January 2016

May the faith that gives us hope

The love that shows the way

The peace that cheers the heart

Be yours from day to day. Anon.

Open the door ....

On the Epiphany Sunday (UK) the day was over-cast,

soaked in rain, muddy and treacherous underfoot.

Just before sunset the clouds parted:

golden light touched the puddles,

making us catch our breath at the sight of such beauty.

Then darkness fell but now we were accompanied by love, faith and hope.

9th January 2016

The entire Christmas season has been bathed in love and sorrow.

The love comes in shafts of fleeting, unexpected light on dull days:

the sorrow comes as steadily as the almost continually falling rain.

The grass and soil are sodden and treacherous to walk on:

the more carnivorous birds are short of food,

while in other parts of our world people in conflict are starving.

The World News is heart-rending.


"Light shines in the darkness" in so many different ways.

I catch glimpses of it in community relationships,

in the quiet, trusting confidence of our house cats -

who nevertheless know what they want -

and decide for themselves what they want to do!

I have just come in from the garden where

I saw the first snowdrops, and a buttercup in the meadow.

There are roses in bud, and red primula with yellow centres

have been in flower for a while, close to companion primroses.

The chirping of birds is accompanied by the roar of traffic:

our bird-seed containers are speedily emptied....

But it is very cold and damp outside.

In order to survive, we need the hope which constant nature,

unblemished by adverse events, reveals to us.


Postscript: I also discovered during the wet weather

that cats have the equivalent of waterproof soles to their feet !


16th January 2016

After many dull and overcast days we awoke to frost.

It shone in the sunshine and the grass I trod on was firm.

Now the imprints from my shoes show clearly.

The birds have eaten all the cat-food remains.

The distant Welsh Hills to the west - visible from my window -

look dark grey behind the stems and branches of trees.

Have they been covered by frost as well?

They are usually called ‘the black hills’ of North Wales.


It is strange how minor events can make one smile.

The gate leading to the Chapel door,

although opening easily enough early this morning,

stuck fast when the first people came for Mass.

So the front door was opened and a detour was made

through the hall, past the refectory, through the kitchen

and scullery, into the cloister and finally into the Chapel...

After holy communion Sister Christopher

boiled some water, poured it over the recalcitrant latch,

and the secular members of the congregation

departed in peace.

I found it all rather entertaining !


The sunshine has become fitful: perhaps it is going to snow?

The cats are not venturing out.

The water-bowls for the birds are frozen over:

they will be dealt with later.

It was strange to walk on firm soil after weeks of sodden mud,

which squelched at every foot-step I took.


Yesterday our Capuchin celebrant, Father Ginson from India,

continued with his own insights into the Gospel readings from Saint Mark.

On a previous day he said that Jesus does the calling:

we are all called individually. And Jesus initiates healing

according to the needs of the people concerned,

whether in a synagogue, a house or road-side.

Yesterday it was the account of a healing in Capernaum,

when a paralytic man, carried on a stretcher by four friends,

was lowered down through an opening in the roof.

Jesus said to him: "My child, your sins are forgiven."

This caused an uproar as it was thought that only God could forgive sins.

Jesus inwardly aware of the thoughts in their hearts asked them:

" Which of these is easier to say to the paralytic,

‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk?’

We human beings know that both of these alternatives

are impossible for any merely human person to command.

Father Ginson said that the four stretcher-bearers had faith but did the paralytic share it?

It seemed that it was his need for forgiveness which, when given, healed him. Mark 2:1-12

In different ways, it is forgiveness - given and received - which also heals us

both in our relationships with God and our neighbour.


22nd January 2016

This last week, instead of being calm and peaceful,

was punctuated by mornings of medical visits.

Sister M. was seen by a new physiotherapist on Monday.

On Tuesday she had a six monthly stroke check-up.

On Wednesday the local vet and assistant

paid a home visit to three of our House cats.

They received their annual injection and a tablet against worms.

Brunie was relieved of her worst clumps of fur.

On Thursday our weekly Chapel and House Cleaners were due

but Jo had a severe cold so Lisa came alone.

Today, Friday, the Tesco delivery is due .... I am the cook next week.

(The above reminds me of people asking what nuns do all day.)


The rain has returned.

The Welsh hills are invisible

and all our area seems to be swathed in a light grey shawl.

Later it began to rain again - and the mist hiding the Welsh hills intensified.


The arrival of the Tesco delivery, brought by a friendly Polish driver,

made the day more cheerful.

He told us that his little daughter was baptised

in Poland during the Christmas season.

Delivery completed, he removed the electronic pad

from his pocket and found the photographs

taken on the day of her baptism, and showed them to us.

Once the baby had been baptised, the priest removed the Christ-Child

from the crib and placed the happy child on top of the hay.

It is a delightful photograph, which may become a Christmas card.


Before Morning Office I was reading some of quotations

I had written down by hand in 1976.

The first few pages were from Marcus Aurelius Antoninus,

recording his own reflections.

"..... It is high time for thee to understand the true nature of the world,

whereof thou art a part; and that of the Lord

and Governor of the World, from whom, as a channel from a spring,

thou thyself didst flow....." (Book 2) Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, was a Stoic.


The last jotting, written in 1982, was entitled


"Mossy grass, cut yesterday, edges a mound of clay.

Sword-like blades of grass pierce the mud.

A body has been consigned to burial.

A cat sprawls on the grave, impervious to death and decay.

The present has sunlight in the air.

Sunlight in the air .... bird-song in the trees,

the warm cat purrs while I sit at ease, stilled and peaceful,

remembering your words ‘I cherish you.’ Anon

Reflections in the Pond 2011


Sunday 24th January 2016

I was First Reader at Morning Office, reading

Genesis 2:4b-25 from the New Jerusalem Bible of 1985.

To my utter amazement the text became a revelation,

although I had read it many, many times before.

That God fashioned man from clay, planted a garden in Eden,

"with the tree of life in the middle of the garden,

and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

That is fine BUT when God made the man the gardener,

he gave the man this command:

"You are free to eat of all the trees in the garden.

But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat;

for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die."

It was only after God had made that pronouncement that he created

helpers for the man - birds and animals.

BUT none was suitable as a helper. Only then was ‘woman’

created from one of the man’s ribs.

So why has the woman been blamed for the expulsion from the garden?

Was she ever told about the prohibition not to eat the fruit

"from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" ?


Alas, she was told, as is clear from her reply

to the snake when it questioned her in Genesis 3.

The man must have told her, as men do sometimes confide in their wives!

Sometimes it is better to be silent than to speak...


Later in the Office the canticle came from the Book of Job 36:26-33

and contained these lines:

"...the greatness of God exceeds our knowledge....

It is he who makes the raindrops small and pulverises the rain into mist.

And the clouds then pour this out, sending it streaming

on the human race. By these means, he sustains the people,

giving them plenty to eat.

And who can fathom how he spreads the clouds,

or why such crashes thunder from his tent? ...


Sometimes ignorance of science

can become a poetic blessing.

I know what I prefer!