‘Sumer Is Icumen In’

Actually, it’s not summer, but mid February. On the footpaths it is mud, glorious mud, the snowdrops at the bottom of our garden need little life jackets, lesser celandine is coming up all over the place, the days are lengthening . . . spring is creeping into our strange lockdown lives. There is a delightful book of cartoons by Thelwell called ‘Up the Garden Path’. Originally published in 1967, it remains a must-have for all gardeners. In the ‘Technical Terms Explained’ section there is a cartoon depicting a couple standing with rolled-up sleeves, and spade in hand, in a large overgrown garden eagerly reading a book entitled ‘Gardening for Pleasure’—the caption: ‘Suckers’. I fall for it every year, something stirs inside me and I conveniently forget last year’s garden battles and start looking at seed packets—the winter pansies aren’t flowering in the border because I never got around to buying them, well, I had a busy time last year, actually a bit too busy.

In September we had managed to live stream Sr Lucy’s funeral from our chapel—and it was becoming apparent that we wouldn’t be able to re-open the chapel to the public in the foreseeable future. Our thoughts turned to live streaming, and the questions of what to live stream—and how best to do it—raised their complex heads. Whilst no one in our community particularly wanted to become a ‘YouTuber’, we all wanted to share our worship with others and we decided to live stream Vespers, our evening service.

For me, setting this up rolled like a tidal wave through the rest of the year, and into this year, but it is finally up and running—at the mercy of the internet speed in rural Turvey, but streamed from a suitable computer. We have a ‘Turvey Abbey’ YouTube channel, and also links on the Turvey Abbey website (Chapel – Live Streaming), the number of people joining us online is increasing all the time.

The older members of our communities seem quite happy with the live streaming—indeed, shortly after his 100th birthday, Br Herbert took the opportunity during Vespers to thank God, and everyone who had been so good to him, then turned and waved to the camera—maybe we do have a budding YouTuber in our midst.

Back from the online world to the world around us: dreams of sunflowers and pumpkins and tomatoes—and also dreams of a world where people are able to return to normal relationships with each other. If I buy the seed and sow it and don’t neglect the seedlings etc. I will have done what I can for the plants, whether we get a harvest or not is beyond my control—and as people all over the world struggle to do what they can to combat the pandemic, we discover that there is a great deal that is beyond our control. At Turvey Abbey we believe that Jesus came into our world to show God’s love for us, and we pray daily for all who are suffering, for all who put themselves at risk in the service of others, and for all the needs of our world.

Summer will come again to our gardens . . . and to our lives!

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