Thought for the day – Earthly pleasure.

How blessed am I to be able to walk this earth. To feel the sun on my face and the wind at my back. The sounds of birdsong, children playing and just the hum of daily life.

How wondrous it is to have this fertile, solid ground at my feet, to be supported by this majestic and generous earth.

How honoured am I to call this place home, to benefit from its fruit. How lucky am I to be in the midst of its awesome beauty.

Sam Cannon


Bike Ride – Undiscovered joys between Gloucester and Stroud.

It really feels like summer has arrived. Rather than cycle home straight from work, I took a detour, out on one of Gloucester’s many cycle routes. It reminded me how much of a “country” city really is. Gloucester has so many parks and green spaces, not to mention the majestic Robinswood Hill which is completely within the city limits. It was brilliant to discover what felt like secretive cycle ways and green spaces that seem little used. As I cycled from Tuffley to Robinswood, I kept discovering new cycle routes which I never knew existed and all perfectly safe. I emerged on the Stroud Road near to the Waldorf Steiner school and Pound Farm nursery. My curiosity led me down a lane, passed the school and then on to a gorgeous little church called Saint Margarets (pictured). Unfortunately, the church was closed but the grounds were beautiful and very serene. It felt like a little Oasis on the city’s outskirts. The graveyard was very peaceful, a couple of lovely benches to tempt the tired walker, cyclist or visitor. Some tremendous views onto the slopes of the Cotswold Hills to the south and south east and then to the Forest of Dean and May Hill to the west. As I reflected on these views, it reminded me I am neither a city lad, nor a country lad but a mix of both. Where city and country meet, you find the best of two worlds. All in my backyard.DSC_0011

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Thought for the day – Stillness

I once heard someone tell me that you should “grow where you’re planted”. Those words have never truly left me. When I take a closer look at myself, my home, my family, my neighbourhood, I am filled with a deeper sense of stillness. The roots I have planted here run very deep. They are an invitation for me to grow, not to move. The following passage from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress seems very apt:

Excerpts on the Slough of Despond and Giant Despair

“Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough that was in the midst of the plain: and they being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.

PLIABLE: Then said Pliable, Ah, neighbor Christian, where are you now?

CHRISTIAN: Truly, said Christian, I do not know.

PLIABLE: At this Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect between this and our journey’s end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me. And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.

Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.

CHRISTIAN: Sir, said Christian, I was bid to go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come. And as I was going thither, I fell in here.

HELP: But why did not you look for the steps?

CHRISTIAN: Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.

HELP: Then, said he, Give me thine hand: so he gave him his hand, and he drew him out,Psalm 40:2, and he set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way.

Then I stepped to him that plucked him out, and said, “Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the city of Destruction to yonder gate, is it, that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security?” And he said unto me, “This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended: it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there arise in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place: and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.”