Community Reflections and News

Friday 15th October 2021

Dear Friends

This comes, as always, with much love and prayers.

We would like to thank you for joining us on the day of prayer for new community. During the day, praying in the Chapel, there was a sense of well-being – acknowledging that God very much had this in His hands. Since the day of prayer there have been some green shoots with some enquiries to join community which is looking hopeful.

Di’s reflection this week is centred around the wonder of creation, how we are so much part of it and how we are called to love it.

I have just returned from an A Rocha Partners-in-action retreat and the forthcoming COP26 in Glasgow was a major topic in our conversations. A Rocha are going to be at the conference and, needless to say, we will be holding the conference in our prayers throughout the two weeks which starts on Sunday 31st October. We will be trying our best to put reflections, prayers and updates onto our website and Facebook page.

Our next online Quiet Day is on Saturday 20th November, reflecting on Christ the King.

In the House, there are still opportunities to book residentially for:
Mon 1st – Thu 4th Nov Fuzzy Church: Exploring Gospel and Culture in the North of England
Fri 12th – Sun 14th Nov Time for Justice (also online)
Fri 12th – Sun 14th Nov Divorce Recovery Workshop
Tue 16th – Thu 18th Nov Church Leaders’ Retreat led by ReSource (also online)

Our new programme, which will take us from beginning of March to end of August 2022, should be with you by the end of November.

The Wednesday Evening Prayer Livestream services will continue for the foreseeable future.

Diane writes:

This month Glasgow will host COP26, the United Nations climate change conference. And it feels that we have reached a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change.  

So here is my aboriginal painting entitled Creation by Jeremy Devitt Wunongmurra, which I bought when visiting Phil’s sister in Australia. Placing this photo out in the garden not only brings the painting to life it also reminds us that creation is all around us. Yes even in the cities; although it was difficult to find a city backdrop in our garden! ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.’ Genesis 1 v 31

The background of this painting is full of muted colours, really quite beautiful, and if you follow the spiral into the middle there is a flower in full bloom with its petals reaching out into the world, sadly they seem to become distorted the further out you look. Well, that’s what I can see!  The Aboriginals believe that the entire world was made by their Ancestors, way back in the very beginning of time, the Dreamtime. They have a profound spiritual connection to land. Tom Dystra an Aboriginal elder says ‘We cultivate our land, but in a different way from white man. We endeavour to live with the land; they seem to live off it’. Sadly I think this is true, hopefully this is what COP26 will try to address.

And that is not all, I remember being excited when I first unrolled the painting and saw on the back much more than I had expected. Jeremy wants to give us a sense of his rich heritage, of what makes him who he is and his paintings what they are. Jeremy “Mudjai” Devitt is descendent of the Nganyaywana, Daingutti (Dhanggatti) and Gumbainga (Gumbaynggir) nations and has English, Irish and Scottish heritage. He also tells us his skin name which is inherited at birth and forms part of a broader kinship system that spans across Australia. This kinship system dictates daily life, social relationships and responsibilities, rights to land, ceremony and Dreamings, and of course, the Aboriginal artworks they share. (ARTARK)

“Mudjai” is written in the palm of, presumably, Jeremy’s hand and in Isaiah 43 we read “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” And later in Chapter 49,  ‘I (God) have written your name on the palms of my hands.’ He has called us by name and made us his very own beloved children.  I began to think what would I write? What makes me tick, what makes me who I am? Is there a rich heritage to be found? Well, for me, family is important, very important. Not only my familial family but also in knowing I belong to the family of God. Surely there can be no richer inheritance! ‘You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.’ Ephesians 2

And being fellow citizens brings us back to Creation. In Genesis 2 v 15 we read ‘Humans were placed in the Garden of Eden and instructed to ‘work it and take care of it’. In other words, God has given us the responsibility to act as stewards of his creation – to care for, manage, oversee and protect all that God owns. Which does not give us free licence to exploit and abuse God’s earth. No! God commissions us to rule over the creation in a way that sustains, protects, and enhances his works so that all creation may fulfil the purposes God intended for it.    

We must learn to manage the environment not simply for our own benefit but for God′s glory. Perhaps we must learn to ‘live with the land not off it.’

With much love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Friday 17th September 2021

Dear Friends

This, as ever, comes with much love and prayers as well as a deep gratitude for all your support during these days that continue to be challenging.

We’d like to ask you to pray alongside us on Friday 24th September as a day of prayer for new Community.

The number of applications to join Community is currently very low due to the pandemic and implications of Brexit. The current Community is around 23 and, with those who are set to be leaving during the next few months, in January 2022 the size of the community could be 18. The Community are in good heart and we have been very grateful to our Working Friends, without whom we would not be able to fulfil our gift of hospitality.

We have always believed that Scargill is about ‘lives –shared, lives-transformed’ with Jesus at the centre, and we do believe that God will bring the right people to join the Scargill adventure. Please pray with us that the Holy Spirit will be working in those people’s lives to join them to Scargill.

A YouTube resource will be available on our website to help you in your prayers – but whatever you do it will be great if you can pray for Scargill and the Community on Friday 24th September.

Our next online Quiet Day will be on Saturday 9th October and you would be very welcome to join online any of our hybrid events which you can find on our website.

It has been such a joy to be open again to guests and there is no doubt that people are encountering God and His love during their stay.

We look forward to seeing you in person, hopefully in the near future.

Di’s reflection this week explores ‘Treasure’.

Diane writes:

Well Summer is almost over and I’m still waiting for a heatwave! Yes, there have been gorgeous, warm, almost hot, still days but for the most part it feels as if the warmth was lost in dull and grey skies. So here is a picture by Kelly McNeil of her son playing on the beach (Big Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia).

Kelly McNeil – ‘Discovering a Treasure’

The painting is titled, ‘Discovering a Treasure’, and shows the little boy, feet in the water, looking for something, looking for treasure.  And he seems to have found it; perhaps a beautiful shell or some seaweed, a pebble or a few minnows, he will enjoy trying to catch. Perhaps the treasure is in the enjoyment of finding and chasing it!  Perhaps not, but all are beautiful gifts from nature.

In Matthew 13, Jesus said to the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field’. The treasure the man found is so precious to him that it completely transforms his life.

Small treasures are there for the finding. I remember one morning, many years ago, when we had two small children under three years old. We were living in Cambridge and Phil was away on placement. Unlike this painting it was a damp, dull Autumn morning and we were walking the dog in one of the gardens. I was tired, annoyed and possibly a little resentful when our eldest cried ‘Mummy come here, come and see the flower’. Over I trudged and saw her standing there with a late blooming flower in her hand (sorry, yes she had picked it) and a wonderful smile on her face. I too smiled, the day was transformed, was there even a hint of sunshine? Rachel had found one of God’s treasures and I have never forgotten it.

This morning Phil reminded me of another treasure – the Holy Spirit that strengthens us from within. As we listened to this song by Alistair MacLean I was struck by the many similarities with my story.

Even though the day be laden
and my task dreary
and my strength small,
a song keeps singing in my heart.
For I know that I am Thine.
I am part of Thee.
Thou art kin to me,
and all my times are in Thy hand.

As we journey on into Autumn can we have expectant hearts to see the treasures God has already prepared for each of us. 

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Friday 27th August 2021

Dear Friends

We have just finished three weeks of Summerfest, and it has been such a joy to welcome guests back, to hear the sound of young people and wonderfully see how God has been blessing many on their return back to Scargill. Thank you for your continued prayers, love and support – it means a great deal to us.

We continue to offer online quiet days and our next one is on Saturday 4th September which I will be leading around the theme of, ‘Jesus: the Bread of life’. Do book – we’d love to see you through the wonder of Zoom. There are plenty of space on our other online and hybrid events (online tickets). See here for further details of online events in September and October:

Sat 4th September:
Quiet Day on Zoom led by Phil Stone

Tue 14th to Thu 16th September:
Encounters with God led by Phil Stone and Dave Hopwood 

Mon 20th to Thu 23rd September:
Ten by Eight led by John Bell

Sat 9th October:
Quiet Day on Zoom led by Scargill Community

Tue 19th to Fri 22nd October:
Enneagram 1: God-shaped people led by Margi Walker 

We are continuing with our Wednesday Livestream Evening Prayer services from Wednesday 8th September (there is not one on Wednesday 1st September)- which you can pick up on our YouTube channel.

Please do look at our Autumn in-house programme, which is booking well.

I would like to highlight for Church Leaders: Fuzzy Church led by Elli Wort and Nigel Rooms – Mon 1st to Thu 4th November – which is based on their new book looking at the Gospel and Culture in the North of England.

For those of you who want to develop their understanding about Justice, I recommend the course Fri 12th to Sun 14th November, funnily enough it is called Time for Justice.

Below is Di’s latest reflection about fitting in and green noses!

Diane writes:

‘If only I had a green nose’ the title of a Max Lucado story and what a brilliant way to start a reflection? The blurb for ‘If only I had a green nose’ tells us a green nose is the latest trend and everyone wants one, everyone wants to fit in, but the colour kept changing and soon ‘Punchinello and his buddies had so many layers of paint on their noses they couldn’t remember what they really looked like.They had been trying to fit in but now returned to Eli because they just wanted to be themselves.’  

Trying to fit in! Now isn’t that what I have been secretly trying to do most of my life? I have wanted to be slimmer, taller, sportier, wear the right clothes, say the right things etc. etc. And although it wasn’t necessarily true, I often felt ‘left out’ and I still think people don’t really understand me, but of course that’s because I am such a unique person or maybe it’s because I don’t let them!

Now, I knew there was a poem out there somewhere about being ourselves and Shaun kindly sent me it, “Warning” by Jenny Joseph also known as “When I Grow Old, I Shall Wear Purple” which was penned in 1961 at the age of twenty-nine! On the surface a light-hearted poem until you start reflecting, especially at my age, and mulling over what is really being said!

Warning  [by Jenny Joseph]
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple

About this poem J R Milson wrote “I hear her speaking to each of us, male or female, in an ode to nonconformity, one of my personal favourite rants and topics.   In a humorous, tongue-in-cheek and fun way, Jenny Joseph conveys a serious message for all, to never take ourselves too seriously or lose the twinkle in our eyes.” I will certainly continue to wear my bright red pinafore dress with pride!

Thankfully fitting in is perhaps the opposite to where following Christ will lead us. Did Jesus ever fit in with the world? No, and neither will His followers. We were never meant to fit in with the crowd. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us ‘But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done”.

We have been called to stand out, to be different in this world where God is often put aside. To be the one to show an alternative way of living, one that shares the love of God, and draws others in –  perhaps with a twinkle in our eyes, whatever the colour of our noses. 

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Monday 2nd August 2021New Programme launched

Dear Friends

We do hope this finds you well as we navigate through these challenging, and sometimes confusing, days.

We are very thankful to God for being able to be open since the beginning of June and the feedback has been wholeheartedly positive. It has been lovely to watch how God has gently worked in people’s lives.

We are now readying ourselves for Summerfest with reduced numbers yet open to all that God has for us and hopefully with plenty of fun and laughter!

Our livestreamed Evening Prayer services will resume this coming Wednesday 4th August at 4:30pm and they will continue through Summerfest.

We are delighted to say that the new Programme will be released today. It covers events through to February 2022 and we are very pleased with the variety of events and speakers you have to choose from. You can obviously find it on the website, and those of you who signed up for a paper copy will have one coming through your letter box.

The Programme is not as full as it has been in the past as this reflects the size of the Community, which remains small, but also the desire to care for our guests and Community as we continue to navigate through the Pandemic. We look forward so much to welcoming you again through our doors.

We still long for new Community members so would you continue to pray for us and spread the word. Thank you! Details of how to join Community are on our website.

Below is Di’s reflection on Friendship. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

Do you remember playing with your shadow? I still enjoy playing shadows with our grandchildren, and I particularly enjoy those shadows that make me look tall and willowy. 

I first met Cathy in 1975 when I started my SRN training at Charing Cross Hospital. Since then we have remained firm friends. This week we met Cathy and her husband for the first time in 18 months at Nostell Priory. In many ways nothing had changed, we looked much the same, yet so much had changed and not just due to COVID but also because life goes on regardless. We stood for a while just ‘being’ together, no words, no action, just being close.

Di’s photo of the shadows of herself and friends

Later as we stood on a bridge I saw our shadows – a good photo opportunity perhaps?  I took the photo, rather hurriedly before we moved on, using my phone – oh how I miss holding the old camera up to my eye! Anyway, the shadows began to represent our friendship.  You see shadows are always there whether we can see them or not, as are good friends. The weather being extremely hot found us seeking out shaded areas to provide relief from the direct heat of the sun. The shadows of the trees provided a cool place to rest and as we sat and talked I began to think about Psalm 91 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Later I read that the word “dwell” means, “to take up permanent residence in.” The psalmist is reminding us to stay in God’s presence. Ephesians also reminds us that God is constructing a new Temple, a Temple not of stones, arches or pillars but of human beings because God seeks to make his home in the hearts, lives and communities of his people. And if that is the case whatever each day brings we can “rest” in the very “shadow (the very presence) of the Almighty.”   

Our daughter Ruth is watching once again the sitcom Friends. Friends is a 90’s Comedy TV show, based in Manhattan, about 6 friends who go through just about every life experience imaginable together; love, marriage, divorce, children, heartbreaks, fights, new jobs and job losses and all sorts of drama. The show starts off with each character in their 20’s, and expands over a 10 year period, as each character tries to find happiness, success and what the true meaning of a “friend” really is. What they discovered can be seen in a few short quotes from the programme

Friendship is another word for love. – …

It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter. – …

The only way to have a friend is to be one. – …

A friend is what the heart needs all the time. – …

The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it. –

Just recently two very different friends have responded to two very different concerns, both have encouraged me to rest in God’s presence, to trust, to have hope. Both have blessed me more than they will ever know. Their shadows have been long, they have supported me from afar. Our friendships are secure. Our friends whether present in person or in shadow, whether new or old, will often help us to ‘rest in the shadow of the most high’, if would only we let them!

I’ll finish with a tweet from Conversation UN Women: ‘On Friendship Day (30th July), and every day, let’s support each other, lean on each other, believe in each other & encourage each other.’

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Sunday 4th July 2021

Dear Friends

This, as ever, comes with much love and prayers from the Scargill Community. Many of you will be aware that we were delighted to welcome a limited number of guests back from 4th June which has been wonderful.

The feedback has been very positive, as one guest wrote:
‘I am encouraged that the Scargill Community has survived a difficult year and very much appreciate being able to come here and all the careful planning you have put in place to keep us safe. It is always good to come here and sense God’s presence in this special place. Thank you for your love and support.’

We would very much value your continued prayers for Community as our hearts’ desire is to give a warm Scargill welcome within the restrictions that we have to abide to at this time. So far it is going well!

We are very much wanting to grow the Community – and if you know of anyone who is looking to fill a gap year then please do point them in our direction.

Our next online event is a Renew Refresh Restore– Friday 16th to Sunday 18th July, which is alongside an in-house event. Please look at the website for details.

We will be continuing with our livestream Wednesday Evening Prayer service but just to give you a heads up the Community will be taking some downtime allowing for some holiday, so sadly there will not be a service on Wednesdays 21st and 28th July. We will be back livestreaming on 4th August.

We are very much working on the next programme, which we hope will be with you by the end of this month, and cover September 2021 to February 2022 events.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you again through our doors.

Here is Di’s latest reflection. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

I have been thinking a lot about change recently. COVID hastily brought, rightly so, an enforced, sustained time of change upon us, which we were not used to. And it has, again, rightly so, been constantly changing!  Most of us are coping well, other just about, but perhaps all us feel weary. The past was much simpler!!!  Or was it?

Bob Tamsay reassures us that ‘One of life’s constants is change. Ready or not, it happens. We grow. We age. Technology reinvents each new day. Some relish change; others resist. We like it best on our terms, but don’t always have that option. Sometimes all we can do is cope with it’.  Which is perhaps where most of us are at the moment.

