Category Archives: Spring

25 May: Up-hill, a dialogue for pilgrims

Or should I say, an encouragement for pilgrims? This particular stretch of Wales’s Pembrokeshire Coast Path winds down only to go almost straight uphill, or up 121 stairs – I counted them. At the end of the day you can discover how many metres you have climbed overall. If you began at sea-level you will have descended a similar amount. We were not counting.

Fellowship is one of the gifts of pilgrimage, as yesterday’s picture showed us. Christina Rossetti reminds us that in our life-long pilgrimage we have also the support of the Church Triumphant, the saints who have gone before.

And “Yea, beds for all who come”, though “travel-sore and weak.” She does not specifically mention blisters!

Up-hill

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

 But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

 Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

 Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come." 

Christina Rossetti

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, Mission, Pentecost, poetry, Spring

28 April: THE SHOWER

Waters above! eternal springs! 
The dew that silvers the Dove's wings! 
O welcome, welcome to the sad! 
Give dry dust drink; drink that makes glad! 
Many fair ev'nings, many flow'rs 
Sweeten'd with rich and gentle showers, 
Have I enjoy'd, and down have run 
Many a fine and shining sun; 
But never, till this happy hour, 
Was blest with such an evening-shower! 

                                                  From "Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Volume II.

This was not an April shower, but a March one; a morning but not an evening shower yet I'm sure Henry Vaughan would have appreciated it, as I did, seeing the raindrops on the willows shining on the osiers. Laudato Si'!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', poetry, Spring

Good Friday gifts

The solemnity of today will be overwhelmed by the joy of Easter, but there were tokens of the coming feast for those with eyes to see.

Before the sun was properly up I was looking into the back garden. What was that hunched figure inspecting the flowerpots? A hedgehog woken from hibernation and going about its business, ridding us of a few pests. That was enough to mark the day.

After the prayerful L’Arche Good Friday service some of us found our way to the Glebe garden, where a shrine had been built of willow wands. If this was intended to be a place of quiet reflection it soon became a meeting place for people who had barely seen each other during covid; another hint of the resurrection to come.

Flitting across the garden was a brimstone butterfly, a caterpillar died but transformed into a creature of beauty no less wondrous for being totally expected.

Then to my task of adorning the church porch. The Easter garden needed the finishing touches, Mary’s jar of ointment and the grave cloths hidden behind the door (a scallop shell to be rolled to one side). What concerned me was the Easter lilies. We had some in flower the last two years, but it had been touch and go this time. Since today was warm, the first flowers were unfurling to be bright and white on Easter Day.

In the evening down to the Cathedral to hear Faure’s Requiem, with its upbeat finish: May the Angels welcome you to Paradise, may the martyrs meet you and lead you to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Walking home from the Cathedral in the glowing dusk, under the Easter full moon, three blackbirds, singing their hearts out, serenading the new life hatched in their nests. They will be busy tomorrow, as no doubt will I, but by these tokens and by other sure evidence I know that my redeemer liveth.

Leave a comment

Filed under corona virus, Easter, Interruptions, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

7 April: what do they see?

Not many Canterbury citizens would pause for a photograph here! I have cropped away some of the street furniture on this corner, but there are still bollards, a bin, contradictory road signs and a public toilet block. Oh, and a cherry tree.

A cherry tree so laden with blossom that these Japanese people have stopped to take each other’s photographs, despite the clutter. They see something we pass by on the other side.

There is beauty in places where we’d never look; sometimes it breaks out and hits us between the eyes. Sometimes we can be shown beauty by a friend, or as here, by complete strangers.

We will soon be celebrating the Man of Sorrows, ‘so disfigured that he seemed no longer human’.(Isaiah 52:14). Let’s cut away the clutter and stand beneath the Tree of Life. Cherry blossom will not take away the horror and evil in this world, and it seems that all we can offer to help is the wiping with a face cloth, the cup of water or vinegar, the money in the collecting bucket.

Let’s not scorn to offer such support, the Works of Mercy; it makes a difference, reminds people that we are one family, sharing one earthly home. There’s something about cherry blossom that touches the Japanese soul: my nephew saw Japanese people photographing each other beneath cherry trees; my wife saw the same in Rome some years ago. It’s a deep sign of home.

The Cross is a deep sign of home, in Heaven for Eternity; through suffering we can be one with the Man of Sorrows who will be lifted up; with him we shall see the light and be content.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent, Mission, Spring

3 April: Today Spring Arrived!

abel.barrow

Sheila Billingsley has had her eyes open! On the edge of Saddleworth Moor, spring has arrived! She gives this poem the title ’14th March 2022′. We hope Spring is enchanting your eyes, ears and sense of smell. Those cherry trees . . .

14th March 2022.

Today Spring arrived! 
Slipped in!. . . Quietly! 
Bright blue sky, 
Pushing out thoughts of rain,
 . . .   until tomorrow! 

The cherry tree in the lane is in blossom. 
Delicate, tiny, hardly pink blossom. 
Not the blowsy in-your-face Japanese, 

Oh no! 

