The pioneer allotment.

Let me explain where the pioneer allotment came from and why. To understand why, I think it might be helpful if you knew a little bit about me. I am a pioneer in the Bath and Wells diocese.  My faith has come from a deep spiritual connection with creation.  I think in pictures, came to faith early one morning in my garden. 

As a picture thinker I find it helpful to draw the words that I am reading. It’s a translation from the written word into a language that I understand. The pioneer allotment is just my personal translation. 

From this… 

To this… 

Allotments are at their heart a community that shares an individualistic communal environment. Each allotted plot  holder (allotment owner) is working within the guidelines set down by their allotment association. Each plot holder translating what these guidelines means to them. Theirs flexibility, and unity in this unique place where people grow together. It’s a place that you grow what’s relevant to you. In a method that’s of your choosing. 

Growing seasonal local food means you become more in tune with the land. Plot holders naturally nurture new members. Wanting to share knowledge, share the joy of the harvest, wanting others to feel that joy too.  

The allotment holds onto and works with the traditions of the past. It’s an earthy visible process that openly shares its highs and lows with its community. It’s a place open to all, regardless of wealth or knowledge. 

Allotments are a place of doing. 

As I wander around my allotment, I see a patchwork of creative planting; pumpkins, runner-beans, potatoes, cabbages. My drawn pioneer spectrum comes to life. The rich blended landscape of our differences, from the traditional to boldly different. The pioneer allotment starts with the traditional church plant. Replicating traditional methods and planting.   

As we move further along spectrum  we find the planting slowly changing. As we change the planting and the methods, so we push against traditional boundaries.  Moving further along the spectrum our work becomes more unknown and vulnerable. Working with seeds that have yet to germinate. The harvest is not guaranteed. 

It may look muddled. The soil is often poor, requiring a lot of organic matter (manure) to be added.  Here success cannot be measured by the fruits of our harvest. My own allotment is very nontraditional. I’m constantly told by other plot holders that my methods are incorrect. 

They even take matters into their own hands. Removing the stinging nettles from my plot.  They see them as weeds while I see them as habitats for butterflies. 

The strange round cucumbers that grow in my chaotic allotment taste no different to the straight green cucumbers grown on the more traditional allotment.  As pioneers we see the possibilities a space can offer. We work to Create different holy spaces; spaces that grow round cucumbers and orange carrots, Spaces where God is at work, spaces to meet Jesus. Spaces where the Holy Spirit is active.  

It’s in these holy traditional and chaotic spaces that we come together as family. We share memories and a shared hope for the future. 

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.

 

Princess and the Phoenix

We believe that love is a action that comes from God.
Radiant love informed by our past.
A relational love of creativity.
Simultaneously connecting tears, laughter and deep joy.
A love that is seen when we hold what we feel in our hearts.

We believe that growth comes from a spirited change.
A rooted way of doing. A creative way of being .
We believe as our seeds are carried by the strongest winds.
Passed though the deepest waters. We will not be overwhelmed.
When our homeland is destroyed by fire.
The flame will not consume us.
Through God the father we can regrow .

Rapidly growing, seed dispersing, story telling.
Soil enhancing , shade giver, disciple facilitator.
We are the paulownia family.
Pioneer Princess trees.

Under our wings of dark green leaves .
Woven into our being sits KHOL the Phoenix bird.
A renewed life, symbol of the resurrection and the redemptive power of Christ and eternal life in heaven.
When her time is fulfilled KHOL builds a spiced nest of frankincense and, myrrh.
She enters the fires dies and rises again .

We believe Gods love is sending us to the most unexpected of places.
We call this place home.
A place discovered in shared memories. A shared hope for the future.
Our dispersed seeds will carry the stories of land in which we live and love.
Nibbled leaves, snapped branches, exposed roots, an outward sign of our inward brokenness.
We have the courage to make home in these unexpected places.
Be the first to grow something new.
We are upward growing, challenging, risk takers.
Seekers with Questions.
We look for and find God at work in the most strangest of places.
Jesus offers us an upside down inside out back to front world of love and grace.
We dwell and grow together in this alternative beautiful reality.

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Getting ready.

