Poems, prose and pictures

Most quiet mornings we have a theme for people to explore if they wish. Sometimes people draw, paint or write. Here is a selection of themes and what they have evoked:

15th May 2024

Looking up to track the
shaping and reshaping of
scurrying clouds,
while beneath stretching far,
the candelabra of a giant chestnut,
and, lower still, the full greens
of late spring, pausing their onward
rush of growth,
attentive,
punctuated by birds’ outbursts –
drinking deeply of this
cup of blessing.

I made the acquaintance of an iris –
just the one, permitting intimacy:
the purple fresh minted
and the patterned dots and stripes
so subtly seductive, that any
passing bee would find itself
– as I – besotted.

Janet

November 2023: Our daily bread

Presence

Arms outstretched, the mewling child seeks comfort,
gentle comes the touch from ever ready hand
reaching down to caress damp cheek.
bringing solace and calm to anxious beating heart.

The overfill of hurried lunchtime picknicker
makes banquet
for the canvas dweller
who lives uncertain where the next crumb may fall.

Blanket clad, the lonely solitary armchair inhabitant
awaits with reverent anticipation
for phone to ring or bell to chime.
Will a voice be heard by these silent walls this day?

But there is one who hears the child’s cry,
Who knows the ache of hungry flesh
and feels the anguish of a lonely heart,
and close by whispers, be held by me today and know you always are.

Maeve

Note from Maeve: This poem flowed from the theme of the morning ‘Daily Bread’ . My thoughts were taken up with the very recent death of a friend who had worked in the caring profession and how the everyday things like a touch or a friendly word became for that person the sustenance that they needed in that moment, daily bread covering so much more than something edible. And of course, the presence of Jesus is the portion we need for any moment as he enters into our joy and holds us through our sadness.

Daily bread …
is the red of the acer,
the russet of the oak,
the gold of the beech,
sunlight through the last leaves
of the ancient apple tree,
seeping into my soul,
and then the new-baked loaf
awaiting me at home.

Janet

for Barbara’s shortbread

Take the flour of the everyday –
the work we do, paid or unpaid –
with our hands and heads.

Add in the butter of relationship –
spreading love and friendship
with those we are sent to be with.

Finish with a sprinkling of the divine –
adding sweetness and light.

Mix through sharing, listening, loving and laughing.
Allow the sun to bake something new.

And you shall taste life,
See love and peace,
Touch learning and wisdom
Find patience and joy.

And appreciate all that is
– especially Barbara’s shortbread!

Chris

July 2023: Being in the present, abundance and gratitude

Silent stealth of cloud departing,
golden flood, eye squinting bright, fills the glade
a beauty of butterflies’ dance,
and settle and dance,
and settle and dance,
entrancing the eye and delighting the heart

and the fool says in his heart, there is no God.

Maeve

May 2023: Gratitude and growth

Breath….
…connects the inner with the outer world,
and when the body stills,
yet the lungs take in, give out.

I breathe in the cool of spring, breathe out the tension of holding on;
breathe in the trills, the tweets, the croaks
of blackbird, robin, magpie;
breathe out the cares of busy-ness,
breathe in the scent of lilac,
chestnut, wisteria and all new green.

Breath is also Spirit…
I am breathed,
growing newly green,
breathe out unending
gratitude.

(Janet)

Space made,
reserved and duly noted,
an intentional emptying.
Cherished is the stillness that fills the void,
no uninvited intruder here
no unwelcome invader.

And the song of feathered garden guests
flood the pungent blossom filled air.
Welcome interruption of birdsong
heralding the voice of God.

slowing achieved,
welcomed and acknowledged,
soft the infilling of uncluttered peace.

And, imperceptibly it comes, the rhythm of breath
and the flutter of the heartbeat,
finding themselves in tandem,
with the gentle of God.

(Maeve)

July 2022: Trees – roots and leaves

A reflection on centredness and risk taking
In life as in meditation I seek a sense of being rooted and centred, a straight spine reflecting wise intention: the strong unwavering oak giving protection and help to others.

But having a soft, open and accepting heart can be difficult because of the pain and uncertainty it may bring. This can make me feel uncomfortable and off balance. I admired a nameless tree taking enormous risk reaching out over the water.

I have been exploring my beliefs and the values that give me a sense of rootedness. Are they mine? Where did they come from? How relevant are they? I have also been exploring the concept of there being no “I, me and mine“.

I reflected on the trees that had become entangled: were they supporting or stifling each other? And, of course, the trees were crying out for our care and attention.

A Requiem of the trees: for Moya
The copper beech, my long-suffering friend,
Lies supine, stretched out on the grass, brittle bark breaking off.

By the stream the willow looks on
Weeping torrents of tears.

Nearby the common beech noisily rustles
Its white and green handkerchiefs of mourning.

Further away, a Holme oak waves goodbye slowly and majestically,
Reflectively looking on with quiet compassion.

Nearby, a young oak, bark tattooed with lichen, grows out vigorously,
No longer over-shadowed by its former neighbour.

While I go to the mulberry bush,
And taste its sweet and tart offering of dark crimson fruit.
(Chris)

2021: The Turning – in memory of Jo

As filigree of leaf
falls, at the invitation of
a northern breeze,
the architecture of branch
shows the winter end of us as well
in bare bone and naked soul.

(Janet)

June 2021: Open our eyes

In the sharing at the end of the morning, we discovered that many of us had opened not only our eyes, but also our ears and hearts.

