A packet of seeds

It began with a packet of seeds: actually a  picture of a man’s hand holding a packet of seeds.  Not a picture in a magazine, in a book, or on a wall. But, the kind of picture that the Holy Spirit gives from time to time.

A picture that came early morning, before breakfast and that quite frankly puzzled me.

Why a packet of seeds?

What kind of seeds?

I could see no label, no image to indicate what kind of flower or vegetable. I watched as the seeds were poured into the other hand for sowing,

If like me, you read the scriptures you will know many verses that speak of seeds and sowing.  There is the Parable of the Sower for one, the enemy who sowed weeds over night in the farmer’s field, the Mustard seed…but none seemed to fit.  I know that a picture is not the Word of the Lord and neither are our musings, however informed or fitting. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts so I just waited, patiently, prayerfully.

“Do not sow two kinds of seed in your vineyard.” I was not expecting that answer when it came a couple of days later with a new picture. This time there were two packets of seed with the words. “Choose. Your words or mine? Did n’t the Lord set two choices before Israel at Mount Ebal and did He not say, ‘Choose life.'” (Deuteronomy 30v19)

On Mount Ebal Israel was shown clearly two ways, a way of blessing and a way of cursing. Israel was asked to choose which way it would follow.  Followers of Jesus also have a choice to make. The two packets of seeds are shown most distinctly in Galatians Chapter 5.  The seeds I choose are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control.” The label on the packet reads, “The seeds of the spirit.”

In a parish church many funeral services take place in the course of the year; and many are for people whose last declaration is “I did it my way.”  I play the Frank Sinatra version from the sound desk as the coffin leaves church.  I have heard so many family stories and tributes through the years, and as I write these words feel with sadness that many of those people ‘facing the final curtain’ have without their knowledge been robbed. Robbed of a life that could have been better, sweeter. Dare I say it? Robbed of a life of blessing. I bless God for His many blessings and count them again.

It begins with a packet of seeds.

What shall I plant?

“Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be forfeited.” (Deuteronomy 9v12)

Now what seed shall I plant in my life’s vineyard? Shall it be my own word, or the Lord’s? His Way or Mine?

Those are the questions of many who come to stand at a cross roads. Yesterday, 1st September marked the Patronnal Festival of St Giles of Provence, many churches built at cross roads and in wooded areas were Named for this Saint in the Middle Ages. Including our little church.  St Giles seems to have arrived in Britain  with William the Conqueror and the 1st Church on our hill was built soon after the Conqueror decided to stay and began to build castles.  Once upon a time the hill was surrounded by forest, and the deer ran freely, so freely that  Kings hunted here.  The legend of Saint Giles tells us that he himself was Royalty, a Prince, the son of King Theodore and Queen Pelagia of Athens but Giles chose a different way of life and left behind a Royal Court with all its pleasures and the politics of his day, the celebrity life was not for him.  Giles chose the solitary life and a life of prayer and meditation lived in a hermitage shielded by the forest near the Banks of the River Rhone.  A quiet life which was rudely disturbed the day that King Wamba out hunting with his court pursued a fleeing hind straight to the saint’s doorstep. Giles took the arrow meant for the deer, who had been his companion.  King Wamba was impressed with this kindly saint’s gentleness and eventually perusaded him to accept some disciples to teach and the building of a Monastery which Giles ruled as Abbot according to the Rule of St Benedict.

These days are full of choices, full of decisions… all things are possible and sometimes it is tempting for us to think that no choice or decision of our making can be wrong.Do what you want. Take what you want. The most important person in this world is me, myself. So what if there is poverty in the world, so what if people in the world are hurting? Just as long as it isn’t me.

Giles took the arrow meant for the deer; his love and gentless led him to instruct others  in caring, Would the many miracles of healing attributed to Giles have been possible, would the many Lazar and Alms Houses bearing his name have been founded. Would thousands of beggers, and travellers have found much sought after help?

What if Giles has ignored the word of God beating in his heart. What if He had been content with earthly position and power, what if fame and celebrity had been his choice?  What if the noise of earthly wisdom had drowned out the whisper of Christ, ” One thing you lack….. come and follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

What seed shall I plant? Whose word shall i follow? The Lord’s way or mine?

Post No 10: “Get Wisdom”

WordPress said, ‘Now write Post Number 10’ and my brain asked, ‘But where is number 10, going to come from?’  As the writer of Proverbs (chapter 4, v7) says, I need to get wisdom, I need to get wised up.

Years ago, I planted Sage, Salvia officinalis, s. salvatrix to give Sage it’s Latin handle, in my garden.

Wise folk know that Sage is a shrubby herb, producing purple, pink or violet flowers during the summer and that it has far more uses than the making of Sage and Onion stuffing for the Sunday Roast.  They know that the name ‘salvia’ is from the latin, salvare which means to be in good health,  this herb has for a very long time signified immortality, hence s, salvatrix – Sage the Saviour.  So effective this plant’s medicinal properties that even the Romans had a proverb:

“How can a man die when he has Sage in his garden.”