Train tickets purchased, overnight accommodation booked. Reading material has been sourced and journal purchased. A large selection of coloured pens are displayed on the coffee table.
Supplies are plentiful, tea, biscuits and a glass of wine for the evening. Best of all I have time to read, make notes and prepare for the one day pioneer selection panel (Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community).
I’ve made colourful notes comprising of an individual mix of badly drawn pictures and mispelt words.
I’m doing what I feel is expected of me. To study, gaining knowledge before I attend the panel . What I am reading is far from dull, the text is rich bold and exciting. My chosen method to study is dull and unimaginative. The typed text that I read remain as words that move from text book to my journal.
So over nourished with Christmas I find myself curled up on the sofa reading and writing. It’s easy to stay in my pjs and fluffy festive socks, it’s comfortable and warm.
I crave this warmth that the inside brings. It’s the inside that’s blurring my vision, it’s being inside that’s consuming my energy an dulling the imagination.
It’s time to squeeze my feet into Wellington boots (which seemed unusually tight due to my reluctance to remove my fluffy festive socks) and spend some time in the garden .
Outside my colourful notes become fully formed pictures. The energy that had been locked way was released into the space that is my garden. On a cold winters day this space is full of warmth and love.
A horticulturalists winter garden is full of anticipation of what’s to come. Impatient excitement holds God’s garden in this time of preparation and waiting.
The garden is waiting for the days to lengthen and the sun to warm the sleeping bulbs. The surface is littered with decaying leaves and a few hardy plants some of these plants could be called weeds.
You see weeds are just plants that don’t fit in.
People are not weeds but can be treated as if they were; pulled up, displaced never being given the opportunity to get their roots down.
I am not called to the fruitful, or the colourful, but to those that live on the edges of our community’s. Those that feel unvalued and misunderstood. Those that hold onto life in the most unusual places. Living in extreme conditions unable to grow.

As a gardener we remove the weeds in favour of plants we want to grow. It’s us controlling what grows in our gardens. What happens if we listen to God and start to grow Gods garden?( you might like to call what we grow a church).
When I imagine God growing my garden it changes shape, colour and direction. It becomes a garden with no boundaries a living breathing community full of mystery that some might even describe as chaos. Beautiful chaos that is diverse, a chaos with a sense of humour, a chaos that loves unconditionally, allows us the freedom to explore who we are, love that allows us to question . The garden would be and expression of God’s love for us, expressed through things like forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and gentleness.

When we garden with God we create the right conditions to grow a community that shows someone they belong and matter, not just to God but belong to one another.
In these conditions we grow and Flower.

Nicandra physalodes
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Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”
Hebrews 12:2

Question 6 – The silent wow – Part 2.

Question 6 on the BAP ( Bishops adversary panel ) form asks you to tick one of two boxes . The trouble is I don’t fit simply into one box.
God created me to live life muddy. To find an immense amount of joy from creation. When outside my confidence sours, I think big, I think beyond the walls of a box, I lift myself to Jesus breathing in air that so full of a love that’s beyond our understanding .
My shape is God given, it’s just not box shaped. My shape is created for me. I can’t change it, I can’t be squeezed into a different shape. I can’t function unless I can be true to my shape and true to God. The wonderful thing is that we have our own shape. And yes some of us are box shaped, but not me.
It would be a very plan and predictable world if we all fitted neatly into tick boxes. If we could define our personalities by ticking box A or B
I simply cannot fit and function in a box I can’t conform to its organised neatness.
The trouble with questions that only allow A or B answer is they don’t allow for us to express ourselves it’s saying you can only be one.
I just don’t fit neatly into one, I’m always the odd one out doing my own thing. I’m not trying to be awkward or prove a point, I’m not wired. I am just being true to myself and true to my calling
This also applies to my future ministry it would need to be a different shape out of the confines of what some may consider normal or different . It’s a shape open to ideas, it’s a shape that fits in with the people.
My ministry would include all those that don’t fit into boxes, It would be for those whose boxes are crumpled, whose boxes are broken and those whose boxes have been flattened by society.
I am hearing a calling that’s rooted and grounded in God’s love. Taking that love to the unchurched in a context that they understand. It’s leaning their language and seeing the world that they live in through their eyes. It’s dancing forward while talking creative sideway steps that come from God.

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John 1:14 The Message (MSG)
14
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.