BADGER CULLING: HOW DO YOU FEEL?

badgers

This post is a bit different from my normal posts, but it is still about love. This time it is about my love for animals and specifically a protected species that is being mindlessly killed by the thousands here in the UK: Badgers. I have decided I want to stop the badger culling that is happening. To save them, but also to pay back something to the animal kingdom as I used to be a meat eater and I can now feel how awful that is and for me helping the badgers is a step to atone for that unloving action.

To give a bit of background, I became a vegetarian back in 2001, but didn’t do it very well and became malnourished and ate fish again for a about 2 years or so. I obviously still had some emotions about food and eating to work through. Since my son was born in 1994 I had gradually gone off different types of meat, the last thing being chicken. Bit by bit I suddenly saw and felt the “meat” as a living breathing animal. I couldn’t disassociate anymore and then eventually the same happened for fish. I have now been vegan since the end of 2015, though I was hardly eating much dairy by then. I did it for health reasons and then watched the film “Cowspiracy”  which not just talked about the animals, but also the impact on the environment of the meat and dairy industry, and that completed the transition.

Since I have become vegan I have over time found it harder to understand why people eat meat. I know it is not nutritionally necessary, but I guess there has been an emotional shift in me that now it seems very odd when I see people buying and eating meat and even at times, if I am honest, I am repulsed by it. I “see” the animals and I sometimes hear their cries.

Then lately, I have the feeling I want to atone for the sin of eating meat. This is not a judgement on those that do, but just how I feel within myself. The badger culling has upset me since I first heard about it and I signed a petition, but now I am wanting to do more if I can so I hope I can contribute some awareness to start with.

The reason for badger culling, so the government say, is to reduce the incidence of bovine TB, which has devastating effects on the farming industry and their families. (Of course if we didn’t eat meat or dairy this wouldn’t even be an issue as farming would be plant-based).

Here are the facts:  (source the Badger Action Network and Wildlife Trust)

  • This year 19,274 badgers were culled ( and this doesn’t include the number in West Somerset or West Gloucestershire)
  • Next year 33,841 are targeted
  • A scientific study was done between 1998 and 2006 where Lord Krebs concluded, ” badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain” and “Culling is not a viable policy option.”
  • The primary cause of the spreading of Bovine TB has been shown to be cattle to cattle.
  • In fact, Bovine TB exists in the countryside and has been found in everything from soil, earthworms, cats, sheep pigs and more.
  • Badgers were protected by the Protection of Badger Act in 1992 and the Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats because they are a crucial part of an ecosystem. When one badger is killed the number of foxes doubled.
  • The badger cull has no support from the British Veterinary Association, the public or any wildlife charities.
  • There is  no evidence that culling has changed the level of bovine TB. In fact prolonged culling has been shown to increase bovine TB levels because it affects badger behaviour and the location of badger setts.
  • Badger Culling is more expensive than vaccination. Between 2012-14 £16.8 million was spent on the culling of 2,476 badgers which works out at £6785 per badger. Vaccinations cost £293 per badger
  • Most scientists and wildlife experts believe that vaccination is more effective as it does not  disrupt badger behaviour.
  • More research also needs to be done on biosecurity to prevent cattle to cattle spreading of the disease.
  • Here is a short film by some leading wildlife experts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhojkHMyaJg

So it all seems very clear and we can take actions: sign petitions, join local groups and write to MPs and much of that has been done. In fact, there has been a huge public outcry about this so why isn’t it changing? Why are the government ignoring experts and its voters and continuing with this illogical and awful killing?

I believe it is the same reasons, people still eat meat. We have become hugely disassociated from our emotions about animals and nature in general. We look upon our survival as dependent on us and our actions. We don’t accept emotionally simple facts, such as without trees, we won’t have oxygen; without flies, we would have piles of bodily waste products sitting on the planet. We don’t FEEL how much we need nature and in fact because of our development how we are the custodians of this planet and all the creatures in it and that possibly this beautiful place is ours to enjoy without the need to destroy it or the any living being who lives here with us. We still have very arrogant and maybe have religious justifications for “lording it over” animals, thinking we have a right to their meat, to their reproduction. Therefore, we don’t feel all our fears that underlie this: our fears about our own survival, for instance.

