Friday, December 12, 2014

Grey Seals, Marsh Harriers and Round Tower



The sun broke through December clouds as we topped the Marram Hills at Horsey. Skeins of wild geese flew high above us  and a Marsh Harrier was hunting the fields below. The beach was covered with Grey Seals - mothers still feeding their yoing, fiesty young bulls trying to take the place of older males (the gestation period in grey seals is 11.5 months so they are at it almost as soon as the pups are weaned!) and the pups laying about, some of them right up in the dunes!
 We'd parked in the National Trust Car Park and walked across the fields to the beach.
Other people park at Horsey Gap. I'm not sure of the difference in distance but the walk behind the dunes from the Horsey Gap park is less muddy.

Map


On the way back you might refresh yourself at Nelson's Head and enjoy the church. If you do see if you can find a prayer book and turn to Psalm 8 :
    3 When I consider thy heavens, even the work of thy fingers; * the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained;
    4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? * and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
    5 Thou madest him lower than the angels, * to crown him with glory and worship.
    6 Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands; * and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet:
    7 All sheep and oxen; * yea, and the beasts of the field;
    8 The fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; * and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.
    9 O LORD our Governor, * how excellent is thy Name in all the world!




Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Jamaica - a Norwich-upon-Wensum Dance

I was happily practising jigs in the kitchen, sharing my time between Nutting Girl and Ladies of Pleasure both of them in the tradition of Fieldtown. When I discovered a Norwich-upon-Wensum dance to the tune

Jamaica


It has the normal common figures: 
FU, 2 Between, Stars and Swing Hey but leaving out the Split Bellybutton Hey.

The chorus is a Split Bellybutton Hey into line, Surge across passing right shoulders and turning to reform the set at 90 degrees. As in Postman's Knock. This is repeated so the set is inverted for the next common figure. The dance ends with a final chorus that reforms the set facing up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Relaunching the Norfolk Churchyard Conservation Scheme

I'm working with  Norfolk Wildlife Trust to refresh and renew the  scheme.
I'm interested in any comments and observations  about  how the scheme has worked to date!
also if you have any pics of churchyard wildflowers I can use  I'd love to have copies.

New Time Out



Monday, October 13, 2014

A Cretan Churchyard ( for a change)







I have had a brilliant few days walking and snorkeling in Crete. On the way I have had a close encounter with the relic of the True Cross at Praveli Monastery.


For a clergyman it is greatly  educational to be walking in a dry land where there is no water and understand something of the landscape and harsh farming conditions of the Holy Land.


I also had a close encounter with a relic of St. Paul's companion Titus at the church bearing his name in Heraklion. Originally the relic of St. Titus had been kept in the 5th century basilica church at Gortys. That church didn't survive the in 670 AD. In 1669 and the fleeing Venetians took the relic with them back home to Venice. In 1966 the relic was returned to Crete.


Some of the  best moments of the holiday were seeing:- 

  • 15 griffon vultures at one time in two adjacent thermals ( consider the birds); 
  • the fabulous Sea DaffodilPancratium maritimum. (consider the flowers); 
  • beautiful fish (I'm sure Jesus meant to say" Consider the fishes!) 






I was pleased to visit the site of St. Titus Church in Gortys and to find restoration work underway on the apse - the only part of the church still standing.

Could it be that the ancient olive tree besides the ruins of the church was as old as the church? Perhaps it had been here when Titus first preached the Gospel to the  Cretans.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where have all the flowers gone?

I am working on a page for the Visit Norfolk website – Ten churchyards to die for ! The final list is bound to include Horstead and Belaugh with meadow saxifrage and oxeye daisies blowing in the wind. I know and have worked in both of them. Perhaps you have your own favourites.  I’d love to know which they are and I’ll be happy to add them to my list!






This year while all our local churches were following tradition and had no floral decorations during Lent,  around the ruins of St.Theobald’s, Hautbois daffodils were trumpeting new life! It was as if they couldn’t wait for Easter! A churchyard, teeming with wild life is a paradox! It teases the mind and makes you think!
We waited until Easter Day to fill our churches with flowers and celebrate Jesus victory over death!  This too is a paradox, or the opposite side of the coin of the same paradox. Cut flowers are dying!   Hmnn... but there are seeds, of course!
The language of flowers and death is heard well beyond our churches, where flowers  appear spontaneously in temporary shrines a sign of people’s solidarity with others grief. As we begin the commemorate the centenary of the Great War, flowers stir memories and memories flowers . In May 1915 John McCrae wrote the often quoted words:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
And as we think about such things, some of us unredeemed hippies find ourselves  singing  Where have all the flowers gone ......



Bored to Death

A reflection on sermons from Mike Handley

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist

RAW: Syrian Rebels Behead Christians | Military.com



It seems only yesterday that I sat in the Umayyad Mosque in Syria before the tomb of John the Baptist. But it was in 2008.



