Beneath the leaf mold
Thu 04 March 2021
Sheldon's woodlands have spent the winter under a blanket of leaves gradually composting into leaf mould to condition the soil and recycle the nutrients. This winter has involved a bit more hibernating than usual for our Community. Green shoots may be a bit of a cliché, but it's still heart-warmingly lovely to see the daffodil, garlic and bluebell shoots coming up in the woods and more in the tubs and borders around the buildings.
Our retreat green shoots are responding to the phone calls and emails as guests begin making bookings for the months ahead. On our reading of the 'roadmap' rules we are inviting people in ministry to make retreats from immediately after Easter. Although we will still be rightly asked to minimise travel, the 'stay at home' will have been lifted and retreats for clergy don't come in the category of 'holidays'. We are very aware how hard it is for those in church leadership navigating hugely varied congregational needs through Lent and Easter amidst evolving guidelines. It's no accident that the week after Easter is such a necessary one for clergy retreats. We have put everything in place ready to run a programme of led retreats and R5 weeks scheduled for 17th May onwards, and August includes two clergy family holiday weeks. We expect to publish our autumn programme during May.
The less visible 'composting, conditioning and recycling' work through the winter months has been getting our people and infrastructure in good shape for the flowering of the busy summer months. We are looking forward to having Nancy living alongside the community from May to September and Sue will be doing her usual stint as assistant shepherd during lambing time. The hospitality and workweek volunteers are lined up having patiently been rescheduled multiple times. Community roles are reshaping as Esther continues to grow her contribution and we redistribute the work Alice and Andrew were doing last year. We have an opportunity for one or two students to join us for a few weeks at the height of summer. We're eagerly taking our places in the queue as the vaccine rollout continues. Jan's mobility is increasing steadily and rumour has it she's even started driving the car again.
Deeply uninteresting 'composting' work includes annual accounts, report and budget preparation, unscrambling bank mandates (you really don't want to find yourself in the 'historic deficiencies' department), starting an in-house library of team training videos and trialling a new phone system. Outdoors there is pruning of trees, repairs of paths and steps, and hard landscaping in preparation for our marquee to increase our capacity for safe dining through the summer (you'd be surprised what a precision exercise that is proving.) Indoors it's deep cleaning, repairs and redecorating, refurbishing one of the Lodges, freshening up the Library and the Art Shed and pondering an upgrade to the Pound House kitchen. Out in cyberspace the Hub community (now over 2,000) is a mature space for mutual support at all ages and stages of ministry and we're gently loosening the soil and cultivating the shoots as they appear. We continue to make noise on the Clergy Discipline Measure in the hope that something better will be created. We have submitted a hard hitting paper on lived experience in the shadow of CDM to the May edition of Theology.
We continue to pray for Friends of Sheldon, people in ministry, and those who send in specific prayer requests. We look forward to being able to welcome guests in person again very soon. Do contact us on email@example.com or 01647-252752 if that includes you ...
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