In the video, one expert stated he understood the farmers angry emotions about the impact of bovine TB on their lives and that because of this they wanted someone to pay. How awful, that it is now the badgers that are paying for the fact that farmers feel helpless, don’t want to feel helpless and want something to make them feel better: so let’s kill badgers and despite the evidence to the contrary. To be a farmer, you must have to become emotionally detached from animals and their suffering to varying degrees, whether it is sending them for the slaughter; putting newborn calves in tiny pens the same day as ripping from their mothers; killing hundreds of thousands of male chicks or forcing cows to produce gallons of milk time and time again after forcibly inseminating them.

But none of us are innocent in this. We demand dairy products, we love our cheese, we want our steaks and we want someone else to provide it for us, to kill the animal for us, to take the baby calf away so that we can drink it’s milk. We want that. So despite the fact than many of us are up in arms about badger culling, and we want animals to be recognised as sentient beings we actually are hypocritical every time we put on our leather shoes, or cut into our Christmas turkey. We won’t look at our real emotions – the un-lovingness in each of us that allows these things to occur and asks another person, a farmer to kill on our behalf.

We can not change things we are lying about. We can only change things when we face the truth, emotionally, of what is  happening. If you really want to stop this awful culling, you can take some peaceful actions, but you can also ask yourself about how you really feel about animals. Watch things that will trigger emotions, such films as “Earthlings,” and don’t cover your eyes or press pause. Face the truth, feel it. If thinking was the answer all the scientific evidence would have changed things. It hasn’t. For some reason the culling is continuing so this means we are not recognising something we need to.

To not eat meat again I have had an emotional shift, over time that deepens over time. There are many who become vegan for lots of reasons and it is currently quite fashionable, but if the shift isn’t in your heart you will feel “tempted” to eat meat again, you will find it difficult or you will become anaemic because of your fears around plant-based diets.

We need to do the same for all our treatment of animals. Stop disconnecting, face the truth and chose Love. We ignore what is staring us in the face because it is not convenient, it challenges our “comfortable” lives and addictions. Ironically, that is the  point, to change everything, we have to challenge and question all the ways we are doing things and seek the loving solution and the real truth. We will make mistakes, but the seeking of the truth is a very good first step. It is the that step which created this blog in the first place: an experiment, a searching and seeking for change.

I want to save the badgers. I want to learn what love is. But other times I am still very angry, in pain, wanting addictions and presenting a face to the world that isn’t me. That is the truth: a battle of my soul, a seeking and searching, making mistake after mistake and getting a few things right. But I would rather try than do nothing. As Roosevelt said:

“The best thing to do is the right thing. The next best thing to do is the wrong thing. The worst thing to do is nothing.”

Prayers for the badgers and all the beautiful creatures that share this world with me.

@2017 Maxine Bell

 

 

 

 

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THE GREAT SEAMTRESS

embroidery_by_hrfleur

Once upon a time there was the Great Seamstress. She lived in a place far, far, away, but with the eyesight that could see far and wide, and yet could also thread the thinnest cotton through the tiniest eye of the smallest needle. This Great Seamstress had always existed and only she knew the secret of her existence. For many, many years she had been gathering threads of every colour, making needles of every size and printed fabrics of every design she could think of. She had a plan, a most incredible plan that would change her life forever.  For a long time now, the Great Seamstress had been sewing alone and had created many beautiful things in the first stages of her plan.

She had stitched a huge black fabric, and weaved into it circles and spirals of colours, and small sparkles of gold and silver that created light against the dark. Amongst the dark, were also many wonderful circular planets of different shades and colours and one particularly special circle that stood out among the rest, because of its vibrancy.

On this planet, which she called earth, she had stitched many blue and green fabrics in swirls and waves to make the sea; she had sewed white and violet clouds into the sky, as well as a yellow circle, she called sun that was so bright it lit up everything around it. Her needle had gone up and down millions of times creating tiny delicate flowers in many colours into the grass, which had been made from thousands of stitches in greens and browns. From there, sprouted small and large trees made in rougher fabrics and tiny leaves in many different, intricate patterns and shapes for the Great Seamstress loved variety.

