Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Blogging as a spiritual discipline

Just popping by before dashing off to Things Lenten to flag up two bloggers who're blogging through Lent: Jen, with Lenten Positivity and, on the wibsite, Balaam with  Forty Blogs of Lent. Enjoy...

Got to run...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Small Pilgrimage Places

                                                    - Diocese of Oxford Pilgrimage Map
On Thursday Greenpatch dog and I set off on a mini-pilgrimage right across town to try and blow the cobwebs away. We do this sometimes; we decide to abandon our usual trot round the park, break out and go where the mood...or GP dog's nose - takes us.  He's a better map reader than myself, I guess. Today was one of those times, especially after the sad events of the previous night when I just want to get out there into the fresh air and walk and walk my troubles away.  I quite fancied trying the Speen Moors walk, but several stages in we were thrown by a waymark which I could have sworn should have been there but had somehow vanished since we were last that way.  So, we wandered on into Speen and towards the church  hoping to pick up the route there. Thrown again - at the entrance to the (former ) Elmore Abbey; now that it's private property I wasn't sure whether their driveway is still a right of way or not. So, we turned tail and headed back towards the church with the idea of visiting The Ladywell, an ancient...well...well, said to be of pagan origin.

It was there we were brought up short.  Not what you might think; no epiphanies or messages direct from the Almighty.  No angel  (with or without flaming sword) awaited us at the gate to the graveyard; this was a plastic bag tied to the gate with red parcel ribbon, with a  familiar bright yellow sticker on the cover: Yes, we'd spotted hidden treasure - a Bookcrossing release! If you're not familiar with the scheme, Bookcrossing is like a cross between a huge mobile library and a treasure hunt. Registered bookcrossers release favourite books out 'into the wild,' in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. The book is given a code, so that when it's found, the new reader can log onto the site, write a review and everybody can track the book's progress round the country, and sometimes even the world. And we'd found one; a first for me. I've released books before but never hunted one down myself. I'd forgotten all about it, to  be honest. My membership lapsed years ago. Something I put right as soon as I could.

But it was the sudden, serendipity of the thing that so touched me: the beautiful spring sunshine, GP dog was behaving himself for once, this little surprise and the beautiful surroundings. A sense of oneness or 'itness'  of God that I  experience most often   when I'm really aside from everyday life, say, on retreat.   It stayed with me  as  we wandered along up to the Ladywell and back across the park towards home. All will be well....and all manner of things will be well. (No pun intended).  GP cat might be gone but she's definitely not forgotten.

All creatures great and small: R.I.P. Greenpatch Cat

                                            - Greenpatch dog and cat, 20 February 2012

It's a strange time  to be starting a new blog. The last week's been one of those weird, liminal periods when  normal time and routine were suspended and  we've been  plunged into a deep fog of waiting and watching. Fifteen year-old Greenpatch cat, who'd been unwell for a while, took a turn for the worse. Though I didn't  mention it at the time, the planning and beginning of Growing Greenpatches took place whilst I and Mr GP were keeping vigil through Tuesday night (we took turns to doze on the sofa) and into Wednesday. The photo - one of those chance in a million moments - was taken on Monday evening, at least I think it was Monday ; (ignore the camera setting), tiredness has played havoc with my memory; just as she began to wind down and slip in and out of consciousness. She died early on Wednesday evening. Funny old way to spend Ash Wednesday....very surreal...strangely right...

I can't say it was a happy experience for any of us, however,  though I hope it was a peaceful one; the main thing being that that she was kept as warm and comfortable as possible and died with us beside her; rather than, as our two previous cats were, in the very caring, but clinical atmosphere of the vet's surgery.  We always adopt elderly rescue cats so our children love to joke about our home being a last staging post for elderly moggies. Be that as it may, and yes, you do set yourself up for heartbreak, (this is the  third cat we've lost in six years), we reckon it's more than compensated for by knowing that our pets, whatever experiences they've been through in the past, are loved and cared for in their twilight years. They've all been so different from each other in character, personality and behavour, as I said once in my old Greenpatches blog:  Goth Cat, Viking Cat and ....well, we never gave Chops an honorary online moniker; Mr GP's just suggested 'Scaredy Cat. ' Yet they've all been equally loved. 

So...and though I'm embarrassed to admit it, we don't feel it's in any way disrespectful to 'Scaredy Cat's'  memory to reveal that yes...we've already been out a hunting and that subject to the go-ahead by the vet, a certain furry gentleman should be heading our way in a few days time.  Rather we feel it's a testimony to the love we felt for her that we  just have  to share it with another moggie.

RIP Greenpatch cat.We'll miss you.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Do not be afraid

 - Salisbury Cathedral Font looking south. Source - Wikimedia Commons, public domain image

But now, this is what the LORD says— 
   he who created you, Jacob,
   he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, 
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
 For I am the LORD your God, 
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
and Seba in your stead. 
 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, 
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; 
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ 
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
 everyone who is called by my name, 
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and
 - Isaiah 43:1-7

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Why Greenpatches??

Well, I did say this blog was about gardening, didn't I? Though not the kind that features in Gardener's Question Time as any of my family will tell you. No, back in Lent 2007 I was after a  suitably greeny-tinged blog title  in keeping with the St John's Nottingham module I was studying: Sustaining The Earth. Inspiration struck as I gazed out over our perfectly manicured, lush green lawn (not). As most of you who have a resident Fido will know, (if you don't then your pooch is obviously too goody-goody for words and would the two of you kindly take yourselves off elsewhere), canine Number Twos scattered willy nilly bring out your grass in nifty little green clumps. Patches of Potential Promise in amongst the p***
(sorry) the arid desert effect brought about by Greenpatch dog's leaky bladder. My Myers-Brigg's INFP intuition antennae went all of a quiver as I spotted  the spiritual analogies and Green Patches was born. 

I've spotted more than a sprinkling of my own Greenpatches on my  journeyings since that day five years ago; not all either recognised or appreciated at the the time but hey - I'm older, greyer and wiser now...I think.

Oh and my gardening skills are much better than they used to be, too.

Growing Greenpatches

Growing Greenpatches is about gardening. Like its predecessor, it's to do with cookery - finding the right ingredients. It's about creativity, searching, journeying and pilgrimage, music, poetry, prayer and  procrastination. Oh - and peanuts...No, only joking; I had to find something else beginning with same letter - old habits die hard! In short, a right old pot-pourri of all the bits'n bobs that make up the life of one very ordinary middle-aged empty nester looking to make sense of her calling, and, maybe helping other people to do the same along the way.

Thank you for joining me.