This is my favourite time of year! Ok the sun has little strength and the daylight is still short but the first snowdrops followed by primroses, hepaticas, hellebores then daffodils shout out about potential and hope….
The birds have burst into action, robins appear next to me hoping for an easy worm, tits of various types congregate around the bird feeders, the compost heap is full of movement and life from the myriads of creatures that turn an unpromising pile of garden scraps into rich and fertile soil to in turn foster more new life.
The Circle of life indeed!
Spending time outside is something we Brits don’t do nearly enough. When I am out on the street at this time of year, I see the odd gardener but mostly folk are indoors on their computers, working out in the gym, at work, sometimes cycling or jogging, or travelling in their cars. Rarely do I see folk without dogs (Southwell actually has a lot of dogs and Im beginning to wonder what this insidious disease is that makes locals feel they are not complete without one – but thats a whole new blog!) just walking looking and listening.
Last year I was lucky enough to be able to do a weekend of Mindfulness (I know you who have read the Ladybird book of the subject will be tittering right now!) as part of Macmillan’s resourcing of its professionals. One of the ‘exercises’ involved going for a verrrrry slowwwwww walk in the garden of the venue, stopping to look or listen more closely at anything that caught our attention. I noticed all sort of things I would have never normally paid attention to – a beautiful leaf, intricate and tiny ferns and mosses in a stone wall, the variety of birdsong both close at hand and far away, the way the breeze moved and sounded around and through structures. And doing this brought joy and wonder! Its that joy that bursts out at this time of year.
This weekend, having pretty well exhausted myself by a winter of giving my all to patients and the other jobs I have, I escaped on a retreat to Upper Wharfedale with Jessica and Julie; two friends who also badly needed to be refreshed and invigorated. Despite my parents having previously lived down river in Ilkley, I feel I don’t know this most beautiful part of our northern spine of hills, mountains and valleys. Our weekend at Scargill House was indeed the tonic we needed for body, mind and soul. The programme ‘Life as worship – worship as life’ encouraged us to lose ourselves in the joy of giving worth to our Creator, Saviour and Father God through song, service, prayer, silence, laughter, exercise and relationships.
The folk who live in Community there oozed joy and love: part of their calling being to share their lives for the benefit of guests who enter their door and to their wider community. Their streamline ‘Lives shared, lives transformed’ certainly felt true for me as I returned home completely made new in terms of energy and outlook.
I have permission from Helen Brocklehurst, the kitchen team leader, and gifted writer/poet, to share one of her creations, which fits perfectly with the theme of today’s musings.
Bless The Lord For Blackberries
Bless the Lord for blackberries, bless the lord for sloes,
for hazelnuts and elderflowers and everything that grows.
Bless the Lord for bonfires and their smokey autumn smell, for friends sharing marshmallows and the stories that we tell.
Bless the Lord for woodlands, a peaceful place to be, for hedgehogs, deer and buzzards and every kind of tree.
Bless the Lord for sledging and the fun of snowball fights. Bless the Lord for countless stars on cold and cloudless nights.
Bless the Lord for tawny owls calling in the night, and bless Him for rare glimpses of their graceful silent flight.
Bless the Lord for lapwings, for the way they dive and sing and bless the Lord for curlews, hopeful heralds of the spring.
Bless the Lord for house martins that spend the summer here and cheeky faithful robins that stay with us all year.
Bless the Lord for greenhouses, warm air and buzzing bees, nasturtiums and tomato vines and especially sweet peas.
Bless the Lord for clear blue skies and endless hills to climb, for squashed cheese sandwich picnics and the warmth of summertime.
Bless the Lord for cups of tea and lazy days in bed, for the simple task of kneading dough and the smell of fresh-baked bread.