Threshold of Treasure

The hand is opening as I ask this question;

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens to us who have died to live
It’s unfair

Lyrics to ‘Held’ By Nathalie Grant. (With one edit for personal testimony)

Five months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens to us who have died to live
It’s unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell, we’d be held

This hand is bitterness
We wanna taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow
The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it…

I realise that what has also been torn from my life is a deception. A personal human friendship is so different. If you think your friend is trustworthy, or even a professional who is also a stranger, there are so many things we assume; we agree on The Sanctity of Individual Lives. The duty to protect and do all we can to do that, especially for the vulnerable is hardwired in our conscience. We would, wouldn’t we? The fireman hero who risks his life to pull a child from a burning building would not be a hero if he stood outside and watched it burn, hose switched off, fire-resistant clothing donned, looking at his watch and saying, Oh well, too late, my shift is over. That it not heroic. There’s no middle ground. He tries and is a hero, or he doesn’t and is a disgrace.

The nursery worker, greeting a mother leaving her 8 month old on her first morning back at work, assures her they will take care of her precious bundle of joy. If baby is returned safely to Mum at the end of the day, they have done only what they are expected to have done. No medals, just a small wage. If the baby suffers any harm, they are investigated and there’s publicity, outrage and punitive stabs at justice, if any neglect is proven.

I left my weeks old baby in her big carriage pram, once, over 30 years ago, for a few minutes outside a small shop. It was just customary to do that years ago, while mothers shopped. We didn’t all have baby carriers, and shops were not designed to cater for buggies, less still, prams. I came back out of the shop, and saw my baby still sleeping peacefully. I smiled questioningly at the kind looking elderly lady whose hand was lowered over my precious child and I hoped she was kind! Of course, she was! She was a normal human being, doing a small, brave thing. She explained that she had removed the little bib from around my baby’s neck. She had heard of a baby strangled on its bib, and so had a little part-time mission to warn mothers not to use bibs except during feeding, and then to take them off. Better to wash the bedding and the cardigans and baby-grows than to find using the little bib was a fatal mistake. Oh, how I agreed and thanked her! I heeded her warning and never left my baby with a bib on again. Would just walking by have made her evil? I bet I would have just walked by. She actively loved. Risked offending me for my baby’s sake, so how on earth could I be offended?

Another time, my loved ones asked a friend to take care of their little son. He knew them well, and loved them dearly including their little son and he is always there when they call him. But they found out he didn’t protect their little son’s life, but was there with them as their baby died. Was he a hero or a disgrace? I’ve been struggling with trusting that friend, but maybe expectations were all wrong. Maybe the questions should have been, What are the friend’s expectations and what kind of friend is he?

The answers to those I am still pondering, but he is not made in the image of a human friend, otherwise I’d dismiss him from my life as callous, cruel and totally unworthy of trust. He didn’t walk by. He’s never walked away. In fact he’s always with them knowing their pain and loss was the most terrible loss imaginable. He’s experienced it for himself. He knows it happens all over the world. So many tragedies. Like earthquakes causing mudslides crashing through and inundating whole villages full of innocent and defenceless people. Fires, diseases, wars, political treachery, apathy and indifference to others’ suffering and exploitation, torture chambers, prisons are haunted by his presence. Hopelessly overloaded dinghies full of refugees fleeing war zones, laid on by explotative people-traffickers epitomse the depth of our brokenness. The sweet old lady removing a bib is made in the same image as the friend who is there as babies die, as genocides happen, as people are sold for less than the price of a sparrow, as the earth itself rends assunder, weeping its molten heart out. A loveless soul is a spiritual zombie at best, a cynical monster at worst, yet, who is also made in that sacred image.There are no promises that this friend will change what is set in motion in this broken world, in our broken lives. The threshold of his power is the doorstep of our hearts where we must decide whether we allow ourselves to trust him anyway. Then he will rescue our hearts and promise never to leave us or forsake us, and to acknowledge us as his friends. He will live up to his name; Immanuel.

