Maggie Scott recently wrote about her work bringing children face-to-face with nature. I remember the joy of growing up, and of being alive in streams and forests, with or without our parents; not to mention the joy of sharing nature with my own children, and now grandchildren, but not all then or now are so blessed, growing up in big cities.
Here’s an extract from Maggie Scott’s short article, which you will find here.
Working as an educator at a New York wildlife refuge, I had the pleasure of educating children about the environment, especially regarding the plants and animals native to my home state. During my work, I encountered many children with little to no prior exposure to undisturbed nature, since they lived in cities without much accessible green space. They had never been exposed to the species that I recognized from my own childhood growing up on Long Island.
Slowly yet all at once, I realised the gravity of what I was witnessing.
A press release from the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Grech highlighted some of the dangers facing refugees from Ukraine during his visit to Poland on behalf of Pope Francis.
Ukrainian women and children at risk from traffickers – 20.03.2022
Ukrainian women and children at risk from traffickers “Ukrainian women and children must be ‘protected’ from human traffickers when they arrive in our countries from Ukraine”. This is the alarm launched by Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, whilst meeting journalists on the sidelines of a visit to two Centres for refugees run by the Diocese of Warsaw.
Accompanied by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and Mgr Piotr Jarecki, Cardinal Grech visited on the afternoon of Saturday 19 March Cardinal Grech visited the centre of St Margaret’s parish in Łomianki, a small town just outside Warsaw with 15,000 inhabitants, where 2300 refugees, especially women and children, are hosted by families from the parish, and the centre of “Dobre Miejsce”, the diocesan house for spiritual exercises transformed for the occasion into a home for 100 refugees. There, Card. Grech spent time there, especially with the children, listening to their stories and witnessing to them the closeness of Pope Francis. These meetings with the Ukrainian refugees took place during a four-day visit in which the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is meeting with clergy and parish contacts for the synod of the Warsaw archdiocese to discuss the synod process with them. Addressing the more than 500 priests gathered at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Warsaw, Card. Grech reiterated how the success of the synodal process “depends very much on the bishops and priests”. On the day of the release of the Letter to Priests (signed jointly with the Prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for the clergy), Grech recalled the fear that arises among many priests that “excessive insistence on the importance of the People of God may cause us to lose sight of the importance of priestly service in the Church”. Instead, the Synod Secretary reiterated that “it is not a question of opposing priests to the People of God, because priests are also part of the People of God, by virtue of their baptism.” The action of Pope Francis is aimed, instead, at grasping ever more fully the ecclesiology of the People of God, that is, at understanding the Church as the People of God, with the conviction that the “flock” has a sensum fidei to discern the new ways of proclaiming the Gospel that God suggests to the Church. The meeting concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Card. Grech (homily in Italian).
This morning, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops will meet the parish referents to dialogue with them on the role of the laity in the process. On Monday 21st, Card. Grech will travel to Częstochowa to entrust the synodal path to Our Lady.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a devastating, unjust catastrophe – which has capsized the lives of many millions of people and is challenging the sense of peace and security in which we all have the right to live.
At a time when so many of us were beginning to hope of new freedoms, a brighter future, our hearts have been broken afresh with the news we are seeing and hearing. So many people are yearning to do whatever they can to help the people of Ukraine.
We have been overwhelmed with people asking how they can make a difference – so we have sought to bring all avenues of help together here in this special edition of the Briefing mailing and on this webpage. Please consider how you can help – prayer is a wonderful place to start, but there is so much else we can do as well. During a time when we are focusing so much on how we might live generously as a diocesan family, here are a whole load of ways in which you might be able to make a difference.
Thank you so much for all your kind words, support and love,
Kent Refugee Projects Officer
Care packages: Supplies needed by 16 March, 9am On Wednesday 16 March from 9am to 5pm, we will help TeamLovelight to make up ‘necessity bundles’ that will be shipped to Ukrainian people. If you could supply any of the items listed below, please deliver them to Diocesan House by Wednesday 16 Marchat 9am. We also hope to include prayers in the packs – see below for details.
Female packs: baby wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary towels, small hair shampoo, soap, flannel/sponge Male packs: razor, small shaving foam, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, flannel/sponge Children packs: children’s toothpaste, toothbrush, flannel, baby wipes, small toy if possible.
