Category Archives: Laudato si’

30 May, Tagore: no time to destroy.

"There is not time for us to clasp a thing
and crush it and fling it away to the dust."
			from "The Gardener" by Rabindranath Tagore

‘Clasp a thing and crush it and fling it away’ – that is us today. That is exactly what we Turnstones do with supermarket plastic milk bottles. When our milk was delivered in glass bottles to the doorstep, it was often stolen, our children left without milk for breakfast.

So we see sin and the effects of sin: someone clasped our milk bottle, drank the milk and flung the bottle away; we were forced to buy supermarket milk, and crush and fling away the plastic bottle. At least that is recycled nowadays.

Let’s use our time and resources to let the dust bloom, not accumulate our rubbish.

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29 May, Tagore: everything but

nightwarsaw
"THOSE who have everything but thee, my God, 
laugh at those who have nothing but thyself." 
						from "Stray Birds" by Rabindranath Tagore
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Going viral XXXV: fellow residents

Working from home, our daughter and son looked out of their windows. One spotted a sparrow, nesting in a hole in our brickwork ; the other a red admiral butterfly who, as a caterpillar must have found a safe place to sleep through the winter but woke to a strange new world one warm May morning. Lovely to look up from the screen to see such sights!

Laudato Si!

For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Psalm 83.4

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15 May: looking carefully.

We would like to share a post by Christopher M Graney on the Sacred Space Astronomy Website. He writes: This story is mostly about science as the process of looking carefully at the world around us and trying to understand it and to come up with ideas about it, on its terms, not on ours. It is complex, not short, and best told with lots of pictures; so bear with me in this post, O Readers of Sacred Space Astronomy.

Follow this link to read the whole article. You’ll be glad you did.

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13 May, Alice Meynell: rushes and poplars.

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But the bulrushes, the reeds!  One wonders whether a very thorough landowner, but a sensitive one, ever resolved that he would endure this sort of thing no longer, and went out armed and had a long acre of sedges scythed to death.
They are probably outlaws.  They are dwellers upon thresholds and upon margins, as the gipsies make a home upon the green edges of a road.  No wild flowers, however wild, are rebels.  The copses and their primroses are good subjects, the oaks are loyal. 
Now and then, though, one has a kind of suspicion of some of the other kinds of trees—the Corot trees.  Standing at a distance from the more ornamental trees, from those of fuller foliage, and from all the indeciduous shrubs and the conifers (manifest property, every one), two or three translucent aspens, with which the very sun and the breath of earth are entangled, have sometimes seemed to wear a certain look—an extra-territorial look, let us call it.  They are suspect.  One is inclined to shake a doubtful head at them.
And the landowner feels it.  He knows quite well, though he may not say so, that the Corot trees, though they do not dwell upon margins, are in spirit almost as extraterritorial as the rushes.  In proof of this he very often cuts them down, out of the view, once for all.  The view is better, as a view, without them.  Though their roots are in his ground right enough, there is a something about their heads—.  But the reason he gives for wishing them away is merely that they are “thin.”  A man does not always say everything. 
(from “The Colour of Life; and other essays on things seen and heard” by Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell)
And are we exiles or residents on this planet? Most trees are capable of outliving humans; is this why people feel a need to control them,  treat their timber as merely a crop, destroy the forests?
Jean-Baptiste Corot, Ville d’Avray, National Museum of Art, Washington. Public Domain.

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Going Viral XXX: the rubbish Lorry says it’s Thursday

Good morning and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory. One of the things I find difficult about this lockdown, is remembering what day it is! Those of you watching Morning Prayer know where I am coming from…is it Wednesday or Thursday, and then the reassuring sound of the  rubbish Lorry (thank you keyworkers) alerted me to the fact that it’s Thursday – but what does differentiate our days? 

Several people have mentioned that this rhythm of prayer (Morning Prayer & Compline), work (paid work or clearing cupboards/gardening), exercise, and rest is very monastic, and something that I have reflected on myself. Last night I caught up with a friend of mine, a sister in a closed convent, and we chatted on Zoom (yes is possible), and how this rhythm to our days was not that dissimilar to their way of life.

May years ago I was introduced to something called Rhythm of life, how each day one should have a quiet time, each week a quiet time (Sabbath), every month maybe a quiet day, every year maybe a retreat – and what this feels like at the moment is a global ‘retreat’, everything has been paused – a chance of reflection, of asking some of the bigger questions, of giving our planet that opportunity to breathe….of action and contemplation. That rhythm of alternating between meeting with God in the quiet place, and then the meeting of God in the busyness of the market place.

