All posts by Terry Oakley

Quiet Garden Morning

On Wednesday 25th May the Quiet Garden will be open to all visitors from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

There is no charge, just enjoy the tranquility of the space.

Come and enjoy the peaceful stillness of the Quaker garden. Sit and contemplate the flowers and trees. Walk slowly and meditatively using the spiral walkway. Read in a secluded corner.
Friends will be around if you wish to talk, or have a cup of tea.

The Friends Meeting House dates from 1787 and is the local Quaker place of worship.
The garden is a walled burial ground, with gravestones dating from 1820s, which now form a path around a central grassed area. In the middle is a small spiral meditation walkway. There are borders with mature trees, some areas with flowers others left as a natural habitat for wildlife. This secluded area is now part of the Quiet Garden Movement.

We will also be taking part in the Open Garden Day on 17th July (12-5 in the afternoon).

We have joined the Quiet Garden Movement

Leighton Buzzard Friends have joined the worldwide Quiet Garden Movement.

The Quiet Garden Movement is a global network of over 300 gardens in homes, churches, hospitals and schools. Quiet Gardens are made available by local hosts for people of all ages to experience silence, and spend time in prayer and contemplation.

We are delighted to be joining the worldwide Quiet Garden Movement. In joining we mark the importance of silence together in natural surroundings and will be exploring the health and spiritual benefits of taking regular times of quiet in nature.

The Quaker garden is behind the Meeting Nouse in North Street. It is both a burial ground and a large grassed open space surrounded by borders and mature trees. At the moment there is a spiral walk laid in the centre for a simple meditation exercise. The garden is open all year round and there will be special occasions from time to time. Please look out for details.

Anyone interested in learning more should contact the Clerk at].

“The Quiet Garden Movement is about giving people permission to step back and experience a sense of stillness and wonderment,” said founder Reverend Philip Roderick. “We live in a world where we are swamped by methods of communication and yet we find ourselves unable to communicate. Silence is the missing and vital ingredient. Even as little as five minutes can be restorative and healing.”

The world’s largest study into the links between rest and wellbeing, published in 2016, showed that ‘being alone’ and ‘in the natural environment’ were rated in the top three most restful activities [1].

Motive for Meeting

Motive for Meeting

The care of the fabric and structure 
of the building
often is my most pressing of concerns.
But this is to work with the wherewithal 
not the why.

The right ordering of the business
of the meeting
often occupies the front of my mind.
But this is to major on the method 
not the aim.

The attempt to centre attention
in the meeting
often takes discipline, focus and time.
But this is only to tend to technique
not spirit.

The work on the building and business 
for the meeting
are only the means for it to happen,
But the meeting is the way the world 
will change.

After Meeting 2022.01.09


The next international conference on Climate change is to be held in Glasgow from 1st to 12th November. See

Leighton Buzzard Friends are joining with #canarycraftivists in their project. See

We are making canaries to display around town and to send to MPs and others. A template for a letter is available, see

we have decorated our gate with canaries and information leaflets that can be taken away.

Do we know what hunger is?

In the UK we customarily eat when we are hungry, especially where there is temptation and food / snacks / drinks are readily available. It is probable that at most of these times we are not actually hungry, that it is purely habit and a kind of addiction. When we want something in life generally we are able to buy it, despite the likelihood that we do not actually need it.
As a parent I have a responsibility to consider what I do and the choices that I make. Children learn from parents how to behave on our planet, and what reasonable expectations they should have for their every whim and wish to be met.

Citizens of the world are hearing of people in Afghanistan who in recent years have been given the hope of rights, freedom and security. They now live in fear of the knock at their door which may lead to execution as a direct result of these freedoms, which they have dared to exercise in collaboration with the occupying forces. I wonder how I can dare to believe that every luxury that I desire (and somehow feel I deserve as reward for the hardships I face, for goodness sake) should be satisfied?

So today I eat my simple breakfast muesli, eat fruit, homemade soup and hopefully a homemade dinner with wholefoods & vegetables. I will try to do without packaged, unnecessary snacks or drinks. I will try to wean myself off caffeine again and even try to drink only (clean) tap water, which in itself would be a luxury to the majority of people on earth. I could be labelled an extremist, but for most of the world these simple things would be an extreme luxury, so why should this be?

There are numerous campaigns where people commit to following this way of living, to “do without”, but closer to home our Quaker testimonies and ideals point to these very things, such as with the final two Advices & Queries:

41. Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?

