Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A Touch of Love

I couldn't resist taking a snap of these dock leaves which grow in such abundance in the park.
They take me straight back to my childhood, when I had a positive talent for falling into nettles.

I used to spend a lot of time on my uncle's' farm, and because of my inbuilt radar for finding them, I seemed intimately aquainted with every patch of nettles which grew there. As I could never get anywhere without running or jumping I usually found myself in the middle of the nettle patch before I knew it, and not for nothing are they called stinging nettles.

In the twinkling of an eye I would be covered in the characteristic raised lumps and reddened patches which were painful fires not just on , but under, my skin.

Invariably I would present myself to my Aunty Gwyneth who would call my cousin to bring some dock leaves because "she's done it again".

The thing was that although my aunty was familiar with the folk remedy (which is scentifically proven to work), of applying dock leaves to relieve the symptoms of the sting caused by the hairs of the nettle, she only used to wrap the sting in the leaves, holding them in position for a moment or so before throwing them aside. To work, the leaves of the dock have to be crushed so that the juice is released and then rubbed into the sting.

Because Aunty Gwyneth's way of applying the dock leaves never brought me relief I grew up believing that the old wives tale was not true. Still, that never stopped me going to her to have the treatment repeated, and I never once let on that the sting burned just as much after her ministrations as it had done before.

In the first instance, even to my young mind, it would have been rude to have gone on complaining when she had done all that she could; but above all it was her readiness to stop whatever she was doing to help, (even mistakenly) , which brought me back to her time after time.

After all these years it seems to me that Aunty Gwyneth may have been soothing a greater
itch for me than purely the nettle rash when, if only for a little time, she put me at the centre of her loving attention.

Remembering her encourages me to feel that I do not need to have all the answers before I offer my help. Having the willingness to wholeheartedly put somebody else before myself, even for a very little while might be enough to begin with.

God Bless

Friday, 25 June 2010

Come to the Park?

I promised some posts back to take a walk around the park with my camera so as to give a taste of where I live in Coventry, at the very heart of England.
Until recently Coventry was a centre of automotive production where great names in the car industry grew and flourished. Indeed my hubby came here to work in the Jaguar Car factory which was only minutes from where we live, but like so many other factories it is now gone.In the midst of what was so much engineering, and factory territory it's wonderful to me that this county of Warwickshire, and especially this corner of Coventry, should still be so green. Here I am only a few miles from the city centre yet as you can see so much is still unspoilt.
Being from Wales where my home ground is a place of wide open hill tops, deep valleys , winding rutted lanes, and the sound of streams pouring down the hills, I need green space. The park is a breath of life to me.
I only have to walk to the top of my street and a few minutes from our home I turn right to get the first view of the park, which is gently draped over the slopes on the other side of the hill I've just climbed. We begin at the top of the park with a view towards the village of Allesley, which is a mix of picture postcard old houses, and urban renewal, lying on the other side of the curve of the valley.

This is the original "stately home" of Allesley Hall which was bequeathed to the city by it's last private owner. You can find out more about the general history of the park and it's beginnings in the 13th century on

This is one of the delightful spots that have just the right blend of
landscaped trees and shrubs alongside the natural look to make me happy.

In the small photo you might just be able to see the golfers enjoying the course that brings them to the park, and hopefully makes them happy too.
If they were playing behind me they would be far from happy unless "play through" was the order of the day. Sad to say I have no ball skills what soever.

Continuing the "happy" theme the other small photo is a teeny corner of the children,s play area showing the "rocket" as my great grandson calls it.

He is somewhat disgruntled because access to this large slide is designed to keep littlies off and he can't understand why, though he's very happy with the one in the kiddy corner as well.

For me the suggestions of a country corner here and there is what makes an half hour stroll here a real escape. Don't you think these paths invites you to feel you are away from everything?I know it's as yet it's only a brief glimpse of this green oasis but you must already understand why I often think of the words of
Ps. 16 :6 as I walk here,

"The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!"

I'll show you some more of my favourite corners and the walled garden in the park another time.

Even if you it can only be resting your eyes on a spot of green in your workplace, or a patch of sky through a window;
even if you have to create it or seek it out,
may you find some corner that soothes and refreshes you today.

God Bless

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Never too late...

Sorry that there have been so few posts over the last week or so
 due to the fact that I've had to rest up a bit again.

After my last post I felt I'd come to a watershed and wondered if I should carry on with the blog,
 and if so just where it should go.

  My ponderings have lead to the decision to carry on with my day to day meanderings of life and thought on this blog,
 whilst using a second blog to express more in-depth explorations of Christian spirituality and praxis.

