In January 2021 I decided to join a day of meditation,shared with the Loving Earth Project and Woodbrooke. The project invites individuals and groups to consider how the future of something, someone or somewhere that we love is affected by our own actions. All are invited to participate by making a textile panel to join a travelling exhibition and it is hoped the exhibition will be displayed in Glasgow at the time of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, and more widely thereafter.
Climate change can seem an overwhelming topic but working on the panels, alone or in a group, can help find small things that we can tackle, so each panel is accompanied by a piece of writing from the maker that explores what she or he feels able to do. I have found making my panels and researching possible actions a meditative and prayerful process, and so far I have made two:
Panel one: Refuse
It is so disappointing to come across litter so often carelessly, and, sometimes dangerously, dropped. Apart from being unsightly it puts wildlife at risk from choking, strangulation, poisoning and other types of damage or death, yet still we see it dropped. In my panel the swan is caught up in a bed a litter. In this case it is largely plastic waste.
I’ve spun the swan from fleece made from recycled plastic bottles, and the background is made from hand spun odds and ends of pure wool. The backing had a previous life as a pillow case.
I have choices. I can refuse to buy what I don’t need, or look for biodegradable options. I can dispose of waste responsibly, and not leave it as a hazard for others to clear or for wildlife to become entangled with, or even to eat and thereby block the digestive system. Where possible I should try to reuse or extend the life of materials we longer need, recycling or reworking them as has happened in this panel.
We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Quaker Faith and Practice: Advices and Queries, 42
Panel two: Witnessing change
My triptych demonstrates the extremes of temperature that climate change will bring, some of which have started now. The centre panel represents the lush greens we have in England, nourished by the varied weather we have had. Flowers and fruit are illustrated by beads. The yellow panel shows extreme heat which dries and denudes the land, and the blue is the flooding which covers more and more of our land in winter. In March 2021 the National Trust published a map forecasting the worst scenario for climate change by 2060 without intervention. In it, Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Historic England said: Climate change is putting our historic places under threat. Warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers mean hazards such as flooding, intense rain, drought and overheating will become more frequent.
So what can I do as a tiny part of that intervention? During the summer I try to conserve water by being careful about how much I use and reusing it on the garden where possible to encourage flowering. I need to learn about planting to sustain the lives of pollinating insects for flowers and predating wildlife. I also need to learn when prune plants to encourage growth and when to leave plants for a while in order to give pollinators a late opportunity to feed. And I can provide bug hotels for shelter or breeding.
The communal compost bin in the gardens of my flat yields rich compost to nurture and to help the sandy soil retain water. I can continue my practice of many years of not using peat which takes years to mature and gives us wildlife habitats we can’t replace and which holds the water which would otherwise contribute to flooding.
[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. Www.quakers.org.uk ]
One of the hidden gems of Leighton Buzzard is the Friends Meeting House Garden, out of sight behind the Meeting House, which is itself tucked in behind houses on North Street. It is a burial ground, but also a quiet place to be still and find peace.
For some years it has been part of Leighton Linslade Open Garden Day. One year two hanging baskets created by St Leonards School were part of the display. Some new planting meant that it was recognised as an ‘improving’ garden.
We have occasional garden working parties to remove weeds and clear more ground for further planting. We are leaving some grassy areas uncut to create meadows for wildlife. There is also a spiral walk for meditation. The garden is open, we hope you will find it and enjoy it’s calm and pleasant atmosphere.
It is not often that we have a wedding in the Leighton Buzzard meeting house, and this is not a wedding, but it is the fortieth wedding anniversary of a couple who were married here. Sue and Norman with family and friends gathered for a meeting for worship on the 16th August. It was the first time for many years that the Meeting House was so full. There were about eighty people present, spanning the generations. The partitions were opened so that all could be accommodated.
All the preparations for the Leighton Linslade Open Garden Day as part of the town’s involvement in Anglia in Bloom were well rewarded. The visitors, including adjust and children, enjoyed the newly planted areas as well as the beds left in a more natural state. There were activities such as a tree search and making bee hotels. Two special hanging baskets are being displayed on the newly installed post by the door to the small meeting room. They were created by St Leonard’s School and are a delight.
We have recently received two visitors from Kenya, Joshuah Lilande and Churchill Malimo. They were in the UK for a planning meeting of a world-wide Quaker conference in Peru next year. But we’re also visiting a number of Quaker meetings, including Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard. Several Friends met with them at the Meeting House and while we were there we shared spin a short act of worship.