April 2016

The Triumph of the Cross

"I cannot conceive that the cross should remain,

which was, after all only a cross-roads.

It certainly should not be stamped on us on all occasions,

like a brand-mark.

For is the situation not this:

he intended simply to provide the loftier tree,

on which we could ripen better.

He, on the cross, is the new tree in God,

and we were to be warm, happy fruit at the top of it...

The tree should have become so one with us,

...... that we should not need

to occupy ourselves continually with it,

but simply and quietly with God.....

Rainer Maria Rilke (He was a Catholic)

(The Glenstal Book of Readings for the Seasons)

3rd April

Although the birds sing more in the early morning

and the primroses bloom, while rhubarb stems grow thicker,

the days are often over-cast.

Some days are bright and clear, drying flooded paths,

and the surface of the clay soil cracks.

The ladybirds have left the House - with some help -

and have been given the chance of new life, but how many will survive outside ?

They have been hiding in small window crevices since October.

In March they were crawling up and down on sunlit window panes,

and flying to the washbasins for water.

Meanwhile earthworms have drowned in the sodden garden soil,

while people fleeing from danger have drowned at sea.

How fortunate we are within our enclosure yet even here we share, in a microcosm,

the sorrows of the created world.

Our Chapel is bright with the flowers our friends gave us,

Easter Week has ended, but the choir still sings


4th April

There was heavy rain again during the night.

Some garden areas were under water when I first ventured out.

The cats abandoned me but I continued on my walk !

I saw a snail on the path and moved it to shelter ...

they are so vulnerable, and some nuns,

busily saying the rosary, have been known to step on them....

Then I saw the first newt of this year, which ‘froze’

when I air-lifted it to safer ground

but vanished shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, two herring gulls uttered raucous cries

from one of the chimney tops.

They were expecting food but I had none with me.

Later the pigeons pecked the bread

which I had snaffled from the refectory.

So I had cereal for breakfast instead !

Now the sun is shining again.

This month is renowned for its April showers.

The plum trees and ornamental trees are in bloom

and looked lovely in the semi-darkness of early morning.


I spent most of yesterday printing cards

as the card shelves in the sitting room had been emptied.

Sister M., whose forte is making lavender bags,

has, in the past, made needle-paintings of flowers and birds,

which I also print as cards.

Goldfinch : needle painting

5th April

At the end of his homily at Mass today Father Jim

read the following text from S.Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

"This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father ....

In the abundance of his glory may he, through his Spirit,

enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self,

so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then,

planted in love and built on love ..... knowing the love of Christ....

you may be filled with the utter fullness of God."

Ephesians 3: 14-19


The moment there is sunshine solitary bumblebees

can be heard in the garden but, as the weather changes,

their energy seems to fail and they fly no longer.

I have found one indoors and carried it outside.

I hope it survived, for its sake, and the sake of the blossom

which she and her offspring would help to pollinate.

Bumblebee and Japonica April 2013

8th April

Our gift today at Mass was the following prayer

at the end of the homily:

Lord Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longing of our heart

and feed us with the finest of wheat.

Fill me with gratitude, and give me a generous heart

that I may freely share with others what you have given to me. Amen


8th April became the Day of the Mouse.

Cat Brunie is a keen mouser.

As she has no teeth she does not harm them as such.

Yesterday she brought in the third mouse of the season,

taking it to the room she and Goldie share,

where it hid behind the cat litter tray under a table.

Every time I tried to take it into my bare hand

it dashed to another part of the small room.

(The door being closed.)

After some time I did catch it - it was totally unhurt -

and I carried it out into a safe area outside.

Brunie was in a bad temper for most of the day.

Some time before Vespers I joined the cats in their cell,

sitting in what had once been my armchair, and Brunie jumped up to sit on my lap,

purring blissfully for some 45 minutes.

We are, of course, told that we must make peace

with our adversaries before the sun sets!

15th April 2016

An Unusual Encounter

A couple of days ago a stranger rang the door-bell.

I let her in, offered her a cup of coffee,

and sat down with her in the utility room upstairs.

Lynn came from America was joining a group

touring the Welsh coast. We conversed for about an hour.

Her father may have worked for the American Embassy as he was based in Bedford for four years,

and later the family went to Taiwan, but I did not ask her about this.

(It reminded me of my mother’s much younger cousin, who worked for the

German Embassy in Hong Kong, Greece, London and elsewhere.)

What interested me was that she had been baptised

in the Lutheran Church and in her early teens rejected God and Christianity.

We touched upon Buddhism and other beliefs.

Lynn was very interesting, with a direct glance.

Her surname was Mittelstadt, of Prussian origin.

It was cat Brunie who called me away, and we parted.

My last words to her on the doorstep were "God bless you."


Yesterday was a day of warm sunshine.

There were more pollinators about and I rescued a small bee

from inside a white tulip from which it was trying to escape.

Even a butterfly flew past, and pear and plum blossom opened.


Trevor has continued his work on our ponds.

It will be good to see the fish again once the weather improves.

There are, apparently, tadpoles in the upper pool.

Today is dull again but our cats came out for a walk!

During the last few weeks I have become increasingly aware

of language differences, especially between English and German.

In English ‘refugees’ are people who seek a place of safety:

in German ‘Fluechtlinge’ are people fleeing from danger...

In the present day boat people are in the latter category.


22nd April

We had a wonderful warm and sunny day yesterday,

which was most appropriate for Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday .

The day began with an almost full moon shining brightly

but it vanished suddenly: Sic fugit gloria mundi !

Butterflies fluttered by in the garden, birds sang loudly,

and walking in the garden was a pleasure.

There is now a predominance of blue flowers:

bluebells are growing in wild areas,

forget-me-nots are everywhere.

Beautiful tulips in pots flowered earlier, while those left

in the flower-beds began to open their petals when the sun shone.

Our trio of wild ducks makes the lower pond muddy,

and the occasional fight between the two drakes

leaves feathers scattered on the grass.

It amazes me that the curved beaks can wreak such havoc.

I think I may have helped the last ladybirds out into the garden.

One of our small conifers is a special tree for them:

it is a joy to see them there in the sunshine.


23rd April : Feast of St. George - Patron Saint of England

In the texts given for the feast of a martyr the following frequently occurs:

"Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies,

it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest."

This quotation from the Gospel of John 12:24

has for many years perplexed me.

Any seed potentially contains new life.

A plant seed requires moist soil before rooting itself: a caterpillar,

having fed on the right food, becomes a chrysalis,

and its whole being dissolves and reforms

before emerging as a moth or butterfly.

Surely the same happens in any form of new life, including ours?

Is immersion in water- at baptism - the outward symbol of this for us?


In a play entitled ‘The Life of the Insects’ by Capek

the Chrysalis cries " I’m being born". To which the Vagrant replies:

"I commend you, Chrysalis, for that.

In the fervid urge all things in the world are toiling for their birth

Desiring to be, desiring to live, desiring to last

and let them feel what they will.

‘Tis only one thing: the dire bliss of being."