Instead of the more usual trip to LEAF for the Space to Grow session this Thursday I went to an event organised by the NHS called “Spirituality and Mental Health” – it was an interesting morning with both some honest and heart touching real life stories from service users of Sheffields mental health services about the role spirituality played in their path of recovery – but also challenges to both NHS and faith communities about how to provide support that better met the mental health needs of people.
It began with a discussion of what we might mean by “mental health” and shared with us this definition by the World Health Organisation: “Mental Health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Based on this definition Sheffield Health and Social care (SHSC) Trust have made a commitment to regard spirituality as a key element in the holistic approach to recovery.
This holistic approach is exactly what lies behind the Quiet Garden idea at Yew Lane, whether you come to us for worship, a quiet day retreat, a gardening day, or for soup on a Thursday in the “Rest Room” we try to create a space that provides that caring and compassionate space that we all need to recover from the stresses and strains of life.
And the final quote from the day: “Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” Henri Nouwen. Here at the Cross at Yew Lane we hope and pray that we will always have that “inner disposition to go with others”.
Bluebells last year at Yew Lane
With the weather improving (hopefully) we’re turning our minds back to work in the Quiet Gardens, we’ve got a number of days work planned already and will hopefully put in more regular slots as the year progresses. Next Thursday we’re hoping that with the help of some students from Sheffield University Chaplaincy team, we’ll be able to build up the beds in the front gardens using some of the unused sleepers from the back and loads of compost!
In addition we’ve bought some new planters for the “Cloistered garden” so we’ll have fun planting those up soon – as well as having another blitz on all the weeds to continue to come up despite all the efforts to keep them away. If you’re interested in helping out as a volunteer in the garden just leave a message here or ring Nick on 07432 092683.
As well as the work days we,ve got some more quiet days and evenings planned:
Thursday April 19th: Quiet Evening with Judith Jessop (7pm for 7.30pm – finishes at 9.30pm)
Saturday 12th May: Quiet day with Judith Jessop (10am for 10.30am – finishes at 3pm)
For more information on either of these contact Judith on 0114 231 3518 or e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonight Judith will lead Prayers for Healing at The Cross at Yew Lane. It got me to thinking again about the nature of the “Quiet Garden” and our hope to be a place of hospitality, rest, growth and renewal.
I recently read this: “….gardening itself can be a deeply instructive and healing experience.” Quiet Garden Cuttings No6, and wondered why it is that for many people, gardening and spending time in the garden, offers such an experience.
The Quiet Gardens Movement: http://www.quietgarden.org/ of which The Cross at Yew Lane is a member emphasise the benefit of gardens and gardening for emotional, spiritual, and physical well being ….. but still why? What is it that makes gardens and gardening so powerful in the search for health and well being?
Here’s one thought; “Community gardens are restorative in many ways. They enable people to become better connected with their land, their food, and the people around them, which in turn fosters community, encourages good nutrition, and increases stewardship of the land.” (Therapeutic Landscapes Network). Add to this the fact that gardens force us to slow down, to work within the framework of seasons, and daylight hours, they bring us into a closer relationship with creation and perhaps with God.
I’ve recently agreed to be a volunteer “master composter” and have been learning about ways of composting. All this recent composting chat though got me thinking about life and the way God can turn all the rubbish in our lives into something that is good and life giving. To make good compost you need to treat the “rubbish” and waste in different ways depending on what it is.
Good compost needs a mix of organic waste “greens and browns” as they are called. The “greens” include things like potato peelings, apple cores, eggshells and so on, “browns” things like hedge clippings, and even the contents of your vacuum cleaner with all the carpet muck (mainly made up of dropped hairs, tiny pieces of dead skin and the soil from outside we carry in on our shoes and feet), all things that have had life but have had there time and have just been cast off and of no personal use to us anymore. But this “waste” combines and is broken down over time to create wonderful rich compost ….. in a similar way God can take the “rubbish” of our lives, the hurts and pain from the past (some of which may have had a use at some time), old habits that have outlived their usefulness (if they ever were useful), and from them make a new life that is filled with
life and goodness.
The Space to Grow -“Work and Rest day” on 10th September will spend time looking at some of these ideas as well as carrying out specific tasks in the Quiet Garden. We’ll start first thing with some personal prayer and reflection time, before heading out into the garden.
The day starts at 10am and will be over by 3pm. Please bring a packed lunch if you want one as well as suitable gardening clothes.
Judith will be leading tomorrows Quiet Day, it begins at 10am and will all be finished by 3pm. If you want to come along please feel free to join us, the day is free but we would welcome voluntary donations – and you’ll need to bring as packed lunch if you want one.
Weeding the raised beds at Space to Grow.
Space to Grow – Roots, is a gardening and social group for teenagers & young adults with learning disabilities, their friends, families and carers. Over the summer we’ve been meeting up once a month to do planting and weeding in the gardens – from September we’re changing the time we meet to a Monday evening from 6-7pm, the next session is on 26th September.
During the winter months we’ll still be meeting up but possibly spending more time inside where its warm doing jobs like creating a new all mosaic for the gardens, as well as making sure there’s time for a biscuit, a drink and a chat.