Monthly Archives: March 2021

Wednesday 31st March 2021


On Monday I wrote about buying a pair of binoculars. I use my binoculars for birdwatching, which is a favourite pastime of mine. When I say birdwatching, I have to say my enjoyment of it is very different from many other peoples version of it, and I probably would get a condescending sneer from a proper birdwatcher. There are some, usually known as twitchers, that are completely obsessed with their hobby and will travel miles, spend lots of money, and use many hours in pursuit of seeing as many birds as possible, especially the rarer ones. They have their yearly and lifetime lists and ticking off as many viewed birds as possible is their main aim. I am not a twitcher! (though I do have to admit to keeping lists!) Others, known often as birders, are slightly less obsessive about their hobby than twitchers, but nevertheless will travel around to view different species of birds and be willing to spend hours waiting to see a rare bird that has been sighted. I am not one of those either. I just enjoying spotting birds on my daily walks, enjoy watching them in the garden, and generally get just as excited about seeing a song thrush or a woodpecker, as many others would a rarer bird. I don’t make special trips to see different birds, I just enjoy, and get a great deal of pleasure, out of spotting what is around. I find it very relaxing and very rewarding. It is amazing what you will see and enjoy in your own garden, or the street where you live or a local park. Once you get into the way of spotting different birds you notice ones that you have in the past just passed by without realising it. They are beautiful creatures and well worth our attention. Some of the most common birds like blue tits and great tits, robins and wrens are exquisitely beautiful.
I say I enjoy birdwatching, you may as well call it bird listening. We hear a lot more birds than we actually see, and their music is sublime. Sometimes it is a bit monotonous, sometimes it is a little squawky (the parakeets are flying over as I write this!) but all of it brings joy to my ears. This morning I heard a chiff chaff calling from a nearby tree, and as hard as I tried to spot it, it remained hidden, sometimes you just have to enjoy the sound. I love the sound of the chiff chaff, as it arrives back around mid-March and says the warmer weather is coming. I listen out for it every year. It is an easy one to spot as it chants its own name: chiff-chaf, chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff. So bird listening is just as rewarding as birdwatching, especially the wonderful dawn chorus. Scientific experiments have shown that we are happier when we hear birdsong, and that it has a very therapeutic effect on our lives. So make you walks even more pleasant by paying more attention to our feathered friends, you will certainly be rewarded for it.

Tuesday 30th March 2021

A Reflection from Holy Tuesday Eucharist

This is the most significant week of the Christian year.
This week takes us to the very heart of human life – in all its wonder and all its horror.
Everything we will ever encounter in life is part of this week:
Joy and pain; love and betrayal; faith and doubt; hope and despair;
it is all there. Life in a nutshell.

And at the heart of this holy mystery; at the very heart of Jesus’ holy journey;
is that most incredible truth that God is at the centre of it all.
That every experience of life is a path to God; and a means of experiencing God.
Both the joy and the pain; love and betrayal; hope and despair; faith and doubt;
are all pathways that will lead us to God if we will allow them to.
There is no experience in life that God is not intimately a part of.

During the great pilgrimages of the Middle Ages
a woman travelled by foot for weeks to visit one the great Christian shrines
and offer her prayers to God,
When she finally arrived she was exhausted and foot weary,
so, before entering the shrine she sat for a while under a tree facing the holy place.
She took off her shoes to ease her aching feet and allow the cool air to soothe them.
After a while a pious monk came out of the shrine
and walked over to where the woman was sitting
and asked her to move: “Because” he said
“it is not right to sit with ones dirty feet pointing at the dwelling place of God.”

The woman looked at the monk and smiled. “My brother monk” she said
“if you can kindly point out to me somewhere that God does not dwell,
I shall gladly point my smelly feet in that direction” The monk left her in peace.

There is no place that God does not dwell; from the deepest joy to the greatest pain.
God will use it all to bring us home; to make us whole.
Jesus shows us this week, that the way to be open to God in all this, is to embrace it.
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus made his choice. He said “yes”.
He surrendered to what is and, as painful as that was, he found it led to God – to life.

It is one thing to say “yes” to God in joy, love, faith, hope, wonder;
but can we really say “yes” to God in pain, doubt, betrayal, despair?
This week says we can.
And it tells us that our “yes” can transform those moments into holy moments.
If we cannot say “yes” to our sorrow; neither can we truly say “yes” to our Joy.
They are part of each other.

