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Ministers’ Letter

June 2023

There was a garden ….

I love gardens, from the very formal and well planned to the more wild and chaotic. My love started as a child when I was given my own bit of garden to tend. My recent visit to Madrid found me hopping from garden to garden admiring Iris and Bonsai in the Botanical Gardens to just sitting among the Roses in the Royal Palace gardens. It was just what I needed time and space to gaze with wonder and delight at God’s creation.

I am going to make this summer my summer of gardens with planned pilgrimages to Derek Jarman’s garden in the bleak landscape of Dungeness and Monet’s garden in Giverny.

God takes us to a Garden – our Faith story starts with a garden with God the great garden designer, who creates something wonderful from nothing, from the chaos. We learn very important lessons from Genesis about our role in creation and for restoring Eden.

We find Jesus in a garden on the night of the last supper, Gethsemane, the Olive press. Gethsemane was the garden where Jesus spent time alone with the creator of the world. Jesus feels weighed down by the situation, the weight of the world on his shoulders, “Why God?”

I am sure there have been moments where we have been overwhelmed by circumstances. Where perhaps we’ve questioned where is God in all this? Our gardens are a place for reflection.

And John in his gospel takes us to that Easter garden in Jerusalem, a garden that today is filled with pomegranates and brightly coloured flowers. A garden of discovery and new life and hope.

It is in that garden that Mary meets the risen Christ. In her despair, dead-end thinking and loss she finds new hope, it’s getting brighter. In this garden new hope seemed possible. Gardens are often places of encounter. Spaces where we feel we really are in the presence of a creator God.

I am loving the Manse garden in Shirley, waiting patiently to see what delights the next season brings. I have been loving my bluebells, apple and pear blossom and blousy peonies. I love being surprised by my garden and being open to be surprised by God. I feel I need to share this space with others, I will reflect on how I can use the garden at Barnfield in my ministry. When I first walked round the garden I did think about its use as a quiet/ reflective space – I need to do more exploring. Evening in my garden takes on a different feel and again I love sitting out late at night with my logs burning in my fire grate – again there are possibilities there.

But one thing I will do is open my garden for a Garden Party. It is something I have done in the past and would love you to see the garden at Barnfield. I will open it up  on the afternoon of Sunday 2nd July from 2pm – 5pm. Put the date in your diary – more details to follow.

This summer enjoy the gardens you find yourself in, find space and time for you to be still and gaze at the wonder and beauty of creation. Make time to be in the presence of the creator.