Picasso seems to have embraced change, he constantly sought out and experimented with new ideas, new techniques, new materials to work with, and created a whole range of self-portraits – the same person seen through evolving styles of art.  Here are a few of them, from which in December 2016 had an article by Kelly Richman-Abdou ‘Evolution of Picasso’s Iconic Self-Portraits from Age 15 to 90’. They all reflect Picasso’s constantly changing styles and although I appreciate some more than others they all suggest, reveal something of Picasso’s personality and they are all part of his journey.  

Cinema going has been a constant part of my journey and after Faith went to see Anthony Hopkins in The Father at the Skipton Plaza, I became rather nostalgic about going to the cinema; which has certainly changed in my life time. As I child I remember two shorter full length films and the usher. The usher with her torch, showing you to your seat, identify the young couple at the back or those talking too loudly and then, in the interval striding down the aisle to serve ice-cream. I also have a vague memory of ladies wearing hats (at times so annoying) and standing for the National Anthem. Did we really do that? 

Slowly all this changed, multiplex cinemas became the thing, with small cinemas like our Skipton Plaza being the exception! They show long films, have an usher who rarely moves, heaps of popcorn, an interval after the ads and going out to get your own ice-cream. Mind you a couple of years ago we went to a cinema with sofas and the pre-order interval refreshments were brought to you. So, you see, not all change is bad.

This past year we have had to learn to embrace change, find new ways of living, that although strange and unfamiliar have become acceptable and achievable. Rick Newman wrote ‘Change can teach us to adapt and help us develop resilience, but only if we understand our own capacity for growth and learning. When change makes us better, it’s because we have learned how to turn a challenging situation to our own advantage, not merely because change happens.’

Can we look back and use the changes made for ‘the common good’, sift through them and find those that will be beneficial to keep, those that have brought about positive change and those that could be adapted for the days ahead? Here at Scargill we will keep an eye on our ‘rhythm of life’ with and without guests and continue having zoom events, often alongside residential ones – a hybrid programme apparently! And I will certainly keep up my morning exercises, shop locally or online, be more creative with cooking – thanks to our daughter and visit all our children and grandchildren as often as possible – I have sorely missed them and OH, how much they have grown and matured (well some of them!) in 15 months.

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Monday 7th June 2021

Dear Scargillians

We do hope you are enjoying good weather, as we are, at this time. We always seem to be talking about the weather here at Scargill.

We have a few things to share with you:

We hope that you will join us for our online Evening Prayer Service which has now moved to Wednesdays (the first on 9th June) – it will be good to have you with us.

We are so glad that we have been able to receive our first residential guests but our online presence will continue. You are very welcome to join us for a Quiet Day on Saturday 26th June. There will also be some online events in July, and we will send you details in the next mailing.

We are still very much looking for new Community members, so if you know someone who may be looking for a gap year, or you know someone who may be feeling called to community, please do get in touch with us (

I know that many of you have enjoyed these mailings with Di’s reflections. They will continue but will now become monthly.

Di and I have just enjoyed a week off here at Scargill where we have been welcoming some of our family to stay for the first time for over a year. Di’s reflection speaks of the joy of re-connecting with grandchildren. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

Some of you may remember reading Shirley Hughes books. My favourite one for a long time has been Lucy & Tom’s Christmas which has now become a firm family favourite. It finishes with the first illustration below and these words ‘Christmas can be quite tiring as Tom gets very excited about his presents and rather cross. So he and grandpa go for a walk together in the snow, just the two of them. The sun is very big and red.’

‘Lucy and Tom’s Christmas’ by Shirley Hughes.

In other books, Alfie and Grandma are very special friends, and together they have lots of adventures! Whether it’s saving the day and finding a lost pet, or exploring indoors and out, Alfie loves being with his grandma. In the short story A Journey to the North Pole, ‘after being stuck indoors all morning relations between Alfie and his sister Annie Rose are becoming fraught so Grandma suggests they all put their waterproofs on and go for a walk in the rain’. (second  illustration). Good old grandma!

‘Journey to the North Pole’ by Shirley Hughes

‘One thing we all have in common is family. Whether large or small, near or far, dear or distant, our families and familial relationships influence who we are. Siblings and cousins are often our first friends; parents and grandparents are frequently the first people we love’.  A quote I read looking up a possible etching by John Costigan at the Whitney Museum of America. 

And families has been the focus of our recent week’s holiday with the children and grandchildren visiting – one set Friday night to Wednesday, the second from Wednesday to Sunday – with grandchildren aged from 9 weeks to 8years!!!!!!!!!!!  During the week we stayed local, the weather has been kind and generous, the sun remaining remarkably warm for most of the week – miracles still happen! And wherever we went there were grandparents like ourselves basking in the company of their children and grandchildren. Monday though, will see us back with community a little tired, well a lot really, but also very content, with a renewed sense of purpose and place.

In Proverbs 17:6 we read: ‘Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.’

Not sure what our children would say! BUT I can definitely say that to see one’s children’s children born into this world and have an opportunity to interact with them, to have fun with them, to laugh and listen is a pure joy which many of us have missed over the past year. It has been helpful using Zoom, WhatsApp and messenger as well as visiting castles!!! Castles have been amazing places to meet halfway for a few hours whenever lockdown has been lifted, keeping those vital links that have made this week so special.

I also know that in families, all is not necessarily well, that fractions and frictions can and do arise and that unlike Shirley Hughes stories, endings are not always happy. So let us this weekend rejoice and be thankful for the good times and pray for God’s presence in the more difficult and challenging times.   

With much love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community 

Sunday 23rd May 2021

Dear Scargillians

The swifts are beginning to return to Scargill and we await the house martins to once more build their nests in the eaves, and after some days of heavy rain the sun is now shining. This week we welcome a small working party from A Rocha as we develop our sensory garden with a pond as well as doing a Bio Blitz on the Scargill Estate – all very exciting!

This past week Community members have been training to prepare for residential guests coming once more through our doors from the beginning of June, wanting to make it a joyful and welcoming experience. 

Before June, we are continuing to run online events. Two events coming up in the next couple of weeks are still available for online bookings – we’d love to see you:

Pentecost Retreat with Donna Worthington – Fri 28 to Sun 30 May

Do sign up for our online Spring Half Term Tournaquiz at 7pm on Wed 2 June – it will be lots of fun.

We will continue to have the Weekly Evening Prayer livestreamed service when residential guests return, and we have one on Thu 27 May, but this moves to Wednesdays from Wed 9 June. [We will not have a livestreamed Evening Prayer on Thu 3 June as we transition]

We are pleased to give thanks for a grant received from Allchurches Trust Hope Beyond programme to help provide and improve the equipment we need to enable us to offer our ongoing online ministry.  “Hope Beyond aims to enable churches and Christian charities to meet changing needs within their communities, helping them and the communities they support to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.”   See further details in our blog here:

There is much to give thanks for over this first half of 2021, and we thank you for your friendship to us over these months. We hope that we have brought a message of encouragement and hope to you over this time, and even some laughter! 

There are still lots of details to get our heads round on practicalities of opening to guests once more. In this context, Di writes today about the subject of worrying. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

Recently, Shaun sent me a poem from “Swan: Poems and Prose Poems” by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press), which seems to express so eloquently my thoughts and my fears because I am a worrier, I just am. I often lay awake with anxious thoughts running around my brain. Sometimes I awake far too early for my liking, with non-urgent concerns vanishing any idea of further sleep. Then during the day all it takes is for something to be said, especially on the news or I notice a slip-up, a blunder or even an error – heaven forbid, and off I go again.  Anyway, here is the poem.

I Worried
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrow
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it.
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And I gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning
And sang.

Sparrows by Mostafa Keyhani

Well I probably wouldn’t sing, but I would go in the garden – if the rain has stopped, and sit with a ‘nice cup of tea’. And this poem makes me smile, puts my worries into perspective and reminds me of Jesus’ words:
‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Matthew 10:29-31

Now I know life isn’t this easy, we all have bouts of stress and anxiety, which the pandemic has only fuelled, but this Sunday, we are reminded that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon those followers of Jesus who had waited in the locked room for the Spirit, which was to give them boldness, confidence and the nerve to follow Jesus; to be empowered and encouraged to be living witnesses to a life with Christ or as one of our morning prayers says – to be companions of God.  Surely that can give us hope.

So ‘sweet dreams’ everyone and remember. ‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me (Jesus!).’John 14

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Sunday 9th May 2021

Dear Scargillians

As ever, this comes with much love and prayers to you all, especially as the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.

At Scargill we feel we in a transitional space as we prepare to warmly welcome back residential guests at the beginning of June. We are so excited! The online events will continue and here is what is coming up.

We would like to warmly welcome you to our Scargill Forum on Wednesday 12th May (8-9:30pm) where Phil will be giving a short Biblical reflection as we begin to emerge into a new way of living. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, share thoughts and have fun!

Before that, on Tuesday 11th May, Mike will be leading a singing morning – ‘Finding your Voice’.

On Friday 14th and Saturday 15th May Phil will be leading two separate Quiet Days (repeated material) reflecting on the wonder of the Ascension and looking forward to Pentecost.  

Our next Crafternoon is on Saturday 22nd May 3-4pm (email for the link).

From Tuesday 25th to Thursday 27th May – Di and Margi will be leading an Enneagram 3 course.

It is lovely to welcome Donna Worthington to be leading us on a Pentecost Retreat Fri 28th to Sun 30th May.

We would very much value your prayers for us as a Community on the week beginning Monday 17th May, as we have a training week to ready ourselves for residential guests.

There is much to be thankful to God for – and we are very thankful to YOU for the love and support you have given us.

Here is Di’s reflection – enjoy!

Diane writes:

Wall, walls, walls, over the last two weeks I seem to have constantly been faced by walls, so I thought I should pass them onto you! 

It began with Chloe’s morning prayers from Ephesians 2. Chloe was struck by a recurring theme of walls.  From v14 Chloe read that ‘Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that divides us.’ More interestingly from v20 she read ‘You are like a building, with the apostles and prophets as the foundation and with Christ as the most important stone.…and you are part of that building Christ has built as a place for God’s own Spirit to live.’ Here was a metaphor of Christians, us, you and me, being the bricks that make up God’s household. Chloe, liked this idea, that we are the bricks that make up God’s dwelling place because ‘if you think about it, all bricks are important, if you take away one, you lose the integrity of the house. All the bricks are equal; there is no hierarchy, the bricks at the top are no more or less important than the bricks at the bottom, and they are all the same – no inequality, no prejudice, no exclusion: they are all just as important and just as valued’.  She finished with ‘That’s what the Church is supposed to be like anyway.’ Yes!

Prodigal Son – Sieger Koder

Then during the recent Enneagram course Margi and I led, we asked our participants to choose one of three paintings to reflect on in a meditative way. During the feedback Joce, having chosen ‘The Prodigal Son by Sieger Koder, decided to sketch it. As she sketched Joce noticed the wall jutting out towards us held her focus and attention. That the white wall formed a barrier between the elder son and his father, reinforcing the separation between the lives and characters of the sons. The elder son, jealous, serious, looks on from the outside! – He looks squeezed, thin, hands wringing together. Is this self-imposed isolation? In contrast 2/3 of the picture is of the rounded encircling figures of the younger son and his embracing father; intimate, hands and arms outstretched towards one another. Although the elder son is hidden by the wall that separates him from his father, we are drawn to his right arm resting slightly in front of the wall, perhaps hedging forwards, maybe a sign of hope or redemption – if he chooses!

I was also reading A Passion for Life written by Joan Chittister and in the Chapter ‘Rumi – Icon of wisdom’ I came across this short quote from Jeluddin Rumi, a Sufi Saint born in 1207.

‘The clear bead at the centre changes everything.
There are no edges to my loving now.                                                    
I’ve heard it said, there is a window

that opens from one mind to another.
But if there is no wall, there is no need
for fitting the window, or the latch’.

Joan Chittister went on to write ‘It’s fine to say we can open the windows to the world outside of ourselves, that we can, if we will, let the outside in, but what, Rumi asks, is the point of building walls between us to begin with?’ A good question, the poem is quite a challenge?

Saint Joseph Foster Father of Christ – Francois Jean Baptiste Benjamin Constant

And finally from my Daily Gospel -Christian Art I was given this beautiful painting ‘Saint Joseph, Foster Father of Christ’ by François-Jean-Baptiste-Benjamin Constant (1845-1902) – Wow what a name!          

 Anyway, here we see Joseph as a middle aged man, with the carpenter’s saw at his feet simply sitting next to his Son, Jesus, in his early teens. They don’t look at each other, but… they are looking ahead together… they share the same horizon and they are sitting on a wall!

Perhaps we all need to think about which wall we are sitting on, knocking down, building up or edging around?

WIth much love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Wednesday 28th April 2021

Dear Scargillians

We are excited to announce that our latest Momentum, prayer letter and our residential programme (yes!) for the Summer will be coming through your letter boxes by the end of this week. Obviously, we will have limited in-house numbers as we navigate through the Covid restrictions. Our residential bookings will open on Saturday 1st May.

Meanwhile, we will continue with our online programme of events and just to highlight some in May that are available to book:

  • Tue 4 to Thu 6 May: Felicity Lawson leads ‘Walking with Jesus – Adventures on the Emmaus Road’.
  • Fri 7 to Sun 9 May: Shaun and Phil will be leading a weekend on ‘The Wisdom of Community meets Mindfulness‘.
  • Tue 11 May: Mike will be leading an online Singing morning entitled ‘Finding your voice
  • Wed 12 May: We will be having our Scargill Forum (7:45-9:30pm)
  • Fri 14 and Sat 15 May: Phil will be leading two separate Quiet Days, with repeat material.
  • Tue 25 to Thu 27 May: Margi and Di will be leading a week on ‘Enneagram 3‘.
  • Fri 28 to Sun 30 May: We are very glad to welcome Donna Worthington to lead a Pentecost Retreat weekend.
  • Watch out too for news of our online Half Term event during the week beginning 31 May.

We are obviously still looking for new Community, so please do check our website for further details.
Here is Di’s latest reflection – enjoy!

Mary Sitting in a Wood by Louis Ginett

The other day I went up to Morning prayers, there I found the table beautifully covered with daffodils and large pebbles/stones. Blue and brown fabric fell down, alongside the potted tree from the Morning room, and across the floor in front of the table in folds playing with the small gems, candles and more pebbles. We were to look at Psalm 15 – Who May Worship the Lord?

For me, and I am sure for many, Psalm 15 presents a conundrum. David describes the man ‘who may stay in God’s temple’, who may ‘live on the holy mountain of the Lord’. Now please, have a quick read because who do you know that fits these credentials? Definitely not me! 

So I chose to sit at the back, hiding behind a pillar facing the Taizé cross. As I sat and faced the cross there in front of me was God’s greatest gift –  Himself.  There was the gift of GRACE.  I knew that although I cannot perfectly live up to these standards, Jesus has, and because He has, I can, through him. I leant against the pillar, the wood was warm and surprisingly comforting, I felt at peace.

After prayers, I googled paintings of sitting by trees and found Mary Sitting in a Wood. I was drawn to the dappled light, the hint of Spring (so like Scargill), the open coat and Mary lost in her sewing, at peace and untroubled. Is there a soft cushion by her back? I do hope so, it would be rather nice if there was.  Here is a beautiful painting giving substance to my thoughts, a reminder of that rare morning; of feeling cocooned, loved, accepted and forgiven.

Watchman Nee wrote ‘For rightness is not our goal. The test of our actions is not, ‘Are they right or wrong?’ But always and only, ‘Is the divine blessing upon them?’

The divine blessing is surely upon Mary sitting in a wood and I feel certain it is upon us all, if we, with the help of the Holy Spirit and encouragement from each other, follow the example of Jesus, and seek to live the pathway of love and the kingdom. 

Please be assured of our love and prayers, and we very much look forward to seeing you either on Zoom or in-house.

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Monday 12th April 2021

Dear Friends

This comes with much love and Easter greetings to you. There is much to share with you as life begins to open up for us again. When I think of Easter I think of Psalm 18:19 ‘He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me.’ The Resurrection encounter is an invitation to adventurous living!

