The reading for the Second Sunday before Lent (Luke 8.22-25) reminds us of God’s healing power and love. The disciples are on the lake with Jesus, and a storm arises, and the disciples fear for their lives. They wake Jesus, who calms the waves and gently admonishes them for their lack of trust. He places His calm and peace into a turbulent and dangerous situation, one that feels life threatening. It reminds us that God is there, even when life feels overwhelming and out of control, that He will be with us in even the most painful of situations.
The garden has shown many beautiful faces these last few weeks, from frosty leaves to thick snowy lawns, to sunny skies and budding snowdrops and primroses.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, Micah (5.2-5a) predicts the coming of Christ with optimism and promise, and Christmas Eve is the culminating day of this waiting: the waiting which is fulfilled Mary’s “Yes” to God’s request of her. In the 4th Sunday gospel reading (Luke 1.39-45) we see the support of Elizabeth as Mary’s pregnancy develops, and the joy and excitement as John and Jesus recognise each other from the womb. These are powerful, deep friendships, and the knowledge from inside the womb evokes in us a sense of wonder of the upcoming event of Jesus’s birth and the fulfilment of God’s word. For all the joy and excitement, Hebrews (10.5-10) reminds us of the costly side of that following of God’s will – the future sacrifice that Jesus will become. The joy of birth and the pain of death go hand in hand, but are never outside of the hold of God’s great and all encompassing hand and will.
Also – introducing the convent cat Tobias! Ellie’s partner in crime is young Toby, who is full of life and loves to play. After a nervous start in the garden, he is now quite at home and enjoying roaming his new territory with Ellie. They create a formidable food-discovering team, and remind us constantly of the need to keep all larder doors firmly shut!!
Both readings for the second Sunday of Advent, from Malachi (3.1-4) and Luke (3.1-6), speak of a powerful force – far greater than the human mind can fully appreciate. Malachi speaks of purifying people as dramatically and fully as the refining of gold and silver, and Luke, through his quoted words of Isaiah, talks of a force that moves mountains, changes paths, and reforms people. This force can seem quite intimidating, and frightening. The refining of gold and silver involves great heat, fire, and explosive forces. The refiguring of mountains and paths involves the collapse and destruction of the existing landscape. It is in the letter to the Philippians (1.3-11) that we are given the clue to help us look deeper into these passages. Paul talks of love: love in Christ, where the three way flow of love within the Trinity and human love overflows with abundance. It is in the giving and receiving of this love that our salvation, in the love of the Holy Spirit, begins. When we see that these violent forces of Malachi, and the earthly disruptions of Luke are in fact purely and simply the love and grace of God, then the fear melts away, and we are left with the central kernel of God’s message – that of love.
Also, in this blog, we introduce Ellie, our new cat! Ellie and Tobias our our new residents since our beloved Thaddeo past away a few months ago. Both cats are settling in well, and are particularly fond of mealtimes!! Although seeming quite shy at first, Ellie has grown in confidence, and is affectionate and friendly, and has quickly asserted her position as convent-cat-in-chief. Tobias didn’t appear for the photoshoot, but we will post a picture of him soon!
The first Sunday of Advent is the formal start to the Christian liturgical year, and the start of the Christmas season. It is a time of hope and expectation. Today’s reading from Jeremiah predicts the coming of the Son of Man, describing him as a branch of David. The strong imagery of a shoot of new beginnings and life is joyful and optimistic, and Jeremiah continues on to reassure us that the future will bring justice and security. Who is the one who is coming? The righteous one – without spot or stain – who is as gentle as a lamb.
The second reading from Luke has Jesus talking of his own impact on the world – unsettling and challenging. And yet he is the gentle lamb, who encourages his followers to be innocent as doves. Jesus’s message is a tough one, because to follow his message of peace means resisting powerful negative elements in our own characters. Receiving the gift of an innocent lamb can be a struggle because of the very nature of that generous and pure love.
All is well at St Mary’s Convent. In this blog we introduce Philip and James, otherwise known as Pip and Jim, our two younger cats from the Cats Protection League who brighten our lives daily. Born in May, we named them after St Philip and St James, who feast day is the 1st May. Although both friendly with big purrs, they prefer to be out exploring the large convent gardens with all its exciting wildlife than snuggling up on a sofa, although if given half a chance they’ll fit in both occupations quite readily!!
This summer the garden at the Old Parsonage Guest House has been looking beautiful, and we hope it has given our visitors much joy, especially on the non-rainy days! Here are are few pictures, including some of the roses and poppies we’ve had. It’s been nice to see bees in the garden. The tulip tree has also had some lovely blossoms. Many thanks to all who help in the Old Parsonage Garden, especially Hannah and Jennifer for all their hard work and skills!
Hello everyone, after a bit of a break, we are back on-line, starting our blogs off again with a few pictures of our beloved convent cats, Thaddeo and Poppy.
And also a few pictures of the garden, which has looked lovely this springtime.
The novice (author of the blog) went in June. The new hens came in July. Other comings and goings not so memorable!
The Old |Parsonage was painted black and white earlier in the summer. Lots of visitors came in July and August and didn’t notice.
The garden produced abundantly and more. The apple harvest has begun.
Red Ellison in the cottage garden - September 2011
As Pentecost arrives, flaming June has left our vegetable gardens gasping for water. A Sister duly baptises the polytunnel with the aid of a hosepipe.
The poppies are privileged for their beauty in that they are permitted to remain wherever they emerge – even in the midst of the broadbeans.
One person’s faith allows them to eat everything,
but another person, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
– Romans 14:2
Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
– Proverbs 15:17
When July comes around, we’re to have a new tribe of hens in the garden. But – shhh – one musn’t tell the older hens, who are very sensitive on the subject. Recently they moved to a retirement hen-house so that the main run can be thoroughly cleaned before the youngsters arrive.
How often have I desired to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…
– Luke 13:34
After a month of too-early summer dryness in the garden, we’ve finally had some rain. The cats of course love the heat.
This is Taddeo, on patrol, the big softy. He’s an old boy now, and we worry about him.
On the 27th of April our whole community visited the Woodchester Poor Clares for their farewell Mass, since their community is merging with the Lynton community. It is always a sad and poignant occasion when a community leaves its home after so many years – and yet a joy for us to meet so many friends.
The photo below shows the Chapel and part of the cloister at Woodchester. You might also just about be able to make out five of your Freeland Sisters on the stone bench in the foreground. (Many thanks to Mick Orr for the Woodchester photographs).
Lastly, thank you to the very many of you who purchased our Easter cards! Through the rest of the year we also sell general greetings cards – many silk-screened by hand. Please do visit our card gallery and have a look at some of our favourites.