Church is People.

Sitting in church with my mum trying to imagine what was church means for both of us.

A fertile field, an empty pew.
Ploughed, polished
Majestic oak rooted, harvested and carved.
Emerging growth, traditionally planted.

A muddy field, a quite pew
Scattering seeds, row upon row,
Self seeding, hybrid T’s.
Free-draining, managed soil.

An open gate, a heavy door.
Porous, water tight.
Weathering the seasons, heating on.
Exposed , sheltered
From the shared storm.

Coloured skies, painted roof.
Natures palette, hues of glass
Dog eared pages, carefully read.
Weathered cold and well feed.

Muddy footsteps, clicking  heals.
Boots and suits.
Kids that dig
Babies that scream.
Those that talk
Those that say nothing at all.

Flasks of coffee, teapots and cosies.
Picnics,  biscuits on china plate
A tree stump, a chair.
A shared conversation.
A friend.

We are all church
God’s  gathered people
Loved.
Growing.
In our own way.
Our own pace.
Same space.
Church is people.

 

Wisdom of the Silver Apricot.

We believe in one family.
The ancient family of Ginko.
Rooted in a earthly wisdom.
Of all that is fossilised and unseen.

We believe in a unique spirited planted growth.
Flowing from the streams of Eden.
A collaboration of perceived colouration.
Two lobed, never Green.

We are deciduous.
Our nakedness seasonal .
We stand without shame in the presence of God.
We are born out of nature herself.
Out of the changing seasons.
Our love of the sun, and fresh air are reflected in the silver apricot .
Evoking a powerful sense of liberation, joy and freedom.
An innocence of openness to the world.

Eve reached high into our canopy.
Arms stretched, she took a sliver apricot.
She tasted the wisdom.
We too taste the wisdom of Eves first bite.
Lived through the seed of freedom.
Flowering a hope of choices yet to be made.

We are a robust memory keeper.
Rooted in scripture and prayer.
Retelling the stories held within our family.
We have survived some of the darkest moments made by man.
Those that have tried to pollute us, have failed.
We will regrow.

For us to freely grow.
He came down from heaven
By the power and love of the Holy Spirit .
We see and believe in Jesus .
Setting our minds free to think truthfully.
So we can live a life of a true graceful peace.

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Unknown ornamental.

We believe that our branches will have enough strength to support
our flowers as they blossom and fade.
We believe our flowers and fruit show only of what is seen.
Our creed is rooted in all that is unseen.

We are nourished from the deep scented springs of Israel.
Sheltered beneath her canopy of love.
We are as fruitful as an olive tree grown in the shade.
We are a unknown ornamental.
Named but misunderstood.
But through God our father we are made.

We thank God for the droplets of sparkling dew that rest on our Golden leaves.
Hope giving, thirst quenching, spirit filled water. Falls slowly into a hungry and thirsty fertile earth.
We grow to give hope, shelter, love and peace to our creators biodiverse creation.

Gods golden molten love is poured into our wooden hearts. Softening us, transforming us.
Blessing us with a sustaining rooted love of hope .
A steadfast love that produces an enduring determination.
If cut down we will regrow.
Through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
“ We will grow in love “
A spirit filled growth that grows within our limitations, shoots that accept our vulnerabilities. Shoots that will not cease.
Growing for the glory of God. Growing towards the kingdom that has no end.

We believe our roots will sustain us as we grow on the margins.
Our daydreams will be firmly established in love.
We pray for self confidence.
For a voice that can be heard.
As the wind dances over our golden Green leaves we look to God for the strength to stand up to what we perceive to be right.
We acknowledge that we are not ornamental. We Silence the voices that say we are not good enough.
We believe all creation is a treasure to be cherished.
We are rooted and grounded in love.
loved infinitely.

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Apples.

The first seeds I remember planting were the pips from an apple.
They grew.