 I remember a young father with his toddler on his lap reciting the Khoran in an enchanting - well -  enchanting  chant. I didn't know the meaning of the words but I understood the poetic beauty of the Khoran that day.



I thought I had a glimpse of heaven that day!



And how many days of hell has Syria endured!?



"Thy Kingdom come.........."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A late post of an earlier piece Ashwellthorpe

To any passing walker I was a photographer lying on the ground trying to get a close-up of orchids. I did have my camera in my hands but the truth was,  my focus was elsewhere! I lay on the ground intoxicated!  There was no alcohol involved, as St. Peter had argued on that first  Pentecost, it was far too early in the day!  I was, I think, intoxicated by Spring!

Ashwellthorpe Wood was like a great cathedral.  Overhead greening branches were Gothic arches,  the jubilant praise of birdsong filled the air, the floor was carpeted here with the bluebells, there with the white and green of wild garlic  and along the way primroses, wood anemones, lady’s smock, violets, forget-me-nots,   and early purple orchids.

I had come to see how Ash Dieback Disease was effecting things and been ambushed by the glory of the wood. There is a brief window,  between the dark of winter and summer, when full leaved branches shade out the sun, in which woodland flowers blossom -  each one with a beauty that takes one’s breath away. You might expect the woods to be crowded but no. No one else seemed to be in the wood that morning. No one saw me stretched out on the ground.

Later as I browsed around All Saints, Church I wondered about my experience. How do such intense experiences (quite common according to research sponsored by the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre)  square with Christian faith?  It was a magnificent tomb,  described by Simon Knott  on his Norfolk Churches website (http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk)   as “the most splendid alabaster tomb in Norfolk”, that helped me focus.

Back then in the wood, aware of the wonderful ecological cycles of life and death and new life being played out around me and of which I was part, I felt myself every inch a son of Adam. In the words of the funeral prayer, I was mindful of my beginning and my ending, the dust from which I come and the grave to which I move. A fine tomb would not suit me. At my end I want nothing better than to be laid to rest in the womb of the earth  “in the firm hope of God’s love and purposes for us.”

Ashwellthorpe, Lower Wood is managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust http://www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk
Since Simon Knott first visited St.Andrews it has become an open church and welcomes visitors during daylight hours.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pentecost at Horsey - 2



















History does not record who founded the church. Perhaps it was some hermit seeking to find God in a green wilderness. A desert monk translated into Norfolk's green and pleasant land. But someone founded a church here - on the Isle (Eye) of Horses a long time ago. By my reading. parts of the flint built church are 11th century or older!

Seventeen of us gathered to share the Lord's Supper there on Sunday. I noticed that as we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the communion cup had the date 1666 written on it. Was that not the date of the Great Fire of London? A cleansing fire, it turned out to be after the contagion of the Plague.
Hmnn......... Pentecost... tongues of flame!

In the silence after the consecration I could hear the call of Common Cranes from Horsey Mere. When,  I wonder did last an English priest hear the call of a crane while stood at the altar? The newly fledged birds were beginning to feel the wind beneath their wings? Hmnnnnn ... wind and fire!

On my way, I couldn't help but notice the Horsey Wind Pump is still being restored. At present it has no sails. Well there's a thing, a sermon illustration perhaps. The Wind of the Spirit but if the church has no sails it will leave it unmoved. Hmmnnnnnn.....!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Pentecost at Horsey


Holy Communion at Horsey today.
What a privilege!
In autumn and winter hundreds of seals haul out an pup on the beach. Today families will be populating the miles of sand.

its summer. The feast of Pentecost. Newly fledged birds are feeling the wind beneath their wings. Among them cranes and marsh harriers.

Wind generators, wind pumps and sails on the Broads are a gift to the preacher.



Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your people 
And kindle in us the fire of your love.


Friday, June 06, 2014

Shelton, St. Mary

Once upon a Tudor time. the name of Shelton was well known. The family’s manor house, at Shelton now a parish in the Hempnall Team Ministry, was  a great palace. 

The Sheltons were kinsmen of the Boleyn’s. Ann, Henry VIIIs queen and mother of the Princess Elizabeth, had been named after her Shelton aunt. At one stage Ann Shelton had charge over Elizabeth and her  half-sister the Princess, soon to be Queen, Mary.
For a cracking read in which the Shelton’s play a supporting role try Hilary Mantel’s books on Henry’s VIII Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies!
As a fan of Hilary Mantel,  I was already romantically attached to the parish of Shelton even though the once lavish Tudor Palace is no more. 














Inquisitively, I decided to follow a newly published circular route that began and ended at the parish church.  I hope to add links to the walk here as soon as possible. For the time being pick up leaflets of all the Hempnall Team Ministry parish walks from the churches which are all open.





