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Love and Light

Hazelborough Wood 2014

Having had several days of sometimes, torrential rain one wondered what the weather would be like on Sunday 29th June for the national service activity in Northamptonshire at Hazelborough Wood. We didn’t need to worry though as Swami had it all sewn up for us! It was a glorious day with light showers after lunch – well there was no catnapping after a sumptuous lunch, as there was much to do!

The Sai Mission for the day was to start clearing the King Richards Trail that had become completely overgrown and looked more like the sort of jungle that Richard Attenborough might frequent. This ancient woodland that was 600 years old if not more, of majestic oak had long ago been witness to King Richard and his royal entourage on hunting expeditions hence the name for the trail.

Blackthorn, Hawthorn, and Hazel are abundant. The wildlife that inhabit these woods include Muntjack and the very shy fallow deer might be spotted early morning or dusk. Grass snakes also make their home in the dense undergrowth, fortunately it’s not to the taste of Adders, and not to mention a cacophony of birds and butterflies. But, because the area is becoming so overgrown the conditions are affecting the life cycle of the plants and fauna, in particular the nationally rare Wood White butterfly is in decline. In cutting back trees and bushes it would allow light into the wood and the seedlings for example Vetch (a member of the pea family) and Stitchwort that has a pretty star shaped white flower (when the seed capsules ripen they can be heard ‘popping’ in late Spring) can then grow and are perfect for attracting butterflies. It is an absolute haven tucked away from the craziness of the World.

Sai devotees arrived from around the UK armed with tools and gardening gloves and smiles on their faces despite some getting incredibly lost touring Silverstone race track and heading in the complete opposite direction! There were 55 of us in total all raring to go! We were also joined by a lovely group of volunteers (namely John, Diana, Ian, Jake and David) from the local community whose passion for nature conservation would pull them regularly to the woods to lend a hand. The group that meets regularly consists of 16 people in total of varying ages that was begun by the Forestry Commission approximately 5 months ago. On speaking to them during the day they said that it not only helps the woods, it also allows quality time for members of families to get together and it’s fun.

On first view of the section of King Richards trail it looked like a mammoth task yet the teams (including ‘The A Team’ but without the tank!) took it in their stride and piles of branches and trees were mounting quickly. These will either get burnt or be left for wildlife to make home. The original trail soon became very clear and the rays of sunshine were able to break through easily and warm those hidden seedlings. Butterflies danced across the long grasses, as did 3 friendly Spaniels – they thoroughly enjoyed the attention of so many people and were happy to offer a hug for anyone who happened to be taking a break. The dogs belong to Jo and fellow forestry co-worker Helