Category Archives: Third Order Society of St Francis


Hrmph! Here’s another absentee wiblogger emerging from the shadows, after a long-time dalliance over on blogger. The innards of Musings are working, I’m glad to say; reading Chelly’s warning about the prevalence of pork luncheon meat prompted me to stir myself and log on again. I appear to be spam free, thank goodness, even if my stats have that lonely, moth-eaten look to them. I do still read some of you regularly though via the listing on my other blog and I loved meeting up with some of you earlier in the year at Smudgie’s licencing.

So, what’s been going on down our way since my last post here? Well, the late, great Miffcat Mk3 has been replaced by moggie Mk4, aka Tigercat – a rather skew-whiff, feisty chap, with a passion for hunting games and an apparent allergy to vets. This last probably resulting from his experiences after a horrible road traffic accident back in his misspent youth. Jekyll and Hyde just isn’t in it, as Mr M and I, one vet and a vetinary nurse can certify. At the sight of a needle he transforms from ‘Simon’s Cat’ into a spitting, scratching, growling devil. Ouch. But we love him all the same. He’s certainly leaving his mark – usually in the form of a little ‘present,’ in front of his litter box for me to discover at crack of dawn.

The offspring are pottering along nicely. Ms M is well established in graphic design now; Mstr M currently working on his masters disertation:Umpteen thousand words on Gormenghast in the style of an autopsy report, anyone?

And Mr M? Well, he’s gradually getting back into cycling after a year or so’s break. Myself? Well, still ‘Seabirding,’ (are you still around, Rosamundi?); being on the area team for this has been a fair old learning curve for me. As has the process of getting involved in giving spiritual direction, following on from training some years back. Does anyone remember those cryptic entries about my trips down to the land of seabirds and brisk sea breezes?

Most of my online musing goes on now over at Growing Greenpatches but I’ll try and get back over here more often, I promise.

To boldly go – poetry and pilgrimage

"I'll get me hat."
Mstr Miff on Graduation Day 19 July 2011

We seem to have a touch of the gremlins here in the tech dept – either that or my computer and camera have had words, so you’ve been spared the group photo of son and his cronies on their graduation day. Never mind – I think the above snap has a certain “Je ne sais quoi” about it, don’t you? A good time was had by all, the rain held off until just after the final snap was taken, and no doubt since then several hundred English graduates when asked “What were you doing on Tuesday?” have seized the opportunity to answer “Oh, I was in something with Patrick Stewart!” (the latter having received an honorary doctorate).

On the other hand, I’m kind of relieved to learn from Mstr M that he was sufficiently overawed by the gravity of the occasion that he abandoned his original plan to have a quick word in Sir P’s ear as he crossed the platform, asking him to insert a certain rude word into his acceptance speech!

I was pondering questions of life, the universe and everything the other day, and came to the conclusion that life’s been very much “Thunder and Rainbows,” lately. Realising this makes it a tad easier for me to hold onto the positives (of which I’m blessed with more than my fair share) and stops me from spiralling down into a spate of existential and vocational angst aka PMS (no, not thatPMS, I’m post menopausal); we’re talking that common complaint – “Poor Me (s).”

So, let’s forget the thunder for now – I’ll update you on a few of my recent “rainbows” over the last month or so: The Grand Mr and Mrs M walking trip and pilgrimage to Iona, obviously – which I’ve written about elsewhere; a flying, unofficial mini -meet with a fellow Shippie and ‘Seabird;’ Ms Miffy’s adventures in, and safe arrival home (what a relief!) from Thailand and Cambodia; Mstr M’s graduation; planning and execution of a Seabird Area Meeting – the which gave me a few grey hairs, but was great fun, and thanks to the rest of the group, seemed to go off well; I’ve picked up a few pieces of writing…Then, even if modesty forbads me to blow my trumpet – I guess I’m allowed to blow a little party popper: a couple of weeks ago something I wrote was set to music and sung in church. Aaagh! Terminal embarrassent alert! May I sit back down now, please? Thank you.

p.s. The urge to rush about the back garden painting everything in sight continues unabated. And I have a new toy – one of those Irish poacher’s ‘Volcano’ kettles to use at Greenbelt, (never try and keep a Miffy from her Nice Cup of Tea!) the use of which is unleashing strange, primitive urges in my good self. It must be my inner hunter-gatherer trying to get out. Though my neighbours may not agree – it stinks to high heaven!