The first thing to share with you is that we are delighted to say that we will be able to welcome Day Visitors on Saturdays and Wednesdays starting on Saturday 17th April. Please check the website here on how to book and the structure of the visit- the dates available and further details will be updated during the coming week. It will be lovely to see you again.

At the beginning of June we will be opening for a limited number of residential guests, watch out for details in the new Momentum that comes out at the beginning of May.

As we look to welcome people back through our doors, one area that we would value your prayers and support for is the need to grow Community again. We are particularly looking for community members who may want to do a gap-year and there are also other opportunities for joining community. It may be that you know people who could be the missing piece in our Scargill jigsaw. Please check out for more details here on our website or email Di on

We are continuing to offer our online programme, and have published details to the middle of May. Here are links for events over the next couple of weeks, do check our website for the full list.

Fri 16th to Sun 18th April We welcome back Andreas and Anna Anderssson, through the wonders of Zoom, as we explore ‘Resurrection Encounters’.

Tue 20th to Fri 23rd April  ‘Enneagram 1’ led by Margi Walker and Diane Stone (note closing date is early on Wed 14th April).

Sat 24th April ‘Quiet Day’ with Mike Leigh and Shaun Lambert looking at ‘Pathways to Stillness’

Tue 27th to Thu 29th April  ‘Messiness, Grace and Following Jesus’ led by Phil Stone and Mike Leigh

It will be a joy to see you on any of these courses!

As well as these online courses, we will continue with our Thursday Evening Prayers livestreamed at 4:30pm and our Tuesday Teaparty on Facebooklive at 3:30pm.

Our next Crafternoon is 3-3:45pm on Saturday 24th April – e-mail if you would like to be involved.

And, of course, if there is anything that you would like us to pray for then do email at

There is a lot going on, so please have a good look at the website!

Here is Di’s latest reflection on Masks – enjoy!.

Here is a snapshot of a few of the masks we have at home. Last summer I made some and some came for the Community at the house. And I feel a completely irrational delight and sense of achievement whenever I go out, mainly shopping, and my mask coordinates with my clothes, I hate to say outfit as that is certainly not me!

There is a sadness at the death of Prince Philip and as I write a COVID restricted funeral is being discussed! And so we all continue to wear our masks, probably for quite some time. Whether we’re aware of it or not we will use our eyes to communicate our thoughts and feelings every single day.  You see we naturally speak with our eyes – we stare, we wink and we roll them, our eyes can show fear and surprise, joy and sadness, laughter and tears. Our eyes speak volumes about who we are and how we feel. Although if you’re anything like me you will try to hide some of your emotions, especially the negative or angry ones!

When we meet people, whether they are wearing a mask or not, Phil and I are very different. Phil will find out many details and points of interest whilst I would have had a lovely time chatting about this and that, but learning nothing! I used to think this was because I didn’t ask the right questions, possibly quite so, but perhaps there is also a time and place to listen and enjoy another’s company without intruding. You see, when we left Kensal Rise for North Yorkshire we were given a beautifully framed set of blessings by John O’Donohue, personally penned in green ink from ‘Benedictus: A Book of Blessing’. It is there in our kitchen just by the door. The blessing I am frequently drawn to, and often challenged by, says:

Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavour to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

‘Endeavour to remain aware of the quiet world that lives behind each face’ has perhaps become an even greater challenge now with us all wearing masks. Here we are being asked to try, to strive, to attempt to understand that what we see or hear is not always the full picture. To be aware of, is not asking us to find everything out about a person, only to recognise that what we see or hear is not all the story and so to tread gently in our relationships. We are to be driven by love and grace, not inquisitiveness; with a generosity of time, embracing silence, accepting there will be unspoken words and thoughts.  It is the generosity of the heart, it is companionship.

Sr Jane once said ‘God respects each one of us as a mystery and we must do the same.’

With love and prayers from

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Thursday 25th March 2021

Dear Scargillians

This comes with much love and prayers to you all as we move into Holy Week, journeying with Jesus to the Cross and then to the wonder and joy of his Resurrection on Easter Day. We pray that during this disorientating and difficult time we will all know the joy of the Risen Lord amongst us.

Please do check out our website for our Holy Week reflections and other livestreamed Easter events, if you would like to journey with us. On the website there is also information of events for Families and Young people, including a cook-along!

We will be having our usual Tea Party on Tuesday 30th March, and a special Tea Party on Easter Sunday 4th April – both from 3:30pm on Facebooklive.

The week beginning 5th April, the whole Community will be having a week of holiday therefore the Office will be closed during this time and re-open on Monday 12th April.

On the website you will see some post-Easter events for you to book onto: with Bridget and Adrian Plass; and (Zooming in from Sweden) we have Anna and Andreas Andersson. There is also an Enneagram 1 course (available to book now) led by Margi and Di, and on 24th April there will be a Zoom Quiet Day (watch out for further details to be released).

Here is Di’s Holy Week reflection on washing feet – enjoy!

Diane writes:

Over the last year in my reflections, I have written a number of words and included many paintings and poems but today I leave the words to a woodblock by Sadao Watanabe called, ‘Christ Washing the Feet of St. Peter’ and a poem entitled, ‘I Wash Your Feet Just Because’. Both surprised and challenged me – in a good way! I hope they will do the same for you.

This woodblock is said to be one of his best and reminds me of mediaeval book illuminations. The print, with its ‘harmony of colours’ has been described as ‘a bold and impressive rendering of John 13:6-11’. The strong lines, the elongated hands, fingers and toes plus the large eyes of Jesus highlight the importance of this symbolic act.  For me, the surprise is the hovering Holy Spirit up in the corner – is Jesus being honoured and blessed as he honours and blesses others. I’ll leave you to find the surprise in the poem.

Sadao Watanabe – Christ Washing the Feet of St Peter

I WASH YOUR FEET JUST BECAUSE                                                                             
In the middle of the meal –
not when they came in the door
not before the meal –
but in the middle of the meal
Jesus fell on his knees
and washed their feet,
not even looking up
to see which foot goes with which face!
He washed them all, one by one.
He washes the feet of all of us,
believers and unbelievers,
old and young,
saints and sinners,
women and men,
rulers and ruled,
rich and poor,
filled and hungry,
dressed and naked.
Can it be possible that Jesus washed                  
The feet not because they were dirty
but just because …
”I want to wash your feet                                          
because I want to wash your feet.
For no other reason except
that I love you.”
[Author unknown, seen on A-MUSED]
We pray you have a blessed Easter.   
With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community  

Sunday 14th March 2021

Dear Scargillians

As ever, this comes with much love and prayers from the Community here at Scargill. We long to see you again through our doors, and we are so grateful that we can mutually support each other during these difficult and for many, exhausting days. St. Paul talks about carrying each other’s burdens (Galatians 6) and thank you for love during this time that seems just to drag on and on. Please contact us at if we can pray for you in any way. 

If the Government’s road map is able to keep on track, we look forward to welcoming day visitors again soon after April 12th, and in early June a limited number of residential guests to begin with. Please keep checking out our website where we will inform you of these exciting possibilities.

On our website, you will find our latest online offerings that are coming up which could be encouraging for you during these times. Check them out here. They include: 

This coming Saturday, at 7pm on Saturday 20 March, come and join a free-to-view concert by our wonderful friend Simeon Wood livestreamed especially for the whole band of Scargillians (expected run time 1 hour):

The “Feeling Good” show – Simeon Wood
As the title suggests an uplifting, inspiring, happy and thought provoking show full of hope and packed with music taken from Simeon’s latest album.

Performed live on YouTube. Link:

[Further descriptive details will be put on the Home page of Scargill website later this week]

This coming week Bishop Chris Edmondson invites you to join him in looking at ’Finding hope when it feels in short supply’, Tue 16 to Thu 18 March.  

Mike Leigh and Shaun Lambert are looking at ‘Finding our voice – mindfulness and song’, Fri 19 to Sun 21 March. There are still a few spaces left if you would like to book.

Margi Walker will be leading us in a Palm Sunday themed Quiet Day ‘Journeying into Holy Week‘ on Saturday 27th March on Zoom.

We will also be offering an online programme over Easter so please look out for details. This will include Holy Week morning reflections on Zoom, livestreamed services and a film of the powerful Good Friday ‘Walkaround’ along with an Easter Sunday afternoon Tea Party on Facebooklive.

Following the success of February Half Term, we’re going to have an ‘Edible Easter Garden’ cook-along for the youngsters (or young at heart) on Holy Saturday (3rd April) at 2:30pm on Zoom. Information about how to book for this, along with other resources to help families engage with Holy Week, will appear on our website programme page later this week.

As we begin to look forward, there are a few ways in which you can help us with spreading the word about Scargill:

  • As the roadmap to end lockdown offers the possibilities of opening our doors again to actual guests, rather than virtual guests, our presence on social media is vital to communicating our values, programme and friends. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram please do follow us and like or repost our content as we move forward!
  • Follow us on Twitter via @ScargillHouse; follow us on Facebook via @Scargillmovement; and Instagram via @scargill movement.

Also, we’re updating our mailing list. Please could you email with your latest contact details if you’re a Scargill Companion (have said the Companion promises, received your badge and are following the Scargill Pathway). Thank you!

Do know that you are warmly welcomed to join us online weekly for our fun Tuesday Teaparties on Facebooklive at 3:30pm, and our reflective Evening Prayers livestreamed from Scargill Chapel on Thursdays from 4:30pm.

Thank you again for journeying with us.

Here is Di’s reflection, enjoy!

Diane writes:

Did you know that in the Middle Ages mothering was apparently multifaceted, complex and difficult — rather like today, and intellectuals compared it to the very work of God. I wholeheartedly agree!

It feels that Mother’s Day has been part of the church calendar for ever, daffodils and all but ‘Nooo’ you hear me cry, not at all. Traditionally this Sunday has been a day of celebration, within the sombre period of Lent to celebrate the Church as mother of the faithful. It was considered important for people to return home to their ‘mother’ church once a year – the church you were baptised in, the local parish church or the nearest cathedral. Domestic servants were given the day off and so inevitably this became an occasion for family reunions.  I have often looked forward to and enjoyed this day with family and friends, lots of fun and offers of help! But alas, we remain unable to visit or be visited by family or friends and not all churches are open for worship. Oh, it would be so easy to just let the day go by!

But last Sunday I spoke on The Ten Commandments where I was reminded that our first duty after our obedience to God is within the family and only then can we consider our obligation to other people.  Family and Judaism for me have always gone together, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that scholars have partially credited the survival of Judaism to the importance and value they place on the family. In Jewish families, parents and children are responsible for each other as a way of honouring God. Parents are seen as partners in God’s creation of each human being, so to honour one’s parents is to honour God. We are called to honour our parents.

Jesus & the Samaritan Woman by He Qi

Samuel Johnson, (A Dictionary of the English Language -1755) defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness”. I was struck by the definitions, certainly worth thinking about! This quote led me to ‘Jesus-&-the-Samaritan-Woman’ painted by He Qi through Patrick van der Vorst’s reflection on a different painting / same subject, where he talks about Jesus seeing the Samaritan women as a person and approaching her as a person. That Jesus acknowledges her as an equal and treats her with sensitivity and openness. Is this honouring others? If so Patrick van der Vorst’s goes on to mention ‘that words of openness, kindness and encouragement can bring about daily resurrections of hope in people’. How good it that?

As well as showing me how important families are and how bereft I have felt not being able to meet ours, other than on zoom, this past year has also confirmed in me, that family values are wider than just family. That perhaps living community is living family values, where ever we are. So let’s not forget Mothering Sunday, I certainly won’t – I have a small parcel sitting in the kitchen with Mama Stone written on it! Let us, me included, also use this day to look to others, honouring one another with our time and commitment, with generosity of heart towards all we meet or have contact with.  And in doing so, by honouring our families and neighbours, we will also be honouring God.

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Friday 26th February 2021

Dear Friends

This week we have had hopeful and encouraging news! The Government laid out their roadmap to bring us out of lockdown, subject to conditions at every stage. So, if this goes to plan, we will reopen to residential guests in early June. To begin with, it will be for a limited number of guests but, at last, we can see some light at the end of this very long tunnel – how life-giving and warming is that. Thank you for the journey that we have shared, and continue to share, through this time together. It gives us hope.

By the beginning of May, we will publish a programme that will take us through the Summer, at this point we will start taking bookings for these residential stays. In July another programme will be released which will take us through to the end of the year!

In the meantime, we will continue to offer an online programme and in the new post-lockdown world Scargill will continue to offer an online presence alongside residential events.

The online programme until Palm Sunday is on our website, and we will soon be releasing details of what it looks like for Easter and beyond.

We would like to highlight a few of the events coming up – we would love to see you online:
‘Heal the Land’ next week led by Russ Parker – Tuesday 2nd to Thursday 4th March
‘Quiet Days’ (same content on each day) led by Phil Stone and Mike Leigh – Friday 5th and Saturday 6th March
Dust and Glory’ – Lent Retreat led by David Runcorn – Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th March
‘Scargill Forum’ – Wednesday 10th March
‘Younger than Springtime’ led by Adrian and Bridget Plass – Friday 12th to Sunday 14th March
Additionally – Scargillians are invited to a free special online concert put on for us by Simeon Wood at 7pm on Saturday 20th March. The link for this, and more details, will be publicised nearer the time.

I hope that you enjoy Di’s hopeful reflection.

Diane writes:

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
1 Chronicles 29:11

February always feels like a long month that drags on at the best of times, not much happens except perhaps the start of Lent!  But last weekend I went for my COVID vaccination, a very pleasant experience, in fact the highlight of the week / month. The icing on the cake was driving back home listening to Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man – a Mass for Peace – Benedictus” being played on Classic FM. As I listened I, quite unusually for me, became aware of the goodness of God, of a deep inner peace and a sense that ’all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well’. (Julian of Norwich)

Then on Monday, following rumours and speculations, the plan forward was laid before us, it was going to be a slow move out of lockdown. Excellent News of course, but there were also anxious thoughts and uncertainty about what the future might hold, how do we leave the safety of our homes, however small and begin again to meet friends and family without fear?  

So what should I write about this week?  Well instead of a painting I found two poems that excited me and gave me hope. One written in 1860 and the other in 2020. Emily Dickinson wrote ‘“Hope” is the Thing with feathers’ 160 years ago and it still speaks to us today, well to me anyway!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson’s poem has been described as a kind of hymn of praise, written to honour the human capacity for hope. Recently I read (‘writers-on-line’) ‘If ever there was a poem that reminds us not to give up hope, it’s this one – hope can take flight even in the darkest of times, and if that tiny brave bird can keep singing, then so can we’. The poem portrays hope as a bird that lives within the human soul, that dwells inside the human spirit and sings a wordless tune come rain or shine, gale or storm, good times or bad; not stopping under any circumstances. This ‘tiny brave bird’, for me, is the Holy Spirit, often seen as a dove! God’s Spirit that keeps me in tune with His grace, truth, goodness, mercy, justice, knowledge, power, majesty –  all that He is.  Paul reminds us (Corinthians & Romans) that Christ isn’t outside of us as some kind of Helper in our time of need. No he actually lives in us and is with us all the time. ‘…that the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God’.   

I smiled when I read this second poem ‘The Orange’ by Wendy Cope and remembered Sister Jane’s quote Humour is near to holiness, and love to laughter” and that a good healthy laugh relieves tension and stress and so allows us to hope. Many of us will be able to recognise ourselves in this amusing and in many ways light hearted poem.  But, at its core, this poem holds a deep truth for all of us. It shows us how to make the most of the small, quiet pleasures, such as sharing a fruit with loved ones and that these small pleasures enable us to get through difficult times. The poem ends with counting the biggest blessings – love, life itself (and of course laughter) – as a reminder of what is really important. And both these poems remind us of the power of hope and how little it requires of us, it is a gift freely given by God.

The Orange
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange –
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist. 

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 14th February 2021

Dear Scargillians

This week has been really cold, and snow still covers the hills around us, but we are now starting to see many snowdrops – the promise of spring, as they are a sign of hope.

