Week of 17th April – An Ordinary Tree

Spring has definitely arrived and this week’s thought we hear from Eve Salthouse about ‘An ordinary tree’ (or is it?)

This is a very ordinary week.

When I was asked to write a thought for this week from a pagan perspective, I wondered what I could say about this oh-so-ordinary week. The moon is not full, the moon is not new. The earth continues its equinoctial bow towards solstice. Spring Equinox is now past and Beltane is not yet here. What is there to reflect on, in such an ordinary week?

The earth does not think it is ordinary. The moon and the sun and the stars still continue their stately dance. Life surges in the dark earth, in the new nests and dens and burrows. It’s only us, with our tiny human impatience, that see it as an ordinary time.

It is so easy to get caught up in the rhythm of our working week, our shopping lists and weekend plans, to rush unseeing  through the ordinary days, to get to those exciting moments. We worry about problems at work, tell ourselves to remember to put cat food on the shopping list, and  spend our evenings anaesthetised in front of a TV screen .

I have a thing I do when I need to see past the ordinary and the humdrum. There is a tree I know, an oak tree. It’s old and battered, with the scars of an old fire on one side and  damage from hedging and erosion . Because it grows on the steep side of a hill, it has grown twisted, clinging onto the slope. Two branches long ago fused together, making a broad seat  hanging out over the slope, with a higher branch forming a canopy. Sometimes I go and sit cross-legged in the tree. Sitting sounds an ordinary thing to do, but to sit held in the palm of an oak tree is not at all an ordinary thing, (I have had some very startled looks from people passing by on the path!). Trees are amazing living beings that we accept as just ordinary scenery in our ordinary lives. We may notice the occasional magnificent magnolia or graceful birch, but mostly they are just there. Part of the scenery. But a tree is much  more than that. A tree is perspective written in root and branch and bark. This tree grew from a tiny acorn many many decades ago. It is old and battered but still  has such enormous strength and solidity that it can hold me without effort.

Pagans are sometimes jokingly called treehuggers. It’s true many of us do hug trees. I’m lucky enough (very lucky at my time of life), to know one with a welcoming lap to sit in. Trees have many things to offer us. Beauty, shelter, comfort, perspective, solidity, air to breathe.  But they also remind us of the wonder underlying the ordinariness of our lives. When you feel trapped in the ordinary and everyday,  go and make friends with a tree. It’s not an ordinary thing to do.

Week of 27th March – Purim

While the Christian faith will be celebrating Easter Day to day, Harvey Kurzfield from the Jewish Faith Community tells us about the festival of Purim which is also celebrated at this time.

Purim is the Jewish festival that commemorates the intricate story of Esther whose actions helped to save the entire Jewish Community that lived in Persia from extinction over 2500 years ago.

According to the ‘Book of Esther’ the Persian King, Ahasueras, having dispensed with his favourite wife, was anxious to choose another and Esther stepped forward and was chosen (apparently from a large number of other women) to be the number 1 favoured Queen.  However, neither the King nor his chief minister, Haman, knew of Esther’s Jewish heritage.

Haman, the bogeyman of the story, was plotting to rid the country of its Jewish population. Meanwhile, the new Queen’s uncle, Mordechai, had overheard a plot to kill the king and had thereby managed to save the King’s life.

Somehow, Mordechai heard about Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews, so he begged Esther to warn the king of this plot. At risk to her own life, Esther confronted the king and told him that someone was threatening her life. When the king, shocked at this news, asked who would do such a thing, Esther pointed at Haman. The chief minister was executed, apparently on the same gallows that he had been preparing for Mordechai, and the Jewish population was saved!

So, nowadays, on Purim, the Book of Esther (normally referred to as the Megillah) is read out (usually in Hebrew) and whenever Haman’s name is mentioned all the children present (and probably quite a few adults as well) are allowed to boo, hiss, shout and stamp their feet. Probably the only time this is ever allowed inside a synagogue!

In larger Jewish communities the children dress up in costumes and indulge in noisy Purim parties.

When I lived in London as a child I can remember my mother buying cakes called ‘Hamentaschen’ – these were three-cornered cakes filled with sweetened poppy seeds meant to represent Haman’s supposed three-cornered ministerial hat!

