Saturday, 13 January 2018

God's Acre

Churchyards have always been good places for nature, often called gods acre, they are quiet, normally well socked with trees At the moment the bird in the news is the Hawfinch, a bird that has declined in the UK and very much so in Kent. 40 years ago I counted 63 birds at a roost, that has now all but disappeared. This year there has been an unprecedented invasion of then from the Continent. In Kent it has been a churchyard that has featured prominently in the last week, so I thought that I would take a look at St Margaret's. In Well Lane I notice a big patch of Periwinkle in flower, another plant flowering well out of season. The Churchyard was quiet, undisturbed and sadly empty of most birds, other than Collared Doves and a Magpie. It looks like I'll have to go elsewhere to see these special visitors.

God's Acre
I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
  The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
  And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust. 
God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts
  Comfort to those, who in the grave have sown
The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,
  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own. 
Into its furrows shall we all be cast,
In the sure faith, that we shall rise again
At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast
  Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain. 
Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom,
In the fair gardens of that second birth;
And each bright blossom mingle its perfume
With that of flowers, which never bloomed on earth. 
With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow! 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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