1st January 2018
We awoke to a day that was overcast.
Were the day a bird, I would have said
that the day was brooding.
At Mass we were once again reminded
of the turmoil in the present world:
no one knows where the next blow will fall.
Was it like this - all those centuries ago -
when Our Lord was born in occupied territory?
I looked for a more cheerful picture
for January and found it in a calendar
which was sent to us last year from Canada.
We certainly need the balance,
and the joyousness, which some artists
can provide in their paintings of nature.
From a calendar by
The hurricane named Eleanor arrived last night
and is still moaning around outside.
A fierce wind makes both conifers
and trees with bare branches sway.
The tall deciduous trees stand firm,
while some branches are battered by the storm.
Dave came this morning, after some days at home.
We had received a plaque from a friend
and located it in a position
close to the refectory.
It has a sunshine face surrounded
by rays of light.
It is supposed to glow in the darkness.
So far it has not done so.....
Eleven days have passed since I wrote the above.
It is very cold here, and dark in the early morning.
A fox forages for food at night,
and a grey squirrel joins the birds by daylight
as they eat the bread I have broken for them.
We are now back in the liturgical year
and the priestly vestments at Mass
are mostly green.
A Christmas hymn
describes the newly born Child in one of its verses:
Love and truth in him shall flower,
From his strength their vigour take.
Branches that are bare shall blossom;
Joy that slept begins to wake.
That is certainly what we pray for in these
Last week we welcomed two kind friends,
both of them needing some rest.
They come from different religious orders.
It was good to see them again.
We first met Sister Helena at Talacre Abbey,
many years ago,
when she accompanied an older Sister
on a visit to a friend.
Father Stephen OSB stayed in our guest house
for a quiet time, before returning to Worth Abbey.
We had first met at an English Benedictine Community
General Chapter some years ago.
Last night was a night of turmoil,
with raging wind and heavy rainfall
battering the side of the House facing the Welsh hills.
Some of us were awoken by the sound
and fury and found it difficult to fall asleep again.
We have been warned that there could be
a repeat performance tonight.
However, a local fox found some
nourishment on the grass close to the refectory
before the deluge began !
Sunday 21st January
The gale force wind yesterday was followed by
an overcast day, without any gleam of sunshine.
The gulls perched on the roof of our guest house
were looking for signs of the food
which I had broken for them.
When I emerged from the usual door in the main house
they began to shriek in expectation of my becoming
the sower who would scatter bread and not seed !
By mid afternoon the lawn was sodden
as the sleet turned into rain.
It is still falling, thundering against
windows, and dancing on the transparent
roof between the scullery and laundry.
Sara Coleridge wrote the following words...
January brings the snow
makes your feet and fingers glow...
However our extremities more usually
feel frozen !
It is very difficult to find suitable poems for this season.
I then found the poem
by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod ?
Generations have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears mans smudge and shares mans smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
For all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And the last lights of the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Yesterday I came across the following text
by Jonathan Tulloch.
He writes under the heading
Glimpses of Eden
for The Tablet, and this was dated 20th January.
If I were an artist how could I ever tire
of painting this oak?
It stands on a rise of land
like a vaulting pillar holding up the sky.
But any sketch or painting
couldnt be a still life -
this oak is never static.
With up to half a million leaves
on the average mature tree,
even the slightest breeze
will find a dancing partner.
During the high winds that charge over the vale,
it roars like a soccer crowd ....
An embroidery design by Sister Monica.
It reminds me of the Creation Story
in the Book of Genesis....
In the Bible the Creation Story was the beginning of life....
which continues and evolves
throughout the centuries.
We are fortunate to be part of it -
despite the present turmoil in the world.
In the Four Quartets T.S.Eliot wrote :
And the end and the beginning were always there ...
And in the beginning is my end.