  I mentioned the possibility of this way back on the blog titled "Treasures of Darkness",
 and now seems a good time to start.

If you are interested in exploring Christian spirituality with me my other site is:-

The title of "Treading the Path of the Wind"comes partly from Ecclesiastes 11:5,
"Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby
 growing in its mother's womb,
 so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things."

I chose this because it always speaks to me of the unexpectedness of walking with God,
 not just in the apparent blessings but also through the trials and trouble of life
 we would so much like to do without.

When people talk about faith by calling it a crutch,
  I think "Well if this is a crutch it's a pretty challenging one!"
  because I know that following the "path of the wind" since I was sixteen
 has led me into places and things that would never have been possible otherwise.
  Certainly I would have been too much of a coward to have even attempted most of them.
   It has definitely never been boring!
   Well you get the idea.
  In the blog I talk about what is the real nittygritty for me.

Now to catch up with this blog,
 I've been having real fun with my great grandson who at two and a half
 has been really getting excited about drawing.

Just last week he'd started on the large circle,
 with small circle eyes and a wobbly line for the mouth that signifies "Mummy", "Daddy", etc.
  Over the ensuing days stick arms and legs have been added sprouting from the "face",
 along with many sorts of "noses".
   Then the circular eyes got little circles inside them
and low and behold the pupil was born.
 Somewhere along the way "shoes" got added to the feet
and sometimes there are sort of mittens on the ends of the "arms".

It is apparent that to him these entities are real people,
 (we've all had a portrait done),
 because he stops in the middle of drawing to trot to an invisible bottle
 to get the "sticky" to make the hair that he then proceeds to draw stand on end
, as he sees Mama doing in real life,
 and as the hairdresser does when he gets his own hair cut.

In a short time at the table on Sunday he evolved the single line mouth
by adding another line which he solemnly told me were "lips",
which in a later drawing became a large circle which he filled with jagged lines
 that were the "teeth", accompanied with a suitable very vocal roar.

  There was much deliberation about the brown for the other new developments
 which were the eyebrows.
 Goodness knows what he's up to by now.

What struck me so forcibly was the sheer speed of the development of ideas,
 and their implementation.

  Truly the rate of learning,
 and the desire to learn, is phenomenal at this age.

Of course these early years are exceptional,
 and the pace inevitably lessens but whilst mental faculties remain
 there's no need to ever give up.
  The world is full of fascinating things:
  ideas, people, places...

 Even if we haven't had the chances we would have liked,
or some of our dreams may have been broken or somewhat dented,
 who knows what wondrous new thing waits to claim our attention and spur us on.

Today I came upon this lovely verse by Antonio Machado, (translation by Robert Bly)

Last night I dreamed
-blessed illusion-
that I had a beehive here
in my heart
and that
the golden bees were making
white combs and sweet honey
from my old failures.

God Bless

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A walk in the Park

Very unusually we missed church this morning due to over sleeping so we decided to get out into the world by taking a walk around the park.

The morning was warm and sunny so there were families out with their children and it had one of those "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world" feelings about it but sadly the lie was given to this by a woman weeping bitterly as she sat alone on a bench.

Hubby approached gently and asked if she was alright and if there was anything we could do. She assured us twice that there was nothing, and that she was alright, so we passed on,

Grief or pain of any sort is such a private thing in our culture. I guess that I sometimes ere on the side of not wanting to intrude in case of causing greater hurt by that very intrusion, yet it always seems right to give the opportunity for that grief or pain to be shared, whether any practical help can be given or not.

Yesterday we were looking for a new washing machine and the woman attending us began to tell me about the weekend she had in front of her, and the fact of her father's long battle with Alzheimer's before his death last week.

Leaning on the top of one of the machines in the store she talked about prayer and the difficulty of faith in the face of suffering, as well as her straightforward relationship with God. She told me, as people in this country so often do, that she is a believer but sees no need of the church to re-enforce her faith, and that she can pray anywhere, which of course she can.

Thinking of that conversation, during which I mainly listened and prayed, I recalled other conversations, some in shops, pubs, wherever, when prayer and belief in God were talked about. Some of the time I was part of the talk, some of it I merely overheard. Often the fact of suffering is brought up. Sometimes the church is mentioned, but often as a peripheral thing to the general understanding, and of course not always in a complimentary why.

It makes me sad, because as imperfect as the church is, and as much as I too have suffered at the hands of the imperfect people (like me!) who make up the church, I have also found it a place rich in love, healing, and acceptance.

