Tag: Julia Sheffield

Spiritual drift

My friend Julia Sheffield came across this driftwood as she walked along the beach. It was artistically arranged with accompanying flotsam arranged by nature in the guise of the sea artist!

It inspired her to write a poem which I am pleased to share with you.

Often, nature surprises and delights us with its remarkable and breathtaking creativity. This is a case in point. Equally we can go around with blinkers on and miss out on what creation has to show us. In a different context but with the same meaning, Francis Thompson, in his poem. In no strange land,  wrote the line, ‘Tis ye, tis your estrangéd faces who miss the many splendoured thing.


Mellow Fruitfulness

{Autumn apples at Charleston. photograph Mr. G}

On the last day of September, some thoughts naturally turn to Autumn. This was true this morning as I took a companion to the local railway station. As tends to happen on such occasions, this led to poetry!

Of all the poems about Autumn, the one most well known is probably Ode to Autumn, beginning with the words, Season of mists  and mellow fruitfulness …
It was composed by the English Romantic Poet, John Keats, in 1819 and published first in 1820.
Many can quote the beginning and others know it by heart. Some may know snatches and others simply are just aware of it. For some it may be time to remake its acquaintance!
This beginning of Autumn could be a good time for this. It is such a beautifully descriptive poem which draws people into the depth of its richness and to a delightful meaning.
Though many have written and reflected about this, it really doesn’t need a commentary. Just a walk in the countryside, woods, park or any place where nature reveals herself.

Let the poem quietly and even thrillingly, soak into your being.
My hope is then you will come to appreciate Creation more wonderfully and, of course, that it will lead you to a more thankful blessing of your Creator God in all his loveliness and providence.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
        To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
        For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
    Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
        Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
        Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
        Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
        And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Photo: Julia Sheffield

[Mr G]

Gethsemane Moon

Gethsemane Moon

I lit you,
bloodied and wet, the Virgin’s arms   
shaping your first cradle

I lit you
as, late evening, the chisels
work you strove to perfect 

I lit you,
clear nights lakeside,
bringing vocation to hairy fish men

I lit you,
days end, crowd-pressed,
healing-weary, and word spent

I lit you,
late nights hillside,
your Father’s love, your bed

I lit you,
early on that palm-strewn path
destined for faux glory

I light you
now, here, through olive shade,
cool light mirrored blue on beaded brow,
shadowed terror,
and gold glimpses of angels’ arms
shaping your last cradle.

Julia Sheffield
Maundy Thursday 2022

Lift up your hearts!

These ‘foxtail lilies’ have been photographed by my friend Gill Henwood in her Lakeland garden.
I have chosen them to illustrate a reflection, by my friend Julia Sheffield, which arose from a conversation we had
after morning Eucharist recently.
The majestic flowers, soaring up to the sky in splendid, silent beauty point us, like a prayer, towards God.

Sursum Corda! 

“Lift up your hearts! We lift them to the Lord!”

So begins, with this response, the great prayer of thanksgiving central to the Eucharist.

Have you ever noticed what happens when you ‘lift your heart to the Lord’?

Notice the change of energy. Attention! Look here! Do this! LIFT your hearts! 

It’s an imperative, not ‘if you please, would you mind’.

No matter where the preceding service of the word has led you or left you, these words gather everyone’s attention, and we focus together as one towards the central act of remembering and re-enactment of the Last Supper. It’s important we are all there, to witness it, and to give thanks.

And why the heart? Why not our heads or our hands? In the Hebrew scriptures the heart represents more than just an organ to pump the circulation, or the seat of eros, romantic love. The heart, in the Bible, is considered the home of the inner life, and everything that makes us human, our spirits, our character, our emotions and our will. The heart represents the whole person. So, the command to lift our hearts is a call to bring our whole selves into the presence of God – we lift ourselves to the Lord.

Lifting our hearts is not just a good intention, but an actual physical act. There is a real power in the gesture of altering our posture as we say the words, and this can be done whether we are standing, sitting or kneeling. Think where in the body the heart is placed, about halfway between the armpit and the navel on the left side of the centre of the chest. In order to lift the heart, you need to lift the head and shoulders, straighten the spine, and open out the chest. And then what happens? The lungs expand and you cannot help but draw air into your body. What a wonderful wordless prayer that is, bringing our focus on the Lord, and responding physically with a movement that draws in afresh the very breath of life.

Lift up your hearts!
We lift them to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give Him thanks and praise!

​Revd Julia Sheffield

Photo : Revd Gill Henwood