Our cottage sits between two golden ash trees. At this very moment one tree is living up to it's name and turning a beautiful, bright yellow, sending leaves by the handfuls down onto the grass below. The other tree is still green all over. One tree faces east, the other west - so it's no wonder they change at different rates. And yet, these trees remind me of a truth about this season of Easter, how it is a threshold of nature and of faith.
Whether you find yourself in the middle of autumn like me, or in spring - we are drawn into the tension that hope and a changing season brings. We feel nature transforming around us. Days shortening or lengthening. Heat building or waning. Trees budding or unleaving. Plants dying and seeds sprouting. Creatures birthing and maturing. Life beginning and ending. Opportunities unfurling and closing. We hope in creation; we rely on it's consistency, it's generosity and resilience. We hope in each other; to listen, to lament, to forgive, to collaborate, to care. In my heart I hope in the promise of things being restored and made whole again even though so much in our world is unjust and hurting. I hope in the reckless and gracious love of He who conquered the grave - and that hope changes me.
In many ways, I'm like the house sandwiched between two ash trees; caught between the seasons, reluctant to let the chill of winter creep over my body again, unwilling to relinquish warm autumn sunshine and let my leaves fall. A part of me clings to the past, another longs for release, worries for my children and hopes for the future. I contemplate the gentle words of Jesus:
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love."
Dwell in my love. Make your home in my love. Remain in my love. This is a commandment - not to perform my faith or earn esteem - but to surrender at the threshold - and rest in a loving embrace that is steadfast and unfailing.
What if Easter this year was less about the busy activities, rituals and fancy recipes and simply a gentle reminder to slow down enough to notice the changing seasons; to lean into the shifting movements within our own hearts. A gift to unwrap in our hands as we sit at the threshold. A cup in which to utter our deepest fears and longings and drink in peace and tenderness. A moment to wake at dawn and watch the sun rise and be overwhelmed with the mystery and goodness of God. To abide in Christ's love for us and rest.
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Whatever you believe or don't believe about this season, and wherever in the world you are reading this - I hope you can observe what is changing and emerging around and in you, and know you are deeply loved just as you are.
May the glad dawn of Easter morn
Bring joy to you
May the calm Eve of Easter
leave Peace with you.
Read The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Make an Easter Candle wreath as a symbol of your commitment to pray on Easter Saturday. Keep the candle alight all day if you can (in a safe spot!) like on the kitchen table and every time you see it flickering remember to pray for anyone on your list, for the world, or a simple thanksgiving for Jesus, the Light of the world.
You will need:
- A large plate, platter or shallow wooden bowl.
- Fresh or dried flowers, leaves, nuts, acorns, leaves, greenery.
- A pillar candle or any other you wish to use.
Arrange flowers and leaves and nuts around the edge of the plate. Place the candle in the centre and light it as a sign of your commitment to prayer today. You might like to read this traditional Paschal Candle prayer, or this beautiful poem.
May the light of Christ
In Glory rising again,
Dispel the darkness of
Heart and mind.
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On Easter Saturday night,
A flickering flame burns bright,
The Paschal Candle a vigil keeps,
While the busy world is hushed and sleeps
Contemplate the words of Jesus in John 15:
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
and in Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Would you like to join me for a contemplative circle each month?
I have decided to hold a Savour the Seasons ZOOM "room" open on the 4th Sunday of each month at 20:00 /8PM Australian EST. You are welcome to join from anywhere in the world if the time allows.
My hope is that this monthly circle will an opportunity to take the conversation further ~ a gentle space where we can reflect on the seasons of life we are experiencing, contemplate the themes of the newsletter, explore a prayerful and compassionate approach to faith, and share stories together. I will end each meeting with a simple blessing + benediction for the month ahead.
You don't need any special tools or experiences to participate, just a willingness to share, a curiosity to imagine, and a kindness to listen.