Point out to me where God does not dwell, said the pilgrim
“and I shall gladly point my feet in that direction”.

God dwells at the heart of life, in the heart of creation.
Jesus said “yes” and found God there.

Monday 29th March 2021

With yesterdays reflection this years Lent course has come to its end,
thank you for joining me on it.
This week I will include the reflections and sermons for Holy Week,
which will begin with a reflection tomorrow and continue from Maundy Thursday.
It will end with the Easter Sunday sermon.

In the mean time I will respond to a question that a couple of people have asked,
which is about buying binoculars and what to look for.
First of all, I would say that if you want to you can spend hundreds of ponds on a pair!
I personally never have, and do not intend to.
In some articles it is suggested that you can buy a good mid-price pair for around £200.
Again, I have never spent that much and am happy with what I have got.
So my binoculars come under that budget buy category!

The last pair I got with Christmas money cost me around £90. My previous around £60.
I was very happy with my original pair
but I bought the new ones because they are lighter and good for everyday use.

The important thing to consider is the two numbers, such has 8 x 32 or 10 x 42 etc.
The lower number tells you how much the object will be magnified.
So a number 8 tells you it is magnified by 8, and a number 10, magnified by 10.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the bigger the first number the better.
In my experience anything above an 8 or 10 means a less clear vision
because you need to have very steady hands for higher numbers.
I have a pair of 8 x 32, my lighter weight pair; and then a pair of 10 x 42.

The larger number I cannot tell you the technicalities of, but it is to do with clarity of vision. One of my heroes, Bill Oddie, says that
the bigger number should be at least 3 times bigger than the smaller number,
hence the reason I have bought what I have got, and for me they are perfectly good.
Mind you, Bill Oddie also uses much more expensive binoculars than me!
Having once used a very expensive pair of binoculars I have to admit you notice the difference,
but unless you are going to become an obsessive wildlife watcher,
I would suggest much less expensive ones do the job perfectly well.

For regular use my 8 x 32 lighter weight pair are comfortable companions.
The make of mine are Slokey and I would definitely buy them again.
I could get even lighter weight by spending more money but for me it’s a balancing act,
and these are good enough for me.
Just a word of warning:
beware of small budget price binoculars that are very small and lightweight,
they may be easier to carry around but not so good for viewing – been there, done that!
But I would say to finish, that a decent pair of binoculars really enhance a good walk.
Mine give me hours of pleasure – nice for watching birds in the garden as well.

Sunday 28th March 2021

Day 40 A Few Things For The Journey

For this final reflection I would like to suggest a few practical things that will help us make a commitment to spend more time in the natural world, and to get the most out of it. The first of these is to put time aside regularly in the diary. If we were going to meet up with a friend we’d write it in the diary or on the calendar, I think we should do the same with nature. If we put it in the diary we make a commitment, and are more likely to go for that walk or spend time in the garden.
Secondly, make sure you have a rain jacket and a decent pair of walking shoes. Such an investment are worth every penny we can afford on them. If you hang around for a perfectly dry day before venturing out you will spend an awful lot of time indoors! As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.
Depending on the things we enjoy doing, there are other things we may take along; I like to have a note book to jot things down. A number of people over the years have said that they have their best ideas when they walk, I have certainly discovered that to be true. Some may enhance their walk by taking along a camera, to capture that moment. Others will add to their walks enjoyment by taking a pair of binoculars, I rarely go without mine. You don’t have to spend a fortune, some very reasonably priced binoculars are perfectly adequate. Depending on your interest a lightweight book on birds or flowers, plants or trees can also add to your enjoyment.
On a practical level, if you are going to be out for a reasonable length of time a flask of tea or coffee never goes amiss, or a bottle of water. Even the odd biscuit I find adds to the occasion! It is also very sensible, so I am told, to take along a mobile phone. I can’t argue with that, and some even double up as camera – not mine! All I would say is, have it turned to silent and resist the temptation to keep checking it! Nature is a better companion uninterrupted. If you walk with someone have an agreement not to talk too much, you can miss an awful lot by constant chatter. At the same time, having a companion to share things with and to point things out to each other can be rather nice.
Most off all, just get out there. It may take a while to get into the way of it, but once you do you will wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.

