Eddie Gilmore of the Irish Chaplaincy describes how he has been coping with the discipline of working from home. (1 May 2020)
My life in lockdown has become a bit monastic, and there’s a lot I like about that. There’s quite a nice, simple balance of work, prayer, meals, reading, recreation (much of that in the form of walking or cycling). I’m a bit more tuned in than usual to the subtle but magical changes in the natural world: the colours and the smells, the times of the day when the birds sing more loudly, the wonderful sight in the sky a few nights ago of a crescent moon underneath a brightly shining Venus.
Working from home, our daughter and son looked out of their windows. One spotted a sparrow, nesting in a hole in our brickwork ; the other a red admiral butterfly who, as a caterpillar must have found a safe place to sleep through the winter but woke to a strange new world one warm May morning. Lovely to look up from the screen to see such sights!
For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Psalm 83.4
around during lockdown, we came to Saint Stephen’s church. Many years ago we came here regularly for Roman Catholic Mass. Today the church, like all churches, is closed, but not the churchyard. We found one stone with a passionflower, bottom centre of the disc, amid roses, a morning glory (?) and others that must have meant something to the bereaved husband. There are oak leaves and acorns in the triangular panels below the disc.
This verse is my best reading of the damaged inscription. It speaks of hope.
A happy world, a glorious place Where all who are forgiven Shall find their loved and best beloved And hearts like meeting streams that flow For everyone in heaven.
Lockdown has sent us out to the footpath across the fields or more usually along the edges where, provided the spray has not penetrated, the wild flowers can thrive. Consider those flowers – or the ones that grow beside your path. (Luke 12:27)
If I do not use these pictures soon, the moment will have completely passed. On one of our Sunday walks we passed these two Kentish orchards, one old, one new. How many years will the old one keep fruiting? And how long will the new one be productive? It represents a massive act of hope in the future, something we all need with the virus restricting our lives!
The tombstone of Harry and Winifred Cuthbert proclaims that they were ‘dedicated’ to farming and fruit growing, witness the strawberry plant seen here. Every seed, every plant is an act of hope. So is a smile, a wave, a word of encouragement.
A walk as allowed by the current regime took Mrs T and I up to Harbledown again; this is the last village before Canterbury coming from London on the old Pilgrims’ Way. This afternoon we walked into the village, up past the hospital of Sant Nicholas then down below it, following the stream, passing the orchard of new apple trees in the first picture, and nearer at hand, this cow parsley (or one of its relatives). Not quite at its peak yet, but deserving the old name, Queen Anne’s lace.
HDGB is working from home in East London, so walks are often on city pavements, but not without blessings and rewards. This view is changed since Francis Thompson wrote The Kingdom of God. He was deeply wounded by life and in his homeless days was all too acquainted with the \London’s pavements.
O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air—
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?
Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!—
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places;—
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
Tis ye, ‘tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry;—and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry,—clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!
The ladies of Saint Mildred’s Church in Canterbury are mostly stuck at home and the Church is closed in any case, all of us praying at home. Today, however, I had to water the L’Arche Garden at St Mildred’s Glebe, so took the opportunity to thank the parish for their support over the years by making them an Easter garden. Note the cross, the cave, the cloths that were wrapped around His body; Rosemary for remembrance, a baptismal pool of water and pilgrimage cockle shells. Thank you Saint Mildred’s for taking us under your wing for all these years. And Happy Easter to all our readers. Let your joy be unconfined, wherever you find yourselves.
A strange Good Friday but the L’Arche morning service, conducted through a Zoom gathering, made it specially memorable. It was good to see and hear so many friends, all pleased to see each other. The reflections on the traditional Stations of the Cross were personal and insightful, illustrated by photographs of each station enacted by Cana house. It was a privilege to be there; no more to be said about the day and its import.
In the evening we took our walk in the gloaming and saw our first bats of the year. Life goes on; Jupiter beams down as well as the Easter moon, waning now. The last stretch of the planned walk we deferred as it was too dark to see the potholes; home safely for all that. People taking care to distance themselves from each other.
Thanks to the virus, George is working from home, keyboard steaming away, but still time to observe the birds in Mile End, London. This morning at 7.30 our street in Canterbury should have been busy with drivers off to work but the only traffic was a pair of pigeons and two magpies, pecking at discarded takeaway food. The birch tree was busy with long-tsiled tits a few minutes later.