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A Quiet Day in Lent - Trees

Our Quiet Day in Lent last March was unable to go ahead and so Rosemary Willis shared her material for the day. It's just as relevant now as it was then, so please take a look at this in your own time and space; may you find comfort and reflection through it.
You can download this material in pdf format here.

Opening – Part 1     

(If you have the opportunity, this may be best outside)

You might look at this link for artwork on trees - there are some evocative images:  (Fiona Fouhy is the daughter of Jane Chaplin from St Andrew's)


The Lord reigns. Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad
Let the sea resound and all in it
Let the fields be jubilant
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
They will sing before the Lord.     (Psalm 96. 12)

Blessed are they who walk with the Lord
Their delight is in the Lord
They are like trees planted by the steams of water
Which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.     (Psalm 1, adapted)

Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord
Has confidence in Him
They will be like a tree planted by the water
It sends out its roots by the stream
It does not fear when the heat comes
Its leaves are always green,
Has no worries for the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.    (Jeremiah 17. 8)

Be still - the groveAllow yourself to just be still and listen and take a moment.

You may remember the trees in the garden at The Grove; they were planted some 200 years ago – seeing years of people coming and going.  Changes of the land and houses. 

Can you picture…

  • The majesty of the BEECH TREE towering over the garden – standing strong and fruitful for 200 years in the garden.
  • The WEEPING ASH TREE with is mis-shapen boughs, broken by years of wear.  They once were the playground of the children swinging on boughs – making a shelter of boughs enough to hide underneath like a lady’s crinoline; a complete house.
  • The MULBERRY TREE – a tree that gives luscious fruit and boughs that break and then root again to regrow. What an amazing feat.
  • The OAK TREE – standing solid – slow growing, a useful and workable wood.  A tree being able to support the most diverse set of creatures – birds, insects, fungi – a home and shelter for all comers – protecting more creatures than any other tree. 

Remember your own favourite trees and forest.

vincent-van-zalinge-lsl-cHy3aULet’s follow the invitation of these majestic trees simply to stand still and allow earth and heaven to meet within us. Let’s listen to the whisperers of wisdom from these gentle silent giants.

Trees put down deep roots, seeking nourishment, water and a place of belonging. Our being, too, has deep roots, sustaining us through all that life throws at us.  The space of prayer we might call the forest invites us to become still and quiet to reconnect with those deep roots.

What nourishes your heart?

What ground water feeds the depths of your soul?

Where is your place of belonging?

Trees raise their crowns to the heavens, straining towards the sun, the source of their natural energy. They spread their branches out to embrace the world around them, to give shelter to the birds and other creatures of the forest.  Their leaves give oxygen, their blossoms joy, their fruits give us food. 

Simply stand still in your forest and notice your own roots and your own crown, your own unique and necessary place in the forest.

Which parts of your life give life to the world?

Which aspects of your heart most long to reach out to others?

What fruit does your life give to those around you?

Sometimes when we feel lost, we find ourselves by standing still. The answer to our question “Where am I?” lies right there in our own hearts.  You are who you are. 

(Margaret Silf - Landscapes of Prayer)


Be silent                                              Be still

Alone, empty before God

Say nothing                                        Ask nothing

Be silent                                              Be still

Alone, empty before God                   That is all

He knows                                            He understands

He loves you with an enormous love

He just wants to look upon you with his love

So silent and still be

Let God love you

Part 2

He himself bore our sins in this body on the tree so we might die to sin and live for righteousness by his wounds you have been healed.   (1 Peter 2. 24)

Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord
Has confidence in him
They will be like a tree planted by the water
It sends out its roots by the stream
It does not fear when the heat comes
Its leaves are always green,
Has no worries for the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.     (Jeremiah 17. 8)


The Coming
And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look,  he said,
The son looked.  Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows;  a bright
Serpent,  a river
Uncoiled itself,  radiant
With slime
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To returned to its crossed
The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.   