Did the Princess Elizabeth follow this path to take sanctuary in St.Mary’s church tower when her half-sister’s henchmen were out to get her?  I love the story but don’t know about the his-story!



And, are these two pious people Elizabeth’s aunt Ann and Uncle John Shelton?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Legend of the Rood - Open Letter



Dear Hugh , David and Cast,

WOW!  Yesterday's performance was ..... ? I can't find one word to describe it. Let me just use "BIG!"

OK! Of course, I was going to like it with contributions from Julian of Norwich, William Blake and Sydney Carter. I knew the story, the legend and the songs and many of the ideas - Church as Ark; manna, water in the wilderness, feeding 5000, the last supper and Holy Communion woven and  intertwined with each other across time and culture . What you did was to earth it in the NOW that was yesterday in the midst of the People of Ton. Thank you!
Holy Communion?!
And thanks to to those who arranged the weather! As we sang " and did the countenance divine shine forth upon our clouded hills," the hills were clouded!  It turned dark and  rained at the crucifixion!

I am pondering: At who's hand did I receive food and drink at the last supper? or was that the Feeding of the 5000? And Was that Holy Communion? I think so, well as much so as the Rich Tea biscuit fed to the animals in the ark!!

Whether you were portraying  history, or legend you actors opened windows of perception helping me grasp truths which I for which I have been digging for half a life time and more. Thank you!
Thanks to for those who have worked behind the scenes to make it possible. You have shown that in a Post World  we can recover something of our forgotten wisdom .
It is a mystery but I think it true that the Holy Rood continues to grow from the failures of the past to bring hope for the future. Thanks!

                                        Richard

More pics........

Tickets for 1st 8th June

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Service at Belaugh

 Walked over the meadows to take the 11 a.m. at Belaugh yesterday. The first of the Lady's Mantle were out and marsh marigolds in the dyke.

Wallflowers and Mexican fleablane were in flower in the churchyard wall and meadow saxifrage and bluebells were out around the graves.







We were 6 for Holy Communion. Considerably outnumbered by the angels, archangels  and all the company of heaven.

We could usefully have a few more members to share the responsibility of keeping this holy place open, welcoming and prayed in.
 Remembering  St. Peter at the close of the eucharistic prayer I also added SS John 23rd and John Paul.

Is it the responsibility of all Anglican churches dedicated to St. Peter to pray for and remember all those who have worn the fisherman's ring?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holy Week and Good Friday Services - Not Uplifting!?

I think that's what you said.

You've missed the point Sunshine!

The foot washing Carpenter/King can handle all the shitty stuff we wade through!
From power obsessed leaders, set on world domination, not counting the cost to others or the environment;
through to petty unkindness.
He knows first hand the cost of nails.
His crown was not won, nor is it worn, easily!
I think what Origen said is true,
"Christ is on his cross until the very last sinner is saved!"

If we share in his death,
 the hope is we will share in his resurrection


Here's a testimony:




Ok! The graphics are a bit naff ... but the words ......


Monday, April 14, 2014

A Holy Week Walk Poses Questions

 Our happy band of pilgrims (the Churches Together on the Broads walking group)  walked from Walcott to Bromholm Priory.
Thomas Cromwell's Commissioners  went off with the piece of the True Cross that was kept there! Who knows what happened to it? Was it burned? Does it still sit in a Civil Servant's in-tray? But my question is this:

Question 1) If it is not there and once was, does it have a beneficial effect in the same way that Homeopathic medicine is meant to work?


Question 2) Among the ruins of the Priory we ate cold crossed buns and drank red wine. No words were said but there was thanksgiving and remembrance. Was it, do you think, Holy Communion?

Question 3 ) In Walcot Church I came upon a lovely momento mori. "Time flies!"  it seemed to say. Entirely suitable for the season!  But then, unknown to me, I got caught up in the great Norwich Diocese Easter Egg Hunt. Hidden on the back of the Rood Screen an egg. Should one be entertaining thoughts of Easter in Holy Week?

The black sheep were a reminder of my own tendency to go astray. The white lamb-  the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

The primroses reminded me of "the primrose path that leads to the everlasting bonfire." Again highly suitable! But I couldn't escape the evidence of new life everywhere!







Then lunch at the pub - fish and chips - reminded me of breakfast on the beach and a light in the east!!



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Antiphonitis - Answered Prayer


 Flowers lined the path that led to the deserted monastery high up in the Kyrenia range in North Cyprus.
"Consider the flowers."  Hmnnnn........
It was nestled in a valley close by a spring and there was evidence of past cultivation on disused terraces and un-pruned olive trees.
Its quiet in the mountains.
Antiphonitis - Answered Prayer.
The monks who lived out their lives here have left me a message.
Pray - Speak - Listen
I sung evensong verses and responses......
It seems to me there is a ministry of visitors topping  up  prayers
 in places where prayer has been valid.
I wonder if others would join in ?
Let me know