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”.

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Love is Patient.

My garden is a big part of who I am, it’s complicated.
My moods and temperaments, my hopes and dreams are all reflected in the garden. It’s my visual soul. My garden connects me to Jesus,to my thoughts. It helps me sort out and understand the questions that wiz around in my head,

Fellow blogger off the edge gardening has just shared her six on Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a tool, a job completed, a flower, a leaf, wildlife, a pest, a success, anything at all!

Here’s my Six for this week.

Echium Pinnana
This giant Bi annual should have flowered. It’s two years old healthy great big leaves but no flower spike.
It’s a good reminder that we flower and fruit in Gods time not our time.
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Ginkgo Biboba
This is one of my favourite trees. It was the first tree I planted in my garden when we brought the house. Extract from the leaves are said to prevent age related memory loss.
That’s just one of the reasons I love this tree.I need it in my life and in my garden.

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Captalpa Bignoniodes
Another big tree, the latin name Bigniniodes sort of gives this away.
Yesterday’s blog was about how I am scared of the big. Today looking at the plants in my garden Its obvious that I enjoy the challenge of growing big. I embrace the unusual, the bigger the stranger the better.
This tree is planted totally in the wrong place but I love the statement that it makes “ Big is good “.

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A reflection on today.
It’s a picture about journeying going from one place to another trusting God. Even through I can’t see the destination it’s ok. Even if that distinction scares me it’s ok.
Even if the light is two bright for me to see with my eyes that’s also ok. It’s my heart that sees and feels Gods light. And it’s that love in my heart that I follow and listen to.

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Ficus Carcia
Yesterday this Fig tree was being deprived of light from a very overgrown Rowan tree.
In Pruning the Rowan tree I removed its fruit. The pruning will gave the fig tree light so it’s fruit can ripen.
Following Jesus means I have to make sacrifices. I can’t be fruitful if I’m being chocked by others and deprived of light.

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Leucanthemum Vulgare.
In plant symbolism the ox eye daisy represents patience.
I love all what this plant stands for. The beauty in the normal. Finding beauty in what others may see as Vulgare ( common ).

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1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Good News Translation (GNT)

Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;  love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs;  love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

I choose you.

I choose you.
I dug you up and moved you.
I knew you would take over, I knew you would spread and thrive in my garden.
You are greedy, feeding, chocking indiscriminately you grow.
Excluding light, depriving nourishment, yet I let you grow.
I choose you. I planted you.

I have spent the morning weeding my garden. One particular troublesome plant took up most of my time. It’s a plant that I desired and wanted. I knew it was a bad idea when I planted it. My want was bigger than my horticulture knowledge. My want was bigger than the hours needed to maintain this thug of a plant.
Removing and reducing this plant I was suddenly stuck how it was like forgiveness.
The plant was a problem that I was able to deal with. It has to be dealt with otherwise it will outgrow and destroy my garden.
It will stop other plants fruiting, it will prevent seeds from forming, it will overpower.
Kneeling in the garden digging out its invasive roots the power of Gods grace was overpowering.
That connectedness to the soil, to life and how fragile it can be. How much we need to nurture and hold creation.How God is in everything we do.
Removing this plant, decreasing its size, is not about control. It’s about acknowledging it’s spreading nature. Understanding that its roots run deep. It’s a woodland plant not really suitable for the garden. It’s doing what it was created for, to grow and survive.

In reducing its size I make space for light and fresh growth.
Reducing this plant was totally for my benefit ( not the plants ) Just as forgiveness is not for the other person but for me. Forgiveness gives me space, that allows me to grow. Forgiveness removes the choking thoughts and emotions, it breaks me free from the roots that trap me. Forgiveness allows light and warmth back into my life. Forgiveness is not an emotion but a choice that I must make. As with the gardening, it’s a choice.
My plant will keep coming back, keep trying to take over my garden. I will never stop having to reduce it. Just as all my life I will need to turn to God and ask for forgiveness. Without forgiveness, my heart will harden and I will fail to trust and see the beauty that surrounds me.