Genesis 13:17

Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it.

A Lesson, Maybe?

Rain cascading
the meadows flooded.
The few who ventured out
had hoods up, heads down,
cursing wet feet and wet trousers.

Yet, still the Egret fished,
and the Robin and the Song Thrush
opened their hearts
and sang.


Mary Oliver (from) Good Morning

The multiplicity of forms
The hummingbird,
The fox, the raven, the sparrow hawk,
The otter, the dragonfly, the water lily!
And on and on.
It must be a great disappointment
To God if we are not dazzled
At least ten times a day.

Thomas Merton Delight Overpowers Me

There in the silence I love the green grass.
The tortured gestures of the apple trees,
have become part of my prayer.
I look at the shining water under the willows,
and listen to the sweet songs of all living things
that are in our woods and fields.
When I walk out along the road….
delight begins to overpower me from head to foot,
and peace smiles even in the marrow of my bones.

Saturday 27th March 2021

Day 39 God of the Gaps

God is not only ‘God of the dirt’, but also ‘God of the gaps.’ This was a phrase originally coined by theologians in an attempt at proof of God. The argument being that there is so much science cannot explain, so it can only be down to God. In other words God fills in the gaps that science cannot fill, and hence must exist. Not a great argument in my opinion, and one that has been ridiculed by scientists and some aggressive atheists. The God of the gaps I am writing about is very different from this.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than walking down the street and seeing flowers, plants, and weeds forcing themselves through concrete, gaps in walls and pavements, and many neglected places. Car parks, railway sidings, driveways, central reservations on the motorway, are also among places where nature will not be kept down, and keeps fighting back. Buildings that have been empty for some time, and neglected landscape, such as land fill, are soon reclaimed by natures force, power and beauty. For me, there is not a more beautiful sight on the planet. These places often become home not only to many wild plants and flowers, but also to much wildlife as well, who take full advantage of humanity’s neglect and absence. The God of dirt often makes herself known to us through these situations, and thus becomes the God of gaps as well.
Nature is extraordinary. It is wonderful to commune with her in woods, meadows, riverbanks, and the likes, but we urban dwellers do not have to go very far to be confronted by her wonder. A walk down any street and she will reveal herself to us, reach out to us, and seek our attention.
God is in the gaps of even the most ugly of places. Beauty will not give up on us even when we do our best to squash her.
The same is true of our daily lives. When things are good and we feel positive, we easily become aware of God’s presence in life, and the beauty of holiness. But when we go through difficult times, when sorrow is our companion for a while on life’s journey, our God of gaps always finds a way to reach us, encourage us and lift us. In the most painful circumstances there are gaps where God shines. Watch out for them.

Matthew 13 (Paraphrased)

Some seed fell along the path, some among thorns;
others in rocky places where the soil was shallow,
and the seed sprung up quickly.

I could have listened for ever
To that beautiful song
Ringing out from the wasteland
By the cemetery wall.
Melodic verse of various repetition
Exploring his repertoire
Perhaps adding more.
The voice of the Song Thrush
Welcoming the sunrise
Opening my heart
Opening the door.

Phil Beer

One of my favourite Nature sightings was the report of a Nightingale in the bushes at Reading services on the M4 motorway. We may not have heard it sing but it was a reminder to us all about the neglected value of scrub. Scrub is what you find on waste ground, in the field margins, the railways line or tip. It’s an in-between thing. It doesn’t fit into the neat boxes we like to apply. It’s not neat and straight enough for a hedge and certainly not statuesque enough to be called ‘woodland’….. That Nightingale was singing us a lesson about the errors of tidiness. Far from being common place and unimportant, it turns out that ‘in-between’ spaces – grassland with thorns; edges and fringes – are some of the most important of all.

