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.

 

Involucrata nutlet of hope

Our bracts of mystic dove wings weep deeply.
Stirred by the beauty of nature.
An earthly unquestioning belief.
Of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We believe in the involucrata nutlet of hope.
Stratification of music, poetry and love.
Dormancy broken by a whispered Bible verse.
That sudden pain of love sparking germination.
A new hope, new growth.
An awakening.

Augustine Henry saw handkerchiefs.
Wang Zhaojun saw doves.
when we leave the heard and seen.
Slip out into the garden of grace.
Our heart shaped leaves become evergreen.
No decay, no sound, no colour.
But only a tearful essence .
It’s in this moment we see God
God who weeps with us.

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I am………

I will be who I will be.
I have always been.
I am and always will be.
From the ancient mythological family of Taxus.

WE BELIEVE in the mysterious, unfathomable Rock

Rooted in an radiant evergreen love.
Growing in the infinite nature of God.
Plunging us into all that is seen and unseen.

We believe as our branches bend on the archers bow.
Arrows will be scattered.
Lighting the coloured stories of the master builder.
Illuminating; immortality, renewal and regeneration.
Sharing; everlasting life, rebirth and transformation.

We are called to a life in tune with creation
In tune with reality.
To grow a robust faith.
To listen to the spirit blowing through our leaves.
Ensuring, safeguarding, embracing our future.
Diverse in our thinking, grounded in tradition.
We dwell in the forest of disciple makers.
Seekers of light and hope.

Our creed can be danced in the autumn winds.
Sung to the morning sky.
Painted by the warmth of a winter’s fire.
Sculpted in mud from which we grow.
Dreamed into the reality of salty tears.

Slowly we change, slowly we grow.
We stand still
“Rooted”.
Journeying with God that we will never fully know.
Never fully comprehend.

We share bread and truth
A vision
We shared a path of hope
Celebrating our honest venerability
Not afraid to ask our rawest questions.
That rise out of the awe that comes from engaging the living God.

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Take risks. Be vulnerable

My silent scream in Asda today went unnoticed. I screamed a painful frustration of mixed emotions. Brokenness released into a haze full of love.
A intimate brokenness that is fully understood without a word ever being spoken. My unspoken words are heard, my brokenness is soothed by tears so full of love.“ I know I’m loved”.
God has transformed my heart, opened my whole body to listen to silent conversations within myself. Conversations so complex they become knitted into my being. Unspoken words that are so rich in love they become visible. These are my conversations with God.
Gods word is so beautiful when unwritten. It becomes void of differences, it becomes one spiritual language of love.
I’m stood nervously listening to God on the blurred edges of the vocation journey. Discerning Gods call for me but also asking; what does that call means for my husband and family?
The path that God has called us to walk along is a bumpy one . I can’t walk on this path alone, in life my husband and I walk together, we choose together, we discuss together.
We choose the paths that we know. We walk together trying to support each other.
This journey is challenging us both to walk a different path in ways we do not know or understand. It’s a path that is not of our choosing it’s a path that I trust .
I expect my husband to walk with me. Yet these paths seem so ridiculously difficult for those closest to us .
I’m asking my husband to step out in faith with me, for his steps to parallel my enthusiasm for this unknown journey.
This journey grows anxiety from what we don’t know and can’t know, especially what will happen. Fearing uncertainty, focusing on what knowledge we have as something to grasp.
Holding so tightly to the person he used to know theirs a fear in the reality of knowing the person that God knows.
In all my sadness their is love, in all my pain their is hope, in my brokenness theirs a hunger for knowledge. God invites us together to step out in faith.

I’m hurting today, the pain between us is real and possibly avoidable. “ it’s ok not to be ok”.
We both seemed trapped in non stop questioning, endless conversations of reasoning. The rights and wrongs, the what ifs in our quest for certainty.
Together we can’t see a way through these questions alone. What excites me, scares him.
I’m so happy to wonder in the blurred haze and delight in the unknown. Act with freedom and inhibition, unconcerned about what others may think. Get down low and get up close to look at all I have yet to see. Try it out. Take risks. Be vulnerable.

I am taking risks with our relationship, pushing what’s familiar, journeying together discovering what unfolds. Keeping it simple being gentle with ourselves. Today just being is enough. Just being together with the God who is mystery.

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Isaiah 30:18 The Message (MSG)
But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones

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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Marcescence.

 
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 beloved believes in me.

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.

Doing things different.

This picture was taken in 1976, a 5 year old little girl presenting the lord mayor with a flower button hole. The occasion was the grand opening of the church’s Christmas sale .
The picture is staged for the local press. Everyone smiling and the little girl is doing just what is expected of her. The newspaper cutting shows us how life has changed. Lord mayors opening the Christmas fete is surely something only happen in years gone by.
The little girl at the front is me .

I had forgotten until recently about this photo. I can’t remember the day of the church sale. I can’t even remember the photo being taken. But I do know I was a member of a church community that loved me.
The photo shows me before I started school, before the education system started to erode the person that I longed to be. I was painfully shy and that made me different. Struggling with school work, daydreaming, instead of engaging with the written word.
I was told I was not good enough, told I did try.
These comments shaped me, shyness slowly developed into fear, and lack of confidence .The fear of words and shyness would start to rule over me.

I have been reconnecting with my childhood journey of faith. The child that still lives strongly within me is taking me back. Showing me that God has always been with me .
We are each called for a particular purpose, we’re supposed to be wildly different. We are called to show God’s love for us. Show this love in our actions / doing things different, the way we spend our money, the TV we choose to watch, the conversations we have.
The coolest thing is when the Holy Spirit lives within us we connect to our creative child within ourselves. We never lose our sense of wonder our world just gets bigger and more full of love.

Taking Love Home.

This week we had to make some really tough financial decisions. We cried as our beautiful old car was driven away by its new owner.
We reminisced as we packed up our scuba diving equipment ready to post out .
Looking around the garden I started to put plants aside, writing out price tags, attaching them to the plants that I had grown,loved and nurtured.
So much time care and love has gone into these plants, I decided they were not for sale. My plants are so much more than just a pretty flower they represent growth and love.
I sow the seeds but it’s God that grows them. I just provide the right conditions for that growth to take place. How could I possibly ask money for something so beautifully wonderful as the love that comes from God? I can’t .
I gave my plants away, asking only for a small donation ( to cover costs ) to those that could afford it. The donations I received will be spent on seeds. So I can keep on growing and keep on giving.
Each plant given represents love. Love freely given to carry on growing in someone else’s garden.
When you have God’s love it needs to be shared with others. As I shared my plants, I shared something of myself and my love for Jesus.
I have had a unexpected blessed weekend. Meeting so many new people, all with a interest in gardening all happy to take a little bit of love home with them.

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Colossians 2:7 Good News Translation (GNT)
7 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.