Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Rejoice in splendour of God’s creation

BEHIND our Meeting House there is a big garden, one of the hidden gardens of Henley.

BEHIND our Meeting House there is a big garden, one of the hidden gardens of Henley.

At the very bottom of our garden is our Quaker burial ground. Being a dissenting religion, in the past we were not allowed to be buried in the town cemetery, so early Quakers had to have their own burial sites.

In February the burial ground awakens with several clumps of snowdrops, followed by the bright yellow aconites.

Later in the spring a big grassed area of the garden becomes a wildflower meadow with primroses and cowslips coming to the fore.

The mixed beds along the sides of our walled garden begin to display various hellebores and other spring plants. Thus it continues throughout the year — always life, always colour and often surprises.

Over the years a lot of love, hard work and attention has been given to our garden and burial ground to change it from the impenetrable tangle of blackberry bushes and nettles it was 25 years ago to the cared-for, peaceful haven it is today.

It has taken a few Friends a great deal of time and commitment to get the garden to its present state as well as the enthusiasm and imaginative determination of some Friends to visualise what its potential could be when it was far from beautiful and felt more like a burdensome albatross to the small number of Quakers who attended Henley Meeting at the time.

If it wasn’t for the dogged determination of a few individuals to make something of the outdoor space behind our Meeting House, it would still be an inhospitable bramble bed.

If it wasn’t for the generosity of time and manpower given by a few Friends to maintain and continue to improve the area, it would fall back into an unmanageable burden.

The following advice is given to Quakers — it might speak to you too.

“We do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world.

“Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God’s continuing creation.”

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