St Mark's Mansfield

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The Echo – a talking news magazine for blind and partially-sighted people in Mansfield, Ashfield and the surrounding areas of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire

The Echo is a talking news magazine for blind and partially-sighted people in Mansfield, Ashfield and the surrounding areas of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

A new edition is recorded every fortnight, and send it out – free of charge – on CD or USB thumbstick.

Please contact The Echo at  if you are visually impaired and would like to join our mailing list.

Several members of St Mark’s Church help in various ways at The Echo

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A breath of new life

Bird feeders

When I was a child, some of my favourite stories were about gardens.   At the top of the list, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde are both about opening up hidden and overgrown garden spaces for new life to flourish, creating places of healing and happiness.

On Tuesday afternoon this week, the Community Garden came alive with young children as the Under Fives and their parents and grandparents played with sand and water, planted runner bean seeds and made bird feeders.   What a joy to see youngsters and grown-ups discovering this open space, sowing seeds, watering and nurturing them and being spiritually nurtured in the process.   We may lose a few plants along the way as a two-year-old enjoys walking along straight rows of strawberries, but give him a watering can and he’ll soon learn what fun it is to water them!

Today, Friday, the birds (and the rain) have arrived.   Blue tits, robins and a chaffinch were flocking round the bird feeder when I dropped in this morning.   It reminded me of the moment in The Selfish Giant where the children, having been banished by the giant, return to the garden and melt his heart into love and kindness.

So we may get toddlers trampling our crops and pigeons eating our fruit, but at the same time smaller birds will feast on aphids and other pests and we’ll be inspiring gardeners of the future.

Isn’t this a healthy balance to strike?   There has to be a future in working with wildlife and children!

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Water of Life

Spring has really got going in the garden, although a very dry April has meant that the earth is crying out for water.   I really object to the way weather forecasters herald rain as a bad thing.   It may be inconvenient for a nice day out, but it’s so vital to life and growth.   Rain will never come at the ‘right’ time for us humans, but in these days of rapidly changing weather patterns, let’s welcome and conserve it when it does.   In the Community Garden at St Mark’s we have quite a number of water butts in place to catch the next downpour.

A barrel will be installed to save rainwater from the big greenhouse which, in its new situation behind the vicarage garage gives a heart to the garden, somewhere to grow tomatoes, nurture seeds and maybe shelter from the rain!   Many thanks to John Irons for moving and glazing it and to John O’Leary for making the base.

Our Community Garden (ie. the area around the vicarage car park) is a valuable resource for involving young people at St Mark’s.   We are very grateful to David Boot and Tristan Jones for spending May Day morning turning the compost and seeing how we recycle our vegetable waste.   A healthy compost heap is a mix of wet and dry ingredients, including garden clippings, grass cuttings, vegetable peelings, crushed egg shells, egg boxes, cardboard, sawdust, along with activators such as manure and comfrey leaves.   If you don’t have a compost heap at home, please bring your veggie kitchen waste to church.   The worms at St Mark’s will love it!

The Under Fives group has a regular garden activity on a Tuesday afternoon and last week they were decorating sticks for their flower bed.   We have erected a plastic greenhouse so that the children can safely plant and water their seeds …… and take shelter from the rain!

A passage of Scripture that first really struck me with divine meaning comes at the end of the book of Revelation (I was selling Bibles for Scripture Union at the time and simply looking for the reference number of a particular binding inside the back cover!):

Revelation Ch.22 begins “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”.

Next time it rains, I’ll treasure God’s gift of water, feel it on my face and cup it in my hands, rejoicing as it refreshes and revives the earth.