Friday 26th March 2021

Day 38 God of Soil, Dirt, and Dust

“The god of dirt came up to me many times and said so many wise and delectable things.” So said Mary Oliver in her poem “One or Two Things.” I love that title for God: God of dirt. It is a title that reminds us that God is not far away in a universe called heaven, but very much with us in this world; not in palaces or ivory towers, but in the dust, soil, and dirt of the earth. This is an intimate God that we walk upon, breathe in, get on our hands, and get up our noses. It is a God who lives with us, and communicates with us through the natural world, resides with us in the Temple of Nature.
The environmentalist and campaigner Tony Juniper in his wonderful book “What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?” writes about soil and dirt, and reminds us of how vital it is to life. We take it for granted, we under appreciate it, we pave over it at every opportunity, and cover it up with decking, and concrete, and gravel our front gardens to park our cars. In doing so we do ourselves and our planet a great disservice because we need the soil and the dirt for essential things in life.
Tony Juniper reminds us that soil is a cornerstone of our existence and welfare. We get from it food, fuel, fodder, fibre, and water; and it is as important as trees for capturing and storing carbon.
Part of our spiritual practice should be about getting dirty and muddy and touching soil. Children do this naturally! As we get older we are too quick to avoid dirt, wash it off, turn our nose up at it; but God is in the dirt of the earth. When we become absorbed in the dirt through gardening, through play, through walking, through exploring nature in some way; then we get close to the God of the dirt, as Mary Oliver reminds us; and God will speak to us “many wise and delectable things.”
I remember a day in January last year, before the lockdown limited what we could do, walking in the fields and woods around Scotney Castle. We had not bargained on how muddy it would be, and our boots and clothing became caked in dirt. We walked about 5 miles and it felt like 10, but we came home exhilarated and profoundly at peace. The God of dirt embraced us that day, and it was a truly enlightening experience.

Matthew 13:8

And some seed fell on good soil and produced grain –
Some a hundred fold, some 60 fold, some thirty fold.

Some early morning dog walkers that I regularly see on our early morning jaunts think I am mad because I go up to the woods whatever the weather. I will pass some who are trudging around Chinbrook Meadows saying: “I’ll give the woods a miss for a few days after all that rain.” Me, I love squelching around in the mud, the hosepipe in the garden is a trusted friend when we return! I love it because the woods are quieter, everyone else is in Chinbrook Meadows! I often have the woods to myself with only the woodland residents for company. I also enjoy the mud, long winters help you experience the woods in a whole new way. The problem is not the muddy woods, but the weird footwear people choose to walk around them! Get a decent pair of boots or wellies and the worlds your oyster. As Mary Oliver reminds us: The God of dirt says so many wise and delectable things.

Roger McGough (from) Soil

We’ve ignored each other for a long time
and I’m strictly an indoor man
anytime to call would be the wrong time
I’ll avoid you as long as I can

When I was a boy we were good friends
I made pies out of you when you were wet
And in childhood’s remembered summer weather
We rough and tumbled together
We were very close

just you and me and the sun
the world a place for having fun
always so much to be done….

But suddenly it was winter
And you seemed so cold and dirty
That I stayed indoors and acquired
A taste for girls and clean clothes

we found less and less to say
you were jealous so one day
I simply upped and moved away.

Thursday 25th March 2021

Day 37 Prayer Paths

My daily walks nearly always take me to the woods. I love Elmstead Woods, they have been a friend for the last 27 years or so, and I never tire of them. They truly are a cathedral for me, a temple of God’s Intimate Presence and glory. If the woods are a temple, then the paths and tracks around them have become daily prayers. I have particular paths in the woods that I love, and on a whole I tend to follow the same route each day. They are trails and paths that others have walked over many years, not just human life, but animal life also. My dog Noah has shared them with me for almost 12 years, and Tyke before him; also foxes, squirrels, and other wildlife. I once saw a white ferret up there! The use of these paths and trails and tracks unite all their users in the life of the wood, they are prayers, mantras, that are “said” with the rhythm of footsteps that draw us into God’s Presence. Walking is a very valid form of prayer; when we walk we let our minds go and free up space for God to commune with us. Tracks, paths, and trails are like mantras and liturgies that allow us to enter into their flow.
The paths are there whatever happens in my life. Those daily paths receive so much of me, and receive the load I carry. I can begin the walk with a sack full of stress or concern, but they rarely fail to relieve me of them before I arrive back home. Sometimes they are paths that I skip along in praise and thanksgiving, and they join me in that act of inner worship. Over the years they have inspired me to write sermons, talks, or poems; they have helped work through problems, make decisions, solve conundrums. Those paths on my daily walks have been there for me, and they still are. They help connect me with my soul. Many other paths and tracks in different parts of the country are also special for me, but the tracks in the woods are my daily friends and companions and always have a special place for me.
Going out for a daily walk, whether it is in woods, parks, fields or streets, will connect us with the paths we walk; and they will soon become familiar friends and prayers that guide us through each day.

