Anglican Fellowship of Prayer
Partners in Prayer
Newsletter of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer
Our Mission: The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer serves the church by encouraging, facilitating, and promoting the understanding and discipline of prayer in the Anglican Communion.
Prayer and Plant Garden Revisited
During the 2009 Lenten Retreat at Kanuga I had the opportunity to share a walk in my garden as a workshop in keeping with Dr. Margaret Guenther theme “Let’s Take a Walk.” I invited the workshop participants to join me with three cups of coffee and an hour which was my usual morning ritual for many months. The three cups of coffee represented your heart’s desire, a plan, and reality. Each cup was sipped from the perspective of God [i.e., scripture], my self, and the participant.
My heart’s desire is to have a prayer and plant garden. I seem to have the requisite file folders, newspaper articles, magazine clippings, garden meditations, spiritual references, notes, books, and yellow stickies to validate that it is not something I dreamed up one night. The missing ingredient was timing. An encounter with Terry Hershey and Philip Roderick at Kanuga’s Gardens, Grace, and God retreat and the transition from priest in charge of one parish to interim priest at another parish gave me no excuse to remain passive.
The planning phase was a challenge to design a garden in the shape of a Jerusalem Cross to which I am attracted. Once my eyes finally saw the white spaces as beds and the crosses as paths, I could envision sixteen raised beds made of railroad crossties and temporary dirt paths someday to be made of old bricks. The garden site was home to an almost century old, white frame, one room schoolhouse. Planning required demolition of the structure and removal of two trees. Being a quilter, I pieced a forty inch square model of the garden. Seeing is believing. It is also easier to explain the design with a model.
Reality overflows the third cup of coffee. Attempting to spare the reader a monologue of details, I report that today there are sixteen beds of vegetables, flowers, herbs and other plants connected by dirt and grass paths surrounded by a chain-length fence approximately 75 feet square and six feet tall. There are two gates, a four foot single and an eight foot double. [It is really a giant size Easter basket since it was installed the week before Easter.] Water access includes six water faucets within the perimeter. There is a green house constructed from the front porch, 10 full length windows and two exterior doors salvaged from the old school house. It is affectionately known as the caboose since 150 railroad ties sit in front of it.
The garden is called Graves Prayer and Plant Garden to honor my great grandparents and the ‘old Graves place’ family name. It is a quiet place for prayer and meditation, a place for ‘Quiet Days’, a place to sit and just be, and a place to weed if you so desire. Frequently my breath prayer is Veni Sancte Spiritus as I walk about the garden and when I am weeding the prayer becomes ‘forgive us of our sins, not only mine but the sins of the whole world’ followed by endless prayers. The garden is a metaphor of the spiritual journey including but not limited to God Talk, relationships, trust, forgiveness, reconciliation, discipline, disappointments, perseverance, dry spells, dark nights, peace, joy….
Observations of the first growing season:
- To my friends who wanted to know how I will get all the weeding done: next year there will be a signup rota with room enough for everyone to volunteer. Meanwhile, winter nights will find me researching and reading about weed control, mulching, etc.
- Do not plant until you get the county extension soil test. I had to broadcast soil enhancement and nutrients. This winter I will be working on preparing the beds for next summer and composting.
- My Easter lilies bloomed on Ascension Day!
- Seed packets of multicolored zinnias - all bloomed pink except for one orange flower.
- Green beans will grow with wild abandon even when trellised.
- A catalpa 3-foot fence post will sprout twelve limbs creating a shaded canopy more than ten feet high and can be wiped out in forty eight hours by catalpa worms not only once but twice and maybe a third time as I write.
- Prolific patio tomatoes and bright orange marigolds look the same from a short distance.
- The garden attracts many butterflies I have never seen [too numerous to list].
- Humming birds pass up sugar-water feeders for the real thing – flowers!
- Friends cannot believe what can be done in fifteen months, nor can I. Comment: “I remember when there were 150 crossties, three mountains of dirt and no fence.”
Perhaps the greatest joy is in sharing stories of the garden with other people and the stories they have to share. I am saving these thoughts in hopes of writing a collection of meditations.
Blessings on the journey and Happy Gardening!
--the Rev. Paula Claire Hall, Board Member, US Council, AFP
Tribute to Betty Connelly
The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer lost a good friend when Betty Connelly died August 27. There are articles about her in the September 20 issue of The Living Church and Episcopal Life Online August 28. Pat Hayes, returning AFP board member, says "I first met Betty in 1977 when she came to St. Bartholomew's in Beaverton, Oregon, to talk at the first (revived) annual ECW conference in the diocese. I was asked to speak about prayer also, so I felt very awed to be asked along with such fine company. Bishop Don Hultstrand was present and after the conference asked me if I would be Diocesan Representative for AFP. It was quite a day! I got to know Betty again when I served on the AFP Board of Trustees. She was always a compassionate and wise member of the group." We extend our sympathy to Betty's husband, Don, and to all her family.
Dr. Samuel Shoemaker Commemorated in "Holy Women and Holy Men"
Dr. Shoemaker's name is among those recommended for Trial Use in the Liturgy at General Convention 2009. His wife Helen, who started the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, said of her husband: "Sam taught me to pray." The date chosen for his commemoration is January 31.
Book Review: Board member Mary Leberknight recommends Kristen Johnson Ingram's Beyond Words: 15 Ways of Doing Prayer (Morehouse Publishing Co., 2004). Kristen "invited me into the adventure of prayer…as I read on, in her conversational way of writing, there came a realization of the many ways there are to pray in the day…I was fascinated how Kristen made her home a holy place for God and her. The author of more than 20 books, she lives on the West Coast and gives writing workshops. I'm looking forward to reading Wine at the End of the Feast: Embracing Spiritual Change as We Age."
Please visit our website at <www.afp.org> and recommend it to others. It's a good way to begin or end the day--there are links to daily prayers, other prayers, the intercessory prayer team, an updated AFP book inventory, the Lectionary, the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, as well as AFP resources and announcements of upcoming events. We would very much appreciate any suggestions you have for additions to the website, including announcements of prayer teachings in your diocese. We highly recommend Bishop Don Hultstrand's The Praying Church for your church prayer and study group. Copies of the third edition, published in 2008 by the AFP, are available at the phone number below or from any AFP board member.
From our AFP US Council president, Dr. Will Williams: as always we appreciate your prayers for this ministry that it might be a Christian witness to a hurting world, and if you are so moved, we would appreciate any donation you might be able to make to support the ministry, and the publication and mailing of the newsletters. Please send to AFP, 1106 Mansfield Avenue, Indiana, PA 15701.
Lift us, O God, to your presence
where we can be still and know that you
are God, that you are closer to us than the breath
we breathe, and that you are always doing for us and
for those we love far better things than we ever desire
or pray for. --Trinity Church, St. Paul's Chapel