Good morning. The vagaries of the British weather have been cause for even more debate than usual this year. After a wet winter and a cold spring, summer has got seriously behind and it was only just in time for the Wimbledon finals that temperatures soared. But what about the rest of the summer? Well, I spent yesterday keeping a jolly close eye on the weather because, according to the traditional rhyme, ‘St Swithin’s Day, if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain. St Swithin’s Day, if thou be fair, for forty days ‘twill rain nae mair’.
Swithin was Bishop of Winchester in the 9th century, known for his charitable gifts and church building. He asked to be buried humbly in the cathedral grounds, where people could walk across his lowly grave. When the monks moved Swithin’s remains to an ornate shrine inside the cathedral, heavy storms broke out, believed to indicate the saint’s displeasure at such aggrandisement.
Humility is not a characteristic that sits well within our competitive culture, in which we’re encouraged to have our list of achievements ready at any moment to thrust in front of someone influential. Yet it’s a quality we admire in people who’ve got much to boast about, but don’t. In the Christian tradition, humility is not a Uriah Heep-like self-deprecation. It’s a recognition that all that we have and all that we are is entrusted to us by God, that our greatest calling is to live in submission to him, and that however successful we might be, we still fall short of God’s glory and are in need of grace.