I am….not a sunflower.

A sunflower is not; an over grown marigold, or a mutated daffodil, It’s not a freaky big plant that’s grown out of control, It’s not a bi annual, it’s not a tree, it does not sting, it’s leaves are not black and it’s flower head comes in many colours but never blue. It grows regardless of wealth or what people say or think about it.
At this point you may have noticed that this is a list of what the sunflower is not.
Its easy to focus on what we are not. To look at what we don’t have, but when we strip away the not haves, in our naked nothingness we start to see who we really are and something of who God is.

Let’s go back to the sunflower, I can’t leave you with a list of what a sunflower is not without telling you something of what a sunflower is.
Latin name: Helianthus annuus.
Helianthus is derived from Greek helio- (sun) and antho- (flower).
annuus means ‘annual ( completes its growing cycle in one season ).

Did you know sunflowers follow the sun. Its not something you might notice when you have a lone flower in your garden. If you are lucky enough to see a field of sunflowers it’s obvious they know which way to look.

Something I found out recently, is that Sunflowers continue tracking the suns direction long after the sun has set. Through 360 degree’s they ensure that they are always oriented in the direction of the sun.
Their unity is totally dependant on one thing. Their relationship to the sun.
Facing the sun these flowers grow tall, towering above the other flowers. Theirs something truly wonderful, awesome, and beautiful about the sunflower. It seems so sure of who it is, confident in it’s just being.

Who am I?
For me this week the question has not been who am I but – who do others think I am ( waiting for the pioneer panels outcome ) .

In this time of waiting I need to be more like the sunflower, turning to God, almost pointing God out to myself, reminding myself that God knows who am.
That it’s in my very core of my being to turn to God, not just in these days of waiting but in all that I am.
It’s a being-ness in which Jesus walks with me into freshly ploughed fields and whispers sow.
It’s a being-ness that calls me to put on Wellington boots in readiness to walk in a direction that I have never walked before.
My being-ness needs to follow God as much as the sunflowers need to follow the sun. It’s a natural God created being that guides me to a place of doing. In my being and doing I to turn to God, to seek and find the core of my very self.
When I turn to God in this time of waiting, I feel the warmth of love that I follow, I see something of my I – am -ness in myself and others as I turn to face the warmth of one who loves us all.

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2014

John 13:7 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

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Prepare a room in our hearts..

The Christmas decorations have made their annual journey from the loft to the bedroom floor. This large oversized chest contains Christmas past and Christmas present . Theirs a irrational urgency to open this chest. The job of decorating becomes my prime task and focus. I use the word job and as if getting ready for Christmas is a chore, something that has to be done. A job like cleaning the windows or worse still ironing.
I’ve lost my focus , being pulled into the tasks that are not Christmas . The tasks themselves are joyful, but Christmas has temporally lost its wonder. Its been tarnished in the unnecessary urgency to get it done.
The tinsel still glitters, the Christmas balls still sparkle, nothing’s missing it’s all their . All perfectly waiting for …

For me to stop.
To slow down.
To find a star.

A cardboard star lovingly crafted by a little boy over 50 years ago. It’s warm colours are faded with age. The glitter has long gone. Yet it still shines brightly.
It’s tattered edges and faded paint tell a story of love. Holding onto the stories of our Christmases past.

Christmas is not about glittery cards or decorations, it’s about love. Love that needs us to patiently wait, to prepare a room in our hearts for the one who knows no boundary of time.

 

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Luke 21:34-36 The Message (MSG)
“But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”

Marcescence.

My phone keeps ringing, it’s a familiar number. The same questions are asked, the same answers are given. I know he will ring again and again
This poem is for all those that are caring for a loves whose memories are fading.

Marcescence.

I’m stuck in a season.
A muddled dimension of a shifted lifetime.
Growing in a space that’s confused by its place.
I’m lost and visible chronology misplaced.
Papery texture of my withered leaves brings to the landscape, a different me.
I am the unnamed tree that’s forgotten to drop its leaves.

