Consider the Camellia ...
Travelling around the Island at the moment, we can see some magnificent blossom on trees and hedgerows in various shades of white and pink. There are also some splendid Magnolia trees displaying colours from pink to purple. Quite soon, though, it will be as though we are driving in snow as the petals begin to fall, one by one, silently to the ground. For the rest of their season, these trees and bushes will offer us their varying shades of green, adding to our enjoyment of the Island’s summer.
Scrolling through some articles on the Internet recently, I caught sight of a headline about the Camellia. We had a beautiful pink Camellia in the garden of our previous house, which flowered year on year, without any real input on our part. We didn’t feed it, only occasionally pruned it, but there it stood, green for most of the year, but with its wonderful flowers in early spring, achieving its full glory by relying on the natural resources of sun and rain.
I had only glimpsed the headline of that article, but the essence of it has remained with me, giving me much food for thought. I think, perhaps, God was trying to tell me something, but what was He saying?
We see so many people these days, on trains and buses, sitting in cafés etc, gazing down at their mobile phones, particularly iphones, or tablet devices, checking their e-mails or ‘chatting’ with friends electronically. Many of these people are in the company of friends or partners, but there is little audible conversation to interrupt the ‘virtual’!
So perhaps that’s the first lesson here—don’t be too busy ‘scrolling’ through life to really notice what is going on around you, merely picking up headlines and not finding out the full story. (And yes, I do count myself among the many who do this!)
I haven’t been able to find the article itself again, but I think that it was highlighting a major difference in the Camellia. Rather than losing its flowers, petal by petal, the whole flower begins to fade, initially just browning at the edges, then the whole bloom falls to the ground. By the time summer arrives, the Camellia is usually just a green bush.
Isn’t that how it can be, sometimes, with people? We tend to notice the ones who are beginning to struggle, like the blossom that falls petal by petal, slowly losing strength and colour. But others appear strong, standing firm, bearing fruit (flowers) and getting on with life as usual. But suddenly, like the Camellia, the ‘season’ comes to an end, and the whole flower hits the ground. Many people continue to stand firm, but may feel that they have lost their purpose in life, not slowly, but all at once.
The lesson here, perhaps, is to look out for all those among whom God has placed you. The weak and vulnerable need to be encouraged so that when the blossom falls, they bear enough fruit in order to sustain themselves throughout all the seasons of life. But don’t disregard the seemingly strong ones, who appear to be able to just ‘get on with it’, seemingly without the need of anyone’s help or encouragement. They too may need help from time to time, so that if and when a crisis comes, they do not fall apart completely.
It is 14 years since I (metaphorically) put pen to paper for the Priory Newsletter. For those of you who have been around as long as I have, or longer, will remember an article I produced in the “Key” in 2003 when I became Chairman. I have not become any more PC than I was then, and still object to the title ‘CHAIR’. Hence the title of the article “I am not a piece of furniture.’
After all the years of my presence at Carisbrooke Priory I sometimes feel as if I have become part of the furniture. I have been saying for years that it’s time I retired, but have never actually done so. I feel the time is now coming when I really will have to reduce my Priory activities and stop DOING and just BE. This will be difficult for me, (probably a relief to many) as I am a DO-ER and not a BE-ER.
There have been many changes over the years, the greatest change which we had no control over was the passing of dear Chris Lane, Chaplain. Chris had been around almost since the beginning of priory time, and will always be remembered with much affection. Chairmen have come and gone, Trustees have changed on a regular basis, but some of us keep going. We are very Blessed to have as Chairman Bob White, whose wife, Maxine is our administrator. Both are very valuable members of the Priory team and have come to us with enthusiasm and energy, and although neither would admit to being ‘young’ they both bring much needed abilities and ideas. Yes! Ideas which will inevitably mean elements of change to the day to day running of the Priory, but without losing sight of the original vision, which was brought to us by Helen Harrison (formerly Rawlings.)
There will be more changes as time goes on, but let us welcome them, knowing that nothing happens here without a lot of thought and prayer, seeking God’s will.
Whilst we are very appreciative of all the wonderful help we have, we are still in need of Volunteers in all aspects of Priory life. The garden, the tea room, cleaning, are all areas of need.