Fooling about

The Church Times back page interview today was with Third Order Franciscan tertiary Paul Alexander. I’ve given it a mention over on my Greenpatches blog. He talks about the imperative to hold onto the Franciscan characteristics of joy, foolishness and daring in the midst of a growing and changing order. Interesting. I’ve been around TSSF for nearly five years now, and, still sometimes find it difficult to pin down that elusive Franciscan something or other. Say Benedictine? Yup, I’ve got it. Dominican? I can catch a glimpse. Franciscan? Hmmm. Although I’ll admit that at its best, the Order does have its fair share of subversive personalities, (aka awkward so and sos). Subversive in a restrained, Anglican manner, of course!

Self included. Yes, I have my moments, my ‘Barbara Woodehouse blowing up horses’ noses moments). Like last night’s church prayer group, where the passage chosen for Lectio was the one from Numbers 11 describing God’s provision of quails to feed the starving Israelites in the desert. “Listen for the word that is spoken to you.” Have you read that passage? Yes, really? Go on, have a peep. And then tell me you’d be able to keep your head when all about you seem oblivious to the phrase that was sending me into waves of silent hysteria: No one gathered less than ten homers. Thank the Lord that we hadn’t chosen Ignatian imaginative contemplation that night! (And I keep saying I have no pictorial imagination!).

To restore the tone of the proceedings, mercifully there was another phrase that stuck out for me – so I managed to sort myself out by the end of the session. Well, it was a challenging passage. The spirit blows where it will etc. Only in my case, it seems to do it by way of my funnybone. I must be a bona fide Franciscan after all.

A complete disgrace

Yes, I’m so lazy I even pinch other blogger’s post header ideas! ūüėČ I Am Another Blogger who suffers from serial procrastinitis and acute inability to put finger to keyboard, even though I’m hardly lacking in topics to blog about: contemplative prayer, art journaling, spiritual direction, CAP Close The Gap campaign, Richard Rohr, Greenbelt, Green churches, pilgrimage, back exercises, pilgrimage planning (hence back exercises), Franciscan tertaries, mystics, ornamental cabbages…Life on Mars…

Is there no hope for me?

Cold nights, green fields and windy interludes

 Greenbelt 2010 007

I guess I must take the prize for the “Greenbelt post blogged so long after the event that it’s but a hazy memory” award. My excuses are pretty feeble: the principal one being the necessity of putting my photos through the boil wash – aka Flickr before they’d load on WordPress, the lesser, my usual attack of Miffyesque procrasinitis. To be fair, life since the Bank hols has been quite full, with a number of to-ings, fro-ings and new experiences, which I may write about on my other, Greenpatches blog.

So, Greenbelt, my third, and in many ways the best experience so far. Year One, of course, being all “Ooh, look! Shiny!” New things, new people, a breath of fresh air at a time when to say I was experiencing problems with the institutional church was to make the understatement of the year. Year Two – well, let’s say, after Year Two, I seriously considered giving it all a miss. This time – all round positive, after the teensiest wobble on arrival. But no more than teensy. After being dispatched down the hill to buy emergency sustenance for Mr M, and finding on my return,that our Nice Next-Door Neighbours had helped him put up what must have been the world’s largest awning (about three times the size of the van!) the only way was up!

The reasons for the change? Well, I’d say – firstly, people, contact with. It’s become increasingly clear that the freedom of being a free agent, not tied down by obligation to a particular church group or organisation has its disadvantages. In 2009 I felt (despite the ever-steadfast Mr M to go back to) desperately lonely at times. I’m sure most folk have had the weird experience of being part of a crowd, yet simply not connecting with them; the more animated and ‘together’ they appear to you, the worse it feels. Then the worse it feels, the less you feel like being sociable, so the more isolated you become….. You get the picture. And there are only so many ‘worthy’ seminars and events I could go to before becoming thoroughly Greenbelted out!

Thank goodness for fellow ‘Seabirds,’ then! This time round, unlike previous years, I didn’t have much to do with the First Order Franciscan brothers and sisters, it was fellow tertiaries who made the difference – organising several get-togethers, (in the Beer Tent, naturally!). Not to mention bumping into others around the site. (On one occasion being recognised by the profession cross I was wearing). This gave me a few set points and a structure to the weekend. I’d also thought to contact the folk from last year’s course beforehand and did manage to bump into quite a few of them. Such little things help – like getting a text first thing on Saturday to saying ” Good morning – we’re meeting at such and such a time and before that we’ll be at…” or more amusingly, during one talk “We’re sitting however many rows ahead of you and to the side… ” Then there there were brief encounters with one ‘Ship’ couple who recognised us before we did them and with whom we were able to talk this and that , and bewail the shortage of beer in the Jesus Arms. (Thank you, N and D). P, whom I don’t tend to think of as a Ship person anymore, whose frenetic texts made me laugh,and who helped me in the annual Wandering round the tea tent looking lost trying to recognise the group I’m looking for routine. It was great to chat to Truthsign again,also, and thanks also to TG and FM who popped round the back of the paper canon during the Peace at the Sunday morning service, to say hi.