Psalm 27:11
Teach me your ways, O Lord, lead me on an even path

When we walk we dance:
Dance with the pavement, dance with grass,
Dance in the fields, dance in woods,
Dance on tracks, dance in valleys,
Dance in sunshine, dance in rain,
Dance on clouded, muddy terrain;
Dance with life, going on all around us,
With people in streets, with birds in the air;
Dance with joys, dance with sorrows,
Dance with hopes, dance dreams,
Dance with nature, dance with seasons,
Dance just for fun, pr with purpose and reason.
When we walk we dance:
Dance in the moment, dance with each step
When we walk we dance,
With the Holy in life.

Stephen Altschuler

Unlike people, who are constantly trying to make things happen, the trail receives whatever comes. It rejects nothing, nor does it judge or choose, or laments what it gets. It represents the “meek” of the beatitudes, and the trail is indeed the beneficiary of an inheritance that it is willing to share. The trail and its surrounding forest are rich beyond any human concept of wealth…. The trail is always there, whatever the trouble, whatever the time, steady as a stone….receiving my monologues, offering refuge from a busy noisy world.

Wednesday 24th March 2021

Day 36 Walk, Breathe, Enjoy

In these reflections I am having to be very disciplined not to write too many of them about walking! When I think of nature I think of walking. I am not the gardening type, I am not one for sitting out in the garden or park, I am not a photographer or painter, neither a sailor, cyclist, or much of a runner; my passion is walking. It is through walking that my main connection with the natural world comes. That, of course, makes me a real evangelist of walking. I think everyone who is capable of walking should walk, and most people do not walk enough. I am not talking specifically of going on great long hikes, but I believe that those who are physically able to walk should spend time walking regularly; enjoying the world in a way that can only be done by getting out and about it.
Most of us do walk. We walk out of necessity. We walk, even if it is just to get something out of the fridge, or take the bins out. But how many of us walk out of choice? How easy it is to jump in the car to go less than a mile down the road, or hop on the bus, when walking there would be far better for us. We rely too much on other means of transport rather than our feet. It’s amazing how many adults you see propelling themselves along the pavement on a scooter. Anything but walk!
Others go to the opposite extreme and march their way through life. They walk, but its speed walking, whether it’s to catch their train or to build up their fitness. I am all for walking to build up our fitness, I personally think it is the best form of exercise. However bounding along with headphones on, being totally unaware of the beauty of the world around them seems such a waste. I am not one for dawdling, I like to step out a bit, but walking needs to be at a pace at which we can pay attention to things; marvel at the wonder of things; and notice the beauty of our world, even if it is just a wild flower that has forced its way through concrete or brick.
For me a good walking pace is around 3 miles an hour, it gives you a decent work out for your health, but is slow enough to stop and stare, as the poet W.H. Davies encouraged us to do. But the important thing is to walk.

Luke 24

Two were walking to a village called Emmaus,
about 7 miles from Jerusalem.
As they walked and talked together,
Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
but they did not recognise him.

On day twenty five of these Lenten reflections I mentioned the Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama, who spoke about the three-mile-an-hour God. He speaks of a God that moves through our world at walking pace; gently, lovingly, attentively. I love that concept of God. When we walk we walk with God. When we walk, saunter, stroll, we slow down to God’s pace and allow God to walk with us, beside us; as the Risen Christ did with those disciples on the road to Emmaus. When we walk in God’s world we are surrounded by the holy, immersed in the holy; we walk with Christ, even if we do not recognise him.

God moves at walking pace
Gliding across this beautiful earth
Ambling in the midst of life.
Not rushing, not marching, but meandering;
Sauntering at a gentle pace,
Pausing occasionally; admiring, noticing,
Enjoying, renewing, blessing.
You fail to experience this,
If you charge around in busyness;
Filling up space, wanting instant.
You have to adjust, slow down,
Amble a little yourself,
Taking time to tune in.
Live your day at walking pace,
And you will occasionally recognise,
A Holy Companion.

Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Day 35 The Best Time to Plant

In a novel I once read there was an old Chinese saying quoted by the author, it is this:
When is the best time to plant a tree?
Twenty years ago.
When is the next best time?

John Muir, who I mentioned in yesterday’s reflection, once wrote that when we plant a tree we plant ourselves. How true that is, and I don’t just think it is just about trees. When we move to somewhere new, it is often by planting something in the garden that roots us in that place, be it a tree, a plant, a rose, or a vegetable patch. There is a sense of belonging to that place which goes with such planting, a sense of connection.
I remember when we moved to St Augustine’s 27 years ago one of our children sent off for a free cherry tree that he had seen advertised, just a small sapling, and he planted it in the vicarage garden. It now towers above anything else that is out there and is much loved by the local wildlife, who raid it for the fruit in due season. It is also much loved by all the family because it marks our time here, our belonging here. It is very symbolic of the roots we put down here as a young family. There is also a beautiful rose, that someone gave us on our 25th wedding anniversary, which still blooms beautifully and connects us with that moment in time.
Our interaction with nature grounds us in a sense of place, the things we plant mark seasons and events. The things we plant honours certain plots of land that have become important to us. It doesn’t have to be a tree, a simple plant or flower can have much the same effect. I imagine that is why we like to mark remembrance gardens and gravesides with roses, plants and flowers. It consecrates a memory for us and sets a place aside for a sacred purpose.
The natural world marks our life experiences in so many different and important ways. Nature truly is a mother who reaches out to us. May it be a two way process.

Jeremiah 17

Blessed are they who trusts in the Lord.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

The nature writer, Richard Mabey,
gives us a slightly different perspective on planting trees.
Writing about National Tree Planting week he reminds us
that trees are quite capable of replanting themselves
if left to their own devices, and we get out of the way.
He reminds us that at one time
Britain was quite naturally mainly forest,
long before National Tree Planting week!
He suggests that planting trees is more important symbolically,
than it is ecologically, and that we should never forget that
we need trees more than they need us.


Advice From a Tree – source unknown

Stand tall and proud.
Sink your roots into the earth.
Be content with your natural beauty.
Go out on a limb.
Drink plenty of water.
Remember your roots.
Enjoy the view.

Monday 22nd March 2021

Day 34 Trees: Lungs of the World

Trees are mentioned in the Bible just about more than anything else. From the beginning of the book of Genesis, in the garden of Eden, we are told that “God planted every tree that was pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” These included the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Many of the great spiritual encounters God has with his people are by, or under, trees. And, of course, it was on a tree that Jesus was crucified. Jesus was even called the True Vine.
So trees have always played a significant role within the Jewish/Christian faith. Trees also play an important role in most other spiritual traditions. The more you learn about trees the more you understand why that must be; they are a most incredible aspect of creation and life. The Sacred Groves were seen as holy places long before the birth of Christianity, and were significant places of worship for the early Celtic church as well.
The great Naturalist and campaigner for wild places, John Muir, called trees and groves, ‘God’s first temples’, and always maintained that they remained so. Trees are the lungs of the world, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen vital for our lives. Not only that, we are told that chemicals released by networks of trees, plants and fungi communicating with each other, also benefit other living things as well, including human beings; another good reason for walking in forests and woodland. This is before we even begin to contemplate the majesty and beauty of trees, and the delight they bring to our planet. Along with fruits, nuts, and seeds they provide for us and other species, they also provide homes and shelter for so much of creation.
How easy it is to take trees for granted. They are sisters and brothers in life that very much deserve our attention, gratitude, and respect. Take some time to walk among them, sit by them, contemplate them, listen to them – and, if you are really daring, to hug them and embrace them! You will not be disappointed.
God has communicated with many through the life of trees over the years, and still does today if we take time to allow that to happen.

Jeremiah 1

The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.”
Then the Lord said to me,
“You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The Autumn Oak

The Oak in the Meadows
Is almost stripped and naked now.
What leaves remain are as pure gold;
It stands in the sun like a giant copper sculpture.
This morning the Egret flew out of it
Like a spirit of renewal
Ascending from the Tree of Life.

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said:
The recent buds relax and spread
Their greenness in a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.