PCN Newsletter 30th April 2020
In the sixth newsletter we hear from Sandra Griffiths and share online resources.
There are times when the ground around my house looks more like a mini-meadow than a garden. And that’s the way I prefer it, especially at the moment. After positioning my chair outside with the optimum view of the panoply of colour and texture in front of me, I can start to appreciate the scene. Before long a verse from my favourite poem comes to mind, along with the realisation that nobody has ever set eyes on the combination of details from exactly the same angle in exactly the same light conditions as I am doing. What a privilege! I fell in love with Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard at school.
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
The innate beauty and worth of everything I see or sense or feel is present for me now, inspiring me to rediscover the world: the array of daisies gazing at me and the busy hoverfly, triggering memories of meadows, seashores and mountains, the love and kindness of so many, often unexpected. This helps to keep me going - a powerful antidote to the less than positive moods that sometimes threaten my equilibrium. “Consider the lilies of the field ….”
Sandra Griffiths, Secretary PCN Britain
Greenbelt has taken the decision to change the way that they are doing things this year and go online. This is an opportunity for many people who would not have been able to attend Greenbelt to take part.
They are calling it Wild At Home and you can find further details on their website www.greenbelt.org.uk/wild-at-home
In these incredibly strange times, conversations about our environmental impact and the role of the churches in building a sustainable future come into focus. For the last 18 months our small group of rural churches on the Isle of Wight have been creating a strong environmental character to all that we do and we were rewarded at the end of the year with a coveted Eco Church Gold award (of with in the South of England there were only two other CofE awards, Hilfield Friary and St James Piccadilly!!). Our Eco church journey is documented on our website and this is the description from our home page.
For many people there is a desire for the church to speak with reason and passion, to make sense in a scientific world and to inspire action and hope.
This initiative begins with the work of A Rocha and the interdenominational Eco Church movement and goes further. It asks, ‘What would theology be like if evolutionary science were taken seriously? What would worship look like if it arose from our deepest spiritual roots of the connectedness of all things? What would the awareness of God in All Things mean for our social action? How can the radical and counter-cultural teaching of Jesus be followed in the 21st century?’
So The Haven Eco Church is much more than just adding an environmental layer to what we already do. It is about connecting our faith to a 21st century world view, to immediate environmental concerns and to the changes in our lifestyles that will be needed in the centuries to come. It is about engaging with contemporary theology, rediscovering hidden treasure from the past and finding a way to speak of God that is beautiful and reasonable in our services and witness to the world.
The Haven Eco Church is rooted in the life, teachings and meaning of Jesus – seeing him as the unparalleled teacher of peaceful and ethical living. It is also rooted in the ancient Hebrew texts and New Testament Gospels while reading them with contemporary eyes. It is a beginning, a work in progress, a living ‘ordinary’ grass roots theological movement as we try to find a new level of authenticity for our faith. It honours the ancient doctrines and creeds and interprets them anew for this millennium.
It is a gathering and an idea, an Event.
It is also, of course, chat and tea and cake and tending the Labyrinth and making bug houses. It is campaigning for a better, fairer and greener world, and loving God with all our heart, mind, strength and creative imagination, and loving our neighbour as we love ourselves; as God loves us.
The thing that we have found about this progressive environmental theology and practice is that we are prepared for the fascinating discussions about the shape of a future church as we emerge from this crisis. We have begun to dream a new dream and re imagine our faith, and although our conclusions and creations will be very specific to our unique context, do join with us in this discussion if you wish by subscribing to the blog. https://thehavenecochurch.com/
Rev Ali Morley
I am starting to receive, in addition to poems and thoughts, information about online resources. The first of these to share with you is the Liturgy In A Dangerous Time project which is being run by PCN Trustee Simon Cross and will hopefully be of interest to you. It’s a free downloadable worship resource for people to use on their own, in households, or in online groups, a combination of poetry, prose, activities, images and music.
You can find out more on Simon’s website
Sandra speaks of falling in love with a poem at school, I remember being instructed to study various poets and then tested on my understanding of their poetry, this seemed to be calculated to remove from me the joy of reading poetry. This was poetry taught for the purpose of passing exams and not simply for the sake of it. I came away from my English Literature studies with a GCSE, an A level, a dislike of Gerard Manley Hopkins and an abiding love of TS Eliot and William Blake.
In fairness to Gerard Manley Hopkins I had grown up listening to The Tyger so Blake had a head start. The Tyger was included in a book of poems that we had at home called the Oxford Book of Poetry for Children, it seemed to me as a child a thing of wonder with the most fantastic illustrations, I bought a copy when I saw it in a second hand bookshop and cherish it as much now as I did then.
Thankfully my experiences at school did not extinguish my love of reading and poetry, I was fortunate to be surrounded by books and to have parents who are fiercely proud bibliophiles. That book of poetry and others started me on a journey that has taken me along various paths, with a few wrong turns and dead ends, but I have now a collection of writers of poems and prose that delight, challenge, relax and sometimes hurt me. One such writer is Alice Walker, her writing is not always a comfortable read and nor is it always intended to be. Her poetry, like her prose, is often uncompromising and filled with pain but I will give you a gentler thought from Ms. Walker, this is from a commencement address that she gave at Spelmann college in 1995.
“What can I give you to remind you that each one of us constantly makes and remakes the world? And that if we can only trust in our own willingness to change, we need not despair? I give you this poem:
We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
so much the worse
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.
This could be our revolution:
To love what is plentiful
as much as
what is scarce.”
Sarah Guilfoyle, Administrator PCN Britain