As the patterns grew, grey, red and brown rocks appeared in solid, thick fabrics with translucent blue rivers running over and around them. Some were big enough to create magnificent mountains. In other parts the land shapes were in yellows and ochre, soft hills of sand. As she sewed the Great Seamstress was pleased with her work and was having great fun in her creating. She began to add more and more shapes, more stitching, more hues so that more and more plant shapes were formed, more landscapes of every variety made. Her work was good, very good indeed.

She looked at her design. Here was a place to live. But who was to live there? One of the secrets of the Great Seamstress was her heart. It was a heart that spanned time and space, that grew infinitely and was so full and overflowing with love that she wanted to share this love with others; others that would be creators like her, others that could enjoy the playground she had so lovingly made, stitch by stitch. She formed a plan and she looked inside herself, for the Great Seamstress held another secret and that secret was that she was also a Great Tailor. She possessed the qualities of the imagination and skill of a Seamstress as well as the practical and mathematical skills of a tailor.

She now knew who she would like to share her love with: she would make many, many little seamstresses and tailors, who could learn how to sew, and in time become as good as she was at creating and together create a great and magnificent tapestry. She knew that as they grew, that through her magic, more threads and fabrics would be created and she would put no limits on their potential, as long as they worked with love, as she did. She grew very excited and in no time at all the first little seamstresses and tailors were born. The purpose of their life would be to learn about the greatest of all things, love and to discover their individuality, for each seamstress and tailor was capable of making their own unique part of the tapestry.

And because the Great Seamstress knew the love of her own Great Tailor, she made it so that each individual was half of one picture and when they found the other half of the image they were to make, it would bring them an even more blissful and wondrous life as one work of art. Each work of art would be one piece of the Great Tapestry of life so that she could share her love and the spark of life and existence with all of them and as they became more and more skilled in their making, the tapestry would become more and more beautiful.

However, the Great Seamstress was also very, very wise as well as loving and she knew that to truly allow her little seamstresses and tailors real creativity and growth they would need to complete freedom to experiment and discover the wisest and most beautiful ways to stitch. She also knew that would make mistakes and some may even want to destroy what they making, not being able to see the potential of what could be and that they would even forget the Great Seamstress herself.

Before they came into being, to start stitching, she had already anticipated the mistakes that would be made and she had used her magic and her love to make laws that would allow her little ones to see their mistakes and encourage them try a new stitch, or a different stitch, one that would lead them back to her love and to their own potential. Those little seamstresses and tailors that progressed would learn over time about these magic laws and know how to follow them and they would not be afraid to ask the Great Seamstress for her love and help. Some of the little Ones would, however, take a bit longer to learn, would refuse her help, and would make more mistakes, before they realised the right and better way to sew their life into the beauty she had planned for them.

But the Great Seamstress was in no hurry. She would wait for eons, for all her little seamstresses and little tailors. She would rejoice in their triumphs and wait patiently during their mistakes, quietly and gently guiding them back onto the right path. For she loved her little Ones greatly, and wanted them to all to find a blissful life where they could truly express and create their uniqueness, where the stitches that made, fabrics that they used, would make a beautiful, sparkling, everlasting tapestry together, that they all could enjoy.

And so whether you are a little seamstress or a little tailor, please know that even if you think you have forgotten to sew, you never truly can. It is in your very beingness that the Great Seamstress created you to sew, to find your other half and to find the Great Seamstress herself. Sometimes she may seem unreachable, but that is just our own insecurity, because she is always there, always waiting and always loving you very, very much. So do not give up hope, but know that you are a very, very important co-creator of your uniqueness and part of the Great Tapestry of Love, so keep sewing, one stitch at a time; one stitch closer to your Self and one stitch closer to the great Love of the Great Seamstress herself.

@Maxine Bell 2017

PRECIOUS MOMENTS

flower in crack

There are precious moments in some of my days when I feel I can touch the edges of heaven. Moments that come unexpectedly. I close my eyes and breath in these moments and hold onto them, breath them in.Sometimes it is words I have read or heard, a movie I have watched, music I have heard or the beauty of the natural world, that grasp my hand and heart and drift into my soul where the echo of knowing that these things truly are. It’s not easy to put feelings into words, but there is a longing, a yearning and yet a faint memory from sleep state and dreams of other places: beautiful places, familiar and waiting. Greater hopes and the building blocks of faith start here, and my heart sighs with wonder and relief that these things are, these places exist and most of all that the Universe we live in beats with the pulse of Love in all that is created.