It has been a joy and a comfort to connect with you during these challenging times, and we are glad to announce our next programme which takes us up to Palm Sunday weekend. Please do have a look, you will find both short retreats and programmed events, as well as our regular Forum and Quiet Days. We are very thankful to work with such speakers as Bridget and Adrian PlassBishop Chris EdmondsonDavid Runcorn and Russ Parker.

This coming week is Half Term which is always the most challenging of them all, and never more so than it is during lockdown. So, please do look up our Half Term activities based on C.S. Lewis’ ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ – there are plenty of fun activities to be involved in including a cook-along.

We had our first Crafternoon this weekend, which people really enjoyed, and our next one is going to be on Saturday 27th February at 3pm. Please e-mail if you would like to be involved.

Last year we journeyed through Lent through the first lockdown, and here we are, a year later, starting Lent in lockdown 3. Who would have thought?

Below is Di’s reflection as we approach Ash Wednesday. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

” Ash Wednesday” by Carl Spitzweg

Can you believe it? Lent starts this week with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, so perhaps we should be thinking about depriving ourselves of some small pleasure or indulgence and offer that sacrifice up to God.

Here is a painting by Carl Spitzweg entitled “Ash Wednesday”. At first glance the painting and the title do not seem to match. Here is a ‘mardi-gras’ clown sitting in a prison cell after a nights revelling. He has perhaps woken up to the painful reality of pushing the spirit of Mardi Gras a bit too far and gets to spend Ash Wednesday in jail. The downcast carnival clown is seated in the corner of a cell with head bent and arms crossed. There is no clowning around here! No laughing at life or ignoring of the rules. Despondent perhaps but there is also hope. The clown is bathed in light from an upper window; perhaps this prison cell has ‘become a place of retreat, repentance, and conversion’. The dark archway, directly across from the clown, shows us where he has come from however the window above lets in the light, and the rays point the way upward, inviting the clown towards a change of direction from darkness to light. (Daniella Zsupan-Jerome on Loyolapress)

As a child I was brought up attending our lively Congregational church, I have no memories of either a Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday service, although warm memories of eating many pancakes – with lemon and sugar, of course! And we did often talk about ‘giving something up’ for Lent; I have to admit mine often contained a ‘figure changing’ element rather than a spirit enhancing one!  But it has occurred to me that during this past year we as individuals and as a nation have already given up so much that it would be difficult to think how this tradition would be of any benefit.

Thinking about this the bridegroom passage from Matthew 9 came to mind where Jesus says to his disciples “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?”, as I have mentioned in an earlier reflection ‘God is not elsewhere’, that must in turn mean that God is here with us right now, so perhaps this is not the time to fast. Perhaps this Lent is the time to become aware of the bridegroom’s presence through spending time with Him, quality time, getting to know him, getting to recognise His presence.  

And I’m thinking (again), can we, like the clown, have a change of direction, but unlike the clown can we move from a penitential Lent, to one where we are free to treat ourselves, free to be kind to ourselves and free to invite God into our lives. Because God cares for our souls, but he also cares about our bodies and physical welfare. Our bodies are given to us to do God’s work. As Christians taking caring of our bodies is therefore taking care of the place where the Holy Spirit dwells (Patrick van der Vorst -12.2.21).  As we open up time to spend with God we can begin to open our hearts, our whole selves and our whole lives back to Him. And surely this is what Lent is all about.

P.S. Phil has just read this and rejoices that chocolate remains a possibility!!

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 30th January 2021

Dear Scargillians
This comes as ever with much love and prayers. I would imagine that the majority of us are struggling with this lockdown, particularly as we are having a proper Winter, today at Scargill we have had some more snow. But we do have some online events which we hope will be a light in the darkness as we meet together ‘virtually’. This week is busy with opportunity!
This coming Monday we are very pleased to have a Quiet Day led by Mat Ineson, there is still time to book, and if you miss Monday Mat will be doing a repeat of the content on Saturday’s Quiet Day.
Also on Monday, we are also delighted that Gordon Dey will be beginning an eight week course on The World of Jesus, running 7-9pm. There is still time to book.
Tuesday to Thursday: Dave Hopwood and I are leading a retreat on ‘The Voice and Silence of God’. I am very tempted to have one of the sessions where we are silent together! There is still space and we’d love to see you.
Our Enneagram 2 course with Margi Walker and Diane Stone begins on Tuesday 9th February.
Our monthly Scargill Forum will be on Wednesday February 10th, 7:45 for 8-9:30pm, which has become a real joy to meet with fellow Scargillians, to have some fun and think theologically over the issues we are facing.
We are very pleased to announce ‘Crafternoons’ a new opportunity to connect with other Scargillians and the Scargill Community over your favourite craft, jigsaw or knitting on a Saturday afternoon from 3-4pm. The initial two dates are Saturdays 13th and 27th February. If you wish to come along to this Zoom event then do email for details. We’d love to see you.
The final thing to mention is our online Half Term event (week beginning 15th February)  based on ‘The Dawn Treader’ by C.S. Lewis. There will be a number of fun activities for all ages – watch out for further details.
Thank you to those who have used recycle4charity envelopes to send spent Printer cartridges off for recycling, raising money for Scargill. These envelopes are no longer valid, so please send your spent printer cartridges to Scargill Admin Team for sending on as a batch.
Here is Di’s reflection on one of J.M.W. Turner’s wonderful paintings. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

Now, when did you last sing – ‘Jesus bids us shine’?

Jesus bids us shine
With a pure, clear light,
Like a little candle,
Burning in the night.
In this world is darkness,
So let us shine–
You in your small corner,
And I in mine……………………

It possibly wasn’t in 1868 when it was written by Susan Warner! Faith and I both recall singing it in Sunday School whilst my children, now all in their 30’s, have never heard of it!  But we have all read and know the passage from Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus said, ‘You are like salt for everyone on earth……. You are like a light for the whole world……Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.’ In my Bible I have written (in pencil) How? Why?

‘Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ by JMW Turner

Well, a few weeks ago there was chaos in Washington as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and forced the lockdown of Congress BUT this was followed by Joe Biden’s inauguration where a young woman of colour, wearing a long, gorgeous, warm, yellow coat, read her amazing poem giving hope, not only to Americans, but across the world.  Amanda Gorman’s poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’ concluded with these words:

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it”

This got me thinking, firstly, ‘are we ‘brave enough to see it’? Can we see the light in our present darkness? Some of us may be able to, others will find it more difficult, and I started to look for a painting that would hold and support these thoughts. First I found this quote from Dorothy Koppelman who wrote, ‘Magnificently, in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner, there is a light so blazing and so deep, one can almost be completely absorbed – and always, too, there is that blackness.’

And so, ‘Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ painted in 1842 by Joseph Mallord William Turner (The Tate) has become my picture of the week.  As I looked at the painting, ‘The swirling storm’ encouraged my eyes ‘to circle around the canvas repeatedly’ – in fact at one point I felt a little queasy, never having been a good sailor! Anyway, I noticed ‘The black of the wind and the waves of the sea create a circle around the doomed ship. Through the windy peephole, (you) can see the helpless ship at the mercy of nature’s violent motion.’  BUT within the chaos of the storm there is light. In fact, it was the bright light that drew me to the ship in the middle of the canvas.

Although we, today, may feel powerless against the storm of the virus with numbers of UK deaths reaching 100,000, Amanda has reminded us ‘there is always light’. So let us look for the light, let us look towards the hope we have in the vaccination program and the falling numbers of cases, let us look and see Spring is on its way, ‘Aslan is on the move’, let us begin to see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Often in order to be brave enough to see the light there needs to be those who are ‘brave enough to be it’ encouraging those who currently can’t see.  Susan Warner almost urges us to shine ‘in (our) small corners’ and Matthew 5 encourages us to make our light shine for others to see. You may like me ask ‘How’? Well just now after walking Ossie I met a delivery man, we greeted each other and then I mentioned the miserable weather, his cheerful response agreed then he added ‘but it’s what you make of it! Have a lovely day’ and left with a smile on both our faces.

So today I want to inspire us all to ‘be brave enough to be it’, ‘be brave enough to look for it’, ‘be brave enough to see it’.  Remember there is always light.

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 17th January 2021

Dear Scargillians

We continue to pray for you and please be assured of our love as we live through this latest lockdown. We are very aware that for many of us it is very challenging.

It has been a real joy this weekend to link up with Scargill Companions and, though we did not need to be reminded again, we recognise how important it is to connect with one another and the encouragement we can give and receive. We all need building up during this time.

It would be lovely to connect with you and our Scargill Programme is available on our website.

I would like to highlight three of the events: We are delighted that Shaun Lambert will be Zooming in to speak on, Redeeming the Present Moment. Shaun is a great friend to Scargill, an excellent speaker and practitioner on Christian Mindfulness. I would truly recommend this week if you happen to be free.

Next weekend is a ‘Friends’ Weekend – so that is open to all of you! Mike, our Chaplain, will be leading some reflections with his usual humour and insight.

I would also like to highlight the Individually Guided Retreat (Tuesday 26th to Friday 29th January) led by a Scargill Team.

The Scargill Pantomime, which we were working on before Christmas, is now released. I do hope it brings a smile to your face (also available on Scargill Home Page). The Community had fun producing it, we hope that comes through!

As always, you can join us for our Tea Party on Tuesdays at 3:30pm, and our Thursday Evening Prayers at 4:30pm.

So, here is Di’s reflection thinking about ‘loving yourself’. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

When I started writing these reflections I never thought I would quote from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but I am. On recently reading ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves, a tribute for her Majesty’s 90th birthday’, I was struck by how Christ centred her Christmas messages to the nation have been. Under the heading Love your Neighbour, towards the end of the book, Her Majesty is quoted from her 1975 Christmas message:

‘He (Jesus) commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, but what exactly is meant by ‘loving ourselves’?  A good question, and one which a few years ago I would have found difficult to answer? In fact, it may well have been a question I would rather not answer, as I really didn’t know what to say. Surely it should be “God first. Others second. Myself third!’  

But when the teachers of the law ask Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” he responds,  ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ ” (Matt. 22:37-38).  Here, loving God remains at the top of the list, but love of neighbour and self are inextricably related. In fact, Jesus’ command implies that we will know how to love our neighbour only if we properly love ourselves.

“God is love.” (1 John 4:16) and “Beloved” means to be greatly loved. No one can love us like God. God spoke the world into existence with love, Jesus is the greatest expression of God’s love and, through the Holy Spirit, God’s great love lives in us. We are His beloved children, undeserving of His love yet chosen to not only receive it but to also pass it on; to live God’s love out in our communities and day to day encounters. And, although I think many of us find it hard to believe, ‘scripture clearly states that God sees us as His beloved, His beautiful sons and daughters who are adored, loved and chosen. To love ourselves, means recognising and accepting that God freely loves us, as we are and who we are, that we do have God given gifts and talents and whilst we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, we are perfectly made in His image for His purpose’ (Anna Currin). It is through accepting that we are loved, that we can begin to love ourselves (as we are and who we are) and are then able to love our neighbours, out of a love filled with grace, forgiveness, compassion and empathy; having hearts open to hear and eyes open to see that God’s love is alive and active.

Which is perhaps what the Dalai Lama was also saying when he wrote, ‘If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not capable of developing compassion for others.’

The Queen’s answer was also about believing in oneself, recognising that we do have abilities, gifts and talents and using them for the good of others. “I believe it means trying to make the most of the abilities we have been given, it means caring for our talents. It is a matter of making the best of ourselves, not just doing the best for ourselves. We are all different, but each of us has his own best to offer. The responsibility for the way we live life with all its challenges, sadness and joy is ours alone. If we do this well, it will also be good for our neighbour.”

Her Majesty asks us to try our best, our community promises end with ‘ …with God’s help ….. I promise to try my very best to follow the example set by Jesus …’, it is what God asks of all of us. So, knowing we are beloved, can we try to be the very best we can, can we love our neighbours as we love ourselves, and see where that takes us?

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 2nd January 2021

Dear Scargillians

This comes with much love and prayers as we begin this New Year. Since we were last in touch, the situation has become more challenging. We will continue to do our very best to keep connected with you in a number of ways:

  • Our Tea Party will resume this coming Tuesday 5th January at 3:30pm.
  • On Wednesday 6th January we have our evening Forum as we celebrate Epiphany (7:45pm for 8-9:30pm).  
  • On Thursday 7th January we will be livestreaming our Evening Prayer at 4:30pm.
  • Our January Quiet Day is being run twice, on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th January. This will be led by Mike and Phil and have an Epiphany theme.

Please look at our website where you will find a number of online events that are planned to the middle of February. We very much look forward to seeing you.

Below is Di’s reflection on a wonderful word that I have never heard before. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

I am hesitant to wish your all ‘A Happy New Year’, but I do pray that we will all, very soon, be able to glimpse a light at the end of the tunnel and that for all of us 2021 will hold moments of happiness.

Listening to Classic FM over Christmas, I was introduced to the word ‘confelicity’. It is a much-underused word, which has a lovely ring to it and one which I certainly have neither heard nor read before. Anyway the radio broadcaster was very excited because confelicity means ‘delight in someone else’s happiness’ and ‘participation in the joy of others’. Which reminded me of a great friend of ours called Felicity.  She is absolutely someone who relishes life and has great pleasure when those around her are enjoying themselves. Now surely this is a word that should be in common parlance? So why isn’t it?

Well I’ve no idea. But when I looked up confelicity the German word ‘Schadenfreude’ kept appearing.  Now Schadenfreude means the complete opposite: “joy over some harm or misfortune suffered by another”.  The Japanese have a similar saying: “The misfortune of others tastes like honey” and the French speak of “joie maligne”, a diabolical delight in other people’s suffering and I could go on, but instead let me mention that there has never really been an equivalent word in English for which there is surely only one possible conclusion: as a journalist in the Spectator asserted in 1926, “There is no English word for schadenfreude because there is no such feeling here.”

Really? What utter nonsense! Do we not delight in Laurel and Hardy and Tom and Jerry or as Mr Bennet in that most essentially English of novels, Pride and Prejudice, declares “For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” And I’m sure like a German study carried out in 2015 our football fans smile more quickly and broadly when their rival teams miss a penalty than when their own team scores! More seriously though, do we not, like the media, seem to delight in the misfortunes of others?

Cartoon by Henry Scarpelli from ‘The Laurel and Hardy Magazine’ archive

But I digress, what has this got to do with confelicity? Well perhaps we can overthrow Schadenfreude. Can our New Year resolutions be to ‘try our very best’ to live the values of confelicity each day. To make the word commonplace, common parlance even. And I am sure as we ‘delight in someone else’s happiness’ and ‘participate in the joy of others’ we too will feel the warmth of God’s happiness as we travel through 2021.

With much love and prayers

Phil, Di and the Scargill Community

Friday 18th December 2020

Dear Scargillians

This comes with much love and prayers as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.

The Community will be having a break over the Christmas period, and will be coming back together early in the New Year.

I am very pleased to announce that this Sunday 20th December at 5pm we will be having an online Carol Service. It will be lovely to welcome you virtually into the Chapel.

We would also like to welcome you to our Christmas Tea Party via Facebooklive on Tuesday 22nd December at 3:30pm.

Watch out for the links for Di’s Bedtime Stories that are being released on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on our home page.

You will be very welcome to join us for Evening Prayer livestreamed from Scargill Chapel at 4:30pm on 31st December, as we ‘fly with fragile wings, courageous but a little scared’ into 2021.

Please look at our new online programme on the website which starts with an Epiphany Forum on Wednesday 6th January. This programme runs to the middle of February.

Our Christmas Momentum magazine, if you have not received a hard copy, is now available to read online here.

Diane’s reflection is sparked by an unusual depiction of Joseph, Mary and the Christmas story. Enjoy!

Diane writes: The illustration I am using today came as a complete surprise. Earlier this week just before Anna left community she was leading morning prayers and introduced us to ‘José y Maria’ by Everett Patterson.