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Matthew 18:21-22 The Message (MSG)

21 At that point, Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Love the medium in which we grow – God is love.

The world in which we live in is a oversized self sufficient garden full of rockeries, ( mountains ) water features, ( seas and lakes ) ,beautiful lawns and vegetable patches that stretch for miles.

Personally my garden is a living part of me that I need to share. Its harvest of fruits, flowers and vegetables, the joy it gives me must be shared with others.
My garden is just as much a part of creation as the whole earth. It’s just a little bit of a whole in the oversized garden that is creation.

I want others to be able to take joy from creation. To be able to smile at a leaf, get excited by a flower not only see creation but feel and connect with creation and in turn God. The gift of creation from God to us is stunning. From sunsets to a tiny ant; it’s Perfect and beautiful.

When you have something wonderful it must be shared, sharing with others brings joy to us and to God. Opening eyes and hearts to the Christian world.

Gardens don’t grow on their own, they need freewill and careful guidance. Gardens left to totally alone often become overgrown a tangled mess. The joy from the overgrown garden can quickly disappear, restoring that garden to its beauty can seem an impossible task and often something you cannot do alone.

We are all gardeners of creation.

We all have a gift to give to the garden , we are all equal when we garden from our hearts lead by the Holy Spirit.
Some of us are born green fingered others need help to see what’s in font of us.
We are are capable gardeners tending and loving creation, with the gifts given to us from the Holy Spirit. Working the soil to its full potential seeing that creation exists not for humankind but for the glory of God and a joy to both.

God created the garden for joy. Through human sin and disobedience the garden was spoilt. We keep messing it up, we are human and get things wrong when we follow our freewill and fail to listen to God.
God created the garden: he is the only one that knows its true purpose ,It’s history, it’s inner beauty and the joy that it should give to its people and the joy it’s people should give back to the God the creator.

God sent his son to be our head gardener. Only though Jesus can we grow our gardens to maturity . Through prayer we learn, we are guided by the head gardener through the creator. We Listen, learn and grow in a Christ like way.
Even than we still get it wrong we are human and not the head gardener or the creator. God sacrificed his only son for the sins of the world. So we can live free and continue to garden creation.
The head gardener Jesus cannot garden alone. A fruitful garden takes love and labour to shape ,grow and form. Letting humanity to feel it’s joys and harvest its flowers and fruits that grow it to maturity.
We need to allow others to make paths , plant their own plants in their own style and way. But always under the guidance of the head gardener and creator.
Constant chatter( prayer) between the gardeners and the head gardener are essential for fruitfulness.
Those that know the joy of gardening open their hearts and there gardens for people to wander in encouraging them to stop and rest ; for them to nurture and form a closer relationship with Jesus. Gardeners form communities to share what they have with each other and than with the wider communities.

I see the church as the garden shed. The place where all the tools and the gardening books are kept and given out.
The priests are the gardeners too, as are we all. They garden from a calling to help others see the joy of the garden. They work not only for their own gardens but sow fruit and scatter seeds in the gardens of others.
Gardening along side and with them. weeding, planting fresh seed, loving , nurturing creation . The priests are gardeners that not only pull up weeds and sow seeds but also a have understanding of why and how to garden. They get it wrong too but their gift to the garden is to grow Gods word.
From the garden sheds they mow out paths, if possible build more sheds and gardens under the guidance of the head gardener.
They reach out to communities that are broken and have no gardening skills, they mend broken branches. Bash down weeds and brambles often getting scratched and stung on the way.
Deep inside they want others to smile as they walk past a flower and feel that deep joy of living alongside the head gardener.

The weed that the priest gardener pulls up is the same weed that any person pull ups. It has the same effect , if it’s done for the same purpose.
Equally the rose the planted by the priest gardener has just as much chance of flowering as the rose any of us can plant, as long as it’s planted with love nurtured and cared for.
We are all equal when it comes to tending the garden.

Humanity has become the problem we surround ourselves with gardens that have become overgrown with weeds. The sheds for some are distance memories at the bottom of their gardens overgrown with brambles.
The gardeners in the sheds work at clearing the brambles , they work quietly and patiently cutting one branch at a time, clearing paths. Making the sheds and the communities inside them available to as many as possible.
It’s not the sheds that we build or the people that garden inside them that give joy , it’s the flowers and fruits they plant and sow that bring us and God joy .

