Wrestling with compost.

It’s strange how certain activities trigger memories that unlock a world I have yet to understand. Physical actions gently push my mind, nudging my world closer to the words that I struggle to comprehend. Words that need to find a place in my heart. Require a practical understanding so I can relate to them in my own way. So I can learn to pronounce, remember and recognise them. To understand what they mean to me and others. I need that word to become visual almost tactile to revival something of it’s self to me. It’s a slow often frustrating way of learning. Taking time with just one word, allowing it to guide me in practical way.
The word Koinonia came into my life this week. I must have heard it before but for some reason I locked onto the word and tried to unpick what it means to me.
I discovered my answers while wrestling with a large heavy bag of compost. It sounds the most unlikely of places but together my faith joined my gardening world and made their magical connections to Koinonia.
I was taught at horticultural college to shake, turn and mix a bag of compost before opening it. It’s hard heavy work that I often question. I wonder how many other people get hot and bothered turning over these brute sized bags? Theirs no written notice on the bag “ exhaust yourself by shaking and mixing bag before use”.
Yet I know by putting in this effort my seeds/plants get the best compost to grow in. In the wrestling I mix all the nutrients and soil types within the bag. Ensuring my little seeds have everything they could possibly need to grow.
I never lose the wonder in planting seeds. It’s the endless possibilities, a unison between the creator and creation. My role is to mix compost, seeds, water and love together.
It’s that mixing that connected me to koinonia. It’s a community of love in which we grow. Its a seamless interchange of mutual love which unites the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The more we live in communities of love, the more we can grow into the image and likeness of God who created us.
It’s that powerful incredible linked togetherness with others and God, at the same time being profundity at one with nature.
We are together as a family, as community. Expressing our need to be feed nourished fed and healed by God who is a community of love.
When wrestling with my compost bags, I mix love. Providing that micro community within my glass house. A community that loves, feeds and nurtures my seeds.
We are not as good as we could be at mixing ourselves. I never realised just how much we must move and mix within and outside of our community in order to grow.
Sitting in the same seat in church each week, doing the same things can slow down our growth, and the growth of those around us.
Sitting in the same seat has a lot todo with habit. When we do the same nothing changes, we expect the same.
Moving and mixing is difficult, it challenges us to sit among different people. To get to know someone new, to see a different perspective, to notice things we have never seen before.
When I walk into church this Sunday, I will sit somewhere different. Challenge myself and those who sit with me to change seats each week. Making us more open to change and growth. Mixing with those we do not know.
Maybe in that mixing we will build a stronger community. A Community that together can reach out to heal our wounded planet. A Community of love that grows flowers and fruits in likeness of God who created us.

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Hebrews 10:24-25 The Message (MSG)
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

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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.

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!

The Happy Prince.

Last weekend I watched Rupert Everet’s film “ The happy prince”, the story of Oscar Wilde’s last few days.
Wilde’s body ailing and his mind spinning from past to present day we learn something about this poet and how during his time in prison he found God. A spiritual renewal, a fresh start – to be reborn.
Wilde upon release planned to turn his life around. Be a father to his sons, live once again as a family with his wife Constance. The film showed that while Wilde had faith he had hope.
Living in France Wilde’s old vices soon turned his life upside down, leaving him broken and in poverty.
As death becomes closer his friend/ lover Robbie Ross called for a priest at Wilde’s request. The priest spends time with Wilde, baptising him just before he dies. It showed how grace can transform and redeem us even when our pain is self-inflicted.
One question from the film has stayed with me. The priest asked the dying Wilde “ where did you lose your faith?”
I have been asking myself this all week, When did I lose my faith?
I have eventually found what was possibly my moment when things started to change, I was aged about 7. It was a baking hot day as it is today ( maybe that helped the memory ). I was dressed for the weather wearing shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops.
My sister I were playing that silly game of ringing the doorbell and running away. I can’t remember which one of us rang our front doorbell. I can’t remember my angry mum answering the ring.
I do remember running in flip-flops on a gravel path and falling over.
I remember the two bloody gravel filled knees, and the blood-soaked pillow from the large bleeding gash on my head. I was very scared and frightened.
I remember being told God was paying me back for ringing the doorbell and running away.
As a child I heard:  I’m bad and Gods mad at me, God made me fall over, God is why I am scared and hurting, God is causing me all this pain. I am so scared.

As an adult, I understand that God never dressed me in flip-flops that morning.  It was our free will that started the silly doorbell game.
As an adult, I have seen how God uses the circumstances we find ourselves in for good. It does no matter how impossible these circumstances seem.
God heals our wounds, brings us comfort and guidance. But best of all he brings love. Holds us in our pain so we in turn can hold others in pain and distress.
Everything does happen for a reason. I feel over as I was running scared in flip-flops.

My parents knew nothing of Gods grace and how that grace changes everything. It would be another 36 years before I would become transformed and my life enriched by God’s love and Grace.

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Ephesians 2:8-10 Good News Translation .
8-9 For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

Gardening is my default.

This weekend is our church weekend at home. We have been joined by writer, speaker and performer Dave Hopwood .
Dave uses film and other media, to lift the Jesus we read about in the Gospels off the page.
As Dave uses film I use my garden to help me understand the Gospels / faith. My gardening is the context that I understand. It’s part of my DNA ,it’s my default.
It’s having that physical connection to creation. It’s that connection that I find God rooted and growing inside my heart.
My six on Saturday this week is not from my garden. Instead I have chosen six photos from our church garden. It’s a beautiful peaceful garden maintained by a small number of volenteers.
No comments just enjoy the diversity and beauty of the garden.

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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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Just Being.

Emotional stored up energy.
Focused and realised.
Freedom giving.
Boundaries broken.
Just being.

Mind wanders to silence.
Paths form and grow
Boundless and limitless.
Love Intensifies the silence.
Just being.

Spiritually connected
Phisically contained.
Hedges, fences.
Familiar paths.
Safety in the knowing.
Secure
Just being.

Would I.
Could I break out.
Smashing paths, trampling fences, distorting dreams.
Hurting all.
That’s not me.

Could I.
Should I be wild and reckless
Selfish.
Boundaries would be lost .
love would be hurt.
That’s not me.

Silence beyond just being.
Prayers that never utter a word.
Peace and freedom.
Love that pulls me, beyond my boundaries.
Thats me.
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