Prayers for children’s care packages We know that children’s hearts have been touched by the devastating images of the war in Ukraine. To help them make connections beyond borders with those children caught up in the conflict, we would welcome short prayers and messages of support and solidarity to be included in the Children Packs that we’ll be packing on Wednesday. Can you help? An example could be:
I pray to Lord Jesus for you and your family I pray for you and your family I care for you and your family I love you and your family
Please write and draw on an A5 piece of paper or card, include first names only, age and simply add ‘England’ as the location.
The Ukrainian children may not be familiar with the English language but we hope they would be able to discern the meaning of the text and pictures. If you can drop them in to Diocesan House by Wednesday morning, that would be great. Alternatively please do post them to us as they will be included in the next shipment of parcels we send to families in Ukraine.
Post to: Domenica Pecoraro, Kent Refugee Projects Officer, Diocesan House, Lady Wootton’s Green, Canterbury CT1 1NQ
USPG and the Church of England Diocese in Europe have also launched an emergency appeal to get aid to people in desperate need because of the invasion of Ukraine. Find out more here www.uspg.org.uk/ukraine
Join our Diocesan Welcome Team We are expecting Ukrainian families arriving via the Ukraine Family Scheme route in the coming days. This scheme allows family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come to or stay in the UK. We will be registering offers of support from churches and members of congregations across our diocese who would like to be involved in welcoming them. Specifically, we are looking to build a Diocesan Welcome Team and would like to hear from those who:are Ukrainian/English speakers have teaching experience work coaches or can help with employment linkshave a working knowledge of the benefit system are interested in befriendingare interested in providing homework supportcan help sourcing emergency suppliesWe would also love to hear from those who are unsure on how they can be involved but want to be involved in a Welcoming Journey in some way. For more information, please get in touch with Domenica by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Praying LentJoin us for our third Lenten Focus – the Widow’s mite. This week our reading is taken from Luke 21:1-7.
Prayer for this week
God of peace and justice, we pray for the people of Ukraine today. We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons. We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow, that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them. We pray for those with power over war or peace, for wisdom, discernment and compassion to guide their decisions. Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear, that you would hold and protect them. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen
Prayer from the Church of England
The Disasters Emergency Committe Appeal More than two million people have fled the conflict in Ukraine, that figure is rising every day. The Disasters Emergency Committee (made up of 15 UK charities including Christian Aid and tearfund) has launched an appeal to help those affected by the devastating crisis.You can learn more and make a donation here at dec.org.uk
Offer a PrayerOur Diocesan Prayerbank is an online space where prayers are offered and received. It is a person-centred space aimed at providing spiritual healing and comfort to those who are forcibly displaced from their homes. The Prayer Bank page can be easily shared on social media and has the potential to reach anyone who has access to an internet connection.
Ukraine Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme The UK government has announced that the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme will open in the near future. In the short term this will allow individuals and families to commit to sponsoring a Ukrainian individual or family to stay with them in their home for a period of not less than six months. Ukrainians who arrive on this scheme will be given leave to remain for three years and will have full access to the labour market, the NHS and to benefits. Volunteers who sign up will have to commit to sponsoring for at least six months and will not be able to charge for rent – but they will be able to receive a ‘thank you payment’ of £350 per month from the Government.
Volunteers will have to be vetted, and those coming to stay will also need to pass security checks. From today, people should be able to register an interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor someone. The Government website link is in the making but we will share it on our Ukraine page as soon as it becomes available.
In time the scheme will be expanded to larger groups and to sponsorship provided by companies, community groups and churches. If you are interested in your church or community group getting involved in this scheme you can register via the Sanctuary Foundation (see below).
Sanctuary Foundation Wrap Around Support The Sanctuary Foundation is a Christian charity asking individuals, community groups, churches, schools and businesses to register their interest in becoming a sponsor when the scheme is developed. To know more about the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and to register your interest please visit the Sanctuary Foundation website. Please note that by pledging support at this stage you are not committing to any specific form of help, as the details of the scheme are yet to be published.