They reached maturity and produced their own harvest. I have to admit the apples produced by our trees had little resemblance to the parent plant.
They where sour tasting apples hardly fit for eating. I remember the screwed up face I made the first time we ate our harvest. Trying to convince myself they where good.
I grew up watching these trees change with the seasons. They out grew the pots on the kitchen window seal. Became rooted into the ecosystem of my Great Aunties garden . They saw me though school, marriage and the birth of our daughter . When auntie died the apple trees in her garden remained firmly planted in my memory.
When I opened my hand as small child I received two apple pips. My plan was to grow apple trees to produce apples we could eat. Apples that would taste as good if not better than the parent plant.
We could have never seen the world of wonder that these seeds would grow.
This blog is not about growing apple trees, it’s not even about bad tasting apples but about the plans God has for all of us.
I think about Gods plans for us and how they are often so very different to our plans.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always makes sense, but it doesn’t. I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make us feel good, but it doesn’t do that either.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make our lives easier and more comfortable, but I am fairly certain that’s not the case.
God’s blessing doesn’t always come as Red sweet tasting apples.
It might even come in a harvest of Red bitter tasting apples. Grown with love and memories that will live on in my heart. Memories that have helped me to see who I am, and where God might be calling me.
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Psalm 104 The Message (MSG)

24-30
What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

Choose life.

This is the first of five blogs;  Reflections from my retreat weekend at Hilfield Friary.

Hilfield’s vision statement shares and reflects many of my own personal values. It’s a place that’s Rooted – seeking to live simply and gracefully, caring for the land that we have been entrusted with.
It’s Christain – Following Christ caring for the poor and marginalized of our society and all of creation. It’s Family – welcoming all people and creation.

These values are choices that we choose to live by.
My first reflection is from a guided time of prayer “ choose life”

Choose a vision.
Choose a cause.
Choose a different way.

Choose to respect the past and the present.
Choose to look for the little things in the places you would least expect to find them.
Walk bare footed in dew laden grass.
Choose to plant.

Sow in context.
Choose to wait.
Choose new paths.
Choose to see what happens.

Choose to love those awkward shapes.
Choose to listen.
Accept we all make bad decisions.
Choose to change.

Keep pathways open for conversations.
Choose to stop .
Choose to ask for help.
Choose to be fruitful.
Choose to accept gifts.
Embrace the hidden path ways of the journey
Choose to be rooted and grounded in love.
Choose God.
Choose life.

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Should we risk Creating?

God birthed creation, birthed breath-taking beauty of earth and sky. Some of this beauty we may never get to see. The fish that swim in our deepest oceans or the flower of Queen of Andes  that blooms every 100 years. Yet we can be blind to the beauty that’s right in front of us.
It takes only a little effort to see Gods creative beauty that surrounds us ; dazzling metallic colours of the dragon fly , ewes nursing their lambs, sticky horse chestnut buds in springtime .
Creativity is the ability to make new things, to reflect God’s love in all we do.
Creativeness takes time; a dragon fly life cycle completes in six short months . The ewe carries her lamb for 145 days . The horse chestnut tree takes 20 years to grow just 8 meters.
We can stop this process of growth, but it’s so obvious that we should never stop this beautiful expression of God’s love for us and creation.
It would be unjust to kill the dragon fly Larva, to stop this insect before it could dazzle us with its beauty.
It would be inhumane to stop a newly born lamb from bonding and suckling from its mother.
It would be nothing short of vandalism to deliberately up root a horse chestnut sapling. We know its wrong.
Equally why would we want to restrict someone from learning? Supporting a loved one through grief and pain. Is it right to find ways to restrict their creativity ?
When I share and cook a meal, pray, dance or write poetry. When I paddle in the sea or plant a seed: I create.
All of us create or think new things.
Creativity is risky, uncertain, open-ended, painful and extremely uncomfortable, possibly hurting or costing more than we could imagine.
Yet I don’t stop.
I trust in God; listen and discover the journey with all the twists turns and dead ends that happen to all of us.
Gods Creativity reveals more than I will ever know or imagine about the world and myself. New concepts, perceptions, and knowledge, giving love, life, hope and meaning.
I need time to create and to be creative. To pay attention to my passions, to grow my relationship with Jesus. To connect with creation, to connect  with the mud ( earth ) it stirs and awakens me. It sparks my imagination.
I am always improvising making this connection possible where ever God sends me. Touching the leaves of a growing sapling on a busy road. Wrapping my arms around a large mature tree in a national trust park. I use what’s available . Constantly changing my direction, morphing new ideas, each encounter is unique . It’s my prayer time.
Connecting God through my passions creates and awakens me to a world of hope and unlimited possibilities .
Protecting this creative space is costly and risky. It’s this space that reflects God. Helping broaden and expand the world and myself.
We all require a space so we can hear the whispers of our creator. Our personal journey’s and stories are revealed when we risk creating.