We planned in some lighter stuff this year, like Late Night Twist on the Friday evening, the Big Sing on Saturday and one of the art workshops. Apart from one of the excellent Richard Rohr talks (which I’d not originally intended to go to ), most of the weightier stuff was left to the later part of the weekend. I nearly forgot the audience with James Cook and Tom Hollander of ‘Rev,’ definitely in the well-worth waiting (and did we wait!) for category. Somebody said the BBC was filming on site. I’d love to know how they’re going to work that footage into a new series.

Betty Blue, our trusty hired campervan was a welcome refuge during the small amount of time we actually spent in her. We weren’t half cold though! My record on layers one night was four (vest, top, long-sleeved thermal baselayer, fleece) plus thermal base leggings, cargoes and three pairs of socks. Topped by a woolly shawl over my sleeping bag. I’m putting a hot water bottle down on the list next year, even if we have to fill it up in the grandstand loos.

And talking of ahem…”facilities,” the only cloud over the weekend as far as I was concerned, and even then it didn’t spoil it,was ongoing tummy problems. My fault – not watching what I was eating. There are only so many variations one can have on plain mashed potatoes. By the Monday night I was so bored with bland food that I cracked – and had some fish and chips. Big mistake! Should you have been in Soulspace early that evening and noticed a pale-faced demented looking woman rushing up and down the stairs twixt the panoramic restaurant and the entrance foyer, or sitting, doubled up in the final Dave T LTQ popping Gaviscon like there was no tomorrow, that was Yours Truly. A colonoscopy since has shown I have diverticulosis; I’ll spare you the details (TMI). Suffice it to say, it’s not exactly the most glamorous of complaints. Bring on the mashed potatoes.

Another happy discovery: The YMCA 24 hour cafe, (wonderful scrambled eggs on toast).

So, altogether, cool beans…as Ms M would say. Though maybe ‘beans’ isn’t the best choice of words, under the circs.

Walking Away

We’re newly back from spending a gloriously sunny weekend in Somerset. The main purpose of which was to say goodbye to my long-term retreat place CSF Compton Durville. As I may have mentioned elsewhere, sadly, it’s having to close, with the community being dispersed (the Miffy imagination visualises brown-clad sisters wafting gently on the breeze to the far corners of the kingdom!) to other houses in the province. About 130 people, all of whom, like myself, will each have their own stories to tell about their encounters with God in this very special place came to an open afternoon, concluding with a farewell Eucharist. The photo of my good self was taken, courtesy of Mr M* in the convent’s wild garden, one of my favourite haunts. More, perhaps, on my other blog. As I said to Mr M on the drive back, I’m not sure at the moment exactly how I feel about it all. I am glad, though, that we went.

* Apologies for the none too flattering view here. For reasons beyond my (admittedly limited) technical ken, the beloved’s memory card refuses to let me ‘shrink’ the snap to medium.

** Nope, you’re in luck. What a relief!

Seabirding serendipity

Please note – I’ve resisted the temptation to title this post “Seabird Droppings.” ūüėČ I’ve experienced a frisson of excitement this week regarding my “Seabirding” goings-ons. OK, let’s stop the coy references: dig about in the archives and I’m sure you’ll find an explanation somewhere. (It was long ago and far away…) Put bluntly, like Rosamundi, I belong to a lay order, (or should that be am a lay member of an order?) In my case, a Franciscan tertiary. We’re quite shy and retiring little creatures; even so, I was unconscionably happy to see a mini-rant of mine published this week re profile of religous in general. And even more excited to stumble across a suggestion elsewhere that the Third Order try to cultivate a more deliberate presence at Greenbelt;something that the First Order brothers and sisters have been doing for years. The latter provide an oasis of peace and quiet on the campsite, much appreciated by Yours Truly. Seeing as I’m not staying with a church group, I had been starting to feel a bit like a spare wheel at times and had already meant to contact the Franciscans to see if I could help out in a more deliberate way this time round. Plus ,after nearly four years in TSSF, I think it’s time to start to put something back in.

Other news, those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that Ms Miffy acquited herself very creditably at the Adidas half marathon last weekend, with a finishing time of 2hours, 1 minute and 15 seconds! Mstr Miffy arrived back from uni for his hols today, and so the normally quiet Maison Miffy is suddenly filled with Handsome Young Men, (you can tell I’m getting to that funny age, can’t you?). It also pongs of aftershave and bodyspray, which is definite improvement on its usual Parfum de Chien et Chatte.