Let us continue raising our consciousness this Lent! Our Proverb takes up an idea from yesterday’s prayer from Eastern Vespers.
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” Proverbs 11.1.
This Nineteenth Century kitchen balance was an heirloom from our next-door neighbour, Kay; it would have been interesting to hear the story of how she came to have it! It came with an incomplete set of iron wights, each one marked underneath with a crown and ‘VR’ to tell that they were trustworthy because they had been tested by officials representing Queen Victoria. Grandson Abel and I use them quite often. Abel takes delight in these just weights, because we get good results when we follow a recipe to cook using them – and I take delight in his delight. A false balance is an abomination to society for obvious reasons. You can read here how Channel Island farmers used big stones chipped down to useful weights to measure produce for sale.
Their old French quintal weights would be no use to Abel and me, and nor would the few pounds and ounces that came with the scales, since he will think in grams and kilos – though his mother and auntie speak about their children’s weights in stones!
Just weights are a form of speaking the truth; the different British, Jersey-French and Metric systems may differ, but by carefully comparing them and using them consistently, we can always get delightful results.
And where Bible texts differ, as in the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer,* we can enjoy carefully and prayerfully puzzling out the differences and so take delight in them.
Rev Jo RIchards writes about the next stage in the pandemic as numbers locally are high amongst school children, teachers and parents. In the three churches of Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter this is the new policy for worship.
Easing of covid restrictions
With the easing of restrictions we must remember that the case numbers of covid are still high. Therefore in our church buildings and hall:
Mask wearing is not mandatory but to be encouraged – I will continue to wear mine; Jenny and I also do a lateral flow test before all services.
Sanitise hands on entry
Remain mindful of social distancing – if you prefer not to be close to someone in church, please put bag/coat on seat next to you
Peace from afar
Communion: we will return to people coming forward and the intincting (dipping) of a consecrated wafer, for those who would like to receive, or just wafer only. If you would prefer to receive in your seat, that is fine and we will come to you.
Please note when coming forward at St Dunstan’s – the service is live streamed and recorded and you will be observed coming forward to receive. If you would prefer to remain off-camera please come receive in the Roper Chapel.
Coffee will be served in the hall after the 10.00 service
Not every prisoner can be as ready to accept the sacrifice of confinement as Bonhoeffer was. Let us us remember them all at Christmas time in this prayer shared with us by a prison chaplain.
We pray for every imprisoned person
who misses their family,
who cannot hold their children
or visit their parents,
who this Christmas will be surrounded not by loved ones
but by inmates who have no way out.
These are people
whose special holiday dinner
is served on cafeteria trays,
by people who are paid to be there.
We give thanks
that the gift of the Christ-child on Christmas morning
is not controlled by human hands,
not stopped by locks or bars
but poured out by your special grace.
Once more I find myself disagreeing with Emily: this time with her possibly tongue-in-cheek condemnation of science. However, her light-hearted, joyful acceptance of creation and of death are refreshing and appropriate for Advent. Refreshing too, her final image of the Father lifting her over the stile of pearl into Heaven. I can almost feel those hands, half circling my chest to lift me to himself, though now it is my privilege to lift grandsons to where they need to be. ‘You have to help me’, even when the child is ‘helping’ you.
No pearls on the stiles shown here, but good, solid, dependable limestone, that humans and dogs can get over, perhaps with a little help; that deer can leap with grace, but sheep are too woolly to manage. Not the best image for Heaven’s gate, perhaps, but there again, the stile is not the gate, not the official entrance where the sheep go in. This is a short cut, and it is not Peter or Michael but the Father himself that is watching here, ready to lift the naughty ones into his everlasting arms.
Arcturus is his other name, —
I'd rather call him star!
It's so unkind of science
To go and interfere!
I pull a flower from the woods, —
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath,
And has her in a class.
Whereas I took the butterfly
Aforetime in my hat,
He sits erect in cabinets,
The clover-bells forgot.
What once was heaven, is zenith now.
Where I proposed to go
When time's brief masquerade was done,
Is mapped, and charted too!
What if the poles should frisk about
And stand upon their heads!
I hope I 'm ready for the worst,
Whatever prank betides!
Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven 's changed!