The tea room, under the management of Louise, and other kitchen staff, is becoming a very popular place for those who drop in. The peace and tranquillity of the house and garden really speak to many who come in for tea etc. God is really blessing so many people in this way.
There will be changes ahead, in Ministry, staffing, general activities of the Priory, but I urge you to embrace whatever changes God allows, and to continue praying for the continuation of His work at Carisbrooke Priory.
Please keep an eye on the Website, and if you haven’t visited us recently pleased do so. We would love to welcome you to any of the regular Priory activities, or just come and BE.
May God richly Bless you all as you join with us in prayer for those who come through the OPEN DOOR.
Vice Chairperson and Acting Treasurer
The Old Testament book of Ruth has recently been the subject of three Open Door talks and subsequent Bible studies, along with a Quiet Day. We’re getting to know Ruth pretty well! More important still, we’re asking the Author of this beautiful story to lead us further into God’s love through our acceptance of its wonderful teaching.
Each chapter ends on a strong note of optimism, encouraging the reader to anticipate even greater things in what will follow, leading us from Naomi’s desperation in the first chapter to the birth of King David’s grandfather (and Jesus’s human ancestor) in the final chapter.
Reading Ruth reminds us that God is active among His people, even when we can’t necessarily see it! Furthermore, the story is laced with expressions of thanksgiving when God’s hand is recognised. From the bountiful harvest to the wonderful (miraculous?) birth, and all in Bethlehem, this is ‘a really good read’.
Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem in the Spring, a time as encouraging to the people then as it is to us today. For them it was the barley harvest – food after famine; for us it is the warmth and colour; for everyone it can be abundant life ‘springing up’ all around.
At the Priory, it has been some years since there were any serious ideas about use of the many vacant rooms and the land on the northern side that is called the paddock. And even those ‘serious’ ideas of the past came to nothing (with the wonderful exception of the Tea Room, of course). Now, we are discussing several possibilities with different people, all of which are complimentary rather than in competition. It’s exciting!
“(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
(1 Corinthians 13 v 7, NIV)
The Priory is “a house prepared and furnished with love”. As such, and with thanksgiving for the good things that have already been, and that are right now, we can look forward to seeing God’s glory in even greater measure.
So what do you sense is God’s priority for His Church on the Isle of Wight, and what part is He asking Carisbrooke Priory to play? “Then all those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.” (Malachi 3 v16a, NIV)
Watch this (holy) space!
Quiet Days have returned to the Priory! “Think Of A World” and “Joy To The World” took place in April and December 2016 respectively, and were well attended. A third, on the subject of Ruth, took place on 6th March.
It is hoped that we can hold four such events a year in line with the seasons, and therefore for the remainder of the year, these will most likely be held in June, September and December. Please check our website and Facebook page for more information.
'What is a Quiet Day?’ you may be asking. Well, as the old TV advert used to say, ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin!’ There is very little in the way of leadership input, merely a theme, passages of scripture you may like to read, and ideas and suggestions for you to be thinking about, and then plenty of time for quiet reflection, either in our quiet rooms, lounges, chapels or garden, allowing plenty of time in what for many of us is a busy week to listen for God’s still, small voice.
Not tried it before? Why not join us for one of this year’s events?
Events this Summer
Monday 19th June
Bring a packed lunch
9.30 a.m.—2.45 p.m.
Carisbrooke Priory Tea Room
Our Tea Room is now in its fifth season, and as I write has just experienced its busiest day of the year so far! As ever, we thank our volunteers for their much-valued contribution to the day to day running—we couldn’t do it without you!
2017 saw the introduction of a potato oven, extending our menu to include jacket potatoes, which have proved very popular. And now, as we are moving into the summer months, we shall be serving our home-made quiche, and thanks to a generous donation that we have recently received, we shall soon be taking delivery of some new garden furniture, giving more people the opportunity to enjoy their lunch or cream tea in our peaceful walled garden.
We have also had the privilege of catering for several Church awaydays in recent weeks, providing them with a delicious buffet lunch.
As you may have already read, we are in need of extra help in the Tea Room, especially as it gets busier in the summer months, so if you would like to join our loyal band, please get in touch!