laughter and legend.

The community that greeted me the other Sunday morning, gave me a real sense of belonging. It was exciting to be in such a warm and openly friendly place. It felt liberating to be part of a community that I could openly share with others the week’s failures and successes.
The best part is they wanted to listen, they were sympathetic to my problems. Knowledge was shared with simple storytelling involving laughter and legend.
After introductions were exchanged we shared simple food and ate together.
This community overflowed with one common love and one common passion that contagiously spread throughout. We all spoke the same language we all choose to belong to this like-minded group of people.
I will treasure my first Sunday morning on my allotment.
When I asked “ how do you see the future church? I will think of myself on the allotment muddy and happy sharing bitter tasting salad leaves.
I will hold onto that openness and excitement in my memory for a long time.
I know that the allotment community won’t always be like this. Problems will arise, someone will use someone else’s wheel-barrow, allotments will become overgrown and this will all cause fiction between allotment holders: It’s real life.
All communities have their ups and downs, our church communities are no different. It would be so wrong to think we are perfect because we are Christians. We are people, annoying, funny, angry, happy, sad, flirtatious, depressed people and despite our differences we place ourselves and each other before God.
That’s what excites me about the church community we place ourselves and each other before God just as we are. When we meet as Christians we need to be real with each other. We need to be able to live our faith in our community’s as we are. Loved on our good days and bad days.
The church I belong to is a kind loving welcoming community. I value the teachings and the wonderful congregation that has supported our family for over 4 generations.
The allotment community just took it all to another level. My Sunday on the allotment felt like church, My little patch of mud is a God filled space overflowing with love and potential.

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1 Corinthians 3:5-7 Good News Translation.
5 After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? We are simply God’s servants, by whom you were led to believe. Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do: 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow. 7 The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because he makes the plant grow.

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A Gardeners Blessing.

May God garden alongside you.

May your seeds bloom and flourish.

May you know the warmth from a winters sun, and the rain be a rich blessing.

May your harvest be a cornucopia of love.

The Jewel of the field.

I am very slowly planting a Bible garden ( featuring plants from the Bible). It’s a garden that has no plans other than to grow plants along side Scripture.
It’s bringing my world of Gardening into God’s word, inviting people to share something of me when they visit my garden.
Researching and discovering new plants excites me. I’ve purchased a Bible garden book to aid with planting and research. It’s a great book to inspire plan and think big.
One little gem of a plant featured in the book is Corn Cockle “ Agrostemma Githago “
The book explains it’s the weed in the parable of the weeds.

“ When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared “ Matthew 13:26.

I purchased some seed, sowed them, watered and loved them. They have in turn germinated, grown flowered and set seed. I’ve loved having this plant in my garden, It’s small purple flowers have delighted me, it’s seeds heads fascinated me.
I’ve learnt it’s genus name Agrostemma is derived from the Greek word argos ( field) Stemma ( crown) – the jewel of the field.
I’ve learnt how it’s roots, stems and seeds are poisonous. If harvested with the wheat any bread made that contains its seeds will be bitter and can even be fatal.
Its been a jewel in my garden this year a wild flower on the edge of extinction in abundance and thriving.
But it’s come in under total false pretences.
Doing a little more research the more probable weed in the parable of the weed is darnel “ Lolium temulentum” it’s also known as Cockle or false wheat.
It has many similarities to Corn Cockle both are poisonous and both spoil the wheat crop.
I’ve seen so much beauty in the Corn Cockle, I’m not going to pull it up just because it’s not what I thought it was, I cherish all my plants, they are all precious to me.
The Corn Cockle is not a weed it’s a loved plant that enhances my meadow and ensures the survival of a plant on the edge of extinction.
Its going to be another journey as I source and plant darnel. I’m excited to be sowing this monster sized grass, excited by the conversations it will cultivate. It will be a blessing to share the parable of the weeds when I open my garden next year.
This giant grass will totally over shadow my Corn Cockle with its small delicate flowers. But it’s story will also be told, It’s a story of double checking , cross referencing learning to evaluate the sources and information I use for reference.