I hope the children there
Won't be new-fashioned when I come,
And laugh at me, and stare!
I hope the father in the skies
Will lift his little girl, —
Old-fashioned, naughty, everything, —
Over the stile of pearl!"
(from “Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete” by Emily Dickinson)
And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name.
Of course when Adam named something, including plants, the same was its name, since there was only one human, himself, so no disputing his word. Things are somewhat different since humans spread around the world and our languages diverged from each other. Is that a mouse or un souris? A courgette or a zucchini? And that’s before we venture upon politically correct or incorrect terrain. ‘It’s demeaning to call grown women girls.’ Try telling that to my late mother-in-law, who in her eighties was still going out with the ‘girls’ she had teamed up with as a young mother.
But we can demean each other in our words as a moment’s reflection should tell us; we can be clear or obscure, sometimes deliberately obscure – ‘as seen on TV!’
The world of science aims for clarity and by being clear it advances in knowledge and techniques. An understanding of antibodies and t-cells enabled the covid-19 vaccinations to be produced at speed. At a more down to earth level, over the last 250 years or so scientific names for living creatures have been developed so that scientists from Aberdeen, Asuncion, or Amsterdam will know exactly what each other is talking about. Mus musculus is a house mouse anywhere in the world.
The trouble comes when names are changed. Microscopic and DNA testing can establish relationships, and botanists hold conferences to decide on names. That’s how the shrub formerly known as Senecio ‘Sunshine’ is now Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’. Senecio comes from the Latin for ‘old man’: the leaves and seeds of the plant are greyish and white. Other senecios include groundsel, S. vulgaris, (left) and S. cineraria (ashen), below.
It’s not difficult to see a certain type of person taking pleasure in this business of establishing names, and feeling frustrated when gardeners do not follow the scientists and call Sunshine Brachyglottis instead of senecio.
But recently I’ve taken pleasure from watching someone establish names for things. A toddler is naming things that are newly experienced. He or she will of course end up using the names that are common in their society, though sometimes their mispronounced names stick for years, such as ‘Kipper’ which was as close as one of my siblings could get to Christopher, the name of one of our brothers.
For my younger grandson there is a whole world waiting for him to name it, and bring it to life for him, as Adam’s contribution to creation was to give it all names.
I’m happy enough to be ‘Gu’ for the present, and to be part of his world. It sounds better than Brachyglottis, for sure.
Gilbert White introduced the Natural History of Selborne (1789) with a selection of his verses, including this description of one family’s harvest time. Their field would have been much smaller than this expanse of barley, ready for the combine harvester, but barley it might well have been, grown for the breweries of London and nearby Alton. Every year, White would have seen the harvest gathered in by hand as he records here. By the sweat of their brow this couple took their part in God’s creation.
Waked by the gentle gleamings of the morn, Soon clad, the reaper, provident of want, Hies cheerful-hearted to the ripen’d field: Nor hastes alone: attendant by his side His faithful wife, sole partner of his cares, Bears on her breast the sleeping babe; behind, With steps unequal, trips her infant train; Thrice happy pair, in love and labour join’d !
All day they ply their task; with mutual chat, Beguiling each the sultry, tedious hours. Around them falls in rows the sever’d corn, Or the shocks rise in regular array.
But when high noon invites to short repast, Beneath the shade of sheltering thorn they sit, Divide the simple meal, and drain the cask: The swinging cradle lulls the whimpering babe Meantime; while growling round, if at the tread Of hasty passenger alarm’d, as of their store Protective, stalks the cur with bristling back, To guard the scanty scrip and russet frock.
We wanted to keep yesterday’s post simple for it needs no introduction, no explanation. Dr Maclean gave his own afterword to today’s prayer, so no more from your editors today.
Be Thou Thyself the guiding star above me,
Lighthouse be thou for every reef and shoal,
Pilot my barque upon the crest of sea-wave
To where the waters make no moan or roll.
Oh the restful haven of the wandering soul!
This, is it not a matchless prayer for fishers of every race and age? The Hebridean, with but a plank between him and the seabed, murmured it a thousand times. As he did so, his vision bore him to some still port far from the breaking seas, some secret haven where the green swell is dumb, and children play on the pearl-white sand.