Looking at this illustration with its pouring rain it could easily be a scene you drive past, observe whilst waiting for a bus, notice from the warmth and safety of your home, or walk by on the other side. Here I see a hot-line to God (telephone) and I love the donkey!!! But is this also a reality check; is this perhaps a more realistic interpretation of how Mary and Joseph might have felt on arriving at Bethlehem. Does this illustration challenge our perception of the lonely, the down and out, the refugee, the homeless? And as I write this listening to Jo Brand asking us to support ‘Crisis for Christmas’ I am reminded of ‘Jesus in the breadline’, that our Jesus’s parents (and indeed, Jesus himself) were at one time similarly unfortunate. I am reminded of a story or two Jesus once told…. and that ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!’  (John 3:17)

Within their desperation there is HOPE. Have you noticed a hint of colour, a kernel of faith, a sapling of new life, the new shoot of Jesse’s tree, the promised Messiah, the Kingdom of God here with us? In his blog Everett Patterson writes ‘the main goal of this illustration was to pack as many clever biblical references into the scene as possible.’ There are at least a dozen including his favourites; the verse from the prophet Ezekiel in the graffiti on the phone kiosk, ‘the way the “Save More!” behind Mary’s head looks kinda like “Ave Maria!”’ and the two advertisements for “Glad” and “Tide” on the newspaper’ And YES I did find them all – eventually!  Why not enlarge the image and have a go? It will, I’m sure, in a strange way, give you HOPE. As I searched God promises came to mind ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 ) and “I (God) love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me will find me. (Proverbs 8:17).

Advent is a journey of the soul to meet with God, the journey is nearing completion, Bethlehem has been reached, the shepherds are in the field, the Magi travel on and the stable, where the Christ child will be born awaits his parent’s arrival. For this is the stable in which God keeps his appointment to meet his people. Remember in an out-of-the-way place which folk never thought to visit – there God kept and keeps his promise; there God sends his son.

Wishing you a very blessed Christmas in these strange and challenging times.

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 6th December 2020

Dear Scargill Friends,

As always, this comes with much love and prayers to you all especially as the days become shorter and the weather becomes more inhospitable. We long to receive warmth and companionship and our prayer is that this newsletter provides something of that.

So, what’s coming up?

We are still livestreaming our Thursday Evening Prayers. On Sunday 20th December we will be livestreaming our Carol Service – watch out for details of this. Our Facebook Live Tuesday Tea Parties at 3:30pm continue. You are very welcome to join us for some silliness. Talking about silliness, watch out for our Scargill Pantomime which is being filmed this week.

If you wish to join our online programme – please click here. It is not too late yet to join Di and I on Picturing the Gospel which starts this coming Tuesday. Mike, our Chaplain, is leading a retreat next weekend (Free). Our last online event for this year will be with Bridget and Adrian Plass,’Laughter in No Man’s Land’ (Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th December).

For our younger Scargillians, there will be a virtual Scargill Christmas Party with the Youth Team  on Saturday 19th December at 4pm – do book in here.

I am very pleased that Di is also going to record some Christmas stories which you will be able to listen to over the Christmas period.

And speaking of Di, here is her latest reflection on clouds and rainbows. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

This week in morning prayers, in answer to the question ‘How can we be kind to others?’, one of Alison’s 5yr old, past pupils thought for a while, then offered this as their reply, ‘Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’.  Wish I’d thought of that. But I did start thinking, were there such things as rainbow clouds? Well, yes there are! And in a nutshell iridescent clouds, or rainbow clouds, are caused by the diffraction of sunlight caused by tiny ice crystals or drops of water suspended in the atmosphere. They are rare, often appearing on hot and humid days and accompanying storms. Of course most of you knew this already but, just in case, here are two photos for those who didn’t showing Circumhorizontal arcs (Fire Rainbow) from Nepal, Himalayas and Everett, America. 

My thoughts soon moved on to the symbolic presence of rainbows. What do we think when we see one? Which took me to Noah and the NHS, well they both begin with N!

In Genesis 9:12-15, “God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.’” This does not imply that God “needs” reminding; it is simply a way of saying that God will faithfully keep His covenant, that He is ever mindful of His promise.

The rainbow reassured Noah and his family that a flood on the same scale will never take place again. This was an everlasting covenant with Noah, his family, their descendants, and all the living creatures. The rainbow was and continues to be a reminder of God’s commitment to the earth. It is not simply part of an ancient story or merely a symbol of hope, it is a living example of God’s faithfulness. It is an assurance that God has not forgotten us and that he continues to work in this world.

And this world has during this pandemic desperately needed hope. Many of us were taken by surprise, shocked at what was happening as the first lock down was put in place and we began to put our hope in the NHS and Key workers. Rainbows became the sign of our hope, our thanks and our wishes. So much so that ‘Rainbows for the NHS’ a giant interactive ‘mosaic of hope’, made up of thousands of pictures and stories, was created. One photo was of Suzy ‘s son, she writes “I’m sadly in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ group as I’ve suffered a Stroke. I was saved by my 6-year-old son who called an Ambulance, followed by 3 heart surgeries. My son has been shielding with me for 11 weeks. He is my rainbow and sunshine”.  

For many just seeing a rainbow cheers them up and is a sign of hope. Advent also invites us to hope. To hope in our God of yesterday, today and forever who has promised his people ‘Shalom’, a peace that includes “wholeness, and well-being”. Advent is not only a time of looking forward and preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ it is the time for us to be bringers of hope to others. The lyrics from Desolation Row by Bob Dylan, ‘And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah’s great rainbow, She spends her time peeking into Desolation Row’ reminds me that many are now living on the edge of ‘Desolation Road’ hoping, hoping perhaps for a rainbow. So how can we this Advent ‘… be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’? To be honest I don’t really know? It will be different for all of us. A listening ear, a helping hand, the giving of a treat, a smile or a joke. A prayer, a phone call, a shoulder to cry on, a ……… Have a think I’m sure you know what your rainbow needs to be.

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Monday 23rd November 2020

Dear Scargillians,

As we enter the third week of ‘Lockdown 2’, we hope that this finds you well in what continues to be very challenging times.

If we can pray for you, please let us know at:

Di’s reflection on ‘Building Bridges’ is a wonderful theme that runs through the life of Scargill.

So, we would love to connect with you. We have a Scargill Forum on Wednesday 25th November with our guests being Faith Lucas, Michael Mitton and Felicity Lawson. We gather at 7:45pm for 8pm start, and are finished by 9:30pm.We’d love to see you so do book here

Our online programme is going well. We offer it as a way of encouraging us all in these dark days. Coming up is the Advent weekend (Friday 27th to Sunday 29th November) entitled ‘Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ with Bishop Chris and Karen Openshaw; from Wednesday 2nd to Friday 4th December Felicity Lawson will be leading our Advent Retreat entitled ‘Watching, Waiting, Hoping’. There are other online events for the rest of December please look at our Programme.

It has been a real joy to connect with may of you in our Thursday Evening Prayers (4:30pm). We will continue to livestream these and thank you for your encouraging and constructive feedback.

Now for Di’s reflection – enjoy!

Diane writes:

I don’t know how old this song is but I remember singing it as a child – and that was quite a long time ago!!!

He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole wide world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the sun and the rain in His hands… 

He’s got my brother and my sister in His hands… 

He’s got the rivers and the mountains in His hands… 

He’s got the whole world in His hands…

It was not so long ago David Attenborough showed us (his) Life on Our Planet asking us again to face the consequences of our actions! And since I last wrote there has been the American Presidential election; our hopes for a vaccine seems nearer, with promises of a World Wide vaccination programme; we have heard from the news and from friends around the world that there remains many concerns and difficulties; and Phil and I have begun watching Small Axe – 5 films set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, each telling a story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination. And so I have recently been thinking that I should be praying more and more for the world. To pray beyond my local community here at Scargill, beyond my family and friends, including Working Friends of course! Beyond the divides in the United Kingdom and BREXIT.

At the same time, I remembered a giant sculpture Faith introduced me to called ‘Building Bridges’, used by Patrick van der Vorst to illustrate Matthew 6:7-15 (The Lord’s Prayer). It is the work of Lorenzo Quinn, for the Venice Biennale 2019.

“The artist wanted to symbolise how people can overcome their differences and his sculpture consists of ‘six pairs of hands joining across ‘dividing’ waters, with each pair representing an essential, universal value: “Friendship, to build on the future together; Wisdom, to make mutually beneficial decisions; Help, to cement lasting relationships; Faith, to trust in your heart and self-worth; Hope, to persevere in worthwhile endeavours; and love, the fundamental purpose for it all”. Surely these values go beyond dividing waters, to the joining of hands also across dividing seas and nations.

‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. ….’

Jesus tells us that praying the ‘Our Father’ reminds us that God is the father of us all, and therefore every human person is truly our brother or sister. Can you join me in holding the ‘whole world in our hands’? Our world needs friendship, wisdom, help, faith (trust), hope and love. Our world needs prayer. Our world needs praying hands.

Oh and to finish, an apology, in my last reflection I quoted ‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…..’  Of course this was from John 14 not Paul – although we all know he did write a lot about love, but not this sentence. A rambling mind I’m afraid is not always reliable.

With much love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 8th November 2020

Dear Scargill Friends,

This morning we went to the Walled Garden to finish our service with the act of Remembrance. For me, it seemed more poignant than ever before, being in lockdown, as many would not have been able to commemorate an act of Remembrance. It is so important for us to continue to pray for peace for our world, giving thanks for those who have given their lives for the freedom that we enjoy. In these difficult days, I am reflecting on what it means to be a person of peace.

It was lovely to connect with many of you last Thursday for our livestreamed prayers and we will be doing that again this Thursday from 4:30pm. Watch out for the link on our website. It was a profound and beautiful time to be together in the Chapel. We warmly welcome you to join us again this Thursday.

We are very pleased that Jock and Margaret Stein are leading our Quiet Days next week, and you can still book in for Saturday’s Quiet Day here.

The next on-line programmed event is with Bishop Chris and Susan Edmondson, titled ‘For everything a season’. I am very grateful to +Chris and Susan for being willing to do this. If you would like to join this course then here is the link.

On Tuesday at 3:30pm, inspired by our new Community members Mike and Alison Leigh, we are going to do a Facebook live streamed Tea Party – and this is going to be just fun. You don’t need to sign up for Facebook to be part of this, and the link will again be on our website.

Here now is Di’s reflection on ‘what is essential?’ Enjoy!

Diane writes:

I have recently been on Grandma Di duty and when reading a bedtime chapter from The Animals of Farthing Wood. I read ‘Like Vixen, Fox wanted to run as far as he could in the opposite direction. – to keep running until those ghastly sounds (of the hunt) became memories only. But he had already decided once that day, that to be reunited with his friends was his most important objective. These friends, who needed him were somewhere ahead.’ Fox knew that his friends needed him, but was also beginning to realise they were also important to him, they were who he was and he was lost without them. It was essential that he found them.

Which set me thinking about what is essential to me. Well, first I asked Bonnie and Jack, they very helpfully said that dancing and jam sandwiches were essential to life! So moving swiftly on; for some reason I began dividing my life into Church and other! Perhaps that was more realistic back 11 years ago in London, even so I have spent a long time now talking about God–with-Us, about God not being elsewhere, about God being in our work, rest and play. So what was the ‘other’ if not part of the now?

I then looked at Ecclesiastes 4 ‘A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break.” Phil often used this verse at a wedding; it is often seen as a picture of their relationship within the Triune God, and the third strand could be the Holy Spirit who has bound them together in oneness giving strength and durability to their relationship.

But I also read that the actual Hebrew does not say “three strands” but simply “three”. Now this left me room for interpretation. Of course the Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit sprang to mind, but also Faith, Hope and Love – and the greatest of these is Love. Then last Sunday Mike reminded us about being called into God’s love; that we are to enter into God’s love, to live the way of God’s love. Paul tells us ‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’  And this love cannot be contained, we need to go out, we need to share this love with the world, we need to be God’s love in the world. This is what is essential!

But now we find ourselves back in lock down and once again we need to look beyond what is essential to us as individuals to what is essential to our family, our friends, and our neighbours. The editor of ConnectUs recently wrote ‘God has designed humans to be social. He is community in and of himself, and we are most in his image when we are in community with others, sharing God’s love and supporting one another.’

How we do this during these next few weeks I do not know? It will be different for each and every one of us. But I do know that we are to be God’s people wherever we are and that it will be in the small deeds as well as the large.  Mother Teresa once wrote: ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one’.

We are called to live the way of Christ, we are called to walk the way of love – this is what is essential.

With love from

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Dear Friends

Monday 26th October 2020

This latest letter comes with much love and prayers. The COVID crisis has become more complicated and restrictive for many of us so please know that we hold you before Jesus in our Chapel prayers,  in whatever the circumstances that you face, especially as we enter what is going to be a challenging winter. The importance of connectedness and relationships, where love can be shared, warmth experienced, even if it is in Zoom land, will be so important in the months to come. Let us know if there is anything we can pray for by emailing –

Please check out our online programme here. There will be something that will be nourishing and warming for you during these days ahead.

You will also find the links to our ongoing free quiet days and forums here.

There is also an addition to the programme! We are delighted and excited that Bridget and Adrian Plass will be with us in December helping us discover  ‘Laughter in no man’s land’ here. I love the title.

There are many other thought provoking and relevant courses and good speakers, John Bell, just to mention one, so please have a look. We would love to see you and hopefully be an encouragement!

And talking of encouragement – here is Di’s latest reflection – enjoy!

Diane writes:

Queuing – The British like to queue, or we like to think we like to queue. We like to think we are better than most other countries at queuing and when living in London if anyone dared to ‘jump the queue’ they were very much frowned upon.

On Thursday last week at the Forum, which, by the way, I enjoyed very much, Gordon, in our breakout group, mentioned queuing and the great conversations he had. Sadly, for me this has not always been the case. There have been times when the 2m distance, the muffled speech and apparent deafness, that comes from wearing a mask, has made queuing a very quiet and perhaps anxious affair. We are left trying to communicate with our eyes, which is almost impossible, so we smile and nod to one another BUT there is hope: Mother Teresa wrote “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”  I’m learning to smile with my eyes!

The Christ in the Breadline by Fritz Eichenberg

Queuing reminded me of a woodcutting by Fritz Eichenberg (1951) called The Christ of the Breadline and the nights when Phil and I would go down to Charing Cross station to serve homemade soup to the homeless.  Here we see Jesus Christ standing in line at a soup kitchen, waiting with the rest of the Homeless for His turn to be served. In front of Him and behind Him are other scruffy people, hands in their pockets, wrapped up in thread bare layers, anxiously waiting for food, a meal they couldn’t prepare for themselves. They’re all together, the riff-raff, the vagrants and the homeless.

This though is not a typical portrayal of Jesus. Here Paul Luikart notes Eichenberg’s Jesus is weak, wrapped in a blanket. He’s entirely in shadow and like the ‘riff-raff’ stands silent and still. They stand, with the Lord of the universe in their midst, motionless in their deep poverty and hunger, wanting the same thing He wants—rest, fulfilment, and an end to suffering. Although Jesus is the central figure, and the only source of light in the entire image is His halo, the details are with those in the soup kitchen line standing with Jesus and not Jesus Himself. Paul Luikart also observes, ‘they can only be seen by the light of His crown.’   An interesting thought.

Jesus has come for all of us, every one of us, the whole world.  Jesus is here with us, the question is, where will we find him?  Today in 2020, in a year so full of turbulence how will we meet Jesus in the here and now? Will we meet Jesus in our queues? As we queue will others meet Jesus in us?                                                             

Remember Mother Teresa said: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

May Jesus our Hope be with us during these difficult days.

With love from

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 10th October 2020

Dear lovely Scargillians

This latest epistle comes with much love and prayers particularly as the ongoing situation with the virus continues to dominate our lives. It is not easy for any of us, so it is really lovely that we can keep connected, encourage one another in our prayers, and meet up in creative ways.

This coming Thursday will be sending another mailing where will set out our online programme to the middle of December. Not to give too much away, we are delighted to be working with: Dave Hopwood, John Bell, Felicity Lawson, Michael Mitton, Chris Edmondson, Shaun Lambert and others. Watch out for Thursday!