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Question 6 – The silent Wow – part 1

When I discover beautiful views, walk behind a waterfall, when I sit in the stillness of the garden the vastness and hugeness that comes from God is beyond words. It’s the moment when you just stop and feel that wow factor.
I’ve tried to blog about that wow moment, take the wow beyond three simple letters, give that silence space some meaning so that others can understand, but nothing comes close to sharing how I feel inside.
Exploring my vocation is very much in that vastness moment. It’s that wow with no words. Stopping in that wow to write what I feel I just find tears and no words.
This has been frustrating as during this discerning process of exploring my vocation I need to talk to others about what I am feeling in these wow moments.
Praying about it is great, it’s easy and natural to do. After all these are Gods plans not mine. God also knows what going on in my wordless silent wow moments. But for the past year these wows have manly stayed just between me and God.
Last month the frustrations of not being able to find the words all got too much. I wanted to run away from the whole process. Go and hide somewhere where the words Priest, Deacon, ordination, vocation and discernment do not exist. But obviously you can’t run from God, this too has also been very frustrating.
Where ever I go this hugeness comes with me. It’s like a nagging little earworm that whispers and keeps whispering. When I am completely quite its whispers are sometimes the only thing I hear.
It’s no longer avoidable, I need to think about the bigger picture. I am required to answer question 6 on the BAP registration form (Bishops advisory panel form )
Which ministry are you a candidate? 1. Deacon ( distinctive) 2. Priest
All I need to do is tick one box . Deep down and for a long time I have known which box to tick. Ticking and acknowledging this is harder than I thought.
It seems wrong to give the answer to something so big by simply putting biro tick in a box. It’s so huge, one little tick in a box and then onto question 7 !!
I felt the question was not mine to answer. It felt presumptuous giving so much certainty to such a question. It’s a not promised path, It’s another step on the journey of exploring my vocation. Another step along an unknowing path trusting God.
I am sure many have filled out this huge form and boldly ticked the box. Feeling confident in their calling. But for me these two little boxes have been consuming my thoughts.
It feels such a huge relief to have faced this, to no longer feel quite so scared of what I am feeling. The last few months I have been nudged, loved, prayed for and gently coaxed to find the words that are etched in my heart.

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Acts 6 The Message (MSG)

6 1-4 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

My Secret Garden .

I have a fully formed vision of my garden in its mature years. It’s my vision, it’s not committed to paper, It’s not something I share, it’s my secret garden fantasy. It’s a vision that includes my favourite trees all grown to maturity.
I imagine my Bramley apple tree, a mirror image of the one that once grew in my grandmothers garden. I picture my grandchildren climbing this tree ( grandchildren yet to be conceived !!! ). Taking the same joys and pleasures from this enormous tree as I did in my childhood.
I visualise myself padding in the steam that will flow through the garden. The stream blending into the landscape as if it had always been a there.
I see the wet footprints I leave behind as I exit the stream via a network of stepping stones. There are cold frames and glass houses full of pelargoniums, all beautifully displayed in clay pots on gravel benches.
My vision has no space for failure. In my mind the apple tree will reach maturity, The plants that I grow will not succumb to drought or disease.

The reality is gardening does not happen like this. Our lives are the same, we think we are going one way but God has different plans for us.
Meeting Jesus four years ago was the start of the most beautiful journey. My life plan changed overnight. My heart was suddenly aware of not being alone. The dark lonely path ahead was lit with love. My faith allows me to fall and stumble over and over again. I continue to stumble, each and every time I am picked up by God.
I have been changed from the inside, my world has been turned totally upside down. New words and a language unique to the church have wiggled their way into my world.
Discernment, vocation, are just some of the words that are shaping my journey today. My world is changing it’s getting bigger and every so slightly bolder. I am starting to see myself as the unique individual that God created and loves.
The word discernment has encouraged me to I reach into myself, to discover what lies in the deaths of my heart. This journey of exploring my vocation is emotionally draining but at the same time transforming and exciting. It’s ( This journey is on God’s time scale, not my timescale ) giving me a new direction to slowly grow into the person God created me to be.
It’s a journey with the vision that comes from God.

My six this Saturday shows my gardens journey over the last 4 four years.

