With the ending of some of the Covid restrictions we could once more meet in the Bandstand our spiritual home since September 2009. Not since March 2020 had we all been together under one roof, even if we have plenty of ventilation with open sides.
The joy of meeting outdoors and experiencing the changes in the seasons never fails to thrill. This morning we had organised a bring and share.
Jeremy kicked us off with a wonderful reading.
Extract from ‘A Clergyman’s Daughter’ by G Orwell.
(After doing pastoral visits because her father can’t be bothered with anything but ”the magic” the much put-upon Dorothy cycles homewards)
Outside, in the swimming heat, she mounted her bicycle and began to ride swiftly homewards. The sun burned in her face, but the air now seemed sweet and fresh. She was happy, happy! She was always extravagantly happy when her morning’s ‘visiting’ was over; and, curiously enough, she was not aware of the reason for this. In Borlase the dairy-farmer’s meadow the red cows were grazing, knee- deep in shining seas of grass. The scent of cows, like a distillation of vanilla and fresh hay, floated into Dorothy’s nostrils. Though she had still a morning’s work in front of her she could not resist the temptation to loiter for a moment, steadying her bicycle with one hand against the gate of Borlase’s meadow, while a cow, with moist shell-pink nose, scratched its chin upon the gatepost and dreamily regarded her.
Dorothy caught sight of a wild rose, flowerless of course, growing beyond the hedge, and climbed over the gate with the intention of discovering whether it were not sweetbriar. She knelt down among the tall weeds beneath the hedge. It was very hot down there, close to the ground. The humming of many unseen insects sounded in her ears, and the hot summery fume from the tangled swathes of vegetation flowed up and enveloped her. Near by, tall stalks of fennel were growing, with trailing fronds of foliage like the tails of sea-green horses. Dorothy pulled a frond of the fennel against her face and breathed in the strong sweet scent. Its richness overwhelmed her, almost dizzied her for a moment. She drank it in, filling her lungs with it. Lovely, lovely scent—scent of summer days, scent of childhood joys, scent of spice-drenched islands in the warm foam of Oriental seas!
Her heart swelled with sudden joy. It was that mystical joy in the beauty of the earth and the very nature of things that she recognized, perhaps mistakenly, as the love of God. As she knelt there in the heat, the sweet odour and the drowsy hum of insects, it seemed to her that she could momentarily hear the mighty anthem of praise that the earth and all created things send up everlastingly to their maker. All vegetation, leaves, flowers, grass, shining, vibrating, crying out in their joy. Larks also chanting, choirs of larks invisible, dripping music from the sky. All the riches of summer, the warmth of the earth, the song of birds, the fume of cows, the droning of countless bees, mingling and ascending like the smoke of ever-burning altars. Therefore with Angels and Archangels! She began to pray, and for a moment she prayed ardently, blissfully, forgetting herself in the joy of her worship. Then, less than a minute later, she discovered that she was kissing the frond of the fennel that was still against her face.
She checked herself instantly, and drew back. What was she doing? Was it God that she was worshipping, or was it only the earth? The joy ebbed out of her heart, to be succeeded by the cold, uncomfortable feeling that she had been betrayed into a half-pagan ecstasy. She admonished herself. None of that, Dorothy! No Nature-worship, please! Her father had warned her against Nature- worship. She had heard him preach more than one sermon against it; it was, he said, mere pantheism, and, what seemed to offend him even more, a disgusting modern fad. Dorothy took a thorn of the wild rose, and pricked her arm three times, to remind herself of the Three Persons of the Trinity, before climbing over the gate and remounting her bicycle.
Sue followed on with a wander and a tree hug if we wanted to try it. She followed up with the following article about communication and trees which was very interesting. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/may/28/branching-out-is-communication-possible-between-trees-and-people?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other
In our meetings under the beech tree recently we have discussed mysteries and miracles from the resurrection, the appearances of Jesus when he was unrecognisable; and those when he was recognised, the strange story of the Ascension and this morning another mystery Pentecost. Something happened to those disciples meeting together at Pentecost that changed them and the world forever.
A Sound Like a Strong Wind
Acts 2 1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were blown away. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Barbara related two mysteries that had happened to her very recently and shared that she did not quite know how to interpret them, but that is the beauty of God’s mysteries. The more the mystery the more awesome and incredible our God seems. She took them to be encouragements from God and an assurance that he was walking a difficult path with her and Grayden.
We wrote prayers on flame shaped paper and thought of mysteries and miracles we would like to happen in our lives, our friends and families and in the wider world.
Bread and Wine
Steve used some of his wonderful words to help us remember who Jesus is and what he has done for us.