I used to remember these places more clearly in my sleep state and now it is rare, sadly, but there are other sources of information that allow me to dream and know.  what I can see clearly, as what I have experienced seems so small compared to the expanse indicated. There has been a more consistent shift in me to really feel the truth of life that goes beyond the grave, the infinite possibilities of such a life, the infinite possibility of a life I can have,even here on earth . This awareness helps me pull myself out of false beliefs and negative influence a bit quicker to search for God’s truth on the matter. I have been wondering about the truth of God, looking for evidence, that He is good, loving, kind and steadfast.  I have been remembering those places that I can see sometimes in my third eye. I have been reading wonderful books that reveal more of God, more of the full story of life, of love. Funny things like making a poster to tell me that God’s truth is I am “the most wondrous of his creations.” Some of you may think this is a comfort blanket, but for me it is important. I have believed so much bad of myself, so much of what I was told I have believed to be true – that I am unimportant, bad, never good enough. I have believed it so much it has become destructive addictions that have made my life a painful existence instead of a fully vibrant life of discovery, joy and love. I have believed what my injured parents told me, when they only spoke through injury not truth. And living in these false beliefs, especially as addictions, is just a way to avoid the truth that maybe God sees me as wonderful and a tender child of His. It helps me avoid the grief I need to feel about all those projections, all the fears I have that it may have been true. 

I need to re-educate my hurt self and to discover truth beyond what this wounded world shows me. The funny thing is the evidence is all around me, under the dust and dirt of this world. It is like when I walk on paving stones and then discover a small flower growing through the cracks: strong, vulnerable beauty pushing up to be seen. I wonder at it’s little power, it continual effort to exist and remind me of what is real. Only love can create that; the light in the darkness.

I am on my second reading of the Robert James Lee Trilogy of channelled books. Lee channels a spirit called Aphraar (Frederick Winterleigh whilst on earth). Aphraar has a passion to share the truth about the spirit world and earth with the world and tells the story of his passing and his existence and experiences in the spirit world, in order for us to have a greater understanding of what life and all it’s wondrous possibilities is about and tell the truth about God. I find reading them just breathtaking at times. The truths shared, the images created, the love revealed behind what he experiences and observes in spirit world just wonderful. Even in the darkest corners of hell Love acts, waits and hopes. For me, these books, reach into my heart and my imagination of what is possible and what is already existing for many. I also, know that my understanding of what he is telling is minimal to the true wonder of it all.

And why should I believe these books? Many would dismiss them as having no evidence in fact. But what arrogance do we speak from? What gods so we believe ourselves to be in that because we have not seen it ourselves or touched it, it is not real. We can’t see air, but it exists. I can’t see the world is round so I have to trust that the photos I have seen, what others have seen make be true. There are many things I have not experienced myself, but I know to be true through other people’s evidence. All I know is I have a feeling about the books that let me believe what I read. My soul is touched by the love demonstrated, but also by the sense and logic in the tales of the different lives of different spirits- from those earthbound to those living in the heavens. I have also spoken to spirits through mediumship so my experience has given me evidence of their existence, of life beyond the grave.

new earth x

We are just afraid often by things we don’t understand and we live in it. Yet, there is so much to discover and I am grateful for these moments, these precious moments. One of my favourite chapters in the first book – “Through the Mists,” is the chapter about a poetess. It is a poetess that Aphraar was inspired by in his earth life and now gets to meet in spirit world. She demonstrated great faith in her poetry and helped his own faith in times when he felt very alone in his pursuits. In this chapter, Aphraar describes her home “like a realised dream in which some weary painter, musician or poet  had sought – and found – rest.” He describes the gardens:

