Some vestiges of summer remain in the garden while
cooking apples ripen. Many flowers now carry seed-heads
which I cut off - leaving many inadvertently behind.
Butterflies are still visible, and bumblebees
hum around diligently seeking nectar,
while pollen sacs form on their third pair of legs.
The weather is much cooler but air feels heavy and damp.
The world situation remains horrendous.
We heard on the news yesterday
that over 1,000 refugees have drowned this year
while trying to escape to Europe in un-seaworthy boats,
bought from people who only cared for money.
One of the readings at Midday Office on 2nd August
contained the inspiring verse from Romans 1:20 :
"Ever since the creation of the world Gods invisible nature
has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a perception of their creator."
(NB Most biblical translations in English have variant texts.)
Day lily August 2016
The trees and plants in the garden hint at the glory
of the autumn to come.
Most of the flowers have borne their seed-pods,
many have died, yet all around tiny plants emerge ...
There is an energy at work throughout creation,
dependent upon weather and soil conditions,
and the actions of human beings.
In The Book of Genesis 2:4 onwards
there is a wonderful description of God
painstakingly creating the Garden of Eden,
with all the mutual dependencies necessary for all forms of life.
Only when the environment was right was mankind created.
When man / woman failed to follow the basic instructions given,
they were cast-out into the wilderness....
In our present day, throughout the world,
we are experiencing the consequences of disobedience.
Nonetheless, when the sun shines (in moderation) and rain falls,
creation thrives .... and the hidden seed flourishes.
Liturgical feasts come and go - one could say
in clumps, like flowers. Herbs and bushes in our garden
need to be weeded around before their hidden beauty is revealed.
We need more time and space to really appreciate them.
The wind has ceased to blow, and the rain has stopped.
Early in the morning snails move slowly across the garden paths
leaving a silver trail behind of glistening dots.
They, too, were created for a special service
in the balance of nature, which many people
do not understand - nor sadly enough, appreciate.
Leaves are beginning to fall,
and squirrels search for beech nuts on the tree
which overhangs our Chapel.
Unsatisfactory cases of unripe nuts are dropped
on the Chapel roof with resounding crashes !
Many years ago a Mass celebrant, hearing the noise,
looked angrily at the nuns quietly sitting there,
searching for the culprit !
Sketch by Dom Herbert Kaden of Turvey Mews
Autumn 1976: Talacre Abbey
How silently the early sun begins to touch
the tree-tops in the vale below:
The peaceful cooing of the distant woods
is gladly echoed by the quivering leaves
As robins sing with russet tones
and starlings, feathers now a-glow
With sparks of green and blue
sit preening on the chimney tops.
Thursday 18th August
We hear so much about refugees fleeing from their homes,
and historically about the sufferings of people taken into captivity
and transported to another land.
In the J.Gelineau translation of the Book of Psalms,
Psalm 136 is headed
"Homesickness in exile".
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept,
on the poplars that grew there we hung up our harps.
For it was there that they asked us, our captors, for songs,
our oppressors, for joy. "Sing to us," they said,
"one of Sions songs." O how could we sing
the song of the Lord on alien soil?"
The uprooting of people from many nations has continued ....
In Europe we have been responsible
for cruelty in our own countries, for centuries of slave trade,
for the deportations of felons to distant countries like Australia,
resulting in the horrendous killing of indigenous people.
Has a people ever existed which did not, even unintentionally,
add to the suffering of others?
So many poignant Psalms remains relevant to this day.
May God have mercy on us all.
In our short meetings before Vespers
we have pondered many fine quotations from
A TREASURY OF THE KINGDOM
an anthology compiled by E.A. Blackburn and others.
We were particularly moved by a poem by
Thomas Washbourne (1606 -1687)
entitled Gods Two Dwellings.
Lord, Thou hast told us that there are
Two dwellings which belong to Thee,
And those two - and thats the wonder -
Are far asunder.
The one the highest Heaven is,
The mansions of eternal bliss;
The others the contrite
And humble sprite....
.....No, such is Thy humility
That though Thy dwelling be on high,
Thou dost Thyself debase
To the lowest place.
Whereer Thou seest a sinful soul
Deploring his offences foul,
To him Thou will descend,
And be his friend.......
O God! since Thou delightst to rest
In the humble and contrite breast,
First make me so to be,
Then dwell with me.
CP Autumn Roses
Sunday 28th August
The days are becoming shorter as autumn draws nearer.
Plums are ripening, and so are the cooking apples,
while powerful winds scatter seed-cases,
and old boughs from ancient trees fall into our garden.
Dave, our gardener, is cutting back excessive growth
in flower-beds and shrubs.
Perhaps we human-beings require similar care
when our hair and nails grow too long !
And within us space has to be made
for greater receptivity, for a fresh approach to life.
We were not created to be static statues,
however beautiful, but living beings serene in old age -
Perhaps the falling of rain, which invigorates us,
can remind us of the baptism we received as babies,
recorded in photographs taken on that special day ?
However, does not every day present us with a fresh
opportunity for new life?
The vows we take on our profession day as Benedictine
monks and nuns are different from those of other Orders.
They are obedience, stability and conversatio morum.
Obedience basically means listening to God
through the means of the Rule, the Scriptures
the Abbot/ Abbess AND listening to each other.
Stability means being stable in community, remaining faithful,
not departing for pastures new - not thinking
that the grass is greener outside the monastic enclosure.
Conversatio morum basically means being faithful to the monastic life
as lived in ones own community.
In a society which shows signs of disintegration
perhaps monks and nuns - despite their many failures -
may still be a sign of constancy ?
"The more the rain falls on the earth, the softer it makes it;
similarly, Christs holy name gladdens the earth of our heart
the more we call upon it."
(St Hesychios the Priest.)
Awaiting the fall of rain ....