(R S Thomas - Collected Poems)


The tree stripped bare
is the tree of life for us.
Take some time to allow the images and thoughts to coalesce – what does this mean for you?
We are forgiven people …
Truly dust we are and to dust we return
In the dust of Ash Wednesday
For all those days you felt like dust, like dirt
as if all you had to do was turn your face to the wind and be scattered to the four corners.
Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?
This is the day we say we are scorched
So let us be marked
Not for sorrow
Nor shame not for false humility or thinking we are less than we are
But for claiming what God can do within the dust, within the dirt
Within the stuff of which the world is made
And that the stars blaze in our bones and the galaxies that spiral inside the smudge we bear.

(Jan Richardson - Circle of Grace)

Part 3

Do you remember the storm of 1987? So many trees lost - you may remember it, the devastation around. It transformed the face of Britain overnight.  Sevenoaks became One oak.  I heard a story recently about the trees of Kew – one spindly tree that has been ailing before the storm; they wondered what was wrong with it. Does it need to be cut down as it’s not thriving?  They thought it would never survive the storm.  But no. There it was, still hanging on; although the storm had picked it up and dropped it down again.  They thought, well, we will clear up the rest of the thousands they lost and come back to this one.     I don’t know how long it took for them to clear up the lost trees but when they finally came back to this spindly one – it had made the most glorious recovery and had flourished. And it is still flourishing now, putting on years of growth and height.   It just needed a shake-up. The storm had stopped it roots being compacted and now it had set down more roots that gave it a firm foundation and a new lease of life. 

“Hard pressed but not crushed”

Look again at the pictures by Fiona:

I love her picture of the Tree “Hard pressed but not crushed”.

We are going through a testing time.  Fiona’s picture encapsulates that for me.

We may be lost in the forest at present, but we can listen to the wisdom of the trees. The answer may be hidden in the very place where you feel you are lost.  

How deep are your roots and what really nourishes your soul?

We may feel like a tree stripped of it protective bark, but even when trees are stripped they have the energy to re-grow; there is a spring coming. Can you trust this?


tree-canopy-keith-jonson-4qjlqGod our father shelters us all like the Oak Tree, a place of refuge for all comers - He is the place of rest and home like the Weeping Ash Tree.

Your life is like a tree, it is an indispensable part of the mighty forest.   What fruits would you want to bear for all the creatures of that forest?

In what ways do your roots need a good shake-up so that they can be replanted to flourish even more?

What boughs need to be broken off, that they may be replanted and provide new growth?

How, in the present time, can you do something socially, for those around you or in the wider community – helping top-up Foodbanks, making contact with the community?   

Environmentally, changes to your practices – think about joining a pressure group or volunteer for one.

Prayer life – spend more time – taking time mindfully and being kind to yourself?

Something else?

Take some time to recall a forest you loved to walk in and imaging yourself there. Let timeless stillness bring you peace, clarity and new directions.

A blessing

I should tell you at the outset
This blessing will require you to do some work.

First You must simply let this blessing fall from your hand
As if it were a small thing
you could easily let slip through your fingers
As if it were not most precious to you
as if your life did not depend on it
Next, you must trust that this blessing knows where it is going,
that it understands the ways of the dark,
that it is wise to seasons and times.

Then- and I know this blessing has already asked much of you -
It is to be hoped you will rest and learn
that something is at work
when all seems still
seems dormant, seems dead.
I promise you
this blessing has not abandoned you.
I promise you this blessing is on its way back
to you.

I promise you this blessing will rise
green and whole and new.


(Jan Richardson - Circle of Grace)


And, as you go, carry with you two stones – one for peace and the other for courage.jenna-beekhuis-OCXR3-aU4Ss-uns

Hope where we had ceased to hope
Hope amid what threatens hope
Hope with those who feed our hope
Hope beyond what we had hoped
Hope that takes us past our fears
Hope that calls us to life
Hope that holds us beyond death
Hope that blesses those to come.