In the meantime here are the online events you can book for October. It is will be lovely to welcome our guests in the Forum and Gemma Simmonds CJ as she leads our Quiet Days. Details are below. You can go to the online booking page here to book for all these events.

The Quiet Days and Forum events are free and on Zoom. If you would like to donate then we suggest an amount of £10 for a Forum and £20 for a Quiet Day. Our Eventbrite system has two types of tickets for each event. You can either book a Free ticket OR a Donation ticket (minimum donation is £1) – please do choose the ticket that suits you.  If you prefer to donate to us directly rather than through Eventbrite then choose a Free ticket and send your donation to us as usual. Thank you!

The next Scargill Forum will be on Thursday 15th October (8-9:30pm) on Zoom and we are delighted that our guests will be Diane Stone (Scargill Leadership), Mat Ineson (member of Scargill Council) and Gordon Dey (Founder of ‘Jesus shaped people’ (JSP)). JSP is helping grow urban and estate churches and we at Scargill are in partnership with JSP. Like the other Forums, this should be a thoughtful and enriching evening (as well as some fun!). Book here.

We are running two separate Quiet Days in October (identical content on both days) on Zoom on Tuesday 20th or Saturday 24th October. Do book for one of these. Again there is the option of booking a Free ticket or a Donation ticket for the same event:

We are delighted that Gemma Simmonds CJ will be leading our two Quiet Days in October, and hosted by Scargill. Gemma and Phil both met at Lee Abbey when they were guest speakers there. Gemma is a regular contributor to the BBC and other Radio station programmes, teaches on Ignatian Spirituality, and is also a Spiritual Director. She has written some reflections on the art of Sieger Köder. Her Quiet Day will be an opportunity to contemplate and gather insight on the Gospel as Gemma helps us reflect on some of these paintings. A Quiet Day not to miss! Book here.

Our first online programme event will be led by Dave Hopwood and Phil Stone, streamed live from Scargill. The theme is ‘King of Hearts’ and it will run from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd October. Further details of this conference, including costs and how to book are available here.

We continue to share some of our Morning prayers and talks from Sunday services as audio files here.

We are extending the opportunity for day visitors through October, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, where you can be assured of a warm welcome in the House. Please see here to book.

We would love for us to be able to pray alongside each other in this way.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us for any situation or person that you would value prayer for by e-mailing:

And, finally, here is Di’s latest reflection – Enjoy!

Where has harvest gone to this year? Despite the farmers busily gathering in their fields, my allotment – which I hasten to add has in the past produced winners at the Kettlewell show! – this year produced a very meagre offering. One that I was glad I wasn’t relying on for sustenance or for living the ‘Good life’! Was I thankful or not thankful for the two strawberries (a cabbage from a neighbouring allotment) and the complete lack of runner and broad beans, peppers, tomatoes and beetroot? Well, to be honest, thankfulness didn’t really enter into my thoughts, I was disappointed and disillusioned, vowing to leave my allotment fallow next year. Then on my way home after evening prayers I remembered ‘The Angelus’, an oil painting by Jean-François Millet. Wanting to catch the unchanging rhythms of peasant life Millet has shown us two peasants, who on hearing the distant church bells announcing the day’s work is over, have paused, bowed their heads over a basket of potatoes, to say the Angelus prayer. A moment of respite giving of the day’s labour and its produce to God. This painting led me to ask myself – What am I really offering to God? Not vegetables, that’s for sure!

But I was reminded of a more modern painting, ‘Feeding of 5000’ by Ray Foxell. Look closely and you may well find a Mars Bar in the offering!  So what can I offer? I feel that in many ways these reflections are my offering, my offering to God, my offering to the friends I know well and those I hope to meet one day. These reflections have become a life line for me, and an offering to you. I might not be able to grow vegetables but it seems I can write a reflection, it is when I feel most alive, most close to God. And your replies have certainly been an offering to me. So thank you, thank you for not only reading my reflections but also for the many small, encouraging comments you have sent in as well as a needle threader or two! Which were most welcome – honestly. Perhaps it is the small offerings graciously given and graciously received for which we should be thankful.

After talking with Helen B about my ‘meagre offering’ and the two paintings she wrote this poem.

Small Offering

Lord, I am frustrated, I don’t have a lot to bring.
Although it isn’t very much, I give you everything.
I don’t just give these tiny fruits but all they represent –
the love and care and all the time and energy I’ve spent.
I’m mindful of the boy who gave the contents of his plate,
just five loaves and two small fish but that day, thousands ate.
His lunch seemed insignificant, inadequate and yet
you took, broke, blessed and gave it so that others’ needs were met.
Looking round, I’m overwhelmed by all the need I see
but make my gift a blessing, multiply your love through me.

Helen Brocklehurst

Here at Scargill, our day’s work ends in the Chapel, at 4:30pm with silence following a psalm. This has become a precious time for many of us. A time when we too can pause, bow our heads and give the day’s labour and its produce to God. Why not join us at 4:30pm?

This comes with love and prayers from

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Monday 28th September 2020

Dear Friends

We do hope this finds you well in these uncertain and difficult times. Many of you will have been aware that we were hoping to open for residential guests at the beginning of October. The direction of travel of coronavirus infections across the country is significantly rising and, sadly, we feel that we need to press the pause button.  We will review the ‘state of play’ by mid-October to see if we are able to open in November.

This is obviously disappointing for everyone: the Community as well as the Guests who were looking to return. We believe it is the right and responsible decision to take at this stage.

However, there is some positive news! We have decided, whatever happens, to publish a programme which will be delivered online from Scargill. Watch out for more details!

We are extending the opportunity for day visitors through October, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, where you can be assured of a warm welcome in the House. Please see here to book.

Here are some October dates for online events and we very much look forward to reconnecting with many of you through these events. Details are below. You can go to the online booking page here to book for all these events.

The Quiet Days and Forum events are free and on Zoom. If you would like to donate then we suggest an amount of £10 for a Forum and £20 for a Quiet Day. Our Eventbrite system has two types of tickets for each event. You can either book a Free ticket OR a Donation ticket (minimum donation is £1) – please do choose the ticket that suits you. Thank you!

The next Scargill Forum will be on Thursday 15th October (8-9:30pm) on Zoom and we are delighted that our guests will be Diane Stone (Scargill Leadership), Mat Ineson (member of Scargill Council) and Gordon Dey (Founder of ‘Jesus shaped people’(JSP)). JSP is helping grow urban and estate churches and we at Scargill are in partnership with JSP. Like the other Forums, this should be a thoughtful and enriching evening (as well as some fun!) Book here.

We are running two separate Quiet Days in October (identical content on both days) on Zoom on Tuesday 20th or Saturday 24th October. Do book for one of these. Again there is the option of booking a Free ticket or a Donation ticket for the same event:

We are delighted that Gemma Simmonds CJ will be leading our two Quiet Days in October. Gemma and Phil both met at Lee Abbey when they were guest speakers there. Gemma is a regular contributor to the BBC and other Radio station programmes, teaches on Ignatian Spirituality, and is also a Spiritual Director. She has written some reflections on the art of Sieger Köder. Her Quiet Day will be an opportunity to contemplate and gather insight on the Gospel as Gemma helps us reflect on some of these paintings. A Quiet Day not to miss! Book here.

Our first online programme event will be led by Dave Hopwood and Phil Stone, streamed live from Scargill. The theme is ‘King of Hearts’ and it will run from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd October. Further details of this conference, including costs and how to book are available here.

We continue to share some of our Morning prayers and talks from Sunday services as audio files here.

We would love for us to be able to pray alongside each other in this way.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us for any situation or person that you would value prayer for by e-mailing:

And, finally, to make you smile. Here is Di’s wonderful reflection on the life of the Trinity. Enjoy!

Diane writes:

Two pictures (see below) for you that although completely different in styles and themes both share visual expressions of what the Trinity means to me; with a glimpse, a hint of the joyous hospitality that is at the heart of the nature of God.

Many of you will be familiar with Andrei Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity. You may also know that it is an ancient image of a divine dance, an image of one God in three persons, perfectly united in will, distinct and unique in persons, moving together in joyful love’. I have to be honest, I see very little movement, but we are asked to ‘follow for a moment their gazes and the tilt of their heads’ and see ‘a movement of perpetual give and take’. This, it was interesting to read, is because ‘the angels are not inserted into the circle, but create it instead, thus our eyes can’t stop at any of the three figures and rather dwell inside this limited space’. And as we face the icon we too are invited to join and so complete the circle Our presence, our participation at this table is required if the circle is to be complete, drawing us into a relationship with the Father through the Son, in the Spirit.

Now you may wonder where does Skipping (in the gutter) by Robert Williams 1934-5. whose characters, often working class, come into it. Well, the other afternoon whilst drinking tea and trying NOT to eat cake, we began talking about skipping in the playground at school. For the life of me I can’t remember why. Anyway I mentioned a painting I saw at the Tate a few years ago, a painting showing women skipping. It is a small painting, originally part of a much larger piece of work entitled ‘The Gutter’. Dare I say I was first drawn to their bottoms! I rather like that, but once I looked up to their faces I said to myself – ‘Trinity!’ Here was, for me, a modern everyday depiction of the Rublev’s Icon. Here was the Trinity in the gutter, where else would they be?

Now bear with me – three ladies, different but the same, holding a rope, forming a moving circle, supporting one another as they skip, in the gutter. There is definite movement here! There is concentration but there is also fun – skipping is not just good exercise –  do you remember skipping in the playground? Being invited to join the queue, the excitement and apprehension of waiting for your turn to jump in, then the count 1, 2, 3 ready? Nooo!! try again, 1, 2, 3 YES, there you are rhythmically jumping and chanting, sometimes with a partner always with the group, till you falter, and move out ready to rejoin the queue whilst the next person jumps in. Here is perpetual motion with the invitation to join.

Perhaps I see too much in the second painting, but I strongly believe God desires to draw us into the dance, that God constantly invites us to live as God lives among his people, with justice and mercy, with sorrow and joy, whether in a quiet sedate dance or a skipping frenzy, whether here at Scargill or in the city gutters.

This comes with love and prayers from

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 13th September 2020

Dear Scargillians

We are still hoping to open in October and there will be another MailChimp coming out next weekend with further details – so watch out for this! We are so much looking forward to welcoming you back. You can be sure of a warm welcome in a place that is ‘Covid-secure’. Each programme event will have limited spaces available to book.

We are doing two ‘Renew, Refresh Restore Quiet Days’ on Zoom either this Thursday 17th September or Saturday 26th September (10am to 4:30pm). We will be looking at the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this will be led by Philip and Phil. These are bookable through our website (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book these events).

This September we still have open the opportunity to make a Day Visit. For details of how to book please go to here.

We value very much praying for you so please send any prayer requests to:

Here is Di’s latest reflection. Since she wrote this, Phil has managed to spectacularly break his glasses and so is waiting eagerly to receive a new pair! :+)

Diane writes:

Phil had to go for a regular eye test last week. Which is fine except we couldn’t find his glasses. We searched everywhere, under every table and chair or so we thought, looking but apparently not seeing. As my Nan would have said “You can’t see the Wood for the trees!” although for us she may well have said ‘You can’t see the glasses for the toys, the mess and the washing!’ Our only excuse being that it was the day after a fortnight of having our children and grandchildren here – in distanced dribs and drabs, which was great.  Oh, and we did find the glasses, just in time!

An interesting fact – I have discovered that the origin of this phrase comes from Bath, in England. It refers to a concourse of houses that were designed by the architect John Wood. There was a tree planted directly in front of these houses, and it grew quite large. So people began to exclaim: “You can’t see the Wood for the tree!”
This adage also speaks about being so involved and concerned with all the small details (the trees) of a situation that we are unable to get a clear overview of the whole situation (the wood) and so often lose perspective.  And as autumn approaches, or has it already settled itself in, with the ever changing COVID guidelines and the differing information we are receiving I am beginning to ‘lose the plot’. I can’t see clearly anymore, the negative seems to have overtaken the positive and instead of noticing the special moments, the kind words, the thoughtful acts I find myself complaining, complaining, mainly over details that effect ME!

So today in our morning meeting as we sang:

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King
‘Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
You are beautiful in all your ways
[‘Wonder’, written by Amanda Cook, © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing]

I realised that I had begun to lose the wonder of God, perhaps a little like in Corinthians 4:4 where we read, ‘In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’. Today we have uncertainty, the world is in a state of fear because of uncertainty, we feel helpless and out of control. But we can turn to the One who is fully in control and perfectly able to help in our times of need. Psalm 62 says, ‘For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy’.  We can turn to a God, who wants to meet with us, who is involved in the heaven and earth he created, who takes his material world so seriously that he became a part of it, embodied and embedded, in Christ. (Paula Gooder – ‘Heaven’)

When visiting Hungary for Kata and Greg’s wedding several community stayed in a wonderful Airbnb and there on a shelf was a heavy, metal statue of Mary sitting peacefully holding Jesus in her lap. It felt as if she was offering Jesus to me. The statue was heavier than expected and suddenly I realised Jesus was separate, that I could hold him. It was astonishing how I felt holding baby Jesus. So many memories came flooding back, of cradling each of our four children newly born and oh so precious. As I held each one, time seemed to stop; I gently held their small fingers and toes, sensed their vulnerability with a deep sense of responsibility. I remember a warm stillness, there were just the two of us – A moment of wonder. I gently returned Jesus to his mother and took this photo.

Mary offered me, offered the world the gift, of her son Jesus, a gift given by God.

Can we today accept that offer and offer ourselves back to God? Perhaps then we can see the wood AND the trees – the gift and the wonder of God within the mess of these uncertain times.

This comes, as always, with much love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 29th August 2020

Dear Friends

We hope this finds you well as we all navigate through these disorientating and strange times.

We are still hoping to open in October. We will let you know what we are doing, and how to book, sometime in September. We are so much looking forward to being able to welcome people back again through our doors.

If you are unaware, we will be doing a Scargill Forum on Zoom on Wednesday 9th September (8-9:30pm).  We will let you know soon who our guest speakers will be for this.  This is bookable through our website here (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book onto this event).

We are also doing two ‘Renew, Refresh, Restore’ Quiet Days on Zoom on either Thursday 17th or Saturday 26th September (10am to 4:30pm). They will be led by Philip and Phil, and also involve other members of the Community. These are bookable through our website here (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book onto this event).

As we pray for you, please do pray for us. September is going to be a busy month as we prepare to receive guests again in the COVID world that we are living in.

I hope you enjoy Di’s reflection. I just want to highlight the bit that we are actively looking for new Community to join the Scargill Adventure, particularly those who would like to do a gap year.

As a Community we would love to pray for you so please send any prayer requests to:

We are delighted to be able to welcome Day Visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and have released dates into the middle of September.  It will be lovely to see you.  For details and how to book please go to here.

All these events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

Diane writes:

In my last reflection I talked about being ‘half-empty / half-full’ people and was sent this – ‘The optimist says this glass is half full, the pessimist says this glass is half empty and the engineer says this glass is twice as big as it needs to be!’ which made me smile, thank you.

