Category Archives: Reflection

Winter Days


Ascott - crocus3
Crocuses carpeting the churchyard in Ascott-under-Wychwood

Enstone resident and local writer, Elizabeth Birchall, has recently written a seasonal poem. We are grateful to her for sharing it with us.


                        WINTER DAYS

Like Shakespeare’s schoolboy I trudge
Reluctantly to the ancients’ keep fit class.
Alone today I can look around. There
In the north-facing lea of a hedge
Protected from wind but subdued by cold
Squats a drab rosette of foxglove leaves,  clad
In the faintest down of frost. And so
Their summer roughness seems as soft
As ‘Rabbits’ Ears’ – for just a moment more.
The January sun nears its zenith
And all the village roofs have already
Lost their bloom.

Some days the sky, heavy as an elephant,
Hardly has energy to unload
Its drizzle. Then my garden cowers
In winter gloom. No bees fly but birds pick
Among the deadhead fuzz of asters.
Two weeks ago the cotoneaster tree
Cascaded brilliance from crown
To lowest branches; surely the feast
Would last the season through. Fieldfares, precise
As Mondrian, then cut away the red
In horizontal bands that left a lattice
Of black framing despondent light.
No spark of brightness –

Yet beneath dank layers of leaves beetles lurk
And brave pricks of green shelter until Spring.
Today the rotting mass is crisp and laced
With rime and the naked tree
Filigrees the blue.

Elizabeth Birchall.
January 2017

For information on Elizabeth’s published books, click on the images below, but do order them from our local bookshops!

Birchall01     Birchall02




Stop stepping on my toes!


Those who follow the goings on of the Church of England will have will have seen much coverage in the media about the statement by the House of Bishops Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations’ published on Friday 27 January 2017 ahead of the February sitting of The General Synod.  After three long years of ‘Shared Conversations’ on the nature of marriage and the experiences of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Christians this report has been been seen by many if not all in the LGBT community as unbelievable, unacceptable and ungodly. Continue reading Stop stepping on my toes!

For the love of … God’s creation

Springs Alley by Gordon Cooper –

Creationtide, a Church season initiated in 1989 by the Orthodox Church and since adopted by Anglicans and Catholics, began on September 1st with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and it runs throughout the month until October 4th. Then on 8th October begins Climate Week – a ‘week of action’ initiated by the Climate Coalition which includes over 100 organisations, from Christian Aid to WWF ( Continue reading For the love of … God’s creation

A Journey of Faith

The Font at Spelsbury decorated for a recent wedding

Sunday 4th September was a Red Letter Day in the Chase Benefice when over 50 people from all our parishes gathered in Spelsbury Church for the Baptism of one of our adult congregation.  Despite the lead having been stolen from the roof of Spelsbury Church two weeks before, nothing could take away from the joy of the occasion as we welcomed Ilona into the family of Christ’s church.  During the service Ilona gave a moving testimony of her faith and as we stood around the Font after her Baptism the prayers of intercession were led by two of our young people who will be Confirmed with her in October.  It was a powerful and moving service which will live in our memories for a long time.

With Ilona’s permission, we publish below her testimony: Continue reading A Journey of Faith


In a chapter about ‘Soul-shaping’ in his book The Shape of Living, David F Ford quotes a poem called ‘Revelation’ by Micheal O’Siadhail (pronounced ‘o-shale’). Ford’s theme is the secrets of intimacy and he says: ‘In intimate relationships it is constantly surprising that the deeper we become involved the more mysterious the other can seem.’

In the poem O’Siadhail describes a moment after twenty-one years of living with one ‘stranger and lover’. The sense of the intimate yet mysterious can be explored on several levels and we used this poem as a springboard for our short time of meditation at the July MMM (Mid-month Meditation, third Wednesday, Ascott Church). And as Ford comments: ‘We are secrets to ourselves, let alone to another.’

Our train gains ground in the evening light.
Among the trees the sun catches in its fall
Glints and anglings of a stone in a distant gable,
A broadcast of facets, one and infinite.
I glance at you. There’s so much unexplained.
Plays of your light keep provoking my infinity;
Already something in your presence overflows me,
A gleam of a face refusing to be contained.
How little I know of you. Again and again
I’ve resolved to be the giver and not the taker,
Somehow to surpass myself. Am I the mapmaker
So soon astray in this unknowable terrain?
Twenty-one years. And I’m journeying to discover
Only what your face reveals. Stranger and lover.

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David Ford’s book subtitled ‘Spiritual Directions for Everyday
Life’ (Canterbury Press, 2012) has been a source of inspiration for Wychwood Circle’s discussions in Milton under Wychwood this year. On November 6th at 7pm (not October 2nd as previously announced) we will focus on chapters Three (Power, Virtue and Wisdom – the Shaping of Character) and Four (Secrets and Disciplines – Soul-shaping). All are welcome.

David Soward 26 vii 16