Preparing for a Country Wedding: 3

All the Practicalities



Recipe for  a Home Made Wedding


Marquee, cooking tent, gazebo, children’s tent for shade, shelter play space etc, outdoor space for: archery stuff, croquet set, quoits, cricket set as desired; parking, camping workshop of other indoor space for dancing if different from eating space.




Crockery, cutlery, glasses, tumblers, Drink dispensers, bottles, Fridges, freezer, means of cooking, napkins, place setting markers

tablecloths, table decorations

Indoor and outdoor decorations, lights, simple extra little group seating (bales or logs)



Worship Band

Order of Service sheets

PA system

Canoe to fill with ice for cooling beer, cider, fizz, soft drinks


Generator and cables

Music in a playlist

Perfect view

Perfect weather

Camping onsite

Cooks and bottlewashers


Think about what you want the day to be like. This ‘recipe’ was intended to give it a country festival feel; carefree, friendly, inclusive fun.  Significantly this wedding was planned for mid July.  To achieve the same feel in February would require a lot more work and miracles and we had our fair share of those!

I just want to make a big spreadsheet and fill in a bit about where each ingredient came from and who helped and how amazing all the offers and helps were.  But that would be boring!  All the bits fell together in the end like a cosmic jigsaw that fell out of the sky and landed as a completed picture.  Only there was planning and preparation and lots of research and effort, generous help and prayer.  If you want to know in more detail read on!

Three weeks to a fortnight before the big day, we discovered that there was a slight but significant problem around the performing of the marriage ceremony, and in order for the vows to be the ones that really mattered to my daughter, we had to find a minister who would be allowed to conduct a marriage using them.  A very busy cleric and lovely family friend happened to be free on the Saturday of the wedding and agreed gladly to do the honours.  What providence!  Also, a close friend of the groom was happy to do the talk as originally planned.  What grace!

We had a long drought for weeks before the wedding and so flowers for bouquets and decorations had to be fed and watered generously (and, I felt, squandrously), and often deadheaded and otherwise treated like royalty (!) to encourage continued vigour and flowering.  I began choosing and sowing seed in February when we had Siberian weather.   Keeping germination temperatures right had been rather hit and miss!  This was also the period of wedding dress making, which was also a matter of trial and error! Of all the flowers, I particularly wanted there to be bell flowers, (Campanula perscifolia alba) for the vases and the bride’s bouquet.  In the long hot days, I got sunburnt deadheading the wands of these pure and graceful white flowers, so that the little buds behind the first flowers would swell and open.  I had creeping thyme coming into flower just at the right time, which was ideal as my daughter wanted potted herbs on the trestle tables as decorations.  They were potted into terracotta pots which meant lots of watering.  I should have used the tip of putting a pierced plastic bag inside to reduce the rate of evaporation through the sides of the pots.  The beautiful Ammi majus or Queen Anne’s Lace flowered just long enough for me to put some of the delicate umbels into the bride’s bouquet too.  I grew cornflowers and love-in-a-mist for blue and other colours. Blue I wanted for the groom’s and best man’s buttonholes as well as for the bridesmaids bouquets as they had teal and pink in their dresses.  Teal and pink chrysanthemums, small white roses, which I had to buy, combined with blue hydrangeas and phlox in pinks went into their flowers.  The posies were lightened with gypsophila ‘Covent garden’, feverfew,  coriander and white cornflowers which I grew in several locations to ensure some would be right on the day.  I grew planters with brightly coloured mesembrianthemums, clarkia, corn chamomile, cornflowers, love in a mist, lavender, sweet peas, nicotiana ‘sensation’ and delphiniums to go along the outside of the marquee and Nicotiana was put in vases to perfume the air in the workshop in the evening.

Lavender, bush basil and thyme looked lovely sitting on the calico covered trestles with coloured glass water bottles and bottles of wine, strings of paper ball fairy lights, the glasses and palm leaf plates set for each guest.  They had their places marked with their  names written on pebbles from the beach and compostable tumblers.  All that had to be washed after the meal, from the place settings, were wine glasses and cutlery.  The cutlery for each guest was tied into a folded paper napkin with pretty string.  My daughter had made sting light holders, winding twine soaked in PVA glue round balloons, which were popped and removed once the near spherical shape of the string ball was set.  These were hung in between white paper light shades along the apex of the marquee roof and looked very effective with some plain bunting and lights.

The day before the wedding a niece who has experience in floristry came and showed me how to make a garland, which we did together and which decorated the altar table. There was also a simple cross made from Silver Birch wood, made by my husband.

The marquee itself was bought.  In fact it was two marquees side by side with a purpose made gutter between them, so making one large square room, perfect for the size of our party.  This will be sold, likely to someone else with a desire for a self styled event, and no desire to take all their decorations down on the evening of the party, ready for the hire company to come and take it down first thing in the morning.  This experience was what put me off hiring again, as well as the corralling tendency of commercial approaches to weddings.  Can a wedding ‘banquet’ really be done properly if the ‘banqueting chairs’ are not ‘dressed’ in white like the bride?  Perfectly sane people get drawn further and further down this kind of blind alley.  I know I could.  So many style and equipment options are made available on the internet.  (I sound like a granny in a radio play, saying that!  Well I am one.  A granny that is, not one in a play!)  Many items were ordered online; the compostable plates and tumblers, some of the serving bowls, and bottles for dispensing home made lemonade and elderflower cordial, the calico of many metres long for the trestle tables and the cutlery.  Of all the different courier companies we only experienced one with a terrible service and attitude.

Some of the trestle tables were bought and most of the chairs were bought and collected from Cardiff from Jehovah’s Witnesses who were replacing them.  Our churches lent us tables and chairs as well as a friend who runs a Bed and Breakfast and hostel and people connected with those were our source of help both paid and voluntary and without whom we would not have been able to achieve it.  When you do everything from scratch you need people to come and prepare, cook, move chairs and tables and set them, serve, shepherd, host and then clear, sort and repack for later washing up, much of the table and cookware.  It helps if a home-made wedding is being organised by people, one of whom at least, is self employed and has a van, and can afford to take time off to do some of the fetching and carrying.

Local hire companies delivered and took away afterwards the generator, electric cables and lights and loos. We had space to offer guests to be able to camp so the loos were useful for that beyond the event.   A friend who has a lot of  technical knowledge about event sound systems and lights gave invaluable help before and during the day with all this.

Before we put the marquees up, which we did the weekend before the wedding, we had to clear and level some ground which I thought looked flat before we started.  Still, it needed grass and roots, large stones and broken glass removing and then some fine hardcore spread, levelled and tamped down.  This process was started about seven weeks before the wedding.  The first person to do any of it was our friend who hosted the wedding on his smallholding.  He had a ‘digging machine’ on caterpillar tracks.  You can tell how uninitiated I am about locomotives of this nature.  Anyway he sat in it for hours scraping off the unwanted layers of rubbly soil and afterwards, called the machine ‘a dog’.  It was like sitting in a mini greenhouse being a target for the horseflies that seemed to pervade the countryside in midsummer.  We all had a go at the levelling and raking work and when it was done, all that we had to do for the floor was put down a marquee carpet.

A marquee hire company let us take the carpet when they were packing away after a wedding at a local country estate.  They offer these once used carpets for gardeners to use as mulch and as I have acres of weeds to kill, I thought it would be a good thing to get some, and emailed them accordingly, as prompted by my researching daughter.  New marquee carpet would have set us back around £400.  My husband and I took away a lot of near perfect carpet for the price of a day off and the van fuel.  A heat wave was by now established over the UK making the earth dry and hard, so no mud had been traipsed through the marquee.  Apart from some liquefied wax crayon in one corner and a few squashed crumbs of fruit cake, it was in excellent nick.  We just folded it up and put it into the van and trailer, nursing a few horsefly bites.  I wasn’t expecting there to be rubber backing on the carpet.  It was easily scraped off, and I began to have second thoughts about putting it in the garden, as the rubber would disintegrate quickly and pollute the woodland I’m growing.  It became apparent when we went to put the carpet into storage made available by our hosts that their daughter was soon likely to become engaged to be married, and since then has and also, to my friends’ surprise, she would like her wedding reception to be at home.  So they would like to keep the carpet for that happy occasion, which gets me off the hook about using it as mulch!  What excellent timing!  It is good to know that this material will have been used three times before becoming waste, at least.

We laid the carpet and then built the marquees over it.  ‘Duck tape’ had been procured to hold the carpet joins in place and prevent tripping, but it didn’t stick to the surface of the carpet.  A spray was found to be more effective, so that solved that problem.  It took six of us, including a friend, the bride and groom, and their parents to put the marquees and food tent up in a full day.  It was not particularly difficult as the instructions and an online video were easy to follow.  It was a good team-building exercise.  I left it wondering if I’d ever be good at that sort of thing, to be honest!  I resisted the ridiculous temptation to just abandon the team, and I think the gracious and loving presence of our friend who had just turned up to help was what saved my perseverance.  The following Monday the winds were forecast to be stronger so the groom brought some of his old rock climbing ropes to make extra guys, which he and my husband secured the tents with and the wind buffeted without effect.

In between all the flower care and a few of my days with tents and writing names on stones, drying flowers for confetti, I kept making another batch of cake or fruit loaf, until I had at least one serving per guest.  I had stashed these in boxes in the freezer.  Last of all I made some gingerbread people and iced them as either brides or grooms.  I liked the idea of my nephews and granddaughter and any other children-at-heart smiling at these, then biting their limbs off, gleefully! It must have been around this time that the inner tempo of my preparations went from happy and peaceful to happy and excited.

The day was drawing nearer and I felt that I had almost done all I had prepared to do: Bride’s dress, bridesmaids dresses all sorted, flowers as on track as I could ensure, and I’d go and buy whatever else I needed a couple of days beforehand, my outfit and cosmetics ready, food and technical stuff organised by others, cake and pudding ready to go, ice making done, booze, some of which bought for us by my brother while in France,  all stored in a steady temperature half underground.  The house was stacked in every corner and turning space full of boxes of stuff from slow cookers to bundles of wrapped cutlery, palm plates and fairy lights. Orders of service, rings and seating plans were being taken care of.

I had one last pre-day task and that was to help with the speech for the father of the bride.  I’d read the favourite books of the betrothed, and found it an interesting insight into some of what makes them tick, if I hadn’t already had a hunch.  More time was spent on that than I was expecting and at least one sleepless night, which was only because I was being too outrageous and as this was a speech to be given by a gentleman, he needed it to be changed completely.  I lay awake wondering how I could use the same props but for a totally different edition of the opening paragraphs of the speech.  It came to me and I typed the revised version at four am.  My favourite prop I will keep.  It is a pair of incredible, six inch stiletto heeled shoes; deep cerulean, silver studded- and these studs mean business at almost a centimetre long.  They are beautiful and hideous.  I ingratiated them into the speech under a ridiculous guise as climbing shoes in a controversial fiction about how our daughter met her husband.  It was a bit of a dark in-joke and when I saw some of the listeners laugh knowingly, I was highly gratified. Anyway, let’s return to grace and providence. (Of which finding those brand new, if unwearable shoes in the Oxfam sale was a brilliant example.)

Many of the people at the wedding are in the outdoor leadership and education line of work, and that job requires workers at the weekend.  The person who had hoped to say yes to leading worship, was not able to have the time off, it transpired.  A search began for people who could and would want to lead worship.  Worship is core and key to a service and I prayed we’d be blessed with people who could take us to that throne of grace in sung worship.  A couple of suggestions were shelved and another line of inquiry drew a blank.  In time for some practices, the bride’s sister came up with two of her friends who were willing to travel with her and her husband and toddler all the way from Newcastle to stand in front of a crowd of people they didn’t know and lead worship.  Just for the joy and love of it.  Which is a lot, but even so!  With the sister singing, especially the Welsh bits, the other two did guitar, drum and vocals.  It was absolutely perfect.  In my opinion every prayer for this wedding day was answered and many that were’t prayed, by me anyway, were also answered.

It all went beautifully well. The ceremony was very personal with fabulous music from the arrival of the bride to the dancing out of the newly married couple, thoughtful and faithful prayers, joyful worship, kind and sometimes funny moments, leading through the oaths.  Friends of the couple did wonderful readings with powerful messages, and this was amplified by the talk and just God’s presence with us all.

The cooled bottles were opened and people mingled and some went to enjoy the archery, led by a qualified instructor.   Drinks were served after the ceremony in a large workshop, decorated for the occasion, freeing the marquees to be made ready for dinner.  The newly weds walked down a track lined with confetti throwers.  It was a fun symbol of them being showered with love and blessings by their friends and families as they journey together.  The dinner was wonderful and much enjoyed.  The sun set as people went back afterwards to enjoy the ceilidh in the workshop, while kind friends shooed me and my husband away from clearing the tables, sending us off to dance, while they sorted the plates and glasses.  Amongst them was the minister and his wife who had stepped in to do the ceremony.  How sacrificial of them!  I was humbled indeed.

Now our son in law and daughter have embarked on married life on honeymoon and I know that the God they serve will be every bit as kind and gracious because he never changes.  Though circumstances do.  A happy, sunny wedding day isn’t a promise of unending roses in sunshine, and they know that.  I am confident they are equipped and ready to begin this amazing challenge well.














Generation of Joy


Is joy born, generated or created? Does joy exist only as one of the emotions? Or does joy exist in its own right and then, a ‘window’ in our soul opens and we perceive it?

I think maybe at least sometimes, it surprises us, thus our perception is that it exists in ‘kairos’, which we suddenly enter, apart from ‘chronos’.  C S Lewis’s  Narnia Chronicles illustrate the reality of truth as being independent of chronological time. I don’t really ask in order to introduce some philosophy on joy, rather, to explore common ground. Is this an experience you can relate to? – Being surprised by joy? C S Lewis wrote a book about it and he seemed to think so. Common ground.

I was not feeling especially joyful as I gathered poppy petals to press in the stream of pleasant jobs there are in preparing for a wedding. I have referred to this preparation time and why I’m writing about it, in previous posts. I felt simply calm, perfunctory as I laid the petals out after collecting them, onto papers where they’d be pressed flat under a rug between sheets of paper. Quietly, with a cheeky wink of innocent mischief, Joy came in, as a sister might, and sat on the floor beside me. The colours of the randomly laid petals were intensely beautiful, regulated in spacing to maximise the available pressing area. But there was an explosion in my senses that sparked a memory of an art exhibition of filmed explosions of floral arrangements. The exhibition was called ‘Flora’ and held in the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth in the summer of 2016. Common ground there is in simply exploring juxtapositions of flowers, their colours and how they impact us, disassembled, or even exploding!

I am preparing for the moment in a few weeks when these petals will be showered over a newly wed couple. It will be an expression of joy shared, love poured out with the blessing of family and friends when we, as parents, will let go of our respective ‘children’. Simultaneously, two individuals will be joined as a new unit. We will be illustrating joy with the tumbling of broken flowers.

Although this will be the end of the poppies in their natural form, the joy we celebrate when we throw a confetti of petals is for the marriage itself and what will be generated by this union. Parents in letting go of one child receive back two, with a different set of boundaries and responsibilities towards the couple from those that they relinquish as their son and daughter marry. The new couple will be exploring, evolving, generating new responsibilities and boundaries, and assuming some existing relationship ideas,  as their marriage strengthens. I anticipate it will be blooming marvellous, if  at times, a tad messy!

The Imperfect being made Perfect

via The strange shapes of seeds of faith…

I’m reading Ephesians chapter 4 and listening to what God has to say from it as I prepare for my daughter’s wedding. Ephesians is a book in the Bible composed from a series of letters to a church in Ephesus by the Apostle Paul.

