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,
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 ?
Do they know that you suffer?
I just wanted to record that Spring arrived today.
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 email@example.com .
The motorbike was loud and persistent.
So was the frog who heard it and replied.
Frog had the last croak.
This little incident occurred a couple of years ago as our frogs were getting together to lay their eggs. It certainly raised a smile. Let us hope the frogs continue to increase and multiply in our garden pond where last year we saw an increase in numbers of froglets emerging from the tadpole stage. This may have been helped by bringing spawn indoors when frost threatened the eggs, and then by the spread of duckweed, making them invisible to the blackbird who previously took to fishing from an edging stone.
We are all duty bound to do what we can to preserve and promote God’s creation. Mrs Turnstone and I hope our pond helps in a small way; and she is always relieved when the frogs reappear at the end of winter.
The other day when I walked into the greenhouse it was the first time this year that it felt appreciably warmer than outdoors. A spring moment even in February and worthy of a mention in the blog.
When I was looking for a picture to mark the moment I came across this snap from exactly a year before. The snow was such a blessing to all who like snowmen and sledges. There was not enough for cross country skiing, and the sledgers were spattered with as much mud as snow. But that was a moment of pure joy for many people who had been locked down by the corona virus. A heartfelt Deo Gratias!
Corona virus, covid-19, has made itself felt all over the world, with stories we might not hear above the noise of the local news. Here is a story of new growth in Lima, occasioned by the pandemic, told by the Columban missionaries working there. The context is that Fr Tom was stuck in Peru when lockdown came, so he looked around and found something to do, with ‘great success’. Follow the link to read the whole story.
“Tom had gained a lot of experience on the land back in Ireland, so he suggested he would use his time digging and planting part of our grounds. Not only would it keep him occupied, but it would also make us partially self-sufficient. He sowed vegetables, corn, herbs and some potatoes. The experiment was a great success, they all grew like mad!
Here in Canterbury I spotted roller skaters picking litter from the edges of a disused car park, and thanks go to them for that. But the land used to be allotment gardens, and was allowed to go wild for decades before being covered in asphalt.
In New York State (and elsewhere in the USA) various congregations of sisters are finding themselves with more land than they need, land that would make good car parks (parking lots) for tourists visiting the Hudson River Valley. As the sisters are growing older and fewer, the time to leave these properties is growing nearer. What are they going to do to keep their precious green spaces to allow the earth and local people room to breathe?
This link is to four articles in EarthBeat about the sisters’ responses to the challenge of climate change and habitat destruction in the light of Laudato’ Si, Pope Francis’s letter on caring for Creation. Each one is well worth reading, and even if lessons are not directly applicable outside the US, we could all look around and ask ourselves what we as individuals and communities might do next in love for our common home.
Redwing blackbirds are among the birds and other animals that make their home in the restored prairie belonging to Franciscan Sisters in Iowa. (EarthBeat photo/Brian Roewe)
John was not the only student at seminary who enjoyed mowing but he favoured this monster while my preference was for the heavy green model with the seat over the roller. I could switch off from daily cares whilst cutting smooth pathways through the rough grass that John left behind. Fr H used the boundary path to pace up and down saying his breviary, we met regularly during my afternoon working hour.
When Fr P asked why he did not see me in chapel very often, I told him it was about the most distracting place in the premises, with continual creaks and groans from the benches and the floor, which had been a NAAFI (Military club) dance hall during World War II. I was better able to meditate behind the mower.
I have a feeling that my poor physical co-ordination was cancelled out by the power of the mower, removing one source of anxiety, and the constant noise of the engine was paradoxically quieter than the chapel, which Fr P thought of as silent. Well, there’s no going back; the place was demolished years ago.
Dead, too, is Fr Marcel, who received a ribbing when he could not find the spark plugs on the college tractor, used for the football pitch. His turn to gloat came when ‘my’ mower lost its grip on a sloping lawn – the motorised roller was a weak point – and landed itself and me in the goldfish pond. Marcel came along with the red tractor to haul the mower out. I splashed some oil about, checked the filters and all was well.
Why remember this now? Well, the afternoon of my writing, Thomas Quartier OSB was talking about saying the Divine Office when not in community. ‘My car becomes my oratory’, he said, ‘and incidentally my driving improves.’
Let’s allow silence to find us wherever we are.
Fr Thomas was speaking at Saint Stephen’s Canterbury’s celebration of the anchorite Dame Loretta, who was enclosed at Saint Stephen’s Church in the year 1221 by Archbishop Stephen Langton. Follow the link to hear the day’s talks.
Unwatch'd, the garden bough shall sway,
The tender blossom flutter down,
Unloved, that beech will gather brown,
This maple burn itself away;
Unloved, the sun-flower, shining fair,
Ray round with flames her disk of seed,
And many a rose-carnation feed
With summer spice the humming air;
Unloved, by many a sandy bar,
The brook shall babble down the plain,
At noon or when the lesser wain
Is twisting round the polar star;
Uncared for, gird the windy grove,
And flood the haunts of hern and crake;
Or into silver arrows break
The sailing moon in creek and cove;
Till from the garden and the wild
A fresh association blow,
And year by year the landscape grow
Familiar to the stranger's child;
As year by year the labourer tills
His wonted glebe, or lops the glades;
And year by year our memory fades
From all the circle of the hills."
(from In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson.)
After Tennyson lost a dear friend of his youth, Arthur Henry Hallam, he worked through his grief in his epic poem, ‘In Memoriam, AHH, which took some 17 years to complete.Here he reflects upon mortality, and how the time will come when no-one remembers us, and others will be at home in what was once home to us. Does this melancholy stanza express despair or acceptance of mortality? To have been composing this epic for 17 years suggests that Tennyson’s love for his friend did not fade away, though it will have changed.
The loss of a friend’s love affects how the poet sees the landscape as unloved, uncared for: but others can love it into freshness. Perhaps there are neglected plots near you, in town or country, that would benefit from a little love, a few poppies or sunflowers.
During the Great War, British POWs grew sunflowers for decoration, passing the seeds to their Russian counterparts who regarded them as a delicacy. *
The beech trees’ leaves turn brown in Autumn, the maples’ become red and yellow
Lesser wain, or lesser bear, Ursa Minor, the constellation that includes Polaris, the Pole Star, which appears constant in the Northern sky.
Hern is the heron, crake is the corncrake, a bird that nests in cornfields.
A glebe is a parcel of land, usually allotted to the village priest.
* Where Poppies Blow, John Lewis-Stempel, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016, p225.