February 2016

"Procrastination is the thief of time".

A simple version in English is

"Do not leave to the morrow what you can do today."

I first heard this in my early childhood, when I was already

doing NOW what I really did not want to do at all,

such as eating the vegetable I liked least first

so that I could enjoy the rest of the meal !

This also applies to the tasks before me ...

So my reason for so doing is not strictly to ‘save time’

but to get the more unpleasant duties out of the way...

I prefer peace of mind to anxiety!

The Reminder of a Promise

During the last week we have had readings from Genesis

at Morning Office, especially the account of Noah and the Flood.

(There are two versions of it.)

The last reading contains the wonderful covenant promise:

"And this", God said, "is the sign of the covenant which I now make

between myself and you and every living creature

for all ages to come.

I now set my bow in the clouds and it will be a sign

of the covenant between me and the earth....

and never again will the waters become

a flood to destroy all living things...

‘That’, God told Noah, ‘is the sign of the covenant

I have established between myself all living things on earth.’

Excerpts from Genesis 9:12-17


However, humankind has found other ways of destroying

not only nature but the balanced relationships between peoples.

This is evident in the world of today,

despite the efforts of many people of good will to redress it.

May we be among those who truly pray for peace.


Sunday 7th February

The day began full of promise, with gentle bird-song

accompanying the sound of distant traffic.

It was still dark: some hours later sunshine burst into bloom,

touching the daffodil-spears near the hedge.

Having striven upwards, gazing heavenwards,

some now bowed their golden heads towards the earth ....

Do they illustrate our longing for the divine above us,

before we find it rooted in the earth below ?

The sunshine disappeared early in the afternoon,

the Welsh hills were no longer visible but the first pink hyacinth

was in bloom under the acacia tree.

Was it a token birthday gift ?

All other thoughts have fled but the rhubarb is sprouting!


10th February

Recently I was given the following text

recounting how Saint Isaac of Nineveh was once asked

by an Elder: ‘What is a compassionate heart?’

He replied, "It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation,

for humanity, for the animals, for demons

and for all that exists..."

I was later told that it also described me ...

I smiled to myself as I have,

from the earliest years, abhorred all forms of cruelty,

especially towards helpless creatures - including worms and flies.

None of them have created themselves: they all have

their own role in the maintenance of life.

What right have we to judge what the Creator has made ?

The quotation ended with the words:

" He even prays for the reptiles as a result

of the great compassion which is

poured out beyond measure -

after the likeness of God - in his heart."

(Also known as Saint Isaac of Syria - 7th century.)


The sun has been shining today:

it is liturgically Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence.

The House is full of silence, an oasis of silence,

which can console and heal us.

May all who are in need be touched by God,

and may our prayers sustain them. Amen.


Flowers which bloomed in February

(Talacre Abbey 1980’s)

Wednesday 17th February

At Morning Office today we had a short reading from the Prophet Isaiah.

It seems to describe our contemporary world,

and indicates what is required of us.

"Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me:

to share your bread with the hungry

and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked

and not to turn from your own kin?

Then will your light shine

and your wound be quickly healed."

(Found in Chapter 58)


Saturday 20th

After several frosty days and bright sunshine

over-clouding and rain have returned.

Small raindrops pattern the west-facing windows.

It seems incredible that no dewdrop or raindrop

is identical with another.

The same is true of human-beings.

Do you remember how in childhood

you always wanted to be understood?

Yet all we can do is to listen with sympathy

because all our ‘understanding’ is qualified by ‘but....’

When we really listen, the ‘but’ has to be left out!


The Chapel potted plants are now on my window-sill, facing west.

Below is part of our garden, lush with green grass,

while small buds, again everyone different,

begin another form of life .... and some new leaves resemble

autumn leaves in a more delicate colour:

"In our end is our beginning".

Blue African Violets


During these last days some friends visited,

having travelled from Australia.

Three years have wrought a change in the health of one of them,

bringing with it a sense apprehension about the future.

Yet the love and friendship endure.

This awareness of the fragility of life seems to be

a dominant theme throughout the whole world.


I was told yesterday that Chester Zoo

has made an appeal for every garden to have a wild-life area.

Our gardens have always been thus.

Having written this I had to smile:

we all have that sort of area within us!


24th February

The full moon two nights ago reminded me

of the Walter de la Mare poem "Silver".

But that poem describes a summer moon-lit night,

and I Iearned it at my Junior School in Surrey

just over 70 years ago .....

The following days were bright with sparkling frost,

with water-bowls for the birds covered with ice patterns.

This morning, walking with the cats,

I saw that the grass still in shadow shimmered with frost,

while the melted frost - now drops of water - glistened in the sunshine.

Some earthworms have frozen to death,

while others responded to the healing warmth of the sun.


These last few days have been somewhat difficult

but on visiting one of our Sisters in hospital,

(where she recovered quickly and is now back home,)

I appreciated the company of our kind friend Neill,

and the opportunity to speak to another patient, Ann,

in an adjacent bed. She had - and still has - a lovely smile.


Life is almost back to normal again, and our visitors

seem to appreciate being here.

There is a great stillness today, and silence,

with no movement in the trees or bushes.

The birds which were communicating with each other

early this frosty morning are now silent.


We are aware of the tragedies in the rest of the world,

and the on-going debate about whether or not the UK

should remain part of the European Union.

It would be a great pity - and loss - were we to opt -out.

Fragmentation has never led to peace.

But the present influx of people seeking safety in Europe

is causing much anxiety, and the closing of borders...

The fear of eventually being over-run,

as happened to the Roman Empire centuries ago,

by people of different cultures and religions,

is understandably to the fore.

When future historians consider our century in time to come

they may well see the benefits of changes taking place.

May it indeed be so.

Winter view 2010