On that thrilling note, I shall bid you all goodnight.

2009 revisited

April Plinth man, cool specs, Marilyn Monroe, Paris Marathon and water, water everywhere: The Miffy 50th Birthday trip to Venice.

Pax et Bonum: The Seabird has landed!

May “Ouch aye!” The “Etack” Caledonia and Wessex Wanderings.

July No, not a chipmunk; it’s a Marmotte.

Felicitations: L’Etape du Tour and Brisk Sea Breezes.

Felicitations, encore! Ms M graduates.

August “Whan that Aprille..” well, August actually. Pilgrimage Number One.

Greenbelt 2009  Fear not!

Franciscan recruiting tactics at Greenbelt.

Greenbelt 2009  zzzzzzzzzzzz

Mr M is slain in the spirit.

September/October Climb evry mountain; ford every stream…all thousand and one of them. The Miffys tackle the Via Podiensa – Le Puy en Valay to Conques.

Mr M does various other things involving cycles, rain, and the LEL.
November Miffy goes on retreat.

Me-me-me-meeee! Miffy goes green;proving without doubt that she is an Enneagram Type 6 and proud of it!

Here be Dragons… “Newchurch” goes even greener.


Having blogged more in the last week than she’s done in the preceeding six months, Miffy collapses in a chair with a glass of bubbly. Happy New Year to one and all!

We did it!


Well, we did it! After three years plus of journeying¬† officially, and unofficially a good few years more, (Rosamundi, can you remember when I first started talking about the ‘C’ word?), fellow Seabird and I were finally¬† professed yesterday into the Anglican Third Order, Society of St Francis.

I’m still speechless!

A Parable

It came to pass in those days that   a humble wiblogger had a blog, a new, shiny blog.  The blogger liveth in the wibsite along with many other bloggers of a similarly wibbling disposition.   She bloggeth.  Every day (nearly).    Keepeth the home and work fires burning (some of the time).  And generally doeth her duty as An Shining  Example of  Christian Womenhood. ( She also studieth a little theology on the side, but we all have our failings!)

But lo!  As Lent, the season of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth approacheth, our humble wiblogger was struck with guilt. She weepeth and waileth and renteth her clothing. (She gnasheth not her teeth as NHS dentists are hard to come by;  an simple filling costeth the price of an small mortgage).

” I have sinned,” she crieth. ”¬† I have blogged when I shoudst not have blogged. I have not blogged when I shoudst have blogged.¬† (The same goeth for eating chocolate). ”

” Likewise¬† I¬† neglecteth my theology course.¬† I stoppeth reading those long, boring genealogies after the first three¬† ‘begats.’ I skippeth all the dull bits in Leviticus, and peruseth the Ship version of Exodus instead of Gospelcom. I telleth not my exegesis from my hermeneutics, my hydrostasis from my hydrants. ¬† There is no health in me.”

And she casteth around in her mind as to how she might expurgate her sin.

And lo! (again).  One day as she flicketh her way through The Methodist Recorder, an Angel (metaphorically speaking, you understand) camest to her and saith:

” Lo! (yet again), Behold! Be Not Afraid! (tick whichever box applies).¬† Havest I got a challenge for you! Hasten thou deep into the bowels of cyberspace and startst thou a new blog!

And with a cheery ” Rememberest thou. No chocolate allowed!” the angel departest from her.

So,¬† whistling an quick chorus of¬† “Here I Am, Lord,” (expurgated version), our wiblogger hied her off to lands afar, wherein after much travail, perusething of HTML code and wiggling of widgets,¬† ¬† was born Green Patches. She bloggeth. Every day (nearly). And it was Very Good.

But, lo! (And woe). It camest to pass, after many years,¬† our wiblogger, whose name wast now¬† Green Patches, bloggeth not every day. She neglecteth her blog.¬† She joineth the ‘Seabirds.’¬† And one day, whilst she idleth away her time in exotic climes, An New Blogger, armed with his trusty cheese grater, entereth her blog, shaveth off an entry and quoteth it in his own blog and in Another Place.

When our wiblogger discovereth it, she pondereth it in her heart.¬†¬† She wondereth what kind of news this might be.¬† Couldst she a worthy contender for the Dullest Blog in the World MKII?¬† She readest it again.¬† No she couldn’t.¬† Then she really didst gnash her teeth (dentists notwithstanding). And thinketh thoughts wholly unfitting for one shortly to become a fully fledged seabird.¬† For It Is Written:” Seabirds shallst not run amok in the blogosphere with sundry kitchen implements, whatsoever the provocation. Blessed are the Cheese Graters.”

So she repenteth…and laugheth…

And verily, the slight rise in her stats gratifieth her exceedingly.