Allotment Adventures: Getting to Work

I have a confession, I’m finding all the time alone on the allotment a little difficult, I miss my trusty sidekick!

So I haven’t done as much as I planned, but I have done some things, the potatoes are in and the beetroot has been sown.

I’ve taken a decision not to fill up one of the squash beds and use the compost for other parts of the plot. Like the rose garden. Next month, I’ll see if I can still order some compost from somewhere else but I’m trying to chill a little bit.

The gooseberries are starting to blossom and the autumn raspberries are recovering from last week’s frosty mornings.

Ice on the pond in March!

It’s all in hand!

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Lent Week Six – Holy Week

For Tuesdays during Lent, I’m going to talk about my faith and spiritual practice (or lack thereof). So this is the time to look away if you’re not interested in this topic. No worries, there will be an allotment post tomorrow and I’ll see you then!

This is the final stretch, the last week depending on how you do it, we are in Lent until Sunday or Lent finished on Sunday and we’re in Holy Week but still observing our Lenten resolutions or Lent doesn’t end until the evening of Maundy Thursday when the Triduum begins and honestly diving into whatever you gave up for Lent on Good Friday, seems a bit off.

This Lent has been the ‘lentiest’ that I think I’ve ever been through and I’ll observe until Sunday morning but this is the week when faith gets real.

Jesus is God as man, God loved us so much he sent Jesus so He could experience humanity. Jesus didn’t share all of human experience, he wasn’t (that we know of) a parent or a spouse, he wasn’t necessarily a perfect, devoted child but he was human, last week, I talked about being made to feel all the emotions and Jesus experienced that. Holy Week is the point that we can actually walk through this journey with Jesus, with the disciples, with God.

The thing about a consistent practice of Christianity is that we do Holy Week and Easter every year and every year it can be a different experience. If you feel that God is asking too much of you or has abandoned you or you’re just afraid, you can find your experience in Jesus begging God in Gethsemane or on the Cross. Feeling cross and fighty? You can be with Peter in Gethsemane. Can’t own your faith, meet Peter (again) as that cock crows. Parents who have lost a child or fear losing one, this week you can walk with Mary. Lost a friend or just don’t understand them anymore, take a walk with the disciples this week.

We started on Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph. We know what he knows and the disciples don’t, it’s all going to end, it tears and death and then something else entirely. This week we are going to walk in this and find something of ourselves in it.

Years ago I wrote a Stations of the Cross meditation, and as it’s still part of my Holy Week practice, I’m going to post it here. It’s quite long and I find that every year, I end up spending more time at different stations. It’s always changing and it’s always the same.


1. Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus has done everything that God has asked of him.  He left home, told everyone he could about God.  For a while it looked like they’d heard him.  Last week everything was going right.  He’d been welcomed into Jerusalem with crowds calling his name, waving palms.  Now they’re shouting for him to die.  He did was what was asked of Him, what He was supposed to do and this wasn’t the plan. God said there was no other way, so Jesus said He’d do it but now…He’s been condemned to death, to be crucified and it’s going to hurt, a lot. God has no idea what He’s asking…does He?

How often do you feel that God hasn’t kept His promises?  That life is harder than you can cope with?

Now is the time to tell God how hard you find things and to ask for help to take the leap into the unknown and trust God’s plan.

2. Jesus is given His Cross

God has asked Jesus to do this and though He doesn’t want to, Jesus picks up the Cross. He has put his life in God’s hands and he has to trust that God will give Him the strength and support to do this.

Sometimes following God is hard and no-one understands this more than Jesus. He’d asked God if there was another way and God said no.  So Jesus picked up the Cross and reluctantly walked to Calvary.

Now is the time to ask God to walk with you, no matter how hard things are.

3. Jesus falls for the first time

The Cross is heavy and it’s difficult to carry. Jesus falls. 

We all fall, but it doesn’t make us hopeless or losers.  Think of times you haven’t succeeded and realise that sometimes failure can help you to see your mistakes.

Now is the time to talk to God, to admit that you have failed and acknowledge that you need his help to get up and carry on.

4. Jesus meets his mother

Mary sees Jesus, her little boy. She put her trust in God.  Endured so much – humiliation, exile, pain – but she got Jesus.  Her baby, her beloved child and now, He’s going to die for God and she has to watch. Nothing she can do can change this.  How does she feel? Is she sad, angry, does she feel God let her down?

When do you feel that God has failed you? That God doesn’t understand your sacrifices, doesn’t understand your pain? That God gives other people an easier time.