“Here, Color had wooed, won, and lived in sweet fidelity with Music. Before me lay the natal bowers of Beauty, Enchantment, Harmony, Grace and Rhythm, each of whom held court in one or other of the hundred odorous halls of grove, or hill or mountain.Echo and Song chanted roundelay upon the heights for which the lake rippled its approbation in silvern tones; birds of dreamlike plummage warbled their anthems of evergreen luxuriance..the heavens unrolled their canopy of atmospheric tones and tints which have no names or counterparts on earth.” This is not the Nature of earth – it is beyond that in beauty and grace. As a painter and a lover of nature, I tried to imagine this place. It was like one of those photo-shop images I have seen: more vibrant, more alive, more harmonious. The ones I have posted and others have groaned “oh that’s been photo-shopped.” A groan of despair that such a place could ever truly exist. But why not? Why stay stuck believing “What the eye can’t see…” What would a blind man say to that?

As I read this description for the second and then third time I felt my breath, my eyes close to “see” such a place. I remembered my sleep state experiences where I have visited, in the past, different places, but two in particular stand out as places I have been to many times. One,  I sit by a river, with huge stones in it, the water dancing over them. There is small green bridge. The grass on either bank is a dark, but vivid, lush green: a thick warm rug underneath me. I am sitting by an old tree, looking out and up to beautiful mountains in the distance; the sky is blue and the light bright. I feel peaceful here and sometimes animals come and visit.it is so alive! In the background I can hear children’s laughter. Flowers grow among the grass, and happiness is a regular companion.

The other place is a small, sandy beach surrounded by tropical plants and forests. There is wooden hut there, with beautiful hangings. Again I am surrounded by beautiful mountains too, which rise up around and beyond the water. The sand is warm and dolphins greet me, playfully from the sea, which is deep and wide, light dancing off it’s surface. I often sit just letting sand trickle through my fingers, reflecting, breathing, resting. I haven’t been there for a while.

In the previous chapter, Aphraar has discovered that when we sleep on earth, our spirit bodies do travel and do have real experiences and he has just be reacquainted with many friends, many people who he helped when he was on earth. He has remembered all of  his sleep state and so is now meeting those he knew then. The poet is one of them. Her poems had “been almost my only companions in the solitude of earth life. She seemed to understand life, as I knew it, with its deep soul longings and unalleviated heartaches, like an almost kindred soul, but she had conquered and found a calm for which I vainly searched.” He discovered after her death that her upbringing had been “an education in the ministry of love,” as her father’s faith was deep. She related her own growing faith and closeness to God in her poetry and she inspired Aphraar to have faith as “she glided heavenward she sang- told all her deep experiences, reflected back again the sunlight which fell upon her soul, thus her voice came with wonderfully soothing influence upon the storms and troubles which encompassed me.” And now here he was on the same level – both passed from earth and experiencing the spirit life and he shares his wonderful experience meeting her again and learning what she had to teach.

She shares that despite her faith when she passed she had to realise the error of some of her beliefs that she would travel straight to God, to the highest heavens. She describes her experience of learning that we must climb step by step carefully and embrace each step, waiting for God to know when it is right for us to climb higher. There is a portion of a beautiful poem called “Waiting.” (p189). It ends in the book: ( though this is not the full poem)

“Oh, the vision would o’er power us,/ If it suddenly were given/ So we wait in preparation/ In the vestibule of heaven.” Aphraar was memorized and thrilled by her reading of her poetry, done with such longing and passion. He describes “Her recital was a calm confession of trust in God…she lingered over each recurring ‘waiting’ as if she drew from its deep spring the full sweetness of the assurance that ‘they too serve who only stand and wait,’ and was reluctant to turn away from the refreshing draught. She had forgotten me – everything save her God…” He was speechless for a while, in the presence of her ecstasy.

When they converse again, she shares her knowledge of the many stages of progression to God, that they may be infinite. She lives in a beautiful home already, but knows she can not even fully comprehend the beauty that is to come as she grows closer to God, even though some of her friends have tried to describe it. He asks, “When you think of such a consummation, do you not wish for the intervening stages to hasten by that you may obtain it?”