For more details and the zoom link email me: email@example.com
The third circle will be on Sunday, April 24th @ 8pm
Chicken Liver Paté
I am happy to report we are a paté loving household! Good quality pasture raised chicken, duck, beef or pork livers will work here in the recipe, though chicken and duck will produce a more mild (and less metallic) tasting paté. My friends and family are sick of me singing the praises of liver - not only are very affordable but absolutely loaded with easily digestible minerals, vitamins and protein. This is the most delicious way to eat livers (with meatballs a close second - recipe to come in a future issue!) Not sure where to get them? Ask your butcher - they often sell them frozen or may need to do a special order for you.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small brown onions, chopped
- 2/3 cup fresh sage, chopped roughly
- 8 bay leaves
- 600g fresh, trimmed, free-range chicken livers
- 1/2 cup tawny port
- 300g good quality butter, chilled, cubed
**extra clarified butter + fresh thyme for optional topping**
In a large cast-iron or heavy-based fry pan gently sauté onions with butter. A few minutes later add garlic, bay leaves and sage. Next toss in trimmed livers and cook for around 40 seconds. Pour over port and cook for a further minute. Take off heat to cool. Transfer liver mixture into a food processor or bowl (with hand-blender) and blend to a paste, slowly adding into cubes of cold butter until you have combined them thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve with a wooden spoon to help you along (you can skip this step for a more textured paté). Divide paté into mason jars or glass/ceramic dishes and let it set in the fridge until serving.
Top with clarified butter and sprigs of thyme. To make clarified butter gently heat a quantity of butter until it separates. Carefully pour out the top layer of clear-golden liquid and discard the milky bottom. Place a few sprigs of thyme on top of the paté and cover with clarified butter. Set in fridge.
The paté can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (or two weeks with an airtight lid) or for much longer in the freezer.
These delicious walnut + orange cookies are inspired by a traditional Greek recipe that is made for celebrations and especially around Easter time. You might like to make a double batch and drop a jar off for a neighbour or friend as a special Easter gift.
You will need:
- 125g butter softened,
- 11o cup caster sugar,
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 125ml fresh orange juice
- 125ml olive oil
- 3 cups gluten free plain flour (or a combination of rice + tapioca + millet flours)
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger
For the syrup:
- 1 cup water,
- 1/2 cup caster sugar,
- 1 cup honey,
- 1 cinnamon stick,
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice,
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (you can use pistachios too)
For the cookies:
Preheat moderate oven (180’c) and line baking trays with paper. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and orange rind until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, , walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves - beat into creamed mixture alternately with the orange juice. Turn out mixture onto a floured surface and knead until a firm dough. Pinch off tablespoons of dough and form them into ovals. Place the biscuits 5cm apart on the baking trays. Bake for 25 minutes or till golden. Cool biscuits on trays to room temperature.
Meanwhile make the syrup:
Over a medium heat combine water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and then boil for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. While mixture is boiling hot dip the biscuits in with tongs (I placed mine on top of a metal potato masher) - making sure to cover them completely. Place finikia on a wire rack to dry and sprinkle with walnuts - its good to put some paper towel under the racks to catch the sticky drips. Enjoy!
Two years ago I collaborated with my local church to produce the "Embracing Easter" workbook which guides you from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday with daily reflections, scriptures, recipes and ideas for celebrating this special season of new life and renewal at home. If you'd like to download a copy for free please click the link below:
there is life in the vine
in each and every season
our growing and remaining
a place to dwell in love
in autumn as the leaves fall
when mornings grow darker
fruit is stored for what will come:
cheer, loss, communion
winter brings frozen things
ground, breath, tired limbs,
when we are slow and needy
of every clear sky, of warming
springtime flush of green
life budding from branch and tree
and the steady hum of bees,
of children in bare feet
in summer work and play,
beating heat and flowering,
when days begin to sprawl
each raindrop brings relief
there is life in the smallest leaf,
in stretching and growing,
ripening and rotting,
in pruning and resting,
refreshing at the roots
each season is necessary
its own kind of beautiful
when we abide in love
there is life in Him