Celebration of Eid-ul-Adha on a gorgeous day

 

Yesterday, we celebrated Eid-ul-Adha (the end of the Haj pilgrimage) at Penmount. It was a beautiful still day and the wooden outline of the Inter-faith Centre looked inviting. As we arrived to set up our gazebo, Steve from Penmount Crematorium was mowing a path and was bringing chairs. A party was about to start and then gorgeous food started arriving.  Mubeen welcomed everyone by talking about the Haj Pilgrimage and by explaining how important it is to celebrate together. Thanks very much to everyone who came along, it was wonderful to see new families and thanks to everyone for bringing great food: all homemade and recipes from all over the world.  Some of our guests expected to see a building but were lovely and flexible and enjoyed an open-air party in our field. Thanks to everyone for coming and for all the good wishes…….

Rita's First Blog

Welcome to our new website. Hope you like it.  Very many thanks to Toby for designing it and to Rosey for all her hard work with the content. We would love to hear your comments.

It is a very exiting time for Cornwall Faith Forum and Dor Kemmyn (the Inter-Faith Centre for Cornwall).  This week, we are hosting a Celebration of Public and Voluntary Services and would like to thank them for their support to the people of Cornwall during the floods. We will offer reflections on the value of service from our seven faith communities in Cornwall.  It would be great if you are able to come. It is on Thursday, 12th June from 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm at the Dor Kemmyn Field at Penmount (TR4 9AA).

On the 28th of May, a very special event took place in the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.  After a period of over a 100 years, the Museum gave the former Falmouth Synagogue’s Torah Scroll back to the Jewish Community in Cornwall (Kehillat Kernow). The Torah Scroll originated from 1680 and travelled via Hamburg in Germany to Falmouth and was given to the museum after the closure of Falmouth Synagogue in 1880 and Penzance Synagogue in 1906.

The present Jewish community was re-established in 1999 and is vibrant and growing in numbers. Like many small Jewish communities, members come from a variety of backgrounds which offers an eclectic and stimulating atmosphere. The community has a philosophy of inclusiveness “difference does not diminish; it enlarges the sphere of human possibilities” (from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs).

A wonderful rededication service was held in the Town Hall in Truro. We learned that it is totally unusual for museums to give anything away. And when Mr. Leslie Lipert (Secretary of Kehillat Kernow) first approached the museum, their reply was: “absolutely not” but Leslie’s tenacity and never ceasing dedication ensured that the Torah Scroll was given back to the Jewish Community.

It was wonderful and humbling to be invited to such a special, happy and uplifting event……

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Cornwall Faith Forum Open Meeting

Come and join the Cornwall Faith Forum for its regular Open Meeting.  This meeting’s topic is:  Sacred Places/Holy Buildings.  Bring a reading from your faith tradition on this topic to share.

The meeting will be held on Friday, 2nd May at 7.30 pm at Diocesan House, Kenwyn, Truro.  TR1 1QR.  Please note the change of venue (not Epiphany House as previously used).  Refreshments are served from 7.00 pm.  All welcome.

For further information contact 01872 274351 or e-mail Andrew Yates andrew.yates@truro.anglican.org or view flyer Cornwall Faith Forum Open Meeting 020514

 

Brickmaking

The interior shell of the prayer space will be built from 8”x8” cob blocks made by hand at the Penmount site over the Summer of 2014 and 2015. The building needs 6,000 bricks for the inner surface, arranged herringbone fashion in a clay mortar . On Sunday and Monday afternoon’s we are looking for members of the public to join our team of professional earth builders to make these bricks , in batches of 180 per day.

We are looking for volunteers to help make these bricks: contact either Rosey Sanders on or Matt Robinson via email or 01326 221130 to arrange a time. Ideally we are looking for groups of 4 volunteers at a time, but individuals are also welcome.

Volunteers will need to join Cornwall Faith Forum to be part of the brickmaking project .

Building in clay is a remarkable experience – connecting us with our ancestors. Clay is the most common building material in the world, and all houses built before 1850 in Cornwall used clay as either the mortar between stones or as entire walls (cob walls) . Clay is also the most effective material at regulating humidity in buildings : it creates a special atmosphere in buildings, and this will be true of the Dor Kemmyn prayer space.

There is something profound about moulding clay with your hands – the discovery of making pottery 9000 years ago is thought to have occurred simultaneously with the manipulation of mental three dimensional objects in the mind. (see “History of the World in 100 objects, Prof. Mcgregor, British Museum).

This project has been supported by :
Councillors x, y x z, Community Building Fund
Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust
Faith in Action
Matt Robinson Architecture

charter2020 EU

convergence MattRobinsonLogo

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Celebration of Public and Voluntary Services

 

Cornwall Faith Forum is hosting an event to say thank you for all the support received by the public and voluntary services to the people of Cornwall during this winter’s floods, as well as at other times of need when help is required. Representatives of the public and voluntary services will be present and there will be reflections on the value of service from the various faith traditions, together with music, refreshments and cakes.

