Our hidden Clifton garden is a blessing every day
DARE I say that our oasis in Clifton is a small paradise? Life is busy and relentless at times, and we can all get stuck in a rut or forget the reasons why we do what we do – heads down oblivious to the beauty around us. Do we live to work or work to live?
People passing by Emmaus House, on Clifton Hill, from Clifton village rarely have any idea of the extent of the oasis in the city. The gardens are extensive and only seen when you wander down the winding path and stumble across their splendour. This is an oasis I am lucky enough to experience every day.
With the coming of autumn, our emphasis turns to apple picking, plums and lush, soft fruit. Nothing beats the taste of freshly-picked fruit and home-cooked vegetables waiting on the dinner table.
God gave Adam a garden where fruit trees grew which were good to behold (Genesis 3).
The pair on the ground proved unable to abide by God's wishes. By defiantly eating from the one prohibited fruit tree, they were really saying to God "Our will be done on Earth". From walking with God in the garden, they effectively walked out on God. Out of Eden, yes, but out of God's sight? Certainly not. Our oasis in Bristol is certainly out of sight but is a blessing from God.
As well as the Victorian kitchen garden, there is a gentle woodland walk that looks over to Dundry and beyond. On the other side of the lawn, the rose garden stands out proudly against the newly-painted railings. Further on, you step into the Zen garden and then down into the secret garden.
All this is familiar to our regular visitors but still comes as a surprise to the many people who descend on the beautiful grounds on one of our many open-garden days.
Maybe this brings people closer to God by experiencing his beauty in the natural oasis of Emmaus House?
Our need to be more self-supporting has come to the fore. More home produce from the garden is one path we have chosen.
This does not take away from the garden being a resource for those who stay at Emmaus House. On the contrary – it provides a greater variety for our senses to enjoy.
Dare I say that our hidden oasis in Clifton is a small paradise and sanctuary?
Father Michael Healy is a priest of Clifton diocese.