‘The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s Heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.’ These words by Dorothy Frances Gurney were the first lines of poetry that I ever learned. They were, and I believe still are, on a plaque in a public garden in my home town of Stranraer. The ‘Gardens of Friendship’ as they are called, officially, were developed by my local town council in the 1920’s. They get their official name because of the number of ‘friends of the garden’ who supplied plants and shrubs to the council to get the garden going. The flower beds are all bordered with granite rocks which give the gardens the name that they are known by in the town; ‘the rock gardens.’ Whatever their name it was here that I first read Dorothy Gurney’s words about gardens. You may or may not agree with them. I am not sure that I do, at least not all of the time. As you may have noticed, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with gardens, certainly with my own garden. Just now it seems more like a sentence of hard labour, trying to get it under control, rather than a place where I might encounter God. Though God is certainly to be found in places of suffering. And there are times when looking at the delicate beauty of a flower a glimpse of the vastness of God’s glory can be seen. If I am honest I prefer to search for my closeness with God in the Bible, in Prayer, in the Sacraments, but that is just me. I know that many of you will feel close to God in the beauty of nature either in your own garden or in the countryside. I know that many of you feel close to God in the churchyard at Saltwood. Many, many of you have told me so and it is such a beautiful place. A place where even I can see beauty and enjoy it, especially as I don’t have to do any gardening there. Churchyards hold a special place in the hearts of many. The churchyard at Lympne is very different from Saltwood. It is wilder, and its setting is very different. If you have never been there, do visit sometime soon. The views from the edge of the escarpment of the whole of Romney Marsh are something that needs to be seen to be believed. The more astute of you will have realised by now that all this is a plug for our Flower Festival taking place at the end of the month. Details can be found in this edition of the magazine. Flower Festivals and churches go hand in glove. There is the opportunity for our flower arrangers to show off their talents to a wider audience. The chance for you to be dazzled by the displays. It will all be spectacular and wonderful. The flowers will be amazing but the most amazing thing will be the people. The people who have worked so hard to organise the whole event. The people who will come to look, to chat, to enjoy. Yes, we can be close to God in a garden, we are closer still when we are in love and fellowship with each other. If we can see God’s glory in a spring flower, how much more can we see it in each other; his greatest creation. So I hope to see as many of you as possible at our Flower Festival, where we will be celebrating that glory that is the English Village.