Tucked away colours.
Red, oranges and sad shades of Green.
Mixed hues that confuse.
Whispering and rustling all through my leaves.
Blurred memories.
They scare me.

Leaves cling to their branches waiting for the first winter snow.
It’s not a choice, I have forgotten how to let go.
Embarrassed and afraid.
Theirs no where to hide.
It’s only summer that I feel deep inside.

I can’t see the frost that crystallises and grows.
I can’t feel the cold on my roots in the snow.
It’s a time of change in this world I can’t share.
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ITS RUDE TO STARE.

Woodland crunching, deafening sounds.
Unknown faces with a warm winter glow.
Standing in my long ago.
They struggle to except I have forgotten how to grow.
They tell me I am a majestic beach tree.
Standing tall and strong for the world to see.

I am the tree that’s forgotten to drop its leaves.
Do not despair .
Touch me gently, whisper through the winter wind.
I am listening.

Call me by name.
Talk to me.
I am grateful for your company.
Loved knowing
My beloveded believes in me.

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marcescence the name given when tress retention their leaves in the winter. From the Latin meaning to shrivel ( withering without falling ) no one can say with any certainty why it happens. most agree it has something to do with protecting the trees

Love that drives knowledge.

Undeveloped, disorganised, immature, lacks direction and fullness would be a fair description of the end of my garden. Yet this part of my garden has great potential. Its a place that one day will have cottage garden boarders. A meadow rich with native flowers, fruit bushes and fruit trees all giving a plentiful harvest. The glass house will be organised, uniformed, seedlings labeled, cold frames full of young plants getting ready to be planted out into the boarders.
Their will be an ambulant aroma of herbs ranging from the bitter to the sweet.
I can only see the faults in this part of my garden. I can only see the plants that have not thrived. I can only see what needs to be done. I can see it’s faults and in them my own.
It creates a restlessness, I fidget constantly drawn to the things that do not really matter. While often missing the things that do matter.
The garden moves and changes as I try and understand what this garden needs to be. The paths will one day find their direction. I will one day blend the colours seamlessly within the boarders. The fruit trees will fruit and the meadows will be a drift of pastel colours. But just not yet.
Something’s we are just not ready for, we can’t rush our growing or our learning . Wisdom and knowledge does not only come with age and experience it comes from love.
This weekend I meet the most magnificent Mulberry tree. The genus name of the mulberry is Morus derived from the Latin word mora meaning “delay” because the mulberry tree is one odd the last trees to bud in the spring. The mulberry could possibly be the wisest tree of all waiting until the frosts have pasted before safely budding. It’s a wonderful tree that is indigenous to Persia (Iran).  A tree that teaches me its ok to be slow. In the slowness their is a delayed beauty, a slowness of learning that I need to embrace. It’s a knowledge that needs to be felt as much as learnt, to dance in its mystery to journey in Gods love.
I learn when I climb over barriers to hug an accident mulberry tress. I grow when I watch the sun rise. The knowledge of love is in the cinema, it’s in my messy garden, it’s in the people that I meet and the encounters we have Jesus.
A timeless love that waits for us to flower. It’s a love far greater than knowledge. It’s a love that I surrender to, a love that brings knowledge alive.
Without love the knowledge will die, Its love that drives me to knowledge. It’s not knowledge that drives me to love.
Like the majestic mulberry tree I am also slow to bud. I am slow in understanding the written knowledge of Scripture. I am slow to write and slow to read. But it does not mean I won’t flower. It does not mean I don’t understand or love.
Wrapping my heart and arms around Morus nigra ( mulberry ) connected me not only with God but to myself, to be myself. To stay true to the love that grows in my heart. A love that makes me hungry for knowledge. Love that is rooted and woven within me and the community in which in live.

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Luke 17:6
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

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.

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!