We cannot do this without love.

God blesses the whole garden each part makes a whole, each part has different job within the garden.
Every time someone new wonders into the garden it’s up the the gardeners to great them. It’s up to visitor which path they take and even if they don’t stop or even lift their eyes up from the floor it does not matter.
Next time they visit the garden they might just sit on the bench or even open the door to the community inside the shed.
It’s the encounter with the love of Christ through the gardeners in their sheds, it’s that love that we find forgiveness and a new purpose.
The church’s calling is to bless the world in Christ, remind and tell people why we garden . For the love and joy of creation and the creator God.
Gardeners from their sheds provide conditions for growth, placing people and sheds in the right places – God does the rest. We pray and trust in God to guide us .

My personal reflection on Gods widening Circle by Graham Tomlin.
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Hebrews 10:9Good News Translation (GNT)
9 Then he said, “Here I am, O God, to do your will.” So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place.

Love is joyful sacrifice.

Day 26 – Lent Challenge – Sacrifice.
To love requires us to give something of ourselves. Love is a gift that is given from God to us. A gift that keeps on giving.
When we love we give time and tangible help. We cannot love if we don’t give. We love because we are loved. When we give, we always receive something back in return even if we don’t see that return ourselves.
Love requires sacrifice, love is not a word it’s a action from within. When we give, we should focus on the joy of giving, not the sacrifice involved. When we love, we automatically sacrifice, it’s not a conscious decision it’s a product of love. Our sacrifice may be obvious to others but not to ourselves. If it were obvious than it would not be a sacrifice but a job a chore not done in love.
Today’s blog is for a lady with the warmest biggest heart. She has given everything to her children , grandchildren and great grandchildren. God is at the heart of all she does. Her love extends past her family and into our community.
This lady has helped me see the importance of making space for myself. Finding a place to recharge my batteries. To be with God,
Making time, not robbing time from sleep eating or family. Time not spent thinking about my every growing todo list. Time spent looking inwards growing my relationship with God. Giving time for prayer, worship and deepening myself. Remembering who I am remembering and why I love.
Stopping long enough to feel that deep love that comes from God. Stopping is never sacrifice it’s a joy.
Writing every day over lent has made me realise that I don’t make enough time to just be me. I need to feel the soil in my hands I need to be outside.
That’s when God talks to me at his loudest. I need to reconnect with myself and in doing so with God. I need to pause long enough to recharge my heart. To garden my soul. Look inwards and not create words that challenge me, but look inwards and feel the Joy of knowing God.
God came to me as a feeling, a presence, a voice that said you can do this, I am with you. God came to me without words. The words took along time to form, the words that slowly came from my heart. It’s going back to the God the resides in my heart as a feeling not words. It’s taking myself away from trying and thinking, going outside and just being me and God.

Not sure if I had just hit the bloggers wall. Having some sort of mini lent melt down or just worn out and over emotional after a tough week. With 14 more blogs to write it’s getting harder but than I guess this was not meant to be easy.

John 13:35 The Message (MSG)
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Sharing.

My life is reflected in my garden. Everything that’s in my life is in my garden. I will try and explain this in another blog it’s deeply complicated and hard to put into words.
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This weekend I shared my garden with the public. Opening my garden gate to strangers to wonder round and take from it what they will.
The whole experience was emotionally exhausting. I deeply feel it’s selfish to keep what you have to yourself. Opening my garden is a way to share what’s inside of me.
Until recently I had no other way to express this other than through my garden. No other way to tell and share with others what I find so wonderful.
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Inspiring words from the weekend.

Beautiful
Calm
Vintage
Wilderness
Peaceful tranquil
Old fashioned
Friendly
Homely
Exciting
Natural
Full of charter
Cheerful
Nature at its best
Happy
Relaxing.

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Spending the weekend sharing my garden was such a positive experience . But my thoughts and prayers today were for those affected by last nights attacks in London.

Visitors took time to light candles and share their thoughts and prayers.

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See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa