June 2024 Digest - Mucknell Abbey
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June 2024 Digest

Welcome back for another month’s goings on here at Mucknell Abbey. It seems to have been a quiet month, as least as far as the diary’s concerned, but there’s still been enough going on to keep us busy. Read on to find out more!

Novice Guardians Conference

From 18th to 21st of June, Sr. Alison joined her fellow Novice Guardians from other Anglican Communities for a few days of meeting and sharing. They stayed with the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield, and had time to share news and talk with one another, as well as joining the Community for worship and meals. Their speaker this year was the Rev’d Prof Teresa Morgan, from Yale University, who spoke on “Trust, Entrustedness, Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the New Testament and Christian Life”. Sr. Alison, along with all those present, greatly appreciated her input.

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Swooping Swallows

There has been much to enjoy in the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us here at Mucknell. Perhaps one of our favourite sights this month has been the newly fledged swallows learning how to use their wings! The brood of 5 or 6 fledged on about the 8th of June, and were clearly not quite sure what to do with themselves. For a while they gathered on the library roof overlooking the kitchen garden, occasionally taking off for a loop around the garden. On returning to perch, however, some of them couldn’t quite work out how to land, so took off for another loop to try again. They then spent some time on the roof of our wood shed, by the visitor car park, becoming very noisily enthusiastic every time a parent bearing food came into view. The high winds we experienced did not help their first few days of flying experience, although their clumsiness gave us a renewed respect for the skill of their parents. After a few weeks practice, however, they have definitely got the idea, and I had the glorious sight last week of seeing what must have been the whole family swooping and swirling around the kitchen garden at about 9 in the evening.

Beautiful Blooms

Another great joy this past month has been the variety of flowers around the various flowerbeds – some in the kitchen garden, others by the Oratory, or out the front of the monastery. Our wildflower patch, established last year, is also looking good; the most common adjective applied to it this year has been “wild”! We’re not quite sure where the giant teasels came from, but they’re certainly distinctive.

Growing Garden

The kitchen garden is also going well, despite a few teething problems here and there. One of our fairly regular guests to the garden is a pair of partridges. Apart from being a bit dim and dust bathing where you’ve just planted seeds, they haven’t been much of a problem, until this year:

As stated at the end of the video, we netted some of the most damaged beds, which has definitely helped prevent any further damage. However, we now have to try and disentangle the plants from the nets…

I’ve also been trying to take regular photos of our squash and sweetcorn bed – here’s a few from over the course of the month.

Wildlife Witnessed

As well as watching the swallows, both we and our guests have seen a whole array of wildlife this past month. A female deer, along with a fawn, have been spotted a few times, along with a wide array of birdlife. Br. Anthony has been particularly entertained by some blackbirds disputing over territory near his window. There’s also been a fox cub around; no one has seen an adult, but the cub seems to be doing alright for itself. Here’s a video caught by one of our guests towards the beginning of the month:

Capricious Cat

As was the case last month, no one has seen much of Rocky this past month. I think he must have some idea when I’m about to write the blog post, though, as he’s been rather more in evidence the last day or two, including appearing for some breakfast this morning for the first time in about 6 weeks. He’s pretty regular about his supper – at least, we put the food down, and it’s gone by the morning – but not so much with breakfast. He’s also taken to meowing outside Br. Stuart’s window at various hours of the night, which hasn’t been entirely popular with Br. Stuart!

Pressure Washing Paradise

Br. Jonny has recently purchased a pressure washer for the monastery, and he has been very much enjoying using it on various surfaces. One thing he had not anticipated, though, was quite how grubby he would get using it. Still, it is, I am told, very satisfying work, and the results speak for themselves:

And finally…

As I’ve been putting together this month’s blog post, I’ve been struck by the sheer joy that surrounds so much of our life here. The joy of the natural world, the joy of companionship and learning, the joy of a job well done. I’m also put in mind of the poem ‘Leisure’ by W.H. Davies:

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

I pray that we may all find even a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty that is all around us, waiting to be discovered.