March 2016

Water-colour by Jack Carter

"Thought is the blossom; language the bud;

action the fruit ..." Ralph Waldo Emerson

3rd March 2016

Yesterday we experienced winter in many variations ...

The day began sunny and bright, with daffodils glowing

and lesser celandine shining in the sunshine.

Then the clouds formed, the Welsh hills disappeared, and the rain fell.

The previously hibernating ladybirds, still indoors,

clung together in small clusters.

The rain became torrential, turning into sleet and then melting.

By early evening the wind was howling, hurling itself against the House.

The curling, battering sound of air, instead of keeping us awake,

became a lullaby! We awoke to silence.


The last few days were full of quiet activity.

A friend came on Monday to help

with the preparation of lavender bags for future orders.

She also joined us Midday Office, and at Vespers,

sang the psalms in Latin with us.

She has been our faithful friend for some 20 years.

Today she returned home to Bolton.


On Tuesday the plumbers came to attend to various jobs,

including the replacement of taps in several areas.

The water was off for a few hours but we coped very well.

Now most basins have their own ‘cut-off’ system,

so the taps can be changed without affecting

the rest of the House.


There have been many requests for prayers,

both for sick people and their carers.

The loss of independence must be very hard.

We were asked to pray for an heroic 90 year-old man,

Arthur, who is looking after his only child,

who has been operated on for cancer,

and is also caring for his wife, suffering from dementia.

He himself is ill: some home-help is provided by

National Health Nurses

It makes us realise how fortunate we are, living in community.


Later, walking in the garden,

I saw a duck and drake landing on the lower pond.

They flew away almost at once.

Were they wary of my feline companions,

or was it me ?!


Original photograph P.F. 1993


By Dubravka Williams-Podhraski

When the sun breaks through the clouds,

rivers swell and life awakes from sleep

and all is turning green,

bumblebees stumble around flowers,

and birds feed their young

ladybirds emerge from their shelters,

then I am enveloped in a quiet joy,

the quiet joy that expands

grows and flows and overflows

into happiness and peace and kindness

towards all creation .....


Spring has not yet reached us here, but surely it will come again ?

9th March

The Welsh hills look dark against the grey sky.

The wind has risen again, blowing over some radiant daffodils.

When it rains, the fallen flowers are spattered with mud.

Perhaps that is a lenten symbol, too,

of our need for forgiveness...

There are many signs of Spring when the sun appears.

Hyacinths and lungwort are in bloom,

as well as golden lesser celandine.

The birds sing more melodiously now at the verge of daybreak.


Last Sunday was Laetare Sunday, a day for rejoicing,

and in England it is traditionally ‘Mothering Sunday’.

This name came into being some centuries ago

when young men and women

worked long distances away from home.

During the season of Lent

they returned home to visit to their Mother Church,

as well as their own earthly parents.

Now the emphasis is upon the mother who bore them

rather than on their spiritual mother, the local Church,

in which they were baptised.


12th March

Yesterday began with sparkling frost and frozen water bowls.

At midday a flock of gulls circled noisily over-head,

swooping down one at a time to eat remnants of food.

Today there was no frost and an increase of light,

and I saw a couple of herring gulls on the grass.

They are magnificent birds, who perch silently on our chimney pots.

They are much larger than ducks.


So many texts which we read and recite during our

Monastic Office are prophetic, warning us of the effects

of our selfish human concerns here and now.

"The earth will become desolate because of those who live there,

in return for what they have done." Micah 7

Other readings proclaim the wonder of creation:

"As the sun in shining looks on all things,

so the work of the Lord is full of his glory." Sirach 42:15

In Deuteronomy 32:1-13 we have the teaching of God described

in simple and comprehensible natural terms:

"Listen, O heavens, and I will speak,

let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

May my teaching fall like the rain, my speech descend like the dew,

like gentle rain upon the tender grass,

like showers upon the young green...."


Sunday 13th March

Our timetable is different on a Sunday so before Morning Office

I took the cats out for an early walk.

I heard the plaintive cries of geese, and looking skywards,

saw two v - shaped formations moving rapidly from NW to SE.

They were very flying high up and looked so small

from where I stood and watched them

under the leafless branches of the acacia trees.

May they have a safe landing.


It was some days later, on another early morning walk,

when I heard the sound of a woodpecker

pecking at the trunk of one of several ancient trees

close to our boundaries.

One has also been seen at one of our bird-feeders,

which was an unexpected but delightful sight.


The rhubarb is now growing well

but only one of the small trees - a pear tree -

shows promising signs of new growth.

The tiny buds on other fruit trees are still encased in brown.


Today, 19th March, we celebrated the Feast of St Joseph.

We know very little about him.

Perhaps his character and integrity are modelled

on the Joseph of the Old Testament ?

We know that Joseph was loved by his father with a special love

which aroused the jealousy of his brothers -

to the extent that some of them wanted to kill him.

After various experiences of servitude and

imprisonment, he finally rose to a high rank in Egypt,

saving the lives of his brothers and father ....

It could very well be that he foreshadows both Joseph

of the New Testament and Jesus himself.


Palm Sunday

O Cross of Christ, immortal tree

On which our Saviour died,

The world is sheltered by your arms

That bore the Crucified.

O faithful Cross, you stand unmoved

While ages run their course:

Foundation of the universe,

Creation’s binding force.

This hymn, from an early Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal,

describes the eternal Tree of Life as a shelter and refuge.

It reminds me of a lullaby, of a child cradled in its mother’ arms.

It is both strange and yet strangely right.

The cross does seem to hold all things together.


On a calendar we were told that Spring began on Sunday:

it neither looks nor feels like that !

However, there are many more primroses in bloom,

and when the sun shines, the occasional bumblebee

buzzes past ...yet the deciduous trees look bare,

making beautiful delicate patterns against dull skies.


The Paschal Triduum begins on Thursday.

These days are quite demanding from the liturgical point of view,

as well as the emotional,

and it is a relief that our timetable is adjusted

according to our age and ability as we are all over 60 years of age.


Charles Kingsley 1819-1875

See the land, her Easter keeping,

Rises as her Maker rose.

Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,

Burst at last from winter snows.

Earth with heaven above rejoices;

Fields and gardens hail the spring;

Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,

While the wild birds build and sing.

You, to whom your Maker granted

Powers to those sweet birds unknown,

Use the craft by God implanted;

Use the reason not your own.

Here while heaven and earth rejoices,

Each his Easter tribute bring -

Work of fingers, chant of voices,

Like the birds who build and sing.