May 2016

Prelude to May 2016

Cold winds have been blowing intermittently,

punctuated by sunshine, and then the falling of hail.

The wind howls, leaf-casing falls from the sycamore tree,

blown to where the birds expect to find some food.

It must be rather confusing for them

yet the casings remain after the food has been eaten.

The heating in the main house has to be on

because the old windows are not tight-fitting:

it is through these small spaces that the ladybirds

gain access but not an exit in the warmer weather.


Recently we remembered that in the 14th century England

the River Thames was covered in thick ice, on which people

walked and skated and even made fires large enough to roast oxen.

But it was the winter season then!


Goldie is sleeping on my bed while the trees sway.

Brunie and Joseph are probably outside,

passing the fallen tulip petals en route to their places

of private interest.

The wind continues to howl.....

Some red camillia flowers have fallen,

while the pink flowers of another bush turn yellow.

Forms of decay can be attractive,

such as the dry and artistic forms of leaves

which have become strange animals.


We are expecting three visitors for lunch today

so I have made some rice pudding.

It always reminds me of the poem by A.A. Milne

"What is the matter with Mary Jane?

She is crying with all her might and main,

And she won’t eat her dinner - rice pudding again -

What is the matter with Mary Jane?"

I used to be like that but, with old age,

I have come to enjoy it!

It began to hail and rain again as I wrote this -

                perhaps in sympathy with Mary Jane ?!                            

Stages of ageing in tulips... 2016

7th May 2016

I awoke to the sound of the dawn chorus.

The trees and shrubs in our garden are radiant with new life.

The garden is swathed in the fresh colours

of new leaves and blossom, to which our neighbours’ gardens

add their fresh beauty.


Last Tuesday we received a ‘phone call:

our wonderful gardener was in hospital.

On the next day he was home but he needs much rest.

That afternoon I began to clear the area around the green-houses,

watering the plants inside them and moving others

to the enclosed area adjacent to the rhubarb patch.

It was cathartic for a former gardening nun

but I am not sure that the cats approved !


At present the monastic life, according to meetings elsewhere,

seems to be full of words.

These words, these documents,

do not seem to be relevant to our daily life.

We are people who listen, pray and ponder.

Around us society seems to be fragmenting,

becoming more superficial,

with instant communication and often,

a sense of deep loneliness.

Perhaps present day monastic theory

will add to this sense of alienation ?

The people who come here value the tangible silence,

the quiet friendliness.


9th May 2016

Early this morning two large snails rode like galleons

over a dew-wet sea of grass.


11th May

After two nights of torrential rain the garden

is full of the gentle colours of new growth.

The Welsh hills are now invisible, hidden by tall trees.

Yesterday a slim fox appeared, searching for remnants of food.

The black and white cat, completely at ease,

watched him from under a bench.


The miracle of new life continues and intensifies

in all the growth around us.

Neither camera nor paint brush could record the gentle unfolding:

neither can we describe how we are touched by God....


14th May

I vaguely remember the line from a hymn:

"After the sun the rain, after the rain the sun ..."

which well describes both our alternating weather at present

and our human condition.

The grass has been cut, the flower-beds

are full of predominantly blue flowers,

our trees are coming into delicate new leaf, while petals fall

decorating the ground with pink and white patterns.

The meadow is full of wonderfully diverse new growth,

and the birds sing melodiously to greet the dawn.


That is the natural background to our lives

against which we deal with fluctuating events,

news from our friends and family, and the sadness

of thousands of people seeking a safer life,

while others pursue fleeting happiness ...

Why do we not respond to the words

"Be still, and know that I am God" ?


Recently we have appreciated

the beauty of decay in a vase of tulips.

Perhaps we could find equal beauty in human lives,

were the attempt to disguise old-age to cease ...

Red campion and corncockle

14th May 2016

The Neston Group of S. Raphael came today for their annual meeting.

Some faces were familiar, others new.

At the Eucharist a Rev. Brunswick was the celebrant,

assisted by our Oblate Elizabeth Joyce.

I was intrigued by the German surname.

He told me that his family was among

George 1’s entourage when he came to GB as king in 1714.

He had been the ruler of the Duchy and Electorate

of Brunswick and Lueneberg since 1698

and spoke no English. The members of his court

supplied the German speakers he needed around him.

George 1 died in 1727.

20th May 2016

The rain has refreshed the parched earth.

Snails and various kinds of slugs are visible,

attending to their inherent responsibility of feeding on,

and clearing away, the detritus left by other animals.

The snails leaves signs of their passing in shining dots.


I saw the young fox again on the wet grass.

He was far more confident now eating the small morsels

which the house cats had rejected.

A couple of magpies watched him.

Having fed, he trotted off towards the hedge on the north.

I went outside again with more scraps for the birds...

The lilac bushes are now in flower


These last few days have been rather busy,

attending to paper-work and reflecting on monastic life today.

There have been so many changes that I feel like

Rip van Winkle awakening in a world he no longer knew.


I have recently became aware of how little we know

about the functions of our body.

We experience hunger and eat, we are thirsty and drink,

but the real work is done by the stomach and the bowels.

The heart beats, the blood is circulated through veins and arteries.

Our lungs breathe in and out ...

All these physical activities depend upon our brain...

Human beings have been fascinated by this mystery

throughout the ages.


26th May

Our small meadow is full of golden buttercups,

and the small flowers called ‘shamrock ‘ in Ireland.

This is a common roadside plant also called "Black medick",

although it has nothing to do with either doctors or medicine.

The name means " The plant of the Medes"

the ancient Middle Eastern people whose legal system

was made into the ‘Law of the Medes and Persians’

and respected throughout their lands.

(The Persians had by then conquered the Medes.)

This information comes from the

Field Guide to WILD FLOWERS of Britain 1981.


Torrential rain has amply watered the garden

and the flowers are ‘bustin out all over" ...

(from Carousel ) and it is not yet June !

On days like these there is the occasional sound of bees

but no sign of butterflies ...


Today’s feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury - 27th May -

is bathed in sunshine.

Saint Bede describes how Pope Gregory saw

some captive fair-haired slaves for sale in Rome

and asked the vendor what they were called.

On being told that they were Angles,

Gregory replied "No, they are angels".

He then determined that he would send a missionary

to their land, and chose Augustine, a Benedictine monk,

who was accompanied by some of his brethren and sent them

there in AD 596

Bede recounted this in chapter XXIII onwards of his

"Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation."