Carpe Diem ~ Corn

LOGO SEPT 14

I went to Taize one summer when it was so hot and dry that the magnificent River Loire had almost dried up in places.  Too hot to stay in the car I decided to walk for a while across the fields and I had an amazing experience.    At the foot of the hill were fields of sunflowers, corn and poppies.  I stood alone in a field full of sunflowers, looking up towards the church, as a gentle breeze blew.  The wind caused the flowers to bend and the sound they made was so strange.   I experienced what I can only describe as the spirit moving.

Today’s Haiku prompt at Carpe Diem reminded me of that moment.

Soft wind whispering

Spirit moving through the corn

Speaking to my soul

It reminded me strongly of the beautiful words of one of my favourite hymns:
 Be still for the presence of the Lord
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Come bow before him now  With reverence and fear
In him no sin is found  We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal  To minister his grace
No work too hard for him  In faith receive from him
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place
Icon at Taize

Icon at Taize

Palm Sunday 2012

The Little Springtime ~ Palm Sunday
I absolutely love Palm Sunday.  One of the highlights of the school year when I was teaching was making palm crosses for STM parish.  It was a joy to teach successive year sixes how to fold and weave the palms.  We took great pride in making the neatest and tightest crosses so that they would not unfold when held at the Sunday Mass.  At Easter in 1993 I went to the Palm forest in Elche in Spain, where many of the palms which we use in churches all over Europe, are grown.  When the palms start to grow they are tied up and covered so that the sun does not get to them.  This stops them turning green.  When they are fully grown they are cut and wrapped.  They have to be kept moist until they are folded as they dry out quickly. In Spain, where great Palm Sunday processions are held in the streets,palms are folded into amazing intricate and decorative shapes.   But I prefer our simple crosses.  I treasure one that was made for me last year by my husband when I did not manage to get to a church service.  He did not have a proper palm frond so he went out into the garden and picked some long straight leaves which he lovingly weaved into a cross.   That one takes pride of place in my box of treasures.
Between 1970 and 2000 my life as a parent, teacher and then head teacher meant that my trips were always governed by school holidays.  Not being keen on very hot weather my favourite time to travel was always the Easter holidays.  For most of the 80’s and 90’s the Easter holidays meant I could join a Jumbulance trip to Lourdes with ACROSS.  I have written about one special Lourdes trip in a previous blog and I hope to write about my other trips eventually
Other memorable Easter holidays were spent in Kenya, Spain, Taize and Russia. In the Jubilee year of 2000, a very difficult year for me, I travelled between Assisi and Rome. 
Travel for me is an opportunity to learn about other people and to share with them; their traditions, communities and lives.  Sometimes we can be of help in some way and make a difference to people’s lives.  That is a privilege and a blessing.
One man who made a real difference was Roger Schutz.  In the 1940s he was appalled bythe violence and suffering he saw across Europe.  Throughout the war years, he sheltered political refugees, especially Jews, whom he helped cross the border into Switzerland from the occupied region of France.  He began to develop the idea of acommunity based on mutual understanding and respect for all.  He found a suitable site at Taize near Cluny in the Burgundy region of France and on Palm Sunday of 1948, seven men took monastic vows.  They dedicated their lives to working and praying for ‘outsiders’ of all kinds; especially those living in extremes of poverty, hunger, or disease.  Taize is now famous for its gentle and powerful worship built on meditation through repetitive chants, a model of worship which has spread around the world.  Brother Roger’s work continues; to bring reconciliation, unity and peace to all the peoples of the world.  www.taize.fr
There is a beautiful icon of Mary in the Church of Reconciliation inTaize.  I would recommend anyone who travels to France to make a detour so that they can spend some time in Taize.  When I went to Taize one summer I had an amazing experience.   I stood alone in a field full of sunflowers, at the foot of the hill looking up towards the church, as a gentle breeze blew.  The wind caused the flowers to bend and the sound they made was so strange.   It reminded me strongly of the beautiful words of one of my favourite hymns:
 Be still for the presence of the Lord
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Come bow before him now  With reverence and fear
In him no sin is found  We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal  To minister his grace
No work too hard for him  In faith receive from him
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place
I wish you all a peaceful and Happy Easter and the joy of your family around you x

Palm Sunday Crosses

Intricate Palm Sunday sculptures on display

Palm Tree a Elche

Icon of Our Lady at Taize

Brother Roger of Taize