From a Brief History of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
(The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of South Southwark)
"..... In 1896 Miss Charlotte Boyd bought the Slipper Chapel, which had seen
centuries of secular use. She devoted herself to its restoration."
(Charlotte Boyd had been an Oblate of our community during its Anglican days.)
The promised rain is now gently falling on fresh green grass.
The meadow, recently given a high trim,
is now a knee-high variation in shape and colour.
Some shrubs have been cut back and no longer encroach
upon their neighbours, while large clumps
of perennial flowers have received drastic reduction.
This has now reminded me of the inherent struggle
between all living beings seeking for a space of their own.
It is increasingly evident in the human sphere,
either for religious or political reasons.
It is tragic that we never learn enduring lessons
from the historic past.
The account of the Tower of Babel Genesis 11 1-9
in the New Jerusalem Bible begins on a promising note:
"The whole world spoke the same language, with the same vocabulary.
Now, as the people moved eastwards they found a valley ...
where they settled. They said to one another,
Come, let us make bricks and bake them in the fire .....
Come let us make ourselves a city and a tower
with its top reaching heaven.
Let us make a name for ourselves, so that we do not get
scattered all over the world.
Now the Lord came down to see the city and the tower
that the people had built.
So they are all a single people with a single language.
This is only the start of their undertakings ....
Come let us go down and confuse their language there,
so that they cannot understand one another.
The Lord scattered them thence all over the world .....
the Lord confused the language of the whole world;
and from there the Lord scattered then all over the world."
A footnote in the Jerusalem Bible suggests that the
tower was to be a meeting place between God and man ...
and not a form of rivalry. But confusion still reigns on earth.
Model of a ziggurat
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow,
I am the gentle shower of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am the graceful rush
of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night,
I am in flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room,
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there - I did not die.
Mary Frye 1905-2004
It has been another busy week.
The cooking apples are ready for picking.
They will have to wait !
A card order arrived from Buckfast Abbey.
Some 335 cards have now been printed and folded,
with text pages inserted. Then they were cut to size,
put into envelopes, and each one
was given a see-through cover....
Sister Monica has once again been a great help,
putting aside, for a while, her own lovely needlework.
Dave, our gardener, has been thinning out not only
our shrubbery but also dense flower-beds
in which our cats liked to hide - and peer out unseen.
It all looks so much better now ,
even though the cats may not approve !
Cats are very good at hiding and venture forth
only when they want to....
Perhaps someone will take a photograph
when the rain stops.
Yesterday we were given a jar of damson jam,
made by Daves mother. It is delicious!
How kind some people are....
It is very dark at 5.00 a.m. now when some of us get up.
Little black and white Murphy is usually waiting
to be fed, and trots along the curved path to greet me.
He nudges my hand first, and then has breakfast
under a bench, sheltered by a copper-leaved tree.
He eats not only the scraps from the rich cats table
but also fresh sachets of food.
As I have written before, he is not a stray
but perhaps he likes the privacy of spaciousness ?
We had torrential rain this afternoon but now the sun is shining -
well, it was 5 minutes ago. The rain has returned !
Can you see the feline Robert the Bruce, alias Brunie the tabby cat ?
The spiders web is there as well ....
The legend of Robert the Bruce and the spider
was first published in 1828, some 500 years after the
Battle of Bannockburn, by Sir Walter Scott.
Early in his reign Bruce was defeated by the English.
He sought refuge in a small dark cave and watched
a small spider trying to make a web.
Despite repeated failures, and after much perseverance
the spider eventually succeeded.
Robert the Bruce was inspired by the spider
and eventually defeated the English at Bannockburn.
There was an interesting article in the CATHOLIC HERALD
- September 16 2016 - by Father Ronald Rolheiser entitled
"From paranoia to metanoia"
He translated the Greek word metanoia: META means above
and NOIA means mind so the actual word means "lift up your mind".
He wrote "Metanoia invites us to meet all situations,
however unfair they may seem,
with understanding and an emphatic heart."
According to Henri Nouwen paranoia resembles a closed fist,
habitual suspicion and distrust,
which results in the feeling that we have to protect ourselves from unfairness...
I had always associated metanoia with conversion,
which is essential in our Christian way of life.
In the monastery it is called "conversatio morum"
and it may take many years before it becomes real to us !
The Lords prayer always balances forgiveness
on the scale of what we are prepared
to pardon and forget .....
View of a flower bed in our garden September 2016
It is very dark these mornings.
There was a full moon some days ago which only a day later
looked as though it had been nibbled at the lower right side...
rather like house-mice used to nibble at cheese in my childhood !
The world news continues to arouse anxiety: promises arent kept -
Aid Workers are killed - and those they want to help go hungry ....
The Psalms also contain such anguish:
they describe our human condition as, throughout the ages,
we call out to God for help.
But do we show compassion towards the needy and the poor?
This morning, after Mass and confession,
I reflected that the above photograph of the weeded garden area
was an apt image of the penitential sacrament ...
Many dying or dead flowers have been uprooted,
others cut down, and yet new seeds will sprout,
and the plants cut down to ground level will blossom again.
The clearance will only last for a short while ..... So is it with us !
It is still very dark at 5.00 a.m. and I walk very carefully
on garden paths that are now mysterious,
still putting food out for the birds, and for a visiting cat.
Perhaps that is a good description of our life on earth ?
As we grow older, and our former vision fades,
we have to walk on in faith, with only small glimmers of light.
It seems fitting to end this Monthly Diary with a quotation
attributed to King Alfred :
" To see Thee is the End and the Beginning
Thou carriest me and thou goest before
Thou art the Journey and the journeys End."
May God continue to protect us in "The shelter of his wings"
as we step into an unknown future.
Mandala Tree of Life