I was gathering the last few items for the Easter gardens when this pot caught my eye in the toolshed. Another symbol for the garden, Mary Magdalene’s pot of ointment for Jesus’s burial! I remembered this picture from York Minster, where her pot is shown in a golden yellow. She has put it down on the grass, and doesn’t seem to know where to put her hands. Maybe Jesus has just said, ‘Don’t touch me’, when that is what she really wants to do more than anything.
But look! He is reaching out to touch her. He has disguised himself as the gardener so as to let the revelation of his return come gently to her.
What neighbourly mask or disguise will he be wearing today to lead me gently to see him?
We revisit this scene tomorrow.
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The church had imposing monuments, emphasising the worldly wealth that was Venice’s, but what struck me was this carving of Christ on Easter Morning, watched over by a Guardian Angel, a serenely happy angel indeed. But Jesus maybe does need an eye kept on him, He looks as though he is not at all used to his risen body, see how he’s feeling the wound in his side; it’s bleeding as though he were alive.
The English Easter gardens, from a village in Northumberland, Canterbury Cathedral, and Saint Mildred’s Church nearby, are unpopulated so far as we can see, but just as with Doctor Johnson the other day, we can feel God’s presence.
When I helped at Children’s Masses, some of them enacted Mary, John and Peter going to the tomb, and finding no-one. We then unrolled a poster saying ‘Jesus is nowhere’, because they did not find him. The priest had to take a pair of scissors to it, so that it read, ‘Jesus is now here’. Our daily challenge for mission is to live as though that’s true. Which it is!
The compost heap is going to be doing well from all this substitute plastic that it will be feeding on!
Bamboo cotton buds feel just like their plastic counterpart but they do the environment a huge favour as they can biodegrade. Same goes with bamboo floss; just as effective but reduces your plastic footprint.
Good morning to you all on a rather cold and frosty morning; and I hope this finds you all well, as we are here. Yesterday I headed over to Ramsgate for my vaccination – what a well organised and slick operation it was- hats off to all those who organised it – arm feeling achy though which is to be expected! It was strange driving to Ramsgate as I realised it was the furthest I have been in the car for about six months!
Today, 8th March 2021 is International Women’s Day, and the Mother’s Union has asked that we pray for women around the world between today and Mothering Sunday (14th March), we remember today that around the world there are women who are marginalised and oppressed or abused for just being female. who don’t have the access to opportunities for education, a safe place to live, clean water, or some days don’t have enough food to feed their children. We give thanks for organisations such as the Mothers Union who support and encourage women both nationally and internationally.
Morning Prayer: https://youtu.be/ATUIE7sODHk God Bless you all and have a good day Jo Rev Jo Richards, Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury
Another chance to feel smug and virtuous: both of us gardeners at St Mildred’s Glebe this morning were using metal flasks for our breaktime drinks, and no worries about water quality or quantity. Polish that halo before the cobwebs take over again!
While I was away from the L’Arche garden in Canterbury, a few other volunteers descended on the place and made preparations for when people could come back to work, socially distanced of course. I’ve been back for a few weeks now, largely working 1:1 with me and my shadow, but sometimes socially distanced with Mr N.
We found the tool rack when we got back; there’s another one behind it. Thank you Mr B. These will save us so much time, provided of course, that everyone uses them. The tools will be accessible and visible, no hunting and heaving, not knowing if we even have a particular tool.
So perhaps a little organisation in other areas of life this Lent? I’ll say no more as Mrs T will be muttering about ‘do as I say but not as I do.’
Recently Mrs T and I were at the southern edge of Manchester, in Didsbury, and walked away from the houses, across the main road, into Fletcher Moss Park. I expected Fletcher Moss to be a wetland, as in Chat Moss and other boggy areas around Manchester, but it is named after Mr Fletcher Moss, who gave his house and estate to the city of Manchester early last century.
The land does slope down to the River Mersey, and the lower areas were too wet for our city shod feet, so my expectations were not altogether dashed.
Before we arrived at the park, we crossed the tramway by this Poppy Bridge, remembering the fallen of the Great War. Nearby children from three local schools have scattered poppy seed, to flower this summer, 100 years since the end of that war. (And flower they did, in profusion.)
After walking through Didsbury Park, well populated by young children and parents off to meet siblings from those three local schools, we came to the edge of Fletcher Moss Park, with its sports fields and fine benches including Rory’s Bench, covered in carved creatures, and a formidable lacrosse player. The game is more popular in these parts than most of England.
Mr Moss’s garden had been a little neglected in recent times, until a voluntary group was formed to undertake many of the City Council’s responsibilities. We admired the hellebores in the beds near the house, including this one, thriving in the cold.
Also near the house were witch hazel bushes, worth seeing silhouetted against the grey sky as well as in colour on the dark background of walls and branches. This computer cannot share the scent, clean and sharp.
