Working From Home

Due to the Coronavirus Lockdown I am working from home. I have this beautiful view beside my desk, and time to think and write, all of this is something of a luxury in these hard times.

I am aware that there are many others who are not so fortunate. The students stuck in their halls of residence, the staff unable to continue research, the overseas students and staff unable to travel home. Even within this crisis we can continue to look after ourselves and each other as best we can, online, there is a Chaplaincy Chat Room on Microsoft teams and you can log in with your university student email, or, alternatively look me up on Facebook Patches 4 Peace or email me on janet.foggie1@stir.ac.uk.

For those who have had the virus symptoms already, remember to stay home, you can still pass it on, even if you have had it yourself. Here’s a prayer about coming through:

Luke 17:11-19

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

One Came Back

Jesus healed ten,
And one came back to thank Jesus.
We never find out about the ungrateful nine,
but one recovered, in body and spirit
moved past the identity of illness
found life on the other side
to be a gift, a joy, a redemption.
Returned, to Jesus,
Saying, ‘thank-you’.
We bring our grateful thanks,
for all who have recovered
from coronavirus,
and pour our gratitude
at your feet.

AMEN

Stay safe everyone!

Keep in touch.

See you as soon as possible.

The idea of a garden…

For me the idea of god as the gardener and his people as the ‘true vine’ is a physical reality in tending the earth together as an expression of faith which is active, wordless, and open to sharing with all regardless of belief or life stance. Interrogation of creed recedes entirely in this metaphor, the true vine reflects god’s love and kindness into a broken world and is tended, pruned, tied up, trained and made fruitful.

The tending of a garden involves deep knowledge of plants, a knowledge I am daily increasing. It requires an understanding of the soil, the light levels, the planting requirements, in order to flourish and develop. There must also be weeding, sorting, cleaning of tools and storing of the equipment needed for the task.

God’s garden also brings us a metaphor for redemption which is rich and fulfilling. We find new life each spring, in every seed germinated, every cutting that takes, larvae and worms clean and clear the soil, bees and other pollinators carry the pollen of good news across the flowers. Refugees, survivors of abuse, the bereaved, those with dementia, children, even tax collectors and those sickened with the consumption of western society, all the people that Christ called to his upside-down kingdom, can find release in gardening, redemptive restoration of the soul, the mood, or even just a moment of quiet in times of illness or pain.IMG_5542

Choice is also a vital element in gardening well. Exercise of choice and acceptance of responsibility for the variables of planting choice, use of the ground, and shape of the garden, gives the gardener much needed control. This is a healthy reflection of god-the-gardener who gave free choice to each of us. And yet, in gardening we come up repeatedly against that which we did not choose, the power of the weather to destroy, here at Stirling we have bunnies who like to share our crops, weeds that choke them, and the fungus and rot which is part of the natural return to earth of all plants but which can rob the human gardener of a keenly awaited harvest.

In gardening the gospel, I find a personal reconnection with Jesus whose teachings turned the accepted world upside down. It is a new way to experience the ministry I feel I am called to and a fresh engagement with the people to whom I have been called to work. I do not need to start conversations on the topic of spirituality, these come to me; nor to enforce or dictate; nor to examine or catechise. Instead I trust the gardener that the growth with comes through the choice of others is good growth and even in simply tending a piece of soil alongside the students at Stirling University we make a little part of the world a better place and build a community of relationships around the food we grow.

When we go back to Jesus’ description of the feast which will be the expression of god’s love, the doors are opened to the beggars on the road, the poorest of the poor, the lame and the blind. I can’t help feeling that it is god the gardener who set the table, harvested the food, and laid out the feast before them. In Pioneer Ministry the sharing, the food and the feast are real. For me, that is enough.

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Rescuing a junior toad.