He says we must be unified in faith enough not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. I think James also referred to not being tossed about by waves caused by lack of faith. If this was the James who was with the other disciples when a storm blew up and which Jesus stilled with his command, it must have been in his mind when he said what he did in verses 2 to 8 of Chapter 1.

I’ve always had a terrible attitude to the command to consider trials nothing but pure joy. I’m still working on that attitude. But today I have been helped by Rev Kenny, talking about the trial of loss or sorrow over sin. See what you make of it and read it for yourself. I was struck by the encouragement in it so see that faith is indeed alive and hope not extinguished when we cry, when we don’t stop pursuing the image of Christ being forged in our character, despite a setback. Big or small. Devastating or just frustrating. It is this that I hold onto and celebrate in George Herbert’s poem ‘Virtue’.

I said in the last post I’d talk about garments in this one. The importance of creating her wedding dress for my daughter has been significant in forming perseverance, patience and not a little inventiveness in me, if not her, over the last several weeks. I’ve been making it on my ancient and basic little Singer sewing machine. It was a wedding present to Rod and me from my parents in 1985. What a little workhorse it has been over its many years of use! Ann Marie designed her dress and we then chose a pattern that would guide me in cutting out the pieces. However, the shapes had to be changed significantly to make it like her design. I have spent more hours unpicking hastily sewn and beautifully finished, but wrong seams than it took to sew them and undoing is a humbling process, not to mention the consequential rescheduling of other tasks. The reward of finally getting the shape and fitting right only came after I had grasped the nettle of unpicking what I thought was beyond remaking; I’d worried that the fine and delicate fabric would be scarred by the many needle holes. This is all still a work in progress. The dress and the final image, the fitting of the bride for her husband. The allegory shows me how we can consider trials as joy, James, after all! Having a beautiful daughter portray the lifelong process for me as I endure my character’s unpicking to have princess seams resown has been such a figurative illustration in which I’ve been privileged to take part.

I have not enjoyed loss in terms of career, material security and have almost lost my faith over bereavement of people I loved. I do not intend to make light of loss and the terrible pain it brings us, but rather to let this happy preparation time be an illustration and pointer to the most significant elements of life and what it means to do things well. Making a success of our failures and losses is an option. James and Paul both say this in the passages I’ve been led to.  James: ‘Let endurance have its full effect, ask God for wisdom and expect to receive it and it will be given you’. (My paraphrase of Chapter 1 verses 5-6) Paul: ‘Don’t be like children tossed about, but grow up in every way into him who is the head, Christ, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped’. (My paraphrase of verses 14-16 in Eph Chapter 4) I assume Paul was speaking to normal people who experienced set backs too.


A tiny but essential little piece of  sewing equipment called a ‘quickunpick’.

Diary of a Country Wedding.

Ephesians 4, 11-16 talks about how Christ gave the church people different skills and jobs to perform in order to get everything done that’s needed to create a functioning, unified church.

I’m drawing a parallel with that in how we are preparing for the wedding of our daughter, Ann Marie, and her fiancé, Mark, in a couple of months’ time.

I didn’t keep a diary of the wedding preparations of our other daughter Catie to Pete, specifically, and it is likely that any diary I did keep of the months leading up would have been sporadic and subject to the days as I experienced them, rather than intentionally observing the ways we worked together towards it and how life is interwoven with it’s own agendas, important but unrelated. So I found the momentousness of the day difficult to experience. It was happy, exhausting, beautiful, stressful when I was cut off by a carnival, holy and having huge, eternal but intangible significance: Catie and Pete became one in God’s pattern, and for me and Rod, she was no longer legally our next of kin, or vice versa. We have to comprehend these things in some way and make mental and emotional shifts. If these shifts could be expressed through a dance, I would have been portrayed as a clown in large boots falling over at all the tender and significant moments, blinded by the stage lights and imoblile when I was supposed to be making up an eight for ‘Strip the Willow’!