42. 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.

Let all of our actions speak, and be proportionate and considerate of people, creatures and plants around the world. And let us be grateful for those simple things which would be such a luxury to most.

A breath of wind

It is very pleasant to feel a gentle breeze and hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees. A warm wind from the south is also a joy to most of us. However, the wind is unpredictable. It can be gusting, whirling, whistling. It can become a howling gale, or even a hurricane. The same wind that can fill the sails of a boat can also become a storm blowing it off course. 

These common experiences lie behind the use of wind as a metaphor for the Spirit. In the Bible there is the phrase, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3.8) What are we to understand then about ‘spirit-filled’ people? 

We might expect people of the spirit to be kind and loving, gentle and considerate. And one hopes they are. They can be like the zephyr that brings warming comfort, or like the wind that lifts the wings of the eagle. However, they also have the power to disturb, bring change, inspire revolution. The people who are driven by a spirit of truth and justice can be stubborn, persistent, discomforting, and even as irresistible as a tornado. 

The same word is used for breath, wind and spirit in the early stories of the Bible. It is ‘ruach’. We might prefer the wind/spirit to be like a sweet breath on our cheeks. But where there is corruption or injustice, or violence against people or the planet, the wind/spirit can blow away our complacency and challenge our prejudices. I remember a Bible-study session in the German Kirchentag in Berlin one year, which began with the sound of breathing, and a procession of large leaf filled branches rustling as they moved. But it moved inexorably towards a storm of challenge to violence against women and the planet. 

The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit has just been celebrated in British churches. It is the feast of Pentecost. This comes as a reminder to Christians that sometimes there is a need to offer a  gentle caress to those who are bruised and vulnerable. But it also prompts the conscience to search out the reasons behind the pain and suffering and to challenge the people and systems that create them. 

People of the spirit can be found in all religious traditions and amongst those who do not identify with any formal faith. Perhaps you recognise someone, young or old, who has shown the spirit to you, either gently or forcefully! Perhaps you feel the spirit within you urging you to love and to care, to act to bring about change and to make peace.  

May the spirit be with you!

Time travellers

We travel through time from past into present and to the future. We mark moments in our lifetime with special occasions, at birth, coming of age, marriage, death. All this suggests that time flows in one direction.  But our experience is sometimes quite different. The pattern of days in the week, of months in the year, of seasons, and of religious celebrations suggest a more circular motion. And our memory and emotions can take us anywhere and anytime.

I think the experience of lockdown has also had an effect on our perception of time. Perhaps you found that at times it has been hard to know what day of the week it was. Did each day seem just like the one before?  Did you feel that time seemed to drag? So that what was familiar and routine became to feel a like being imprisoned? Perhaps the future became for you more uncertain. Many have said that they missed the past contact with friends and wider family, the hugs that were so normal.

The connections between religion and time are varied. At the moment Muslims are marking Ramadan, a month long fast based on the lunar calendar. Christians are in the season of resurrection (from Easter to Pentecost – Whit Sunday). The Jewish calendar at the moment marks the time between Passover and the Feast of Weeks. These occasions come round each year, but there is also a longer time scale. A Christian traditional view of time is :- a beginning in creation, a fall into alienation from God, the coming of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth and an eventual renewing of creation, a reunion with God. 

These regular, repeating, cyclical expressions of faith are meant to help us navigate our life through all its challenges and changes. They accompany daily and weekly acts of prayer and devotion. They can be reminders and prompts to act in love and kindness to our neighbours. They can be assurances that we are loved and that there is forgiveness and new possibilities. Just like other routines of home,  work and leisure they offer a framework for decision making and provide a structure of meaning.

Sometimes, however, the totally unexpected comes and throws our patterns and predictability into chaos. Is it then that we think about what is timeless and eternal? What really and deeply matters in life? What will last beyond the days and months and years of our lifetime? This sudden upheaval can make us reassess our priorities, look again at our values, and perhaps change the direction we take. 

Each moment holds the potential for love. Each day we can be kind. Every week provides opportunities for giving and receiving care for one another. As we travel through time we can bring the eternal into the present.

A version of this blog was published in the Leighton Buzzard Observer on 27.4.21.

[These blogs are the views of individual Friends and do not necessarily represent the views of other Quaker or Britain Yearly Meeting. For agreed statements please visit the Quakeers in. Ritalin website. ]