Today the gardener arrived too, 
To clear  the detritus of winter. 
Cheerful and happy within his whiskers. 

Did many thank you? 
Did many even notice? 
That your world was still struggling to obey you, 
Despite what we do?
At least your world obeys you, 
While we fight and kill and poison. 

Do they know that you exist ? 
And love,
And forgive. 

Do they know that you suffer? 

                     I just wanted to record that Spring arrived today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Lent, Spring

Meat free Lent XXII: Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church

1 Butternut Squash 
1 large Sweet Potato 
1 large Red Onion 
1½ pints vegetable stock 
½ cup plant-based yogurt/cream 
Seasoning 
[Garlic may be added if wished.]

1.       Cut butternut squash and sweet potato in half and red onion into four and spray with Fry Light the cut sides. 

2.       Place the cut sides down on a tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for around 40 minutes until tender and light brown.

3.       Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash and sweet potato into a saucepan and add the red onion. 

4.       Add the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. 

5.       Then allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft. 

6.       Allow to cool then liquidise and return to the saucepan. 

7.       Add the plant-based yogurt/cream and seasoning and gently heat for 5 – 10 minutes to heat through.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, Lent, PLaces, Spring

27 March, Laetare Sunday: Make an Easter Garden.

Laetare Sunday is three weeks before Easter. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’, have a joyful Sunday! Perhaps this is a good time to think ahead to Easter, so here’s a project for you. Last year Vincent and Maurice made Easter Gardens for the locked-down L’Arche Kent houses, and the slide show tells how we did it.

You don’t need to use big pots like these, especially if yours will be displayed indoors. Ours were outside people’s houses or St Mildred’s church for a few weeks, so we used big pots to keep the plants alive.

We think the houses could make their own gardens this year, so here’s our helpful guide. You’ve got three weeks, so start off by collecting the pits and pieces. Don’t forget to share your photos by emailing maurice.billingsley1@btopenworld.com .

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

26 March. surprise maintains a loving relationship.


There is a monotony in the affections, which people living together or, as we do now, very frequently seeing each other, are apt to give in to: a sort of indifference in the expression of kindness for each other, which demands that we should sometimes call to our aid the trickery of surprise.

The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, 1796-1820, edited by E. V. Lucas

Yesterday the church celebrated the Annunciation, when the Angel told Mary that she was to become the Mother of our Saviour, and tomorrow in the United Kingdom we celebrate Mothering Sunday, Mother’s Day.

One image sticks in my mind from twenty-something years ago: seeing a car pull up beside a drift of daffodils, the driver getting out and hurriedly picking a big bunch of the flowers for his mother. Not quite what Charles Lamb meant by the trickery of surprise, though I was surprised and the motorist was certainly tricky.

I’m sure we’ve all got something planned, surprising but not alarming. A happy Mother’s day to all mothers reading this post!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent, PLaces, Spring

This morning

smart

This morning there was mist and dew when I arrived at the Glebe garden, soon to be burned away as the Sun got to work. This morning, too, Agnellus posted our 3,000th reflection! Deo gratias!

Leave a comment

Filed under Laudato si', Lent, PLaces, Spring

25 March: The Annunciation

Gabriel, from Saint Mary’s Church, Wreay, Cumbria.

I came across this poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins at an Advent service at Canterbury Cathedral. Hopkins’ final verse is all the commentary we need. Enjoy a feastday to break up Lent!

Angelus ad virginem

1. Gabriel, from heaven's king 
Sent to the maiden sweet, 
Brought to her blissful tiding 
And fair 'gan her to greet. 
'Hail be thou, full of grace aright! 
For so God's Son, the heaven's light, 
Loves man, that He 
A man will be  and take 
Flesh of thee, maiden bright, 
Mankind free for to make 
Of sin and devil's might.'
2. Gently to him gave answer
The gentle maiden then:
'And in what wise should I bear
Child, that know not man?'
The angel said: 'O dread thee nought.
'Tis through the Holy Ghost that wrought
Shall be this thing whereof tidings I bring:
Lost mankind shall be bought
By thy sweet childbearing,
And back from sorrow brought.'
3. When the maiden understood
And the angel's words had heard,
Mildly, of her own mild mood,
The angel she answered:
'Our Lord His handmaiden, I wis,
I am, that here above us is:
And touching me |fulfilled be | thy saw;
That I, since His will is,
Be, out of nature's law
A maid with mother's bliss.'
4. The angel went away thereon
And parted from her sight
And straightway she conceived a Son
Through th' Holy Ghost His might.
In her was Christ contained anon,
True God, true man, in flesh and bone;
Born of her too 
When time was due; who then
Redeemed us for His own,
And bought us out of pain,
And died for us t'atone.

5. Filled full of charity,
Thou matchless maiden-mother,
Pray for us to him that He
For thy love above other,
Away our sin and guilt should take,
And clean of every stain us make
And heaven's bliss, when our time is to die,
Would give us for thy sake;
With grace to serve him by
Till He us to him take. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Lent, poetry, Spring