“Yes; and yet, no!” she answers. “That is the absolute ideal of every true soul, which, in common with them, I am anxious to reach. But at present I have not the capacity to appreciate and enjoy it, so the gift would be too overpowering and would only crush, instead of elevate me. You must remember that one who has been successfully operated on for blindness can only, be initiated into the light by degrees. We have all been blind, and God’s light will only come as we are able to bear it.”

She has learnt “every step I take towards Him becomes another messenger to me, bearing some fresh revelation of His love, every halting-place becomes another unfoldment, and every message quietly expands my soul into a closer likeness of Himself.”

Their whole conversation is full of treasures, full of information about God and God’s workings. It lifts my spirit, my gratitude and my curiosity to find out more. It encourages me to be patient, to let myself experience the steps on this journey, even the “halting-places” – of which, I have many right now. It also helps me feel God has a home waiting for me too and to have faith in that, based on what I discover, will help me never give up.

It’s tough a lot of the time still as I still resist and avoid, when I should surrender and trust. Books like this, words like this, information like all help me, nourish and feed my soul, educate me about love ( for which I am not even at kindergarten level). Many of us think we know about God – what He is or isn’t through our indoctrination or our complete denial He exists, but often we haven’t even investigated or questioned our beliefs, haven’t looked around at our world and searched for the answers ourself. What I have found as my desire increases, more books, films, music and teachings cross my path. I notice them and they are the jewels that are thrown on the rocky path I still choose a lot of the time right now: they are the precious moments that make my soul sing and for those brief minutes allow me to feel the possibilities open to me, the gifts God has waiting for me… when I am ready to receive them. I am the horse, God is the water… He will not force me to drink, but will long for me to thirst so that I may taste the pure waters of truth, the divine sup of Love.

So I start to see beyond my small, small world. Open the door a little and see the crack of brilliant light beyond. The door is heavy, but I really I am weak. I have a feeling this door is only as heavy as I believe it to be.

Maxine

WAITING

Waiting now upon the threshold,

Just within the porch of life;

Safe from all the storms and tempests,-

Hushed the discord and the strife;

Stilled the heart of its wild beatings,

Calmed the hot and fevered brain

Waiting now, and resting sweetly,

‘Til the Master comes again.

Waiting, where the rippling wavelets

Of life’s river lave my feet;

Washing off the stains of travel,

Ere the Master I may greet;

Till the voice is full and mellow,

And I learn the sweet, new song;

Till the discord is forgotten,

That disturbed my peace so long.

Waiting, till the wedding garment,

And the bridal wreath is here;

Till our Father’s feast is ready,

And the bridegroom shall appear

Till the seeds of life have blossomed,

And the harvest-home we sing.

Gathering up my life’s long labours

For my bridal offering.

Oh! ’tis not as men would teach us- 

Just one step from earth to God;

Passing through the death-vale to Him,

In the garb that earth we trod;

Called to praise Him while aweary,

Or to sing, while yet the voice

With love’s farewell sob is broken,

Could we, fitly, thus rejoice?

No! we wait to learn the music,

Wait, to rest our weary feet;

Wait to learn to sweep the harp-strings

Ere the Master shall we meet;

Wait to tune our new-found voices

To the sweet seraphic song;

Wait to learn the time and measure,

But the time will not be long.

Wait to understand the glory

That will shortly be revealed

Till our eyes can bear the brightness

When the book shall be unsealed.

Oh! the vision would o’er power us,

If it suddenly were given

So we wait in preparation,

In the vestibule of heaven…. 

(By the Poetess, Chapter XVII, Through the Mists by Robert James Lee)

 

 

 

 

GREEN BLANKETS

devonhill2

A few days ago I was driving back from Exeter, along the A38 in Devon. As I drove I suddenly had this image of God laying down beautiful, intricate green blankets across the hills he had just made. Firstly, I noticed that God looked younger than I previously had seen him. In the old days he was a cross old man, sitting in his throne sending down lighting bolts of thunder to all who disobeyed. These days, having thrown off the ideas of church versions of God, God now appears younger to me. He was still very big – his head nearly as big as the hillside, but he looked about 40, with brown hair and beard – but a softer, smaller beard than the white one. His profile as he laid down, with such love, those green blankets, revealed a straight nose, well-proportioned lips and deep, brown, very kind eyes which sparkled from the task at hand. He was paying attention to every detail, ensuring the green, grass blankets were exactly in place. He then placed the trees in certain spots, very delicately and put in some hedgerows to create interesting borders to each field. He was pleased with his work. I was so touched by the attention to detail and love that was going into that one action and it made me think about all of creation and how it tells me that nothing this beautiful could be here so randomly. In fact, there is nothing random about nature: it is highly organised to function well and regenerate and create all the time. Secondly, that there is SO much love and care involved in what has been created; every detail thought out, planned and placed with consideration for what the function of each plant and creature would fulfil. I can not even begin to number how many elements are involved. And why? to make a beautiful home for all her children. How amazing is that. Well I think so, at least.