When we closed due to COVID Scargill Community was in many ways ‘twice as big as it needed to be’. We stopped inviting guests and Working Friends and began the slow process of saying good-bye to Community, including very recently 5 over a period of two weeks. We are indeed now half the size we were! Ironically in the hope of opening to a small number of guests later this year I am on the verge of recruiting a small number of Community!  And with all the news concerning universities and gap-years I am also hoping to recruit two or three gap-year students – so if you know of any – honestly, let me know. As for all you Working Friends, you are not forgotten, we just need to see how all the logistics pan out. Please continue to be patient and continue praying for us. We’ll be in touch

The artwork below, ‘Camels in the Eye of a Needle’, isn’t ‘photoshopped’. These are actual tiny, sculptures that fit in the eye of a needle! Russian artist, Nikolai Aldunin, using syringes, toothpicks and superglue keeping his hands perfectly still, in order to build these extraordinarily microscopic artworks. I find this absolutely amazing especially as I have been making face masks for Phil and I and in the process I have struggled to even thread the needle, time and time again I have squinted with poised thread to no avail, until at last for no apparent reason, hey presto, the thread slides through the eye of the needle, reminding me of Matthew 19 where Jesus says to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

The image of a camel going through the eye of a needle, even if it was a very small gateway, is a great description of our planning meetings, where we have discussed many practical issues, trying to cover every guideline we can read about to prepare for guests, but we also need to ensure we can provide – A WARM WELCOME, a FRIENDLY STAY and a feeling of being WANTED and VALUED notwithstanding social distancing and family units. As Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, on ‘Thought for the Day’ this week said, “if society remains so gripped by fear of illness and death that we think of nothing but physical safety we risk losing sight of other virtues that make us human in the fullest sense. Virtues like compassion, kindness, sociability, community, to name but a few.” She went on to say, “We are more than physical shells we are soul and spirit too.”

At times this all feels like an impossible, uphill task, so I hold onto the fact that Jesus said. ‘For men this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Sunday 16th August 2020

Dear Friends

This comes with all our love and prayers. As it is true for all of us, the Community are working out how to live through these disorientating times. To be honest, it can really drain the life out of us! We are praying that you may know the mystery of God’s presence each day. I hope you enjoy Di’s reflection on ‘half empty/half full’.

As a Community we would love to pray for you so please send any prayer requests to:

We are delighted that we can now offer you some forthcoming Scargillian online events. It will be a joy to connect with you.

Our next Scargill Forum will be on Wednesday 9th September (8-9:30pm) on Zoom.  We will let you know soon who our guest speakers will be for this.  This is bookable through our website (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book onto this event).

We would love to welcome you to one of our ‘Renew, Refresh, Restore’ Quiet Days on either Thursday 17th or Saturday 26th September (10am to 4:30pm). They will be led by Philip and Phil, and also involve other members of the Community.  These are bookable through our website (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book onto this event).

We are delighted to be able to welcome Day Visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and have released dates into the middle of September.  It will be lovely to see you.  For details and how to book please go here.

Also, watch out for some ‘Fun on Friday’ dates that we will announce soon.

All these events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

Diane writes:

Since I last wrote I have been swimming in a ‘proper’ pool and not the river and I HAVE HAD MY HAIR CUT! Yes!! Curiously they were both ‘life-giving’ and ‘life draining’. There I was in the hairdresser’s, a solitary customer with my solitary hairdresser in an otherwise empty room. All very friendly and we had a little laugh towards the end when I was asked if I wanted my hair any shorter? The trouble was with my comely, flowery mask across my face I had no idea. So I furtively lowered my mask had a quick peek and said no – next time I may say yes!  Likewise, when I went swimming I was allocated my lane, the fast lane, unfortunately no one was booked into the slow lane so here I was again all alone. Now I have always treasured those swims when I have had the pool for a few minutes all to myself, but soon I began to feel very lonely, fit but lonely. Both had given me life but there I was dwelling on the negative. Have I become a ‘half-empty’ person, are we becoming ‘half-empty’ people – I do hope not.

For some reason this caused me to remember a poem I’ve had tacked to my office bulletin board ever since our son Matt sent it to me a couple of years. It still fills me with ‘the gladness of living’ every time I read it. The poem has been translated from the Turkish of Edip Cansever and is called Table.

A man filled with the gladness of living
Put his keys on the table,
Put flowers in a copper bowl there.
He put his eggs and milk on the table.
He put there the light that came in through the window,
Sounds of a bicycle, sound of a spinning wheel.
The softness of bread and weather he put there.
On the table the man put
Things that happened in his mind.
What he wanted to do in life,
He put that there.
Those he loved, those he didn’t love,
The man put them on the table too.
Three times three make nine:
The man put nine on the table.
He was next to the window next to the sky;
He reached out and placed on the table endlessness.
So many days he had wanted to drink a beer!
He put on the table the pouring of that beer.
He placed there his sleep and his wakefulness;
His hunger and his fullness he placed there.
Now that’s what I call a table!
It didn’t complain at all about the load.
It wobbled once or twice, then stood firm.
The man kept piling things on.

Here is a ‘half-full’ or even a ‘brim-full table if ever there was one. Sarah Robyn (August 19 2000) has written very expressively about this poem, capturing, for me, its very heart.

This poem ‘speaks to me across cultures because it is a poem about being human – anywhere, any time. The delight of it hinges on the turn the poem makes, beginning in line 5, where the table – which starts out as an ordinary piece of furniture – begins to metamorphose into a magic table, one whose capacity seems limitless – a veritable groaning board, but one that doesn’t groan.

At first the table is a convenient surface for a man to put things down on, presumably the things he is carrying: his keys, fresh flowers, the groceries he has brought home. But in the enthusiasm of the moment, the man doesn’t stop. Onto the table goes the light from the window; then, some ambient sounds; then, some pleasing textures; then – pell-mell – his imaginings, his hopes, his relationships. And then (“Three times three make nine”) the tally of what he has already put down.

This man is putting all his cards on the table, so to speak. Before we can stop him, he has “reached out” and “placed on the table endlessness,” or his right to reach for the sky, to put anything at all on the table … our man’s next move is homely: he longs for a beer. He places on the table – not the beer itself, but “the pouring of that beer,” the frothy moment of promise.

Next, as if they were equal in weight, the paired opposites of sleep and wakefulness, hunger and fullness: even life’s privations, the poem seems to say, are part of its bounty – for what would fullness be, without hunger?’

We leave the man still happily “piling things on”; the table standing firm, despite a wobble or two. I love this poem because it reminds me that my own “table” is sturdy, too, and will hold as much as I have the heart and the gusto to heap on it. Here is a poem speaking of abundant life within the everyday, of the glass ‘hall-full’ rather than ‘half-empty’ or perhaps that even an honest ‘half-empty’ glass is just as meritorious of going on the table.

Have another read of the poem (read it perhaps a couple of times) then think about what you’d like to put on the table. Perhaps even make a list – you may be pleasantly surprised.

With love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Monday 3rd August 2020

Dear Friends

We do hope this finds you well as the easing of lockdown is stalled at this moment. In this newsletter we have Di’s reflection on ‘trust’, and to begin with a short message from Lucy, our Chaplain, who leaves us next week. It is has been a joy to work with Lucy, and we have very much appreciated her valuable contribution to Community and our guests.

Our next Forum is on Wednesday 5th August (8-9:30pm) – please book via our website by 2pm on Monday 3rd August.

Also you can book a day visit to Scargill via our website. We would love to see you!

And don’t forget to e-mail us at if you would like us to pray for you.

Lucy writes:

I wanted to share a few words with the extended Scargill family before I move to parishes in Cambridgeshire on 10th August.

My three years living and serving in the Scargill community have been a fertile and fruitful experience.  I have certainly grown through the experience and I trust that you have found your stay(s) here to be enriching.  The first event I led here was a ‘Renew-Refresh-Restore’ weekend on Life Balance.  As a group we explored “Time to Pause & Rest, Laugh & Play, Rejoice & Celebrate.”  From my own story, I know that Scargill is a place where we can grapple with these possibilities and begin to embed them in daily life.  Thank you for joining me on that journey through your companionship.

This February, a matter of weeks before lockdown, I preached in Scargill Chapel on Romans 8:16-27.  Groaning was the theme of the talk: Creation groaning in labour pains; Christians groaning inwardly; the Spirit interceding with groans.  Many of us may have groaned inwardly and outwardly in recent months amidst the changes, restrictions, questions and concerns we have faced.  I am heartened that creation is perhaps groaning a little less in the wake of severely reduced travel and a slightly smaller environmental impact.  I believe that the Spirit of God has faithfully interceded for us and will continue to do so throughout the age of Covid-19.

As I say farewell, I do so with thankfulness for all that has been at Scargill and in anticipation of all that will be.  With Paul’s words in Romans 8 in mind, may we look to the future waiting eagerly, hopefully and patiently for our redemption in all its fullness.

Diane writes:

Welcome once again to my short reflection.

I have several cousins, one of them, when very young developed a congenital bilateral blindness. As she grew older she wanted more and more independence and one day asked her mother if she could walk down to the corner shop on her own. Knowing this need for independence her mother said yes, but then followed her daughter along the opposite pavement there and back again. On her return my cousin told her mother off for following and not trusting her! Was my auntie wrong to have followed her daughter?

Why have I told this story? Because Phil and I have recently been thinking about trust. We agreed (a rare thing indeed!) that trust is such a fragile thing. It’s relational; always relational and it grows love and forgiveness. We also agreed, to be trusted is very affirming and can nurture responsibility, whereas not to be trusted can be quite soul destroying. We also felt that trust allows for the possibility of failure, which is a healthy thing, but failure can also lead to hurt, a hurt which will not always easily mend.

And yesterday (28th July) I heard Hannah Malcolm an ordinand at Durham speak on Thought for the Day. She spoke about how for many lockdown kept us safe from uncontrolled encounters but with restrictions being lifted “we face a wider challenge concerning our sense of collective belonging and public trust. We are (now) negotiating the anxious spaces shared by those who have returned to all but normal life and those who remain at home … We are treading murky waters away from our tight circles” towards others “containing potent danger … As we negotiate the growing pressure of constantly counting risks, the temptation to become more suspicious rather than less generous is not one we can ignore … To be in communion, to be in common with each other we have to relinquish some control leaving our interests behind.”

This felt very near to home and resounded with how I see Scargill today. At the beginning of this pandemic Phil spoke about us all being in the storm but not necessarily in the same boat. Some boats have been travelling along troubled waters, others going right through the eye of the storm, whilst we have steadily meandered along in the relative calm, only now venturing outwards into the murky water as we prepare to once again welcome guests, friends and family. For some this has been challenging and exciting, for others fear–provoking and disquieting because possibly deep down, like many, we want to keep control, we don’t want to steer through murky waters!

Proverbs 3 says “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow”.  Of course the prerequisite is to trust Jesus, but that is not nearly as easy as said. Take the calming of the storm. All the pictures I have seen have Jesus sleeping whilst the storm rages. If I was in the boat I like to think I would ‘stay calm and trust Jesus’, but in reality I’m sure I would be scared, very scared.  We do need to trust Jesus to clear the road ahead but we also need to trust each other as we travel along it. Trust, responsibility and forgiveness should all walk alongside allowing relationships to grow and friendships to deepen, generosity to develop and hospitality to be given with an open heart that welcomes all – when the time is right.

With much love and prayers to you all as we negotiate this challenging landscape together.

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Tuesday 21st July 2020

Dear Friends

Thank you for you continued love, support and prayers, it means a great deal to us.

Below are details of how you can book on to our forthcoming online events. We are in the process of changing the way that you can book! Please bear with us.

We would love to welcome you to one of our Renew, Refresh, Restore Quiet Days on either Friday 31st July or Saturday 1st August. The theme will be around Jesus – the Light of the World and the Bread of Life. They will be led by Lucy and Phil involving other members of the Community. If you would like to be involved in either of these days then please e-mail us at:

During what would have been our Summerfest Programme, we are hosting ‘Fest Teas for all ages’. We hope to have some fun together on Zoom! These Teas will start at 4pm and the dates are:

Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th, Wednesday 29th July

and then Monday 3rd, Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th, Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th August

To be a part of these Fest Teas, please e-mail us at:

Our next Scargill Forum will be on Wednesday 5th August (8-9:30pm) on Zoom. We will let you know soon who our guests will be for this forum. This is bookable through our website (please do not use the hello@ e-mail to book onto this event).

We are also delighted to announce that starting in August we are able to welcome Day Visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It will be lovely to see you. Further details and booking is through our website.

All these events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

Diane’s reflection this week is on ‘Love and laughter’.  Enjoy!

“I love to laugh … Loud and long and clear … The more I laugh, the more I fill with glee.” (Mary Poppins – Film). Hi, I hope you are now all singing away with Bert!  A question – When did you last laugh, really laugh out loud? I asked that question when reading a quote from “Loving God Whatever” (reflections by Sister Jane) on July 11th “Humour is near to holiness, and love to laughter”. I was initially drawn to the book by a comment on the back cover which says “This selection of her writings reveals not only her spiritual wisdom but also her great capacity for friendship and understanding, her down-to-earth sense of humour and fun and her ability to meet people where they were, making them feel special.”

Does this remind you of anywhere? It did remind me of the time when the small initial core community were thinking about our Community Promises and we unanimously decided to include the promise “Love, laughter, and a generous spirit are foundational values in our life together. We see Jesus taking great pleasure in receiving and giving unexpected treats to other people. Are you willing to do likewise?” Oh Yes! We all replied loudly and with broad smiles on our faces.  Since that day Scargill really has been a house of love and laughter. Each morning after prayers we now meet together and start with ‘HUMOUR’. Phil asked us all to send in something to watch that would make us laugh. Why? Because it’s good to laugh. Medical science says “A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.” Wow!

My sisters now regularly send me a joke or a funny video, something that made them laugh, which they want to share, and over the last few months this has become a life-line for many. But it really isn’t the same as seeing them in person. One of the reasons why many of us have found lockdown, isolation and distancing so hard is because we naturally want to be in community. We were not created in isolation, but within the Trinity of God – Father Son and Holy Spirit, and we were created to reflect that community within our human communities. Sophie Scott, explains that people are thirty times more likely to laugh if they’re with someone else. In other words, people are more apt to laugh in community than isolation, the very place most of us are! So what can we do about that? Nothing, but when meeting or passing someone by, even if wearing a mask, love and laughter can come over in a smile, the inflection of your voice or seen through your eyes.

To finish with – Did you know, one reason I married Phil was to have fun and laugh? Although I yearned to, I was not very good at either, but instinctively knew I should, and there he was! Also, many of you will know that we have a Munsterlander (dog) – but did you know Munsterlanders really want their owners to have as much fun as they do! I can’t think why Phil decided this was the dog for us.

We look forward to welcoming you whether it is online or through a booked Day Visit.

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 4th July 2020

Dear Friends

Today, 4th July, has many associations, and for us as a nation it is a further easing of the lockdown.  Later on you will be able to read Di’s reflection on patience which is so relevant for us in these days.  There are many ‘ifs and buts’, and the future is unknown, but if the momentum keeps moving in the right direction, we are hopeful we will be able to re-open sometime in the Autumn.  We are not taking any bookings at the moment, but be assured, we will keep you well informed.  We are very much looking forward to welcoming you through our doors, even if it may start by being a limited number.  Thank you for your continued support and prayers, especially as we plan to re-open.

The Community continue to be in good spirits, truly entering in to a daily rhythm of prayer which has sustained us during this time.  Please do get in touch with us at if we can pray for you during these strange times.

On Thursday 9th July (8-9:30pm) we will be having our second Forum, and my guests will be: Lucy Cleland (currently our Chaplain); Andreas Andersson (Zooming in from Sweden – a former Chaplain); and Bishop Chris Edmondson (Chair of Council).  A rather esteemed group and I think we can look forward to a good evening together.  These Forums are an opportunity for us to continue to learn about God and ourselves through these disorientating times.  If you would like to be involved in this Zoom event please send an e-mail request to so we can send a link.

Thank you for the very positive feedback for the Zoom Quiet Days that we shared last week.  We will be doing some other stand-alone Quiet Days on Friday 31st July and Saturday 1st August which will involve a range of Community.  Please book for one or the other of the days.  Each will begin at 10am and finish around 5pm.  Within the day there will be a couple of reflections, an opportunity for a Zoom discussion and tea and cake together at the end of the day with some worship.  Again, if you would like to be part of either of these days please e-mail us at

These events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

If you wish to listen to our morning prayers and the Sunday morning sermon they are to be found here on our website

We are delighted to be in partnership with ReSource where I have just written a blog.  If you wish, you can read it here

So here is another reflection for us from Diane Stone:

Recently when sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine I mentioned I wasn’t sure about what to write this week and Phil quickly responded, partly seriously, partly ‘tongue in cheek’ (I hope!) that I should write on patience, hopefully because he is thinking about a sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit.  Well, I rose to the bait and replied I consider myself very patient although I did appreciate that others may find me a little impatient.

