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Posts Tagged ‘Trees’

There was some bright sunshine as I walked the Vicarage Hound this morning, as well as a stiff breeze. The stonemasons working on repointing the church building at the moment reported that it was a bit bracing where they are working up the scaffolding on the South side.

To get to our most local park I walk past the church, down the stubby road where the drug dealers often lurk, and then along the Metro path. There’s a patch of wasteground there, between the back of our church school and the allotments. You can cut down through it to the entrance to the park, although I walk further on and enter the park by the tiny concrete skate park, just by the next Metro stop down.

Sometimes you can find people drinking in the wasteground, or even consuming more noxious substances. And last summer someone set up a pretty serious camp, with tents and old wooden doors and washing lines. It’s pretty scruffy there – people drop their beer cans and other litter and sometimes there is some more substantial flytipping. The trees and plants aren’t really tended at all, but we’ve found a mix of maples and sycamores growing, along with brambles and other messy bushes.

And silver birches seem to do well there, especially right by the path. And today the sunshine lit up their bark, showing the intricate broken patterns. Peeking past the trees on the edge of the wasteground, you can see newer, skinnier trees growing up, with smoother shinier bark. Old beauty growing out of simpler beginnings, in amongst the mess and debris. Works of the Lord’s hands. Praying that I would see that beauty in all the intricate broken patterns I encounter in the people of this messy parish and beyond.

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Some of the things that I’ve come across or heard in the last few days:

  • A granny was robbed of gold necklace after she collected her grandchild from our school nursery. Lunchtime yesterday.
  • A friend’s business was burgled a few days ago. When police came round to look at the break-in they smelt something suspicious. They raided the unit next door and found a cannabis factory.
  • 2 men (dad and an uncle?) were taking a young lad, maybe six years old, to the ice-cream van, just as school was out and streams of kids were passing and queuing. They were dressed in t-shirts bearing what I have found are sometimes called ‘comedy‘ phrases. I wasn’t very amused myself. I don’t shop at Blue Inc, or I’d be boycotting their business.
  • A kid who thought that ‘the taxpayer’ would pay for our broken windows, so it wasn’t such a big issue after all.

And these are just the stories that I can tell in public. The evil and brokenness around us here can sometimes be heartbreaking. Despite that, we are encouraged regularly. This week some kind builders have been supplying us with wooden pallets (for burning and for storing logs on) and some tree surgeons gave us a tree that they’d been chopping down. Vicarage warmth is assured for next winter.

Like every week at the Vicarage, it’s been a fair old mix, but perhaps more of a mix than most people enjoy. It makes me remember that old hymn and resolve to employ my heart and tongue as I should.

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady

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Where we live most people have small gardens, often concreted over, or live in flats. And not many can afford to have play equipment in their garden. Our church was recently given a generous grant towards having a playground installed in our grounds. It will mainly be used by the young children who attend our toddler group.Tree

As part of the project, some trees in the churchyard had to be trimmed back. As I came back from the school run yesterday, the tree surgeons were hard at work. And they were shredding lots of the wood. We have wood burning stoves in the vicarage and we’d been promised the logs. So I went to check that they weren’t chipping all the lovely holly wood. They assured me they weren’t but then started asking about which other trees needed pruning. This was definitely outside my field of knowledge.

The Vicar was out at a prayer meeting, so it was back to the vicarage to “phone a friend”. I got it right first time by calling the churchwarden who then came over to talk trees whilst I made tea for the workers.

The logs came over our wall later on. And the Vicar spent a lovely hour after tea chopping and splitting them with some local teenagers who thought they’d come over to use our trampoline.

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Beautiful City 1

Beautiful City 1

The Curate remarked that my artistic shot of a beer can might give you the wrong impression of the lovely place where we live. Empty beer cans are a fact of life here, where excess alcohol is the cause of many troubles. But you mustn’t think that discarded beer cans are all there is to life in the inner city.

The picture above was taken in our local country park on New Year’s Day. We can get there in ten minutes in our car and you can see our church spire from the top of this hill, if you look in the right direction. About twenty of us from church climbed the hill and enjoyed seeing our breath in front of us and feeling our legs beneath us as we walked off some Christmas calories.

Beautiful City 2

Beautiful City 2

This shot I took last night from my kitchen window as the light faded on a bright and cold snowy day. This magnificent tree lifts my heart when I do the washing up (so that’s nearly every day).

There is much beauty where we live, as well as brokenness. And not just in the scenery.

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