Now is the time to give any pain that you have to God and acknowledge that he does understand and is carrying you through that pain

5. Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross

Simon is a visitor, he’s come to Jerusalem for Passover and got caught up in this.  Now he’s being asked to help this man, this traitor, this could cause trouble for him.  People are going to see his face, know that he helped, judge him because of this.

When do you see someone who needs help that you can give? But you’re busy, there are other things to do.  And helping is interferes with your life…

Now is the time to ask God for the strength to help others, even when it may be difficult for you.

6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

Veronica sees Jesus, there isn’t a lot she can do to help.  She can’t carry the Cross for Him, but she sees that He’s suffering and what she can do, she does.  She wipes His face, lets him know that she cares about His pain.

Sometimes when people are suffering, it’s hard to think what to say or do, we feel so helpless in the face of great pain

Now is the time to ask God for the courage to look through your awkwardness and to do the small things that may make a difference to others

7. Jesus falls for the second time

Simon’s helping with the Cross, Veronica wiped His face, but it’s still too much and Jesus falls again.  Where does the strength come from to stand up and take another step?

Despite all the help we receive, sometimes it’s not enough and we fall 

Now is the time to tell God about the things you can’t do without His strength to support you and help you carry on. 

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Jesus is doing the hardest thing He’s ever done.  He’s literally reeling from the effort of it, yet He finds time to comfort others.  Maybe He’s thinking about Simon and Veronica, following their example and setting His own.

In the midst of great pain, it’s easy to forget that others are suffering too. However, sometimes helping others helps us.

Now is the time to ask God for the courage to see through your pain and into another’s and to help them if you can.

9. Jesus falls for the third time

He keeps falling down, He keeps getting up.

Maybe the moral isn’t that we fall, maybe the victory is that we get up again. All God ever asks of us is that we keep trying.  Think of a time when you’ve failed again and again and wanted to give up.

Now is the time to ask God for the strength to keep trying, even though you want to give up, especially because you want to give up.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments

Jesus had given up almost everything to serve God.  He’d told the disciples “leave everything”.  All he had left were His clothes, but now they’re being gambled  away for sport. Everything has gone, He is now completely naked before the world. Mocked and humiliated.  Nothing left.  No dignity, no possessions. Nothing.

It’s the stuff of nightmares to be naked before the world. How many of us have had the being naked dream? Jesus lived it.  To work and have nothing but people tearing us apart.  Reflect on a time when you have felt that you had nothing, that you were nothing.

Now is the time to show yourself fully to God and acknowledge He accepts you and loves you, just as you are

11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Nailed to the Cross.  Jesus knows that He is going to die.  God has told Him what happens next but He’s never been dead before. What is really going to happen next?

It’s easy to worry about the unknown and be anxious about how we will deal with new people, places, ideas. 

 Now is the time to ask Jesus to be with you when you doubt

12. Jesus dies on the Cross

Before He dies, He asks God “Why have you abandoned me?”  This is the blackest and bleakest space.

How often do we feel alone? How often do the things we are called to do make us lonely? How often do we feel that God has abandoned us?

Now is the time to ask God for His presence in those times

13. Jesus’ body is removed from the Cross

Joseph of Arimathea was a secret follower of Jesus. Now when it’s most dangerous to be known as a disciple, he asks for permission to take Jesus’ body down from the Cross.  He risks everything and steps into the light.

We are often slow to step up to the responsibility that comes with the privilege of knowing God.

Now is the time to ask God for the courage to step into the Light.

14. Jesus’ body is laid in the tomb

A body.  All that hope, all that promise. Gone. Dead.

When people die all we are left with is a shell. A body.  We bury them.  Death can bleach our world of colour.  We can’t imagine our future without the person we love and it’s too painful to look at our past.

Now is the time to ask God for the vision to see beyond the bleakness of this moment

15. Jesus rises from the dead

Empty tomb.  Jesus’ followers are really panicking now. What’s happened?  Has someone stolen His body? Where is our Lord?  He did speak about being raised from the dead, is this what He meant?

 It’s not always how we think it’s going to be but God keeps His promises.  We don’t know the details of the plan, we have to trust Him.

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Monday Miscellany: Up and Down

Happy Monday! How are we all doing? Before lockdown it was always a worry to me that Monday Misc was always the same, I was working either at work or on the plot and that was it.

Now we’re all doing the same thing every week, no one is going away, moving house or having dinner with friends or going out to eat, I don’t feel so bad about the complete sameness of my week. I had another bout of ‘peri-menopause flu’, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what it was on Wednesday night, as an overweight asthmatic, my chances of getting away with it aren’t if I do catch it. However, I was fine on Thursday, so thanks for the scare hormones and once this is over the GP and I need to have a discussion about some kind of HRT!

