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.

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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!

Beyond my Boundaries.

Gardening is a massive part of my spiritual life. Its a commitment to a simple way of living, searching for a more sustainable lifestyle. This has drawn me closer to the idea of getting an allotment.
It’s being sustained both physically and spiritually, by what we grow and how we grow it.
It does seem a rather bonkers idea to take on an overgrown allotment right now. But it seems so right. Almost significant and defiantly something to celebrate.
My garden teaches me to look for God in all my daily activities and encounters. It reminds me of how we change from season to season.
The garden takes away the complexity of life that fills my mind. It’s a place that I don’t fail, It’s a place that forgives, it’s a place that grows. It’s a place that shows me the love, beauty and diversity of God our creator.
It opens my eyes to the smallest weed and allows me to see its beauty. It tells me God will never abandon me. However small and weedy I might feel my garden gives love and shows love.
So where is this allotment going to fit in? How will it differ from my garden?

My allotment has no fences, no visible boundaries.

It’s taking what I know outside of myself ( outside of my garden ). It’s time to start sowing seeds beyond the safety of the fences, beyond my boundaries.

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Ivy-  Hedera helix – Hedera  a classical Latin name for ‘ivy . Helix is derived from Greek helico- (spiral) meaning ‘screw-shaped coil, winding around or twisted’

It’s new.
It’s fresh new soil, new beginning. Gods grace forgives, allows me to start over and over again. I feel this little patch of mud is a new beginning. I’m not sure where it’s going, it’s new and exciting, the first physical seeds are still yet to be sown.

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Growing with that community.
It’s almost as if this allotment is a stepping stone. An opportunity to prove to myself that I can join a new community. I can sow and grow outside the comforts of my own garden. I can grow with confidence knowing God is with me.
I cannot hide on my allotment, my efforts, my disasters, are their to be shared in the community of gardeners.

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Using my gifts
I always feel so confident when I garden. It gives me a glimpse of the person that I could be.
This little patch of earth will teach me to take the strengths and gifts that God has given me out into the community.

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Love
You need love to grow. Telling someone they are loved is something I never do often enough.
Growing flowers and giving them away is something I can do. One small part of this little allotment will be for cut flowers. Flowers Grown to be given away, grown so people feel loved.

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Sweet pea – Lathyrus odoratus ” The Bride 

Maturity.
My garden is in a few places is reaching maturity. It requires light maintenance a couple of times a year.
It looks good and feels amazing to see my vision growing, being almost self-sustaining in places. So I do have time for this exciting new venture.
Allotments are a place of conversation, community, companionship, sharing the harvest, sharing my love for creation.
It’s a perfect place to share my love for Jesus. It’s the first step to sharing what burns inside my heart in a place that I feel comfortable, passionate, and connected.
A place by its own nature is rooted in love.

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2 Timothy 1:7 Good News Translation (GNT)
7 For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.

swifts and swallows

Submerged into the stillness of creation.
Feet deep in dew-laden grass.
I listen.
In solitude, the words come.

How do you write about the silence.
Explain the things we cannot see.
The wordless whispers of silent conversations.
Floating drifting words.
Ladened in love.

It’s the language of the heart.
Dictated to my mind.
Translating storing words before they fade into daydreams.
Capturing the silence.
Whispered softly from the heart.

Words become thoughts
Talk of truths.
Inspire my imitation.
Sparks of love.
Gently moving forward.
Always saying I am here.

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Emotions held in ink.

Sharing something of myself during a therapeutic / creative writing session. I realised why and how pastoral care is so important.
It offers something beyond the human. It reaches our inner selves, takes us to the place where love is.
When we connect with love we find it’s source. We realise that we are not alone, Jesus is with us.
Writing has become my way to express myself. To unpick my thoughts and feelings. To journey with my blurred jumbled words alongside Gods word.
I imagined the course would help with this writing (which it did).
I was not prepared for the sad emptiness that I felt on the journey home.
My thoughts and feelings remained on the paper stuffed into my hand bag. My emotions remained held in the ink.
Having just taken myself to some painful places, I needed to end the session with a prayer. Lift the written words from the paper and give them to God.
I made me realise how much pastoral support gives and has given me.
The love that has been poured over me. I have cried, laughed and journeyed to places I never imagined possible.
For me Pastoral care is doing. Its emotional and spiritual support. It’s walking with those in crises and trouble. Supporting those in grief, journeying with them. Sharing their joys, however small that joy might be. It’s seeing the gifts in people, they are possibly unaware they even have. Encouraging sharing in their delight, as they discover these gifts for themselves .
It’s the simple things: liking a Facebook post, a smile, noticing people, making conversation, a birthday greeting, a prayer. a email late at night, that tells someone they are loved.
It’s practical stuff too: it’s doing, it’s being, it’s listening . It’s this practical stuff that shows Christ living through us. It’s the action that comes from loving one another, because we ourselves are first loved by God.
Knowing we are loved is powerful and beautiful it heals. To tell someone they are loved is from God.
We take God to the people in the hands that we hold, the stories that we listen to, tears that we shed with one another, and the prayers we share.
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John 13:34-35 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.”