Next gathering Sunday 8th July, 3.00pm, meeting in the Upper Lodges car park, Ditchling Road/Stanmer Park, before heading into the woods.
Open Sky is a gathering of people who are looking for deeper connections with nature, with God and with each other. We meet in the woods or other outdoor places in Brighton on the second Sunday afternoon of each month. Come and join us!
What words does nature inspire in you? Join us on Sunday 8th July, when we’ll use nature to inspire our words about God and see if we can gather some prayers that help us connect what we see and what we believe about God.
Meet in the Upper Lodges car park (see How To Find Us) to head into the woods (about 10 minutes fairly level walk) at 3.00pm.
In June we met by the sea shore in West Hove shortly after low tide and experienced the rising tide, the cycle of the moon and the movement of time approaching the summer solstice.
On 13th May, we met for a contemplative walk through the woods and fields of the Stanmer estate. A clump of trees in the middle of a field, a hawthorn tree in flower, a huge beech tree that had shed a large branch and some sickly-looking ash trees amongst some healthy-looking sycamores jockeying to replace them were stations along our silent walk that prompted reflection and prayer. The cycle of death and life was obviously a dominant theme, all held within the ever-living presence of God.
Is giving a name an act of power or an act of respect? You might call that a sparrow, but what name would she give herself, and what name might God give her? When Adam named the animals in the bible story of Eden, was he taking power over them or establishing a relationship with them and studying them to tell the difference between, say, a house sparrow and a hedge sparrow? How might the names we use for other beings affect our relationship with them?
On Sunday 8th April, we headed into the woods and tried this exercise in attentiveness – attentiveness both to the beings who live in the woods and to ourselves. Between us we came up with some names for trees and plants that were much more interesting than their usual common names – like ‘shivery holy spirit tree’ for a beech sapling still holding on to last year’s leaves, which were shivering despite there being very little breeze. It was interesting to think about discovering something’s true being and therefore its true name. Just the act of studying a plant intently felt like deepening respect for it. We also thought about God calling us by name and the respect that God therefore has for each of us.
On Sunday 11th February we walked in contemplative silence through the beautiful landscape of Stanmer Park. The earth was starting to come back to life after the depths of winter and there was lots to see and hear in the woods and fields of the Downs. We took it slowly, in silence, with a few ‘stations’ for ideas for thought/prayer along the way.
We returned to the Brighthelm garden – a green oasis in the centre of Brighton – for a fire circle. In the heart of winter, fire is a welcome gift. We explored fire’s significance to us through a mixture of led meditation and silence.
This is how we advertised our Christmas Fire Circle…
Join us in the Brighthelm garden as we gather around the fire under ancient elms in this historic town-centre churchyard. There’ll be stories to tell, songs to sing, marshmallows to toast, prayers to pray and maybe even some things to make – all to celebrate Christmas, Open Sky style.
Sunday 10th December, 3.00-4.00pm, Brighthelm Centre, BN1 1YD. The garden is on the southern side of the community centre – access from Church Street, Queen’s Road or past the Centre from North Road. For more details of how to get there, click on ‘How to find us’ above. As always, dress for the weather. If it’s wet, we’ll be under a tarpaulin. Whatever the weather, the seats might be damp so bring something to sit on. Hope to see you there!