A favourite book that I read as a child and that, as I have aged, have grown into rather than grown out of, is Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows.  A couple of weeks ago on Transfiguration Sunday, I used a passage from a chapter in the book entitled “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”.  This is where Mole and Rat searching for Portly the Otter come to an island in the river.  There, just as dawn is breaking they have a deeply moving experience.  Hearing again the music of the Piper they leave their little boat and clamber onto the island. 

Rat whispers to Mole
Here in this holy place, here if anywhere surely we shall find him”.
Suddenly Mole felt a Great Awe fall upon him. 
Though the piping is now hushed, the sense of call and summons fills the whole of his little body. 
 In this moment both animals see the Friend and Helper. There, nestling between his hoofs they also see the round, podgy figure of baby Otter.  Still trembling and wondering Rat turns to Mole and whispers,
Rat! are you afraid”.
“Afraid”, murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love, “Afraid of Him?  O never, never, and yet – and yet – O Mole, I am afraid”.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that an Anglican priest, Rev. Leslie J. Francis, has written a little book of meditations using this and many other passages from ‘Wind in the Willows’ and set each of them alongside an appropriate Gospel readings, To each of them he has added a brief meditation and prayer.

As there are 40 of these, the book is described as resource for use during Lent, yet reading through it I feel that they would be useful at any time for story type preaching.  Each individual section of Rev. Francis’s book follows the first eight chapters of Graham’s original work. This allows one to read both books along side each other.  Sometimes the meditations go in an unexpected direction, but that is the way of  meditations.

This  book “The Gospel in the Willows” is published by Darton, Longman and Todd and is available at Amazon Books.

Of the many Lent Courses that are offered each year for individual and group study, this is something rather different and is well worth the few pounds that it costs. 

Without infringing the author’s copyright I can’t print any extracts from the book, yet I feel after reading and using it, that Mole, Rat, Toad and other inhabitants of the River Bank will have to be added to the list of Disciples.

 Rat, had been swimming in the river with his friends the Ducks. Having throughly annoyed them by tickling their necks when they dived. he is now sitting on the river bank in the sun. .He feels a song coming on.


All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall’
Ducks are a-dabbling.
Up tails all.
Ducks’ tails,drake’ tails ‘
Yellow feet a-quiver’
Yellow bills out od sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim –
Here we keep a larder’
Cool and full and dim.
Every one for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up’
Dabbling free.
High in the blue above
Swifs whirl and call –
We are down a-dabbling,
Up tails all! 

John R.


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