Category Archives: Spring

25 May: Keeping on keeping on.

Eddie walks in the same bluebell woods as the family Turnstone

Eddie Gilmore of the Irish chaplaincy in London describes how he was coping with the discipline of working from home and not going up to the office. Read the whole article here.

My life in lockdown has become a bit monastic, and there’s a lot I like about that. There’s quite a nice, simple balance of work, prayer, meals, reading, recreation (much of that in the form of walking or cycling). I’m a bit more tuned in than usual to the subtle but magical changes in the natural world: the colours and the smells, the times of the day when the birds sing more loudly, the wonderful sight in the sky a few nights ago of a crescent moon underneath a brightly shining Venus.

Thank you Eddie for allowing us to use your writings! There will be a barbecue to end all this enforced confinement, but even now, let your heart be unconfined!

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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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Going viral XXXIII: flowers of the field margin.

The lock-down sends us out of town, to consider the flowers of the field. (Luke 12:27)

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8 May: VE Day, The Cherry Trees.

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

Edward Thomas

This is a war poem. All Edward Thomas’s poems were written with the Great War in the background, here we have loaded words, shedding, dead, followed by the hammer blow, ‘There is none to wed.’ The men were gone to war, as he was going, never to return.

The cherry trees in Thomas’s day would have been like these, with sheep, swine or geese grazing under them. The fruit would have been picked using a wooden ladder, tapering at the top to get between branches, but you could walk between and beneath the trees. The orchard is a fortnight or so before its flowering time, but the ornamental cherry at Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury, was shedding petals this week, strewing the grass.

No weddings this May, due to the corona virus. Edward Thomas could have been writing for us but his wife Helen was an appreciative reader, saying proudly that he found beauty where other people could not see it.

On this VE Day let’s pray for eyes to see the flowers of the field in all their divine glory. Let’s be thankful for all that has been done, these past 75 years, to bring peace to Europe, reconciling former enemies, and over the last 30 years, remedying some of the harm done by the Iron Curtain. Let us pray that peace and understanding will continue growing despite the setbacks of recent times.

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Going viral XXIX: come in!

This was the sight that greeted me when I got to work at the Glebe this morning. My corona virus sanctioned exercise for the day: three hours of gardening, in sunshine or those cool shadows. And the first radishes awaiting attention.

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Going viral XXVIII: planting in hope.

If I do not use these pictures soon, the moment will have completely passed. On one of our walks we passed these two Kentish orchards, one old, one new. How many years will the old one keep fruiting? And how long will the new one be productive? It represents a massive act of hope in the future, something we all need with the virus restricting our lives. (click on the photo to see the other orchard.)

The tombstone of Harry and Winifred Cuthbert proclaims that they were ‘dedicated’ to farming and fruit growing, witness the strawberry plant seen here. Every seed, every plant is an act of hope. So is a smile, a wave, a word of encouragement.

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

campion.cowparsley.pilgr.2019.sm.jpg
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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Going viral XXVII: walking in the rain

It was the first rainy day for weeks; in two hours of walking on paths that had been busy by viral standards last time we walked them, I scarcely met a score of fellow walkers. It was a few degrees cooler than the preceding days, and wet. As I reached Blean church, big heavy drops drove me under the yews; I began looking for passion flower carvings without success but enjoyed seeing the lichen again and these bluebells of different colours.

Many times have I cycled past here, usually going to or from work, but never noticed these, partly because the church is at the top of a hill and all my attention would have been on completing the climb. Since it was the virus that drove me out here on foot, this is a going viral post, Stay safe, let your heart be unconfined!

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30 April: Spring is the last true thing

Easter

There was rapture of spring in the morning
When we told our love in the wood,
For you were the spring in my heart, dear lad.
And I vowed that my life was good.
But there's winter of war in the evening,
And lowering clouds overhead,
There's wailing of wind in the chimney nook,
And I vow that my life lies dead.
For the sun may shine on the meadow lands
And the dog rose bloom in the lanes,
But I've only weeds in my garden, lad,
Wild weeds that are rank with the rains.
One solace there is for me, sweet but faint,
As it floats on the wind of the years,
A whisper that spring is the last true thing
And that triumph is born of tears.
It comes from a garden of other days,
And an echoing voice that cries,
Behold I am alive for evermore, And in Me shall the dead arise.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy
(Woodbine Willie).

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Going viral XXV: Where is our robin?

It was lunch time and chat time at the Glebe, just two of us there to be together, preserve social distance and be safe and happy while the watering got done.

D remarked that he had not seen a robin all morning, which was unusual, even unheard of. So we listened: the blackbirds were singing, the seagulls were screaming, and the traffic was rumbling by, but no sound of a robin. Had the black-and-white cat got it? Neither of us had seen a body.

Then we realised why the robins were so quiet. At the top of the arch over the gate was – a baby robin, in full view of those murderous seagulls and magpies. Indeed, a gull swept down very near the arch as we watched. From out of the hedge flew a parent and chivvied the baby away. Let’s hope it survives!

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