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes!
No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats,
Nor the cropped herbage shoot another head.
But when the fields are still,
And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest,
And only the white sheep are sometimes seen
Cross and recross the strips of moon-blanched green,
Come, shepherd, and again begin the quest!

Go, and enjoy, and we shall surely miss you, and when you return, refreshed as before, we shall begin again, dearest friend.

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