Other than that, I sowed some seeds, worked on the plot, went shopping, cooked, worked from home, only saw other people via facetime and read some books.

This week, I’ll only be working from home for three days, I have Thursday off and then it’s Easter. I shall be spending Easter in a sugar coma and have some Vimto jelly babies for the occasion which is just the combination of my dreams!

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Sunday Music: Use Me – Bill Withers

Bill Withers died this week, he was 81. One of my favourite songs ‘Harlem‘ is Bill Withers and so is this one.

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Friday Links: Still Indoors

Happy Friday!

The world is pretty crazy right now, everyone who can be, is mostly indoors. Key workers are exhausted, parents are exhausted, everyone is struggling. I think the thing I want to say most is that it’s not a competition, everyone is having a hard time and if we can all remember that and have sympathy for them and for ourselves we’ll be ok.

Right now I’m really fascinated by the progress of my sweet potato slips, this organic sweet potato was bought in January and has finally started to do something. This is Ma’s new veg for 2020, mine will be fennel!

That said, I’m finding Friday Links pretty hard because it’s all coronavirus, all the time and I don’t think it’s terribly healthy for a lot of people right now. So here are a couple of links some about the current situation and some very much not!

Blaming Labour won’t work this time – the Tories will have to own this crisis

Diet, health, inequality: why Britain’s food supply system doesn’t work

This is just perfect:

Some things to do when you’re stuck indoors…

How to Make 24-Hour Yogurt at Home

No Knead Dutch Oven Bread

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Allotment Adventures: Allotment Every Day

Last week, Monday to Friday, I went to the allotment every morning, I didn’t go on the weekend because I was feeling really puny (not at all virus related, not even a cold) so I had a weekend off and indoors (which is also the socially responsible thing to do!).

But I have been transporting compost to the allotment three bags at a time and filling up the beds. We bought 46, 50 litre bags of compost and it’s not quite enough. Yeah, I know 2,300 litres of compost, I’m aware but the new beds are completely empty, the old beds need filling and the soil on the new half is knackered. It’s stony, heavy clay and it’s been slightly neglected and needs some love in the form of compost! So things I thought might not need compost (rose garden, flower bed next to the herbs, pond area) are going to need a compost mulch at some point.

Other things, I’ve been doing, I planted peas and some of the potatoes but the rest of the potatoes are going in a bed because I’m really not sure about being able to get compost for the pots.

By Sunday I should have the remaining empty beds filled.

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Lent Week Five: The Promise of Spring

I love spring, I said a couple of weeks ago that my brain is waking up because the light is back. Last week we hit the vernal equinox, equal amounts of day and night and that’s pretty much my own personal sweet spot, it’s Spring and baby, I’m back!

Without being too dramatic, I have been to the dark places, I’ve been depressed, I’ve watched people I love die, I’ve worked through a fractured relationship with my actual father and grappled with how to heal a relationship that was broken long before I knew how to fix it. I’ve done things that I’m not proud of that broke relationships I valued and I’ve had people I love walk away without explanation. Darkness has been if not a friend, certainly a presence in my life. I know the dark places of my soul, I’ve examined them and it has sometimes felt that there are parts of me that are broken almost beyond repair.

On an annual basis I go through a cycle of depression and wellness because of SAD. I’m better at dealing with it nowadays and as a result aware of the change it has on my thought patterns. But even though it sucks, it’s brought me to a knowledge of the truth of my faith, God is the only thing that is forever.

Every Spring, I’m reminded of that. At 3am nothing feels good, but the morning comes. In the dark of the Winter, it feels like it’ll never be Summer again but Spring reminds us that it will come. God is with us in every season if we want Him. God doesn’t promise protection from suffering but He will help us endure until ‘morning’. God is strong enough for all my hurt, my confusion, my anger, and my disappointment. When my soul is cold and dark and hurt, my faith won’t stop me feeling all of those emotions, I was made to feel them, but they are not the only emotions I’ll ever feel, I was made for others too. God’s presence reminds me, I’ll feel those emotions again. Every year, when Spring comes, God reminds me, in the most concrete of ways, that He keeps His promises to me.

Right now, in the UK (as with many other places) we’re in lockdown, work, if we still have it, whether we’re still doing it or doing it from home looks very different. Life looks very different, it’s been over aweek since I’ve touched another human being. I’ve hardly been out of the house and all my communication to the people I care about has been via Facetime or call or text. Other people are suffering more and less than I am but we’re all struggling to adjust to this ‘new normal’. I’ve been able not to be anxious or scared because I keep looking out of the window. Everything has changed, but at the same time nothing has, it’s still Spring and it will be ok again..

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