More scent, sweeter this time, at ground level from snowdrops and oxlips, a hybrid between primroses and cowslips.
A little further and we were at a corner of rainforest – well most English people know that if you can see the Pennine Hills from Manchester, it is going to rain; if you can’t see them, it must be raining.
It wasn’t raining yet … and just around the corner a bank of heather – erica – a plant that shuns our alkaline soil in East Kent.
How’s this for early March?
We wandered down to the next level; as I said, it was too muddy for city shoes to approach the river, but there was a clump of young willow ablaze in the afternoon light. I’m told by my colleagues at L’Arche that for weaving and basket making, the golden-green and the dark red not only contrast well when woven together, they have slightly different properties. I must learn more.
And I must come back to Fletcher Moss next time I’m visiting family in Manchester, and see how it looks in other seasons. Many thanks to the volunteers who are helping the City council care for this treasure.
(This post was scheduled before the Mersey flooded much of this area in January 2012.)
Here’s sobering reading as we move into winter. Although there are more people homeless in town, Canterbury’s churches contribute to caring for them and moving them on in positive way, including through ‘Catching Lives’, a local charity, and, in past years, collaborating to provide the Night Shelter in different halls through the Winter. Some people are difficult to engage with, and sometimes a little more is needed than leaving it to the experts. From the Benefice Annual Report for Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter, regarding last winter.
We met with Toby Coburn of Kent Police regarding B, a homeless man, who had taken up long term residency in a tent in the Churchyard. After several warnings from the Rector about his behaviour, an eviction note was left for him by Toby who made it clear that the Churchyard was not appropriate for anyone who is homeless. He moved on without any trouble.
Prior to this, Amos, who had previously been camping in the Churchyard before finding accommodation, had worked hard to tidy up the Churchyard. Following B’s departure, he cleared all the rubbish left by B, he reseeded a large area, cut back the undergrowth and overgrowth, planted shrubs, cleared the ground gutters and removed weeds and ivy and set about maintaining the Churchyard in general whilst attending a horticultural course.
His presence also acts as a deterrent to anyone wishing to take up residence in the Churchyard although on the 19th November, a little tent was erected in the churchyard near the entrance and clearly visible. The occupant who was known to Catching Lives and the Street Pastor then moved to the back where the tent could not be seen from outside. Once the night shelter was operating, he was encouraged to vacate the Churchyard.
Unfortunately damage is done to the walls of the Churchyard by people climbing over to gain access. We are very grateful to Amos for all his hard work.
We continue to try to keep rough sleepers from camping in the Churchyard, particularly as it is easy for them to damage the walls by climbing over as this is the only way they can get into the Churchyard. We try to direct them to various organisations for their safety and well being.
The London Plane was planted widely in England’s capital because it resists pollution. Its bark flakes off naturally, so that any clogged up pores are discarded and a new, pale, outer layer takes over. You can see this happening above the wide red scarf and down by the roots in the photo. When we lived in Hackney, London, in the 1960s, the tree would have survived thanks to this adaptation.
The Happy Man Tree was named after a demolished pub that stood behind the builders’ hoarding. It was voted England’s tree of the year because it is loved by the local community but condemned by the borough council in order to build more homes for local people.
No-one is against much needed social housing but other plans have been outlined that preserve this tree while not losing any new homes. Will the campaigners save this tree?
The infant Jesus was in danger of his life, saved through Joseph’s wisdom in interpreting his dreams and taking action. This tree is a reminder that we have to interpret our dreams of saving the planet by taking action. Can you save or plant a tree before Easter? It could be one planted on your behalf by an organisation such as the National Trust. A Christmas present to the planet?
I am quite contented for myself: not as idle as formerly, altogether as hearty, and having learnt to make the most of the present and long for the future with the fidgetiness that I cannot do all that I wish; seldom or never trouble with nothing to do, and merely desiring that everybody could be as comfortable as myself and as undesponding, and then we should have a very tolerable world of it … Anne and I should have picked black-currants if it had been fine and sunshiny. I must hurry off now to my turning and ironing.
Emily Bronte, 30 July 1841.
Emily Bronte wrote this in Haworth parsonage, Yorkshire, on her 23rd Birthday. I could not truthfully have claimed to be quite contented at that age, though I would do so nowadays. Emily accepted and was comfortable with picking black-currants, turning and ironing; and while fruit picking on a domestic scales has changed little in 179 years, ironing was an altogether more arduous task. As, in its own way, was writing.
Maybe we still need to keep on learning to make the most of the present; and that means being thankful: examining ourselves at the end of the day to realise what the present has brought us today. (I picked fresh salad on the sunshiny day I wrote this, and brought it home to share; we didn’t know then what sort of apricot harvest to expect.)