Sorry but I am back, not sure for how long but here goes .....
Integrity, beach boys and a spiritual song.
Not sure why, but getting through each day at the moment is a struggle a battle and a challenge. What causes the falling away from relationships, bonds and promises? I see my weaknesses as exposed in the light, I still try to hide them but it is futile, it is not about guilt, it is about acceptance. We can be so troubled by the fear of illness, death and even life itself, with all of its false demands.
I have just read the introduction to 'The Heartfelt Garden' by Sarah Wint, and this has encouraged me to continue to kick against the pricks. I love gardens, I love the therapeutic nature of nature, of connection, of soul.
Sue and me have recently spent some soulful time on a Devonian farm with 13th Century mud, horse flies, chickens, vegetable patch and friends.
Richard and Ruth have an old, rambling cottage with sparrows nesting under the thatch, beams made from ships timbers and wide oak floorboards. The garden is focused along the entrance path, a jungle jumble of phlox, erigeron, of berginia of lilies and roses, of crocosmia and many many more leading your eye up to the heavy powder blue oak front door.
There are mugs, bowls, vases on windowsill and mantle, and flowers in a blue jug on the table.
Stars, spirals, swirls and fossils - cows in the old pottery cum pantry, kiln and piano, bats bees wasps and flies.
The land around the farm rises and falls - the lawns banked up higher than the thatched roof - I can see gardens. Soul is difficult to define, it is just about integrity, about our tendency to imperfection, yes soul is about imperfection, accepted and rested in, but it holds its own- is strong despite perceived weakness.
We visited Rosemoor the RHS garden not far from where Richard and Ruth live, Rosemoor although beautiful in parts and well laid out - had no soul. I suppose it is meant to be a showcase, a display. It was too tidy, but would be accessible for someone in a wheelchair so it has a point.
We also visited Broomhill Art Hotel broomhillart.co.uk, which has a sculpture garden. The garden again on a slope terraces and winds its way down the hill to a river. Some sculptures sit well in the landscape, others dominate, but it felt relaxed and informal and had some soul.
...now for beach boys and a spiritual song.
I had the privilege of walking some of the Gower coastal path from Pennard to Rhosilli with Neil Smurthwaite and Charles Hawes.
The sound of the sea and sea birds - gull, sandpiper, oyster catcher and even the odd raven all evoke melancholy - a sadness and a joy, just like listening to Cantus Arcticus by Rautavaara. The sight of cliffs, islands, pounding sea - the deep roar and crash - is like listening to a spiritual voice.
The Old Testament Jews and even the New Testament Messianic Jews who were first called Christians or followers of Messiah - all attribute the earth and everything in it, the sea and everything in it to God. In other words it is His not just ours, and it belongs to all creatures and not just us. The sea reminds us of our limitations, our boundaries - but it also reminds us of hope beyond the edge.
We lifted a glass to the beauty of the day.