Welcome to Open Sky!

Next gathering Sunday 10th December, 3.00pm, Brighthelm Centre garden

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!

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Christmas Open Sky

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!

Bh garden fire circle

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The Memory of Trees

OS Nov WP artwork

This was our notice for 12th November 2017: we’ll remember trees that have been special to us. Do the trees remember us too, and all the events that have happened under (or in) their branches? Remembrance Sunday in the woods…

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Spiders and webs

We’re enjoying re-visiting the same woodland each month and getting a sense of the changing seasons. At September’s gathering, we went looking for spider webs. spider 2Spiders are busy at this time of year, but the windy weather meant it was hard to find webs that had survived by mid-afternoon. Webs are hard to find anyway, and sometimes it’s only by focusing on the middle-distance, or un-focusing your eyes altogether, that you spot something tiny fluttering in the wind and when you look more closely you see that it’s a speck of leaf caught on a web. Our connections – with God, with humans, with nature – can be just as elusive but they are still there, and sometimes you have to change your focus in order to notice them.

We made a web of rope, with each person holding a point of it. We thought about the web of life that connects us all, and the impacts we have on other beings and their impacts on us. Forest Church may be a way we can change our focus and become more aware of our place in the community of nature, and so develop a more gentle, loving, creative impact.

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See more by being seen less

FoxThis was our notice for 13th August 2017:

Ever wished you could walk silently like a fox, as you clomp along the forest path, scaring off all the wildlife ahead of you? And have you ever thought that if you could only see like an owl or hear like a deer you would be able to notice more of the wildlife, assuming it hadn’t been scared off by your clompy footsteps and your cheery chatter?

For our August meeting, we’ll have a go at learning some techniques from the animals that will help us to see more of the life of the woods and connect more deeply with nature – including our own nature. If you impact less you may be impacted more.

Be prepared for a slightly longer walk (about 15 minutes from the car park) as we’ll be going into the field to practice. As always – come prepared for the weather!

Sunday 13th August. Meet at 3pm in the Upper Lodges car park in Stanmer Park (off Ditchling Road)

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Hurdle-making

This is a notice from July 2017:

Come and learn the ancient craft of woven hazel hurdle fencing in the Brighthelm Centre garden on Thursday 27th July! It’s free – you get to learn a new skill, with the satisfaction of using your hands to make something beautiful and functional, and Brighthelm gets some new fencing. The workshop starts at 9.30, and you can come for the day or just part of it.

Brighthelm has been developing its pre-school garden, extending it to include an area with a woodland feel, so that the children can learn an appreciation of nature through forest-school-type activities. This area, under a great Elm tree, might be a good meeting place for Open Sky sometimes – a woodland clearing, right in the middle of Brighton. The hazel fencing will help divide up the different areas in the garden.

hurdle

This is what hazel hurdling looks like. Brighthelm’s will be lower and shorter

Hazel is a very useful tree. It grows quickly, and is easily coppiced. Coppicing hazel is great for wildlife. Enough light gets through for wild-flowers, with resulting benefits to birds and insects. The stands give good shelter for ground-nesting birds, like nightjars, yellowhammers and nightingales. The nuts provide food for animals like dormice and wood mice, as well as birds and humans (think praline and ice-cream sundaes). The leaves are food for caterpillars, which in turn are food for birds and mammals. The young stems are very flexible, and hazel is generally a good craft timber: used in thatching, furniture, as stakes in the garden, as well as camp-craft. In herb-lore, hazel is used for water-divining sticks and to ward off evil, with the nuts being worn as charms against rheumatism. In Irish folk-lore, hazel has been known as the Tree of Knowledge. In the part of Stanmer woods where we’ve been meeting for Open Sky Forest Church, there’s not a lot of hazel, but we do pass some along the path from the car park.

If you’d like to take part in the hurdle-making workshop, it would be helpful for Brighthelm to know to expect you. This will also mean they can contact you in case of cancellation. You can use the contact form below and we’ll pass your name on, or phone Brighthelm reception on 01273 821512

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Solstice

IMG_20170524_133732

This was notification of our June 2017 meeting

Note change of date and venue!! Because of the London to Brighton Cycle Ride, there will be no road access to our usual meeting place. Instead, we’ll meet outside Stanmer House, at the later time of 3.30pm in order to give you extra time to get there.

The forecast (as at Wednesday!) is for a warm, dry day on Sunday. Please bring some water to drink! Also, please bring a bag or something to sit on, if you’re not comfortable with sitting directly on a log or on the ground.

Our next gathering, on Sunday 18th June, is just three days before the solstice, when the sun seems to stand still at the highest point of its journey across the sky before starting to wane towards the shorter days to come. Nature is at its fullest: the flowers are giving way to fruit, to ripen in the summer sunshine; the young birds and animals are growing and becoming independent.

Time goes so fast. Some of us are already waning past our zenith. For us, it’s an opportunity to seek God becoming more alive in us as our own powers decrease. For all of us, young and old, it’s an opportunity simply to celebrate the fullness of life at the fullness of the year. And eat cake.

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Birdsong

Tree-Sparrow

Just to wet your appetite for our time together in the woods this Sunday, (9th April 2017, 3.00pm),  (or your next time outdoors whatever), here’s a great website for you.

http://songbird-survival.org.uk/dawnchorusday.html

There are pictures of some common birds, with recordings of their songs. The woods are alive with birdsong at the moment, but bird-sight is more difficult. A blackbird looks quite different from a blue-tit, but if you can’t see them, could you tell them apart by their songs? This website will help you. It looks like the charity does great work, too.

See you in the woods!

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