So I hope to prepare my heart and soul for this. I’ve been doing my little bit preparing in lots of external and practical ways, don’t worry. Two months to go is too late to start from scratch.

I’ve been growing the flowers for it and picked the first bunch today. I have to pick them in order to keep them flowering. I’m not sure about which will or won’t and how the timing will work, so am spreading the risk with a variety of strategies.

Mark, Ann Marie’s betrothed; (have you noticed how some words have been ditched for less committed sounding words? So I’m flippin’ well using them!) is having a great week this week. He hasn’t said so yet in so many words. But someone has to be prophetic if we’re taking tips from scripture!

Ann Marie has lots in the pipeline. She’s been organising the catering; (very excited about the potential horse box converted to kitchen,) the guests’ replies and co-ordinating all the different people who are going to play a part in making the day happen. There’s the worship leading for the ceremony, the celebrant minister who is a long time friend of Mark’s, marquee and furniture to buy and set up. Bunting, lights; cue generator, cue queue; portaloos. Strings and tangles of thoughts, connections and confusions run riot over lists spread around the workspace that is our home.

Rod has been the van man collecting chairs with Ann Marie from Cardiff. He’ll have a marquee carpet to collect in a few days’ time, we hope! Before that can be laid, there’s the ground preparation to do with Steve, Mark and any other willing hands.

Not much has yet been said about some significant garments! Next post. No spoilers.

The first flowers






Amelia Delaney’s Last Day in Captivity

Amelia’s gaze followed her husband’s retreating back as he walked to the 2nd Mercedes on the forecourt of their Hertfordshire home. She barely heard the clunk of the car door as he closed it and pulled away. Breathing in she relaxed slightly, finished her coffee and considered her options, pulled nevertheless in the direction of the breakfast bar, filling the dishwasher automatically, clearing herself a space to think.

She texted Clara to say she had something else on, and sorry but couldn’t meet her later after all. More space. She liked arranging space around herself.

Unless of course, the clutter was hers. She walked into the extension, a wing at the back of the house that arced their garden on one side and overlooked the paddock and village beyond. Her craft room had been Gordon’s gift to her for her fiftieth birthday, although it had been four years in the making. She still marvelled at her luck that it was hers and felt at her happiest in it’s faithful, cool light. Somehow the door acted as a pressure valve, and the expectations and presumptions she had so far tolerated in her life were at least temporarily left outside it. Now she used the space to reconsider. What have I tolerated? How much space have I relinquished subconsciously?

Beyond the large table that ran the length of the room on the left, her eyes and thoughts were drawn by the painting she had been trying to complete. Her eyes probing the trouble spots, she tried to see them as if for the first time, looking for the obvious tip off. However, she found her concentration was nowhere near what it needed to be, or rather her peace of mind. So, she turned to the pieces of chair cover rumpled up on the table before her. The heavy roll of embroidered brocade she’d been allowed to order burdened the far end. At least another week would be needed to complete replacement covers for their conservatory chairs, more likely a fortnight once she threw in the committee meeting, her voluntary afternoon at the riding stables with the disabled riders, and she really needed to spend some time tidying the garden before it was dark virtually after lunch, doing the bits she didn’t want to leave to Derek, their gardener.

Amelia was not one who liked to leave things unfinished.