The event will be in the Dor Kemmyn field at Penmount Crematorium (TR4 9AA) on the 12th June at 3.00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend – wear warm and waterproof clothing if weather is inclement!

Celebration of Public and Voluntary Services

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CD Recording Project

Common Ground – Sacred Ground – CD Recording Project

A few years ago, the proposal was made to record voices and music from our different faith traditions. The idea is that a Dor Kemmyn CD could help raise awareness of interfaith in Cornwall and also contribute in some part toward raising funds for the prayer space at Penmount. Sophie Muir from the Buddhist Faith Community has been instrumental in organizing these recordings.

We have been very fortunate to have been awarded a grant to begin this project by the Police West Cornwall Diversity Action Group and are extremely grateful to WCDAG for their support.

We also have had the opportunity of working with an experienced sound recordist and having the expertise of singing teacher Danu Fox who has lead three workshops for us to explore chant and toning together. The last workshop was held on 31st May in Paul Church, Penzance. All the recordings from the different faiths are now complete and we are now at the point of compiling the CD. This will take a while as there was lot music recorded but we are hopeful that the CD will be available for Christmas 2014.

For more information please view:

• Vision Statement – Recording Project

• A poem from Rumi

 

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Cornwall Faith Forum and United Nations Association Interfaith Devotional

Cornwall Faith Forum, in association with the Cornwall United Nations Association held the bi-annual Inter Faith Devotional at The Chapter House, Truro Cathedral on Sunday 27th October.

It was truly heartening and heart warming to once more see various Faith Representatives within Cornwall coming together to share a Devotional. This year the theme was Pilgrimage which is a subject close to the hearts of all participants and perhaps heralded the Inter Faith Pilgrimage to be held in the Holy Land in February 2014.

Each Faith group present including Buddhists,Hindhus, Baha’is, Christians and Muslims recited a prayer and provided some background information on their Pilgrimages . A Centre Piece was set up and the children and young people joined in by lighting a candle for each Faith. Everyone enjoyed making a and placing a paper footprint to represent the journey involved in a Pilgrimage and the spiritual part concluded by reciting the Peace Prayer in unison.

The inspiring afternoon ended with a large helping of Barbara’s, by now famous, Punch !

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Dor Kemmyn Walk at Sancreed

After a week of rain, the Saturday of our walk dawned warm and sunny. Andy and Rita had already braved the rain earlier in the week to reconnoitre the route, so we were well prepared for mud. We met at the heart of West Penwith, at Sancreed, to walk together through the land reflecting on a theme of harvest and abundance. We were particularly happy to welcome our newest member, baby Sara, youngest daughter of Mubeen and Nour.

We set off first to Sancreed Holy Well, lost for many years until re-discovered by a vicar of Sancreed Parish Church in the late nineteenth century. It is difficult to believe that somewhere so beautiful should be lost. The wealth of clouties in the branches of the hazel tree overhanging the well shows how much it is loved and honoured as a special place by locals today. The Well itself is reached by granite steps down into a small chamber. We gathered beside the Well, in the ruins of the tiny chapel, to hear the first of the day’s readings on our theme of harvest and abundance. Then, tackling the first of many stiles, we headed off across the fields, stopping off to say hello to two lovely donkeys, and enjoying the beautiful view of Mounts Bay spreading out below us.

The main challenge of the day soon made itself felt underfoot, with some truly spectacular mud in the green lanes and footpaths. We squelched steadily uphill to Carn Brea, where we stopped to catch our breath and to hear the next reading and a short explanation by Andy of the site’s history. From Carn Brea we started to descend slowly, with only a brief squelch to the twin wells of Carn Euny. Again the hazel tree at the well was covered in clouties, (and briefly, children!) and gave evidence of how these places are held dear in the hearts of many. Rita had brought cotton strips for all those who wished to hang clouties of their own.

Reassured that the worst of the mud had been waded through, we stopped for lunch at Carn Euny Courtyard House village. This peaceful place was home to an ancient farming community for many centuries and today still radiates a timeless peace.

After a leisurely lunch in the warm sun, we went down to the fogou and in the underground chamber Sophie led us in a Buddhist chant honouring the four Sublime States, lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.

Then more stiles, more mud and it was back to the donkeys and Sancreed, to explore the churchyard of this ancient parish church and to hear the final readings of the day.

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