Picture one is approx 4 years ago – Picture two is the present day.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Borrowed landscape – Shakkei

The Mendip hills has some stunning views across the Somerset Countryside. Last weekend’s walk was no exception. After a long climb, we were rewarded with the most breathtaking view.
The view made me smile. I saw the perfectness of nature, I felt the power and space of God .The view was limitless- God is everywhere. There are no edges or limits to God’s presence, nor are there places where God is absent. God is all-knowing. God is infinite.

The view inspired and excited me. I wanted to walk more, explore this landscape, wonder, climb higher and look harder into the landscape that surrounded me.
Obviously, this view was not available to all. Even good health would not guarantee the same view. The view changes throughout the seasons and alters by the weather and the time of day.
But what if we could expand that view so others might see it? See the landscape that inspired and surrounded me.
That’s exactly what the gardener does. This inspiration is nothing new and using it has been practised for centuries. This Asian concept of Shakkei is very simple. The gardener uses their surroundings to expand the view.

How exciting is that!- Using what surrounds us; what’s already in place and what God has already given us. To pull the eye outwards, to look beyond what we normally see.

The challenge is to make full use of what we have, looking at ways to incorporate the landscape that surrounds us. When we look further, we find space. We see views we have never seen and mountains we have yet to climb.

When we keep looking beyond our horizons, we find God at work in the community that surrounds us. Instantaneously, everything just gets bigger.
When we expand our landscape, we look beyond our boarders and create an infinite space where God makes the impossible possible.
It’s taking the awesome view that made me smile, taking that view to those that can’t climb the hill. When you take the view and share it with God’s love, we strengthen the relationships between ourselves and the landscape in which we live. Looking outwardly into the landscape, we expand not only our horizons but the horizons of those that share and live in our community.
As a gardener, when I look from my garden to the distant and adjacent landscape features, my garden expands exponentially.

We are called to live outside of ourselves. Called to by Jesus
into the landscape that surrounds us. We are called to love and serve one another, to be authentic, exciting and embracing.

My six this Saturday are 6 borrowed landscapes viewed from my own garden.
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Upward borrowing – The evening Sky.

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Adjacent borrowing – Mature trees in the nearby cemetery.

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Adjacent borrowing –  Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Corylus avellana Contorta(  Twisted hazel)  is high on my wish list for my own garden. I love its twisted branches and enjoy looking at this plant from over the fence.

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Adjacent borrowing – Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Betula pendula, ( silver birch)  This tree is a few gardens away but its stunning and makes my Ginko tree in the foreground  look rather small.

Mark 6-15
And he said to them, ” Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”.

Burdock.

The same Bible verse ( Luke 10 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two ) keeps appearing  this week. The same plant keeps reminding me of this verse ( Burdock).

This Saturday I am sharing with you six photos all of the Greater Burdock . Please enjoy these photos, look for the beauty in something that’s not always considered beautiful. See the plant for all that it gives and how it gives in so many different ways.

Luke 10 .
After this the Lord chose another seventy-two men and sent them out two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go.

After flowering the Burdock produces seed heads known as Bur’s These little burs transport themselves away from the adult plant by attaching to passing animals.

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He said to them, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in.

I never fail to marvel at the Bees . They work non stop to collect in the harvest that’s available to them. The Burdock flowers provide essential pollen and nectar for honeybees often at a time when nectar is scarce.

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Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.

The botanical name for Burdock is Arctium lappa
lappa is derived from Celtic llap (hand) and is a Latin name for ‘bur’
The sticky burs are the harvest hands. These little bur hands hold on tightly to fulfil the task they were created for.

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Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Don’t take a purse or a beggar’s bag or shoes; don’t stop to greet anyone on the road. Whenever you go into a house, first say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ If someone who is peace-loving lives there, let your greeting of peace remain on that person; if not, take back your greeting of peace.

Burs serve the plant that bear them, the burs repel any threat to the precious seeds that they carry. Acting as spines or prickles.

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Stay in that same house, eating and drinking whatever they offer you, for workers should be given their pay. Don’t move around from one house to another.

The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable.

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Whenever you go into a town and are made welcome, eat what is set before you, heal the sick in that town, and say to the people there, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you.’

Burdock has many healing properties , fighting infections and used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and dandruff.

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 But whenever you go into a town and are not welcomed, go out in the streets and say, Even the dust from your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. But remember that the Kingdom of God has come near you!’ I assure you that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to that town!