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Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

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.

Unbumped.

This blog has been sitting in a notebook since the summer. These scribbled notes have been crossed out, highlighted and binned.
I have been drawn this week to revisit my scribbles, to try and unpick what I want to say.
We are in the middle of baby loss awareness week, It’s a special opportunity to mark the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or at or soon after birth.
Social media / news stories supporting baby loss week tell of the indescribable pain and heartbreak of loosing a baby.
It’s is a pain that never goes away: it changes shape, it produces less tears, it slowly makes way for laughter and a different life, but it stays.
We celebrate pregnancy we share our scan pictures, our milestones we share our joys.
Their is no room for celebrations when a pregnancy ends early, It robs you of your dreams and the baby you never got to hold . Its a silent painful loss, often unspoken, not shared.
The Unbearable pain of repeated miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies has consumed me for many years. Each loss became another story in my dark twisted fairy tale. Happy every after was not in my story, a dark fear and disbelief left me empty and morning.
Twenty Two years latter I celebrated these precious lives by being “unbumped”
The unbumping as we called it took the form of a body painting. A work of art, not on paper, but on skin, my not so flat stomach provided us with a wobbly canvas. A stomach stretched by pregnancy, scared by pregnancy loss and the emergency surgery to save my life, ending the life of my unborn child.
It’s taken me along time to have come this far, to understand that the answer to infertility is not always healed by the arrival of a baby. Our journeys though grief are unique to us, time is not a factor. Letting go of love was only made possible for me when I found my faith.
My faith has helped me to hand over of my grief and pain. To ask God to deal with it for me / with me. Understanding and trusting that God will hold onto our children forever, hold them so I can let them go.
Spending time reading and reflecting on psalm 139 has helped me to see just how much our unborn children are loved by God. How much love went into making each and every one of them. How beautifully wonderfully made they are.
It was from those reflections the unbump celebration became a creative visual celebration of the six children that grew in my womb.
My companion in this unbumping was a trusted creative friend. Putting time aside from our busy lives we spent a weekend together on our own mini retreat . A prayerful time guided by the Holy spirt, a creative space that allowed us to pray through art.
We focused on the gifts that pregnancy has brought to each of us . My wobbly skin canvas was being transformed by the flutter of brush stokes. These butterfly fluttering strokes painted 6 little perfect hearts into a heart shaped womb.
Each heart was joined to one another and woven into my life story.
The painting was more than I could have hoped for, the bitter sweet emotions that surfaced during the day where mixed with friendship and prayer.
Unlike a tattoo this beautiful work of art was only temporary. One of many moments that have helped in the healing process. Praying and reflecting on the day I showered my skin soothed and comforted by the heat of the water . The painted images slowly started to run and mix into each other. Watching these colours swirl and fade away I realised just how healing the process had been. Thankful for the opportunity to have celebrated their being in such a perfect and beautiful way. These little people have made my heart bigger, taught me how fragile life is, how precious each moment is.
The Bible is filled with stories about normal everyday humans who struggle, whose stories of pain and suffering are part of their journey.
I have yet to read all these stories, the ones that I have read tell of journeys full of pain, but in that pain is purpose and hope. We only see that purpose when we look back. I can only know see just how much God was a part of my life when I look back. God was with me I was just looking in the wrong direction.
The more I learn about a life walking with Jesus the more I start to realise It’s not always for us understand why . I will never why I could not carry our babies to term or why I suffered infertility after my last pregnancy.
Today I understand my life is richer for their being. It’s a life lived today as a christian filled with hope and love.
It’s a love that has started to free me from the grief of pregnancy loss, To embrace a future knowing I am loved by the one who created me
We are loved and stay loved, we are not measured on our success in carrying a baby to term. We are not measured by our failure to conceive . We are just loved and watched over, as we grow into the person we become.
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Psalm 139:13-18

13For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother’s womb.

14I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,