Perhaps because I came to faith outside the church structure myself, my on-going quarrel with the church is this strange sense to be found within it's folds that it somehow owns God, and is therefore the sole dispenser of grace. My own experience and theological studies have only served to convince me that God is alive, active, and not solely dependent on the offices of the church as some seem to believe.

But what about the vexed question of where is God when we hurt, and just how can the notion of a loving God be squared with the deep suffering all around us in this beautiful and terrifying world?

For me the image of the Christ who enters our suffering to the depths of his being, transforming it by rising to new life beyond it, is the only sense I can make of it. Such a God, in my experience can understand, and meet me in my own place of pain whatever that may be, and transformation can happen for me too.

If such a notion is alien to you, I offer the picture from a tree in the park. As the sap of the tree crystallizes on the cone it seems to be weeping, yet the tree continues to flourish and grow.

Should pain or weariness of spirit be part of your life at present, may you be strengthened to grow through and beyond it, to new healing and peace.

God Bless

P.S Writing this blog has made me realise afresh what a privilege it is to live in this part of England and how you might like to know something about what it's like to live in Shakespeare's own county today. Amazingly there is more left of the green and pleasant land of Elizabethan England than you might think. We tend to take it for granted, but writing about it will serve to make me appreciate it and explore more than I might have done. Look forward to you joining me.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Taking a Better Look

I've had few hectic days so no blog, and today's is just a brief thought to keep the kettle boiling. (This must be where the saying "pot boiler" comes from. Oh, um!)

Wandering around the garden as usual, I couldn't help thinking how unprepossessing this flower head looks.

Nothing very eye-catching at all. Even the
colour is somewhat dull
There's a sense that this umbrella form, (whose name I can't remember)
is hanging it's head and not full-filling it's potential.

I almost want to give it a pep talk !

As it turns out it is the plant that has something to say to me, rather than the other way around

Evidently to see the beauty of the flowers you have to bend down and look up at it.
Not very comfortable, but I hope you agree that the effort is worth while.

I wonder how many people I tend to look down on, pass over,
or dismiss as not really worth wasting my time on.

It is possible that if I make a radical adjustment in my attitude,
maybe even going so far as to bend, or even
metaphorically kneel down and take a better look,
I might find some hidden beauty that I'll never see any other way.

God Bless


Thursday, 3 June 2010

A Pig of a Challenge

You may remember my post "Feeling Silly" was prompted by a card sent me with the photo of a pretty little piglet on the front. Today another card has turned up with an equally appealing piggie (this time minus pink pom poms), who is winking an eye and suggesting saucily that,

"The best way to behave is to

with the challenge to blog just how I'm prone to misbehave myself.

Well, in the words of the song,

"Ain't misbehavin' "

Or, in the words of Eliza Dolittle to Professor Higgins in the film "My Fair Lady" , (and for the best effect you have to imagine Audrey Hepburn's yowling cockney accent here),

"Oi'm a good girl Oi am!"

Having only recently watched "Mary Poppins" I could add for good measure, (and spoken in that impossibly crisp and crimped English elocution-ridden voice that reminds me of somebody who has recently been sucking lemons, that IS Julie Andrews),

"You could say that I am practically perfect in every way"

The draw-back to all this is that I am known to the sender of the card to be neither good nor perfect, and my misbehaviour of the mundanely dull variety.

Imagine! Caught out as the most boring person on earth, - and by a piglet!

God Bless

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Whimsy of Wild Flowers and Weeds.

In his poem "To Daisies, not to shut too soon",
Robert Herrick asked that daisies should,
"Shine like a spangle here",
and they certainly do shine in a halo around this tree in the park
which is some five minutes walk from our home.
But if daisies are the stars,
in a wild bit of the park these
common dandelion are a
cluster of small moons
which I think are rather beautiful.

They remind me strangely of the mother of pearl discs
one of my jumior school teachers brought in for us
use in an art class.

I never knew what these lovely things were
until I saw some on Antiques Road Show
and learned that they are Chinese silk winders.

Wouldn't you have loved to be the lucky lady who had these in her work box? 

Isn't it odd the connections our minds we make?

In the instant of looking at dandelion clocks
my mind had accessed the teacher and schoolroom
of so many years back;
the cool feel of the mother of pearl between my fingers;
the mystery and appreciation of these unknown articles at the time;
and discovering what they were from the television.
All brought to mind in a nanosecond.

If only I could access the files,
and bring up the information I need at any particular time 
as easily as my synapses can put together those random connections
how much more organised I would be!

God Bless

P.S. Perhaps you would like to take a walk around the park with me in the next post?