What has changed? she asked herself. Two days ago, the trust had all been there, between herself and Gordon. They had laughed so hard. She smiled, despite her discontent, recalling Tuesday evening. He had said he loved her. Now she felt like a toy rag doll, thrown aside in the face of greater priorities. It undermined her self-esteem so utterly, and he never seemed to get it. Time and again, she tried to wise up and keep a bit of her heart in reserve, to protect it from being trashed, but somehow that way, life was mere existence. Buy some time, she self-prompted. Do something to restore your balance. You can carry on with the chair cover. You always knew Gordon would as happily sit on a dustsheet thrown over the sofa, unless his mother was coming to stay, of course. She grinned to herself. But was it sad and futile to carry on making something only she would appreciate?  Yes, there’d probably be a few kind remarks from Gemma and Lionel, and Mags. And some witty, rude ones from Geoffrey. The thought of Geoffrey with his arrogance and stupidity made her shudder. She put the two pieces she had been pinning together down and went back to the kitchen, to put on more coffee. As she waited for the spluttering to finish, she reconsidered.  Her whole life, she had fought the urge to commit suicide, and the ugly old suggestion posed itself to her again.  Incongruously, the mental fight continued in full fury; or make chair covers. Because she had been able to conceive of how they’d look, and could do it, she’d embarked on it with great enthusiasm. And gratitude. How in her element she’d felt then! How could one careless suggestion pull her apart again?  She knew what Gordon thought; his little china doll was always too fragile and always would be. That cage had sometimes been invisible, faded to white in the light of happier times, but in the darker moments it surrounded her and she felt it always would while she was part of his life and therefore had to tolerate his assumptions.

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t tried to talk about it, and he had listened. He had not understood, though. He overlaid his knowledge of her, his familiarity with certainties she could never undermine or wrest from his determined place of security.

Yes, she thought. It is worth it. I am in my element here, doing these things. He and Geoffrey can sit in the horrid, fuggy sitting room getting pissed, telling each other how hilarious they are. Suffocating in their fucking, opiate old dogmas.  I’ll stay here and do this, being me. But first, I’m going shopping with Clara. He owes me. She texted her friend, showered hastily and left, scattering gravel as she accelerated the 1st Mercedes off the forecourt.

No Small Wonder

I first met you in my daughter’s voice,

Tremulous, sweet.

I first greeted you apologetically for a heart’s leap

of celebration.

Minutes later, I knew

That fleeting moment

Was eternal

As the destiny of new star-light.

Though your light is warmer,

Being knit

In fellowship fused with love,

And a patent

For royalty; The King’s hand

Hardwires you

In filigree glory, His heart teaching

As you listen to Him sing in your mother’s voice;

As you learn

The tenor of Love in your daddy’s laughter

And it’s unfailing rhythm,

present as heart-beat, soft as breathing:

A cradle of Truth.

Sweet and Sour.


Under a sweeter sun these berries ripened

that now lie bruised, inert in the dish

to eat them is the process of forgetting;

into the avarice of disatisfaction

they bleed their red juice

onto the sour tongue.

Inured, love obscured.

When you pray, say

To be honest, I get anxious and I’m getting it sorted: I have a manual that tells me that I’m not responsible for anything I don’t have the right or ability to control.


I thought I’d just let that sink in.

Coming from where I have been, responsible for everything I care about…(wrong but honest), I have prayed for these things.

My children, and my parents, for a start. Reflecting, I could wax lyrical about my brother and husband and the prayers I’ve prayed for them. And on and on for all sorts of people I never thought of as off limits because I have no right or ability to control them either.

When we are thankful, we parents, surveying the landscape of our children’s lives and it is like a sunny picnic, our words flow like bubbling streams, sparkly and fresh and joyful. Our hearts feel soft and tender like a beautiful meadow where the sheep lie down and rest. Our thoughts populate our spiritual sentences like buttercups and celandines, violets and daisies, Hopes and dreams like distant spires rising from the deep green canopies of righteous oaks and fluffy clouds dot the horizons and we are so peaceful with the vista before us.

When we pray over an earthquake in their lives, our hearts bulge, bleeding through the concrete circumstances and pour out like molten lava with desperation and a search for direction and hope, flowing with the invested energy of past ages all spewed out and potentially for ever gone. Our words rip up uncaring order and fling aside mundane bill board issues and pierce unwitting unknowns searching for answers and promises we forgot to file carefully in earthquake proof cellars. The angry tears and broken dreams create a filthy mush of debris where the children were supposed to play.

No I must only be anxious for the things within my control and then I will be free from anxiety.

It will take a while to learn this. Maybe I’ll report back. But don’t wait for the conclusions; they’re outside your control!