Rev Jo Richards, Rector, Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury.

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May 1. Hopkins: All this Juice and all this Joy

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Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.”
 “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
‘Weeds in wheels’: Wheels in Hopkins’ time would have been wooden, with spokes radiating from the central hub, not unlike the petals of flowers such as the red campion above. The white cow parsley’s florets stand at the end of spoke-like stems; perhaps something like these flowers was in his inward eye as he wrote. Pear trees then would have been tall, not the dwarf orchard plantations generally seen today; brushing the blue would have seemed a more natural metaphor. 
Listen to the thrush at this link.
Hopkins straightforwardly links earthly nature with its creator and with human, childish innocence; children of God chosen by Christ, and so ‘worthy the winning.’ A bold assertion for a Victorian! 

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24 April: Two or three days in the year.

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A version of this posting has appeared  on the Will Turnstone blog.

Abel was coming away from the L’Arche Glebe garden when his eye was arrested by the round, tan-coloured husks beneath the hollow yew outside Saint Mildred’s church. They must really be discarded cones, since the yew is a conifer – with no recognisable cone. 

I was half reminded of when Mrs T and I went to see the cowslips near Brogdale, happily growing on the chalk. Another chalk-lover is the beech tree, one I loved to climb as a boy, and a mile or so on from the cowslip field our walk took us through a beech wood. Unlike the above picture from last year, it was a grey day, the path was wet, but we could still appreciate Edward Thomas’s observation in The South Country. By which he meant the South of England; where else could he have recorded this scene?

Then in the early morning the air is still and warm, but so moist that there is a soul of coolness in the heat, and never before were the leaves of the sorrel and wood sanicle and woodruff, and the grey-green foliage and pallid yellow flowers of the large celandine, so fair. The sudden wren’s song is shrewd and sweet and banishes heaviness. The huge chestnut tree is flowering and full of bees. The parsley towers delicately in bloom. The beech boughs are encased in gliding crystal. The nettles, the millions of nettles in a bed, begin to smell of summer. In the calm and sweet air the turtle-doves murmur and the blackbirds sing — as if time were no more — over the mere.

The roads, nearly dry again, are now at their best, cool and yet luminous, and at their edges coloured rosy or golden brown by the sheddings of the beeches, those gloves out of which the leaves have forced their way, pinched and crumpled by the confinement. At the bend of a broad road descending under beeches these parallel lines of ruddy chaff give to two or three days in the year a special and exquisite loveliness, if the weather be alternately wet and bright and the long white roads and virgin beeches are a temptation.

beech husks2

There is never enough traffic on this bridleway to order the husks  into parallel lines, but there they are, colouring the path. The nettles are in evidence ahead; we would discern the white of cow parsley if we were closer, but the pale celandine was not yet in flower here. (The bright, low-growing, lesser celandine is all but finished.)

beech husks1

Close to, the russet husks are indeed cool and luminous. Who would have said that brown could shine?

Thank you Edward Thomas!

And Laudato Si!

(Since this was written, a neighbour told me that the buds were once used for sewing, the points piercing the fabric with relative ease. Some of the husks in the picture still show that point. With a solid bud inside them, the buds would be sharp – for a little while. Poor people always had to work hard and even foraged for sewing needles.)

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Going viral XXI: seeing Herb Robert clearly

Let us add another post about seeing clearly, bout using our eyes to find beauty even in difficult times. Herb Robert is a humble plant. Here it is growing in a crack between pavement and wall. It’s likely to be passed by, unnoticed, but look at those beautiful leaves in red, pink and green.

I hope there are beauties for you to enjoy wherever you are allowed to walk – Laudato si!

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Going viral XVII: a magnificent magnolia.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

PS 34:4

This verse jumped out at me the other morning. This is a single line that needs no context to be understood, but it comes in three parts: ‘delivered me from all my fears’ is the last, not the only part.

First: ‘I sought the Lord’: walking along Orchard Street, I was not consciously seeking anyone, but I had made the decision to get active and not sit around inviting feelings of self pity. Stepping outside myself, then; surely this is turning to God?

Second: ‘He answered me.’ On this occasion with a magnificent magnolia.

Third: Even if only for a moment, enjoying the tree, and the old brick wall beneath, I am set free from my fears. Perfect love casts out fear, and perfect love gave every passer-by, as well as the householder, this beautiful tree. Enjoy the spring so that you can bring your fearlessness – it was there for a moment! – to those around who need it.

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