After a little naval gazing I recognised that I can be, and was, patient when working with others in my teaching and SENCO role, nursing, midwifery, motherhood and now my Scargill personnel role, especially when I have enjoyed supporting one or two community members BUT I have to be honest and say yes I AM impatient particularly when waiting; waiting for someone, waiting for something to happen and now waiting to play with, read to (side by side) and cuddle our grandchildren.

Everyone can be impatient for right and wrong reasons and you could argue that every day as individuals our patience is tested.  This could be something trivial like waiting in traffic, to something vital like waiting for a friend’s COVID-19 test results.  We though are called to be patient, it is one of the Fruit of the Spirit but I fear most of us need to practise patience.  There is a lovely scene from the film Evan Almighty, where a modern Mrs Noah has become exasperated by her husband building the ARK outside their home and wishes she had more patience.  Now Mrs Noah happens to be mentioning this to God who is sitting next to her in a burger bar (in the disguise of Morgan Freeman) where he is working!  And God suggests that if we ask for patience surely we would be given situations in which to practise patience.  Don’t you sometimes wish you hadn’t asked the question?  But I am sure the answer is worth mulling over and as we look back there may well have been many opportunities where we could practise patience, though I wonder how many we recognised at the time?

Interestingly Faith sent in a poem that is also about, yes, you are right, patience.  Faith said this poem spoke very powerfully to her and she thought it ‘very apt for us all in these times’.  It is by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin SJ (1881-1955).

Patient Trust
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually –
let them grow,
let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time;
that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will,
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit
of believing that His hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety
of feeling yourself in suspense
and incomplete.

In these bewildering times it takes patience to know that we are on the right path, and while we may not be exactly where we would like or want to be, we can recognise it’s only for now.  This won’t be forever.  I’m still learning how to be more patient, but at least I know I will get there eventually.

Well I hope so anyway!

Please be assured of our love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 20th June 2020

Dear Friends

We hope and pray that this latest newsletter finds you well.  Thank you so much for your continued love and support.  It means a great deal to us, and we are very much looking forward at some stage to welcome you again through our doors.

The Community is in good spirits.  We have just had a couple of days retreat which has strengthened our life together.  The Community continues to reduce in size as we will be saying goodbye to Carolin and Annette over the next two weeks.

Please do get in touch with us at: if we can pray for you during these strange times.  We continue to have our rhythm of prayer and within this we have a time for intercession.

We have just had our first Scargill Forum, which was a very rich experience.  Someone wrote afterwards: ‘Thank you for all the thoughts, the wisdom, the laughter, the prayer, the gathering us together into community again.’

We are planning our second Scargill Forum for Thursday 9th July (8-9:30pm), as we continue to learn together about God and ourselves through these disorientating times.  If you would like to be involved in this Zoom event, please send an e-mail requesting to be involved to so we can send you a link.

It is still not too late to join one of our Quiet Days through Zoom on Friday 26th or Saturday 27th June.  The theme will be: ’Waymarks for the journey’.  Each will begin at 10am and finish around 5pm.  Within the day there will be a couple of reflections, an opportunity for a Zoom discussion and tea and cake together at the end with some worship.  Again, if you would like to be part of either of the days please e-mail:

These events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

If you wish to listen to our morning prayers and the Sunday morning sermon they are to be found here on our website

Here is another reflection for us from Diane Stone:

A while back I had a dream that woke me.  Influenced I think by the fact that our daughter, staying with us, (for now!) has strongly encouraged us to de-clutter, and throw away three items a day!  In my dream I am in a post war railway station, quite dark and dingy.  I have lost my suitcase and my best coat, not sure about the coat!  But I am extremely anxious, asking people to help.  No one can find either the bag or the coat and eventually I have to travel on leaving both behind.  Thinking about this I was reminded that Jesus sent his disciples telling them not to take a money bag or a travelling bag or sandals.

So was I being asked to travel light when we so often, if not all the time, carry things that are not necessary, things that only weigh us down, slow us down, keep us from being and doing what God intends for us.

Just before the dream Hilary led a lovely morning prayer during which she talked about how our sin/mistakes block our relationship with God and demonstrated God’s total forgiveness by emptying a household rubbish bin onto a sheet then, gathering it all up before throwing the sheet away, out of sight.  I know I need to accept the abundant GRACE given by God and travel on renewed in hope and faith.  But as she was throwing the rubbish away I saw several items which would or could be recycled.  Surely, I thought, some of my sins/mistakes could be recycled?  I’m always saying we learn by our mistakes and although in my head I know that God forgives, I do not forget so perhaps I could channel my sins/mistakes into memories, into cue cards, preventing the same mistake again.  Well why not?

‘…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28

As we journey, we often desire to meet with God!  But we often fail to give time to God!  We are full of excuses – too busy, too tired, too many burdens!  Philippians 4 tells us to ‘be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

Here at Scargill, we are perhaps travelling alone, travelling light, unable to welcome guests has created a void, a void that is, I hope, encouraging us to seek a deeper relationship with God and each other.  Perhaps now is the time for all of us to set aside time – no excuses, not even for me!!  Now is sacred – now is where God is to be encountered, not tomorrow, not next week but here in the middle of this pandemic God wishes to be met.

To finish, a poem by Robert Frost.  It is an ambiguous poem that allows us to think about choices in life, whether to go with the mainstream or go it alone. If life is a journey, this poem highlights those times in life when a decision has to be made.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Please be assured of our love and prayers

Phil, Diane and the Scargill Community

Saturday 6th June 2020

Dear Friends

We hope and pray that this latest newsletter finds you well.
Thank you so much for your continued love and support it means a great deal to us.  As I have mentioned before, please do get in touch with us at: if there is anything we can pray for you during these strange times.

We are glad to say that on Thursday 18th June from 8 to 9:30pm I will be chairing our first Scargill Forum, and be joined by Rev’d Mike Leigh (currently Vicar in Scarborough and a Scargillian); and Jo Penn (current Community Member) to talk about what we are learning about God and ourselves through this pandemic.  If you would like to be involved in this Zoom event then please email: so that we can send you a link to join in.

We will also be doing two separate Quiet Days through Zoom on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th June.  The theme will be: ’Waymarks for the journey’.  Each will begin at 10am and finish around 5pm.  Within the day there will be a couple of reflections, an opportunity for a Zoom discussion and tea and cake together at the end with some worship.  Again, if you would like to be part of either of the days please e-mail:

These events are free but if anyone would like to donate then please visit our website here which shows how you can do that.

Here is a reflection from Diane Stone:

A couple of weeks ago Phil asked me to head-up this two-weekly ‘keeping in touch’ letter.  Possibly like you, Community seem to either have too much time on their hands or too little time, either way it has struck me that this is a waiting time, a time for us to wait on God.  And two poems, both about time, have come to mind, perhaps because although I will be asking other members of community to contribute this week, alas, I ran out of time to ask anyone!

The first poem, really the opening sentence, is a song from my childhood by Bing Crosby on the soundtrack of the film ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ (1949).  To be honest it’s really the first line which seems to sum up life at the moment, well not quite for me, but for many.  This song may seem trivial but I think there is a lot of honesty in it.  And it makes me smile, I hope it does the same for you.

We’re busy doin’ nothin’
Workin’ the whole day through
Tryin’ to find lots of things not to do.
We’re busy goin’ nowhere
Isn’t it just a crime
We’d like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time
I have to watch the river
To see that it doesn’t stop
And stick around the rosebuds
So they’ll know when to pop
And keep the crickets cheerful
They’re really a solemn bunch
Hustle, bustle
And only an hour for lunch

The second was a poem I found when preparing for morning prayers by William Henry Davies entitled Leisure.  Wikipedia told me that this poem written in 1911 warns that “the hectic pace of modern life has a detrimental effect on the human spirit.  Modern man has no time to spend free time in the lap of nature”.  And not so long ago we may all have agreed, but now, for our physical and mental health, we have been encouraged to spend time outside ‘in the lap of nature’.  I have never walked so consistently I don’t think in my entire life and this poem encourages us to look and see!

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So where do we go from here?  Let’s turn to Ecclesiastes 3 where we read ‘Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.  There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping, for killing and healing, destroying and building, for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing, for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting.
There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving, for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking.
There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.’

This ‘song’ is followed by the heading ‘Life isn’t always fair, so live wisely’ and soon we are reassured that ‘God makes everything happen at the right time.’  The chapter confirms ‘We can never know the future.’

As a community we have promised to meet with God, to set aside time throughout the day to refresh our relationship with Him.  So let’s use this waiting time wisely, whether we are busy or not, working or at home, can we rest as well as walk trusting in our God.  A God who will not abandon his world but plans on redeeming it.  Recently I heard, and have mentioned before, the phrase ‘God is not elsewhere’, a phrase which helps me feel very close to God, you see if God is not elsewhere then He must be HERE, here with you and me.  Here in the midst of our waiting…

Please be assured of our love and prayers

Phil and Diane & the Scargill Community

Saturday 23rd May 2020

Dear Friends

During these strange times, familiar relationships can be even more important than ever.  Whilst we are unable to welcome guests to Scargill, one of the ways we would like to stay in contact is to write a fortnightly letter.  These will include reflections and encouragements from different Scargill folk, news of upcoming online Scargill events and other community updates.

We are very thankful for the donations and messages of encouragement that we have received in recent days.  Thank you so much for your generous support.

We continue to hold a rhythm of prayer and it would be a privilege to pray for you and the situations you are facing.  You can e-mail us at:

We would very much value your prayers for us as we journey through this unfamiliar and challenging landscape.  Please pray for the Community as we discover what is to be our ‘voice’ during this time.

If you would like to connect with us during this period, then we also have:  For all booking related correspondence, please do continue using

Audio recordings of our Morning Prayers and Sunday talks are now on our website (available for 7 days)

Generosity is a ‘Kingdom Value’ that we keep learning about at Scargill.  Here are a few thoughts from Phil:

What we love about Jesus is that he shows us the heart of the Father.  In John’s gospel Jesus says ‘I can only do what I see my Father doing’ (John 5:19).  And we see that Jesus is always generous, always giving more than enough, some would say he is gloriously extravagant, others would say over the top.  I mean water into wine (John 2) is a miracle of transformation and such generosity showing the heart of God – isn’t that just wonderful!  And again, in Luke 5, enough fish that boats began to sink, and then later plenty of bread and fish to feed thousands (John 6).  Jesus shows us the nature of God, who always has been generous, never more so than in wilderness situations.  A wonderful example of this was the giving of manna (Exodus 16), where the people of God surprisingly found abundant grace.  I photographed this art installation at St Anne’s, Manchester, portraying the wonderful gift of manna.

Our current situation has forced us into a wilderness, and it has been heart-warming to hear the stories of generosity from many people.  I heard of a family who put a table at the bottom of their drive with toilets rolls and packets of pasta on it with a notice saying ‘please take one’.  Walter Brueggemann points out:

‘That journey from anxious scarcity through miraculous abundance to a neighbourly common good has been peculiarly entrusted to the church.’

Our narrative is shaped by Jesus who calls us to be generous.  What would that look like for you?  In what ingenious way might the Holy Spirit be asking you to show the heart of God?  Where can you bring hope in these wilderness days?

Gracious God,
Confront us with your heart of generosity,
Your extravagant love.
Unlock our hearts, free us from our anxious ways,
Show us through your Spirit how to be a generous offering.
In Jesus’ name – Amen

With our love

Phil, Diane & the Scargill Community

Thursday 30th April 2020

Dear Friends

This comes with much love and prayers from the Scargill Movement during these very challenging and disorientating times.  The coronavirus has truly turned all our lives upside-down.

Since our last guests left, followed then by the National lockdown, the Community have taken specific precautions to protect themselves from the virus and we are glad to say that the Community are well.  To mitigate any risk, the Community are living under restrictions which go beyond those being asked by the Government.

As we pray for you, please pray for us as many of our overseas Community are unable to go home, even if they wanted to do so. Community life during this time is challenging and when the lockdown is eventually eased we will be finding ways to make the Community gradually smaller for now, which will help us to manage the situation in many ways.

From a Council perspective, we are enormously grateful to Phil, Di, Dave and others in the Leadership Team, for the pastoral care and support given to the community during this time, along with all the attention to detail which has gone into navigating different aspects of this unchartered territory.

As for all of us, the situation we find ourselves in has huge financial implications.  We are very grateful for the financial support that we have received from many Scargillians. People have been wonderfully generous, and we know that others are planning to support us in this way.  This will sustain us for we know it is going to be a considerable time before we see guests again.  Thank you for this practical expression of your love and commitment, and you can be assured that the Council and Leadership Team are, as always, working closely together, as we monitor the financial and business aspects of Scargill’s life at this challenging time.

As we go forward in a landscape which is so unfamiliar we would like to connect with you.  In these times we need the support of one another more than ever.  The Community are keeping a rhythm of prayer, and if you have anything that you would like us to pray for please do e-mail it through to

We are also hoping, in the relatively near future, to try our hand at some on-line retreats, and we are beginning to keep in touch with people through the wonders of Zoom and other means.  Again, please be in touch ( if these are ways that you would like to connect.  What we have treasured always at Scargill is relationships, our relationship with God and one another, and maybe through all this we are learning how we may nurture this deep truth, which may be reflected in the ‘new normal’ when we come out of this crisis.

Our doors will one day be open again to be God’s hospitality, but in the meantime let us stay connected, with encouragement, compassion, humour, love and prayer.

To finish, a short reflection from John’s gospel (John 20:19) where the disciples are locked for fear in the Upper Room.  The risen Jesus comes amongst them and they recognise him through the wounds of love.  It is love that dispels fear, as St John in his letter reminds us (1 John 4:18).  Jesus speaks twice the words, ‘Peace be with you’ and breathes on them that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit.  During these times, when difficulties and dark days can envelop us, may we hear and know these words from Jesus for ourselves.

Here is one of our prayers from our morning prayer sheets:

Spirit of peace
Quiet our hearts
Heal our anxious thoughts,
Free us from our fretful ways,
Breathe on us your Holy calm
So that in the stillness of your presence
We may open ourselves to trust and be transformed.

With love and prayers

+Chris and Phil

Bishop Chris Edmondson (Chair of the Council) and Revd Canon Phil Stone (Director and Community Leader)

Monday 23rd March 2020

Dear Friends

This comes with much love and prayers to you all as we continue to be in these bewildering and unknown times.  Please continue to look at our Facebook page and website where we will do our very best to give hope through prayers, reflections and no doubt some humorous stuff that will make us smile.  We do see the priority in physical distancing but our intention is to be very social for we will need each other.

The last few guests left last week and we are now in to a 14 day ‘lock-down’ where we will be living in small household groups.  This is to make sure that if any of us are carrying the virus we have a plan to contain it.  During this time we will be continuing our rhythm of prayer, and please do e-mail us if there is anything that we can specifically pray for you.

As we pray for you, please pray for us as many of our overseas community are unable to go home, even if they wanted to do so.  As for all of us, the situation we find ourselves has a huge financial impact but we are committed to continue to support the Community in regard to allowances for the long-term future.

Our doors will one day be open again to be God’s hospitality, but in the meantime we are becoming a Community with a focus on prayer.  This is a wonderful opportunity to develop our relationship with our gracious God as well as to learn to truly listen.

To finish, a short reflection from John’s gospel (John 20:19) where the disciples are locked for fear in the Upper Room.  The risen Jesus comes amongst them and they recognise him through the wounds of love.  It is love that dispels fear, as St John in his letter reminds us (1 John 4:18).  Jesus speaks twice the words, ‘Peace be with you’ and breathes on them that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit.  During these times, may we hear and know these words for ourselves.

So here is one of our prayers from our morning prayer sheets:

Spirit of peace
Quiet our hearts
Heal our anxious thoughts,
Free us from our fretful ways,
Breathe on us your Holy calm
So that in the stillness of your presence
We may open ourselves to trust and be transformed.

Phil Stone