(Jan Richardson - Circle of Grace)

Fiona Fouhy 
Circle of Grace – Jan Richardson
Landscapes of prayer – Margaret Silf
The Coming – RS Thomas

Hello and welcome to St Andrew's. If you are new, we have a page for you to get to know us and learn more about planning a visit.
Click here to see more.

Planning your Visit

A Warm Hello 

The following information is specifically for those planning a visit so that you know, beforehand, what to expect on a Sunday morning. During the period of Covid-19, please see the information at the bottom of this page.

Where and When

We meet at the Church Building (details below) for our main Sunday Service starting at 10.30am. For your first visit, we recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early to ensure you find a parking space and can settle in before the service begins. When you arrive, you should be greeted by someone on our Welcome Team who will be wearing a Welcome Badge.

Plan your journey:
Unfortunately, St Andrew's does not have its own carpark. However, there is a council-run pay and display carpark a short distance along St Andrew Street, to the east of the church - there is no charge for parking in this carpark on Sundays, but please check for charges on other days.

This is a useful East Herts Council website page for full details of parking in Hertford.

There are single yellow lines outside the church with parking restrictions, but some 30-minute parking bays are situated on the opposite side of the road for short stays (longer on Sundays).

Open Google Maps

Accessibility: There is wheelchair access, and a sound loop for anyone who needs it. Please let one of the Welcome Team know on your arrival and they will help you to get set up. There is a disabled toilet towards the back of the church, behind the kitchen.

Our Service

The service will usually begin promptly at 10.30am and will last between 60 and 75 minutes. We enjoy the presence of an excellent choir who help us sing hymns (modern and traditional) as well as provide anthems and special songs through the period of communion. We have a traditional organ but also benefit from music played on the piano and by our band (eg on the Second Sunday of each month when we have an All-Age Service in which our children and young people are fully involved).

Each 10.30am service includes a sermon, prayers and eucharist.

After the service, everyone is invited for coffee and conversation - some like to stay for a  quick chat while others remain in the church for a longer time.


Children and Young People

We have a great programme lined up for our children. This is organised by our Family, Children and Youth Worker, Tracy Plumpton, who is always delighted to welcome new faces. Those arriving before their first service at St Andrew’s can ask to see Tracy or one of the other leaders.

We really value worshipping God together as a family, so children stay with their parent or grown-up at the start of the service before being invited to leave for the age appropriate activities after the first hymn. You will need to go with your children to their groups and register them as part of our child safety policy.

The children and young people then return to the main service in time to join the eucharist and, if confirmed, take Holy Communion or, if not, receive a blessing.

There is a Children's Corner in church where you can go at any time. You will find books, toys and drawing materials there.

Toilet and baby-change facilities are located at the back of church, behind the kitchen.

Junior Church celebration

Getting Connected

Home Groups

While Sundays are a great way to meet new people, it is often in smaller gatherings that you can really get to know someone. Being part of one of our small groups allows you to make new friends, share together and support each other. We have a variety of groups that meet throughout the week. Check out Home Groups on our website and see if there’s one that you could join. Alternatively, speak to a member of the Welcome Team who will give you the information that you need.

Serving and Volunteering

If you want to get involved in the life of the church and help us make Sundays run smoothly, you can sign up to serve on a team. Please contact Phil in the Church Office.

What we describe above reflects our normal practice on Sunday mornings. However, since March 2020 we have had to adopt new ways of organising ourselves. For up-to-date information about current services (in church and online via Zoom), please look at details on our Worship and Prayer Page and note that when we're able to worship inside the church building, we ask you to book places at our 10.30am Sunday Service in church (book here). Everyone entering the church is asked to wear a face covering (don’t worry if you forget, we have a supply by the entrance door!).
Get in touch with us
If you have any questions, please do get in touch. You'll find our contact details here.

We hope that you will feel at home at our church.