Sage is noted as being good to help the nerves, good for the liver and digestion, its leaves are antiseptic and antifungal;  altogether a good plant with many beneficial uses that can be found in any good, ‘Herbal’ – but it is wise to be warned and always consult a qualified medical practitioner before taking any herbal remedy.

Before embarking on this blog, I was advised that learning WordPress was a steep learning curve. Wise advice. At this point of time, I honestly don’t know if I shall ever become proficient— but the joy is in the learning and the getting of  the wisdom.

Oh yes, there is wisdom to be found on WordPress.  Reading the other blogs gives me pleasure and is opening up pathways in Wisdom’s garden I have never walked before; I am enjoying the walk.  Thank you to WordPress and its bloggers for sharing your wisdom on all kinds of topics. What a loss to the world if the healthy secrets of Sage had not been shared and passed on….. and likewise those things you choose to share.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding” (Proverbs 3:13), and here I am at post no. 10 still aspiring to ‘get wisdom’ to gain understanding and hearing the whisper of the Spirit in the words of other people in a new way.

 

 

 

 

Daisies are our silver

Daisies are our silver, Buttercups our gold;

This is all the treasure we can have or hold.

Once upon a time, I used to sing this and once upon a time. my town was a village with a church on a hill top like an island surrounded by farms and small holdings.  The houses were few and scattered, roads and lanes narrow.  The last Tudor house was demolished in the 1960s, the last Georgian one a decade later, I pass beneath the shadow of the surviving wall and gate posts every time I walk up to the church, still on the hill top, the 4th building on one site. Sometimes I wonder; about days long gone, swallowed up by modern housing estates and far too much traffic and sigh.

Yes, I know from local archives exactly where that lady cousin of Henry VIII lived the one renowned for her dancing steps that gave my little street its name, but her house and the well stocked ornate fish pond that provided fish for Fridays and Lent have long vanished.

Nature, however has dug in with greater tenacity, the remnant of the hedgerow and burgeoing brambles spill on to the footpatch and evoke, for me the past. Those school holidays spent picking humble Blackberries for baking in Apple and Blackberry pies.  In these days when items with a high price tag are the only things deemed worthwhile who notices the blackberry bramble?  We leave in times wealth, and, for some, times of poverty; with food banks collecting basic food stuffs to help families in need.  Perhaps not so very much has changed down through the centuries since the First Norman Church was built on the hill top.

My friend is a proud grandmother, happily her grand daughters want for nothing.  She recalls the surprise on little faces when, whilst on holiday she suggested that they pick blackberries as they walked down a country lane. They owned Lap tops for school homework, and more toys than they will ever play with, but these little girls had never picked blackberries until now.  Afterwards both expressed their delight and enjoyed the pie Grandma made.

“The best things in life, are free” my friend replied. Picking blackberries has now become an annual event for these little girls.

Jesus said we would always have the poor amongst us, I hope you and your loved ones will never know what it is to want, recalling that Simon Peter did. Do you recall that standing at the gate called Beautiful one day, he said to a begging, lame man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3;6

FORGET ME NOT BLUE

I did the prayers this morning, that’s what folk call making the Prayers of Intercessions in our little church and the part which folk appreciate most about the intercessions? Why that would be the list of Names.. For a small church such as ours this is a long list; some of the Names have been there a long time, even, in a few instances, years. In addition to the carefully typed out Names there are more requests written up in the “Prayer Book” which sits on a small table just inside the porch door, ready for the use of visitors; and then there are the other Names, whispered in the Intercessors ear just as Worship begins…..

No one likes to be forgotten, no one likes to be ‘out of sight/out of mind’

I manage to catch Mrs W by the elbow to ask if her brother-in-law is making progress, now, following heart surgery. Before this, no one had known his Name so I had been simply praying for “Mrs W’s brother-in-law. Now, she tells me, his name is Jack, and yes, Jack is doing just fine. We exchange smiles, and unknown, unseen by her, I see and feel the tiny blue ribbon pinned to my collar.

“Forget me not blue” the invisible ribbon is the colour of tiny Forget Me Not flowers.

At home I muse on blue ribbons that say “Forget me not” and remember that the colour
blue was commanded by the Lord to be used in the making of the curtains for the Tabernacle and priestly garments, I remember the two onyx stones engraved with the names of the Sons of |srael which Aaron was to wear on his shoulders as their memorial before the LORD, so that the LORD might remember them….

Does the Lord forget?
Is the Lord absent minded?
I don’t think so.
But I am.

It’s me who needs the rainbow, the rainbow which when ever it appears in the skies, he will see and remember his everlasting covenant between himself and all living creatures. That is the Covenant I need to remember in these days, and to honour my part in keeping it with God and all living creatures; in these days of global climatic changes, surely I need to remember?

The colour blue reminds Israel, Christian and me that we are called to be, for the Lord, a kingdom of priests and a Holy Nation, to carry on our hearts and in our prayers all people, all living creatures.