Those of you who don’t know Devon, it is one of the most beautiful places in England: full of green rolling hills, waterways, wild moors, incredible coastlines and quaint, pretty villages. It’s name rhymes with heaven and that is how I see it: my little taste of Heaven in Devon.

As I drive, I always notice the countryside and always enjoy the pleasure it gives me to live in such a stunning environment. Between places, my car winds down country roads, surrounded my numerous, small, green hillsides, dotted with the shapes of a variety of trees and hedgerows. On some of those hillsides, sheep contentedly graze, and small brooks trickle around the bottom curves of the land. Driving further, more trees arise and create woodland-covered hills, that eventually create wonderful tunnels over the road of shade and light, where ferns and ivy grow and spread onto the roadside. The ground under the trees are either covered with a bed of moist winter leaves, in brown and golds, or the blues, greens and yellows of spring and summer. As I emerge from these tree tunnels and my eyes adjust to the light, I pass the odd small group of cottages, with pretty windows and small doors, enjoying their quiet lives.

More rolling hills emerge and then I am driving alongside a widening, roaring river, tumbling over rocks, edged with the roots of trees and mud clinging onto it’s side. The water is clear and bright, sparkling and energised, full of life. It is on it’s way to the coast, journeying from it’s source, which can now be seen in the near distance: the rugged hills and rocks of the moors.

To drive through the moors is like journeying through time and space for me. There is a different feel there, a different energy, whispering of ancient times and secrets. There are miniature worlds there. Small, sturdy, trees permanently blown by years of strong winds to grow either east or west, rather than up, standing in small groups with soft, green beds of grass and heather below their feet. Rocks are dotted everywhere: all shapes and sizes. Some are huge creating the giant stones of the Tors: the highest points of the moors that can be seen for miles around. They are like a monument to creation, a test of time and endurance. Sometimes I almost think I can hear them whispering.

Then there are forests of tall pine trees, carpeted by their own spiky leaves. Rivers and brooks run everywhere: some a quiet trickle; some a loud roar, tumbling over and down huge boulders in the bed of the river; some turn into waterfalls as they gush down the hillside. There is a contrast of utter peace with the utter vibrancy of life. The weather can change like lightening up here. A clear day of wide views can become a thick, blinding fog where you can only see one foot stepping in front of the other. Bright sunshine can turn into heavy, grey clouds that rain down and across the land in biting winds. I love this change, this wildness, this no-holds barred expression of life.

Everyday I drive through such land, I am grateful. It can lift my spirits and remind me of the bigger picture on my darkest days. It breathes new life into any soul weary of life. For me, it also, tells me more about God than anything. It tells me God loves me – look what he made for me. It tells me God is intelligent, incredibly kind and loving. He is also incredibly patient – waiting and waiting for us to see with our hearts what is around us to know Him. She is nurturing, powerful and the most amazing artist ever.

Wherever I am, I find something to remind me of the abundance, love and possibility that nature reveals – even a isolated flower, growing from a wall in a town tells me God is there, waiting, watching ready for when I come fully home, when I realise my own worth and beauty and when I am ready to surrender to a Love, I only have the tiniest idea of right now.

What a gift to see God laying those green blankets. It was a lesson in how lovingly he treats his creation, how beautiful the world he wants us to enjoy, but also for me, how he wants me to treat myself, others and this world, so that it can shine as it was truly meant to, as I was truly meant to. To understand that he feels that tenderly about me, about us all, is a true magical wonder.

God Bless,

Maxine Bell @2016