Several were touched by the sound of the birds and talked about how this can inspire and renew us. Another talked about the importance of hope – and how that can rebalance us. Others spoke about not looking away – even from the things that we find difficult or painful: paradoxically, when we become present to our pain – when we make friends with it – it often becomes less.

August 2020: Mystery 

Finding mystery in all
The warmth of sun on my skin,
Heat that has travelled a hundred million miles
And gives me a sense of well-being in my inmost self.

The pebble that I throw onto the solid green covered stream
Where it is received with a gentle plop
There to stay for the next 10,000 years.

The mushroom that appears overnight fully formed,
A sign of life – and death
As I pass by it on my transient journey through this world.

The encounter between two people.
What’s said and – even more – what’s unsaid:
The looks, gestures, thoughts and feelings.

Three in one and one in three – I don’t attempt to understand,
But trust that something of God lives on within the deepest part of me,
Still warmed by the distant sun.
(Chris)

Runcton re-opened 5th August 2020: Gratitude

This silver birch stands
leafless, lifeless
by the lush wildflowered
stream bank
yet the upright wood
proclaims the cycles
of years fertile and fallow
and shows us still
the stature to endure.
The stream flows slow
in this Southern drought
but still it finds a current
fed by hidden source.
(Janet)

The dry, leafless beech tree
Give thanks for the beech
For it has enriched my life.
Its blood given for me.
(Chris)

September 2019
For Chris – who shares this birth month

September is
the pause
between fruiting and withering:
the blue sky undisturbed by cloud;
the stream glassy on a ripple-less surface;
trees drawing on their deepest roots
as nuts ripen, fall;
cyclamen bloom trustingly leafless;
and in our circle, sharing sacredness,
we also pause.
(Janet)

Raison d’etre
Nettles long to sting:
they hang about in ambush,
wave sneakily in hope,
and, even when pressed down
about a stump, they
spring back to brush
triumphantly the passing fingers.
(Janet)

Cherish the margins
Cherish the margins
left wild, where nettles
and brambles rule in
tangles, and where
bees and skipper butterflies
and over-weeded souls
find sustenance.
(Janet )

March 2019

A mighty beech has fallen
A mighty beech has fallen~
a stormy week of battering,
then one huge gust ~
it creaked, and cracked and lowered.
All on the outside had seemed well,
but the jagged stump displays
deep inner rot, dried fragments
no longer flexing strength supporting
an upward trunk and wide-spreading
branches, now neatly stacked in sawn-off rounds:
all the history of good years and bad,
disease encompassed, all laid bare,
the girth of base at least three metres round.
Some roots deep and still alive, although bereft,
Send out defiantly their shoots of spring.
(Janet)


November 2018

Let thoughts drop
Let thoughts drop
And let yourself break into a new world.
See the clouds scudding across the sky
Transforming themselves as they do so.
Play, like a child, on a log
Closing your eyes and feeling fragile – and fearless.
Dance with the wind, forgetting yourself
And discover new rhythms of life within.
(Chris)

The richness of all this
The richness of all this:
– Butterflies spiralling upwards out of sight, on a warm breeze;
Mottled light and dancing leaves;
Movement and sound intertwining with infinity;
Bees on lavender, scented bliss, balmy.
A joyous smile passes by
reflecting joy, sharing love.
I breathe in to it all,
with thanks
(Liz)

New Life
New life stirs within
As I wait, watch and wonder
Where it will take me.
(Chris)

Glory
(Janet)

An acer is ablaze
With loss of chlorophyll
And we, when we can let go fear and guilt,
Will also flame.

Risk
(Janet)

A squirrel crawls to the twiggy end of a high branch,
Calculates the leap to
An even more fragile neighbouring limb
And turns back.
Even the grasp he now has under his paws
Is unsure.
He turns again ,
Faces the gap and launches out…
And lands
Clutching the swinging stem
With only one paw
Now pendant, white belly up.
But twists and finds again
His graceful footing.

What Spirit moved in his
Heart, his sinews to try again,
To risk the fall?

Process
(Janet)

A grey day of permeating damp:
Fire on the open hearth
Beckons us to burn:
To flame, to coals, to ash
Do we consent?

A leaf falls, setting stillness of the pond a-quiver –
A drop tips off the end of a cedar leaf,
transformed to ripple –
May I be set a-quiver, turn to ripple
By falling, dropping, Grace.

June 2015

Sit and watch
Many sit and meditate and watch their breath.
For me to sit and watch blue dragon flies dart among the watercress
or Kingfishers by the waterfall at hammer pond.
Even at home on a wet day watching gold crest on the bird feeder
to sit under a tree on a hot day and look at flowers and bees.
At Runcton Manor I sit and watch the chickens dustbath
With the sun and wind on your face and bird song.
You can enjoy all things of wild nature around you
Being aware of all this tells you heaven is not far away.
(Big Roy)

Presence
Dancing leaves flow through the air
Are there animals here?

I see a bridge made of stone
As I explore the unknown.
I hear water tumbling over rocks
As a fallen tree lies still upon the banks.
Still on the banks of the river
Under which move reflections
Reflections of that in the sky
Yet now on the earth to the eye.
When I’m gone, will this still be here
For others to sense the presence of this nature ?
WOW!
What have I done to enjoy such pleasure?’
The leaves, blowing in the gentle but insistent wind, reply
‘Ask no questions, but enjoy the gracious, generous outpouring of life
As it overflows with joy,
For there are places of beauty and places of ugliness,
Times of pleasure and times of pain
And yours is not to reason why.’
‘Appreciate health, harmony and happiness while you can
For tomorrow is another day.
Just for today, take in
What Overwhelming Wonders
You see.’