The Lord says, that if our mother should or forget us, he will not… We are engraved on the palms of his hands…. I ought not forget….

The sign of the little blue ribbon was given so that I would remember both to pray, carrying the Names [on the list) to value them for what they are, precious to God. Pinned invisibly it is a whisper from another place, “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6v12). I will not forget,

Going for Gold

Rainy days, sunny days, Olympic Days,London 2012, this summer is going to be an unforgettable one.

I would not want to forget the things learnt from the athletes of all disciplines and all nations. Through the media of television we have watched and followed their progress, listened to their stories of trials and loss. Many times we have heard, that their inspiration and incentive to press on towards what seemed to be an impossible prize has come from a loved one who has finished their earthly race. Many, many thanks have been poured out to those who have sat with and cried with them in loss, injury, disappointment.

These 3 things, courage, endurance, persistence appear to be common denominators.

Are n’t these the qualities of people of faith?

Without these qualities gold, silver, bronze,or, the finishing line for that matter, are unattainable.

And, likewise neither are our spiritual aspirations; even an answer to simple prayer requires of us that we keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. Yes what we ask will be given, what we seek we will find and the door will be opened to us, but like an Olympian, like a champion working towards that medal we need every ounce of courage, that we can find and to that courage we need to add endurance to hang in there when the going get tough and to persist in hammering away in our God given disciplines, day after day, after day.

I need to remind myself and remind myself often that my Heavenly Guide is my Coach, or as some like to say, my personal trainer and that I should not take his instruction and advice lightly, above all I need to realise that He is encouraging me,and urging me on to see me win an unfading crown, and so what, if He seems to scold sometimes, is n’t that to keep me running within the rules, above all the Lord is

LOOKING for qualifiers and winners, not tactical players, cheat or bad sports, the disqualified are life and the world’s true losers.

Is my heart like an Orange!

Sometimes, The Lord has to grab my attention, the sometimes, being, when I am up to my eyebrows in something else; and no matter how hard He is whispering, I don’t hear. Like Thursday. My mind was on keeping an appointment and Quiet Time was definitely finished for the morning, well as far as I was concerned it was,but plainly the Teacher had other thoughts. An orange, big round, juicy, sweet appeared on my mind’s T.V. screen and in glorious 3D.

The Lord had all my attention.

Cut in half this orange revealed itself to be good, sweet and wholesome, through and through.

Just as my heart should be.

But is it?

Do I harbour bitterness? Am I sometimes just a tiny bit sour?

I carried those questions with me for the rest of the day.

I also recalled my Teachers words,

‘A good tree cannot bear bad fruit

‘Each Tree is recognised by its fruit’

‘A goodman brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart’

‘The mouth speaks what the heart is full of’

Back in my childhood big oranges like the one pictured were pricy and my parents had four of us children and so consequently a big round Navel orange was a treat. One afternoon as we were carrying a precious orange each home, my sister dropped hers and unfortunately a large, unfriendly dog pounced on it and made off with it. He was too big to argue with. Sadly Rosie lost her orange. A share in someone else’s orange isn’t quite the same as your own.

Peter the fisherman warns us to ‘watch out’ because there is a devil about. (1Peter 5.8). It is so easy to let ourselves get a little careless when it comes to watching our heart, but we should; after all our heart is what we are offering to God.

‘Pottering’

I have re-discovered the gentle art of pottering. My schedule is a long one with many priorities; the number ones, two, and threes being the tasks that I undertake for others, all very interesting and all unpaid work; what I tend to notice is that the list is getting longer and the number twenty somethings, the chores I like to do are getting farther and farther away from the top of the list. Until, a couple of days ago, when despite a deluge to rival Noah’s flood I decided to consider the lilies of the field. ‘Just have a little ‘potter’ the whisper came, recalling that even the Lord Jesus found it necessary to take the odd recreational departure from His schedule, I thought why not and instead of tackling the first number one, I turned the list upside down and started with those little jobs, that would never get done. Plainly they were niggling away at my sub-conscious somewhere because I feel that my joblist is not half so burdensome; without setting targets, deadlines it is much shorter and I am much happier – liberated. I don’t know where I found these words but they are so good.

‘The years of my life, the days of my years, the hours of my days,

They are all mine.

Mine to fill quietly, calmly, But to fill completely, up to the brim.Image

This should teach me

The Lord does not lack a sense of humour, as I was musing, His Spirit whispered “Psalm 104”  So I turned to Psalm 104 and read about the Lord’s blessing of water in a dry and thirsty land. It really is a most beautiful Song of Praise, the psalmist sees our lovely Lord wrapping himself in light as it were a garment; and riding in His chariot the clouds on the wings of the wind.  In the bible translation I use, water is mentioned 10 times in the first 16 verses and it is verse 16 that speaks straight to my heart.

‘The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the Junipers.’

I don’t have one single Cedar of Lebanon in my jungle although they were introduced into England in 1680 – but if I had, I would be pleased that it was well watered and as a tree of the field (Isaiah 55.12) I clap my hands with joy because I feel well-watered.’