Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ashlett Creek session - hidden influences

We were delighted to be joined by our friends from Balham - Des, Sue and their lovely congregation as well as some newcomers from Southampton and Salisbury area - so, alongside the normal regulars, we were a big group. 
This helped. It was cold and windy on the quay so we huddled like penguins while people pulled elements from the tidal story out of a pot and then told the story in 13 short instalments. Here they are. They're based on Southampton Water, where we were standing.


1) At low tide the sea in Southampton Water covers 27 million square metres. 
2) The average tide raises water level by 4 metres.
3) The tide comes in twice a day. flooding an extra 10 million square metres of estuary.
4) At high tide the sea in Southampton Water covers 37 million square metres. It has increased the volume of the estuary by 126 million cubic metres.
5) A cubic metre of water weighs a ton. Southampton Water increases and decreases weight by 126 million tons a day. Twice a day.
6) The main influence on the tide is the Moon - 240,000 miles away.
7) The Sun has a smaller influence (about 44% of the Moon’s tidal pull on the ocean).
8) The sun is 93 million miles away.
9) The coastal landscape round Britain changes dramatically on a daily basis due to influences that lie between 240,000 and 93 million miles away.
10) The pull of these invisible influences affects more than the sea. They also affect the land.
11) Within 2 hours of the Moon being overhead (or under our feet on the other side of the world) the land will have risen around 40 cm. Every hill, valley, forest, city, pylon, tower block, sewage pipe rises and falls every day as we spin beneath the moon. 
12) We are walking on waves. Sensitive instruments called seismometers measure them. Many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are triggered by the earth-tide coming in.  
13) American poet Walt Whitman, visiting American Civil War hospitals in 19th century, felt that the seriously wounded in them, became calmer, “and died ‘easier’”, in harmony with the tides.

We were standing on the Quay at 16:20. Second high tide was due at 16:28, after which 126 M tonnes of water would slip silently away due to the hidden influences of bodies vast distances away and often invisible (cloudy days/nights).

Then we considered three scriptures that hinted at the invisible influences in our spiritual lives:


“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139: 7-12

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6.

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Psalm 34.7

We then had about 20 mins to wander, to watch the tide tip from flood to ebb and to simple watch and listen. It was too cold to share when we gathered together again so we reassembed at Fairwinds for food and drink and a chance for people to share their thoughts and reflections. As usual, it was a privilege to hear people share. I won't attempt to summarise their reflections - they could do it better in the comments below if they read this but thankyou to all who came. Looking forward to seeing people in March one at the Rufus Stone near Stoney Cross in the New Forest where Mike and Julie will be leading. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Map and mud warning...

Meet at 16:00 outside the Jolly Sailor pub at Ashlett Creek.
We're exploring the invisible influences around us. There will be mud so avoid high heeled shoes or sandals...

We will be meeting this coming Sunday for our monthly NFFC gathering. Invisible Influences is our theme.
In our January gathering we had an open storytelling time. We first spent a short time outside in the trees and garden being inspired by the natural surroundings, then came back in and read and told the nature based stories and folk lore that we had each brought with us. 

One of the stories I told was taken from Margaret Silf's collection of wisdom stories about a stream which was happy and glorious running down the mountains, until it reached the desert, where it couldn't get across as a stream. The desert suggested that it gave up its self identity to the power of the wind, allow the wind to lift it into the clouds, get carried across and dropped again on the other side as a new formed stream. This idea of giving up its self identity didn't sit well with the stream, but it decided that that was the only way it was going to progress in its life, so it did it, and became a different glorious stream the other side of the desert. 

There is so much in so many stories that we can learn and share about the natural world and how we as people can learn to be better people from it. 
Tell the stories, tell your story, and inspire and be inspired!

Monday, January 7, 2019

January Gathering.

In January we will be gathering together to tell nature based stories, true or fictional, which have meant a lot to us, or which have moved us to do more for the environment, or which have enabled us to encounter or become more aware of the Divine presence in the natural world around us.

Come along and join us around a cosy log burner and tell stories, or just listen to the other stories being told.

Friday, December 21, 2018

December 2018

The New Forest Forest-Church has been going for many years now, and the Facebook page is a good way of communicating future events (provided you are on Facebook!). However, it seemed a good idea to also have a way of

  • recording events after they take place,
  • capture some of the insights shared in the discussions afterwards and
  • provide opportunities for people to comment and develop themes and reflections even further.
So here goes.

December - light and darkness


In December we meet at Alistair and Terry's house. It's not the same as the New Forest but the woodland behind the garden makes it seem 'foresty'. More importantly, the short distance from the garden to the woodburning stove makes it seem less wintry. Alistair had chosen an appropriate theme for December - darkness and light. 


The key verses to start us thinking were Genesis 1: 3-19; John 1: 1 - 5; John 8: 12 - 14 and Luke 11: 33 - 35. But the key activity to turn head-thought to heart-thought was the candle walk. 

It was a typical December twilight; grey, dark and windy. There were 7 candles stationed about the garden in very different locations; some tucked away, some out in the open. The task was to carry a candle of your own in your bare hands and to visit every candle-station with your own candle. It was a role play in which your sputtering, vulnerable candle flame represented you; your faith. But you, the candle shield and protector, leading the candle from one light to another, represented God.

It was a surprisingly moving experience and we grew very protective and nurturing towards the frustrating, fickle, failing candles in our hands. When we returned indoors and shared our experiences the discussion went on for a long time. But when Terry's mince pies and chocolate brownies came out the discussion subsided as people... chewed things over.

Alistair McNaught