Friday, August 30, 2013

Greenbelt 2013 - Life begins ...

Last weekend I attended my second Greenbelt festival. Never mind Christmas and Easter - Greenbelt is rapidly becoming my spiritual highlight of the year!
For me it is a very serious attempt at building God's Kingdom on this earth. A place of love and respect and tolerance. A place of exploring our faith together and learning from each other, rather than falling into the 'I-am-right-so-you-must-be-wrong' trap!

I met old friends and made new ones, and enjoyed some wonderful conversations.

Highlights this year were listening to John Bell from the Iona community (now there is a place I will have to visit one day!) and hearing Jim Wallis, a Christian writer and political activist from the US and the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, speak on social justice and the pursuit of the common good; participating in a session on Scriptural Reasoning  which was a beautiful example of how people from different faiths can explore and learn from each others scriptures together without telling each other what to believe or where the other is wrong (!); attended a very interesting workshop by Abdul-Rehman Malik entitled "Is there a bomb in your bag?", exploring what happens when we perceive to have an enemy in our midst; and many, many more.

As last year the OuterSpace communion service was one of my very favourite events. Here is what I wrote a year ago.
'Welcoming' simply doesn't describe it. OuterSpace manages to put on a service which is one of the most gentle, caring and embracing I have ever attended! I have pondered how and why that is.
My conclusion is that OuterSpace simply knows how to treat people as precious and delicate beings. And we all are precious in God's eyes!

This image of the cardboard box has been with me for a few days now and speaks quite powerfully to me. You know those big, heavy cardboard boxes, that look so tough and rugged on the outside? And yet, we don't know what fragile cargo it carries on the inside. 'Fragile' and 'Handle with care' are stickers we put on the outside to remind ourselves that we cannot tell from the outside what is on the inside.

Shouldn't we handle people with care all the time too?
Just because somebody looks big and strong or is gruff and prickly or appears confident and able, doesn't mean that they are not fragile and vulnerable on the inside.

Let's treat each other like precious beings. That's what OuterSpace has taught me!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Visiting Greenwich

A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter to Germany for a few days.
Now it was time to have a mother-son day with my 16-year-old. We decided to visit London and to go somewhere we had not been before - Greenwich.

The first thing you see when you arrive in Greenwich is the Cutty Sark, a famous tea clipper, which was once the fastest of its time and which has now been restored to its former glory. We did not go in, but here is a picture from the outside.

I also sneakily managed to take a picture of the two of us in the glass structure which surrounds the ship.

We visited the Maritime Museum and the old Naval College and then climbed up the hill to the Greenwich Observatory. We decided not to join the throngs of tourists who were queuing to have a picture taken whilst standing on the Greenwich Meridian Line. You can see it for yourself here.
The view over London from the Observatory is fantastic!

Then we treated ourselves to lunch in a noodle house and a trip down the Thames towards Westminster. In all my years in the UK have I never been on the Thames, so I really enjoyed the experience.
There is something very profound and spiritual about rivers ...

Having arrived in Westminster we had planned to head back towards Euston station and go home ... but there were severe delays on the Northern Line, which meant we abandoned our plan and leisurely waled up towards Euston instead.
We enjoyed the street artists on Trafalgar Square and Convent Garden.

Especially this guy managed to draw the crowds.

We finally arrived home in the evening, tired and ready for bed.
It's quite rare these days to spend quality time with my 16-year-old son, who can be quite surly and non-communicative.

So our visit to Greenwich was really quite special!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Growing, harvesting and food processing

Now the growing season on the allotment is in full swing. For the rest of the year I try do keep a low profile. 
Digging just isn't for me! A little weeding here and there, perhaps, but not much more than that.

The rest I leave to my husband who seems to like that kind of thing.

When it comes to harvesting, I come into my own. Checking for cucumbers every day? Picking daily over the Runner beans and French beans? Spending hours picking the gooseberries and currants? And all evening shelling peas?
That's the kind of job I find quite therapeutic. Hubby find it tedious!

So we make a good team, it seems.

Over the last month or two we have bought very few in the line of potatoes, vegetables and fruit. All is provided for!

Amongst many other things, so far this growing season we have harvested:
10 kg strawberries
7 kg peas (and more to come)
6 kg broad beans (many have been dried)
25 cucumbers (and many more to come)
20 kg new potatoes (still more to come)
2.5 kg  courgettes
25 patty pans
3 kg currants
1.8 kg gooseberries

Our storage shed is already full with jams and pickles and the freezer full of frozen beans, peas and soft fruit.

The tomatoes are only just starting and it looks like we will have a bumper apple crop! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

My faith

I have worn a silver chain with a small silver cross for a long time.
Earlier this year I found a little peace symbol in the street and added it to my chain. It isn't real silver and is now looking worn - but that doesn't matter.
Then my daughter gave my a little glass heart pendant and I put it on my chain.
And on holiday in Germany recently I found a little pebble with a handy hole lying along the river Rhein. I hung that on my chain too.

Each symbol represents an important part of my faith.
The cross , of course, symbolises Christianity and my faith in Jesus Christ.
The peace symbol represents peace. The heart love. And the little rock foundation and belonging.

And there you have it.


I wonder what other symbol I will find and add to my little silver chain of faith?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eid Al-Fitr 2013/1434

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends! May you enjoy a day of rich blessings and the company of friends and family. For those of you who celebrate alone or under difficult circumstances, may you know the presence and blessing of God.

I have been involved with the Christian Muslim Forum for some years now and over the years my understanding and appreciation of Islam has grown - despite the continuing often negative portrayal in the news and media.
I have come to know and love many, many wonderful Muslims - and if you are one of them, consider yourself hugged warmly!

As last year, I am posting the wonderful Eid message from the Archbishop Justin, the new head of the Church of England:

Archbishop Justin Welby's greeting to Muslim friends and colleagues for Eid Al-Fitr 2013/1434

"Eid Mubarak! For the first time as Archbishop of Canterbury I wish you warm greetings on this joyful occasion. It has been a privilege over these first few months to get to know more Muslim colleagues, and to see and hear more of the strong network of friendships between our communities.
Reconciliation is a theme that I have returned to often in these months. Jesus Christ calls us to a restored relationship with God and with one another. There is much in our world and in our history that tries to divide us. Negative events, prejudices and fears build walls that are hard to break down.
But God is greater! We, Christians and Muslims, should commit ourselves to draw on God's strength for the hard, but also joyful work of building deep, long-term relationships with one another. I have personally experienced this joy over many years with Muslim friends in Nigeria, which is a challenging place for Muslims and Christians. I have also seen the efforts made here in the UK by the Christian Muslim Forum in encouraging these deep and long-term relationships.
May God bless you in your time of celebration with family and friends, and may God bless all of us in our work together for a reconciled world!"


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Visiting family

I spent the last four days in Germany, visiting my family. It was particularly special because my daughter came with me - her first trip to Germany in four years!

We had some fun with some German signs - such as the English notice on the lawn saying "Keep of the lawn" and the ice cream called "bum bum". We greatly enjoyed the weather, sitting by the edge of the Rhein in the breeze and eating copious ice cream. Why oh why do we not have spaghetti ice cream in England??

I also loved being with my mother. Our first proper visit since the funeral of her second husband six weeks ago.
Three generations of women bumbling around, enjoying each other's company, cooking, chatting, walking and visiting.

Although it was only a short visit and the over-night coach trip is a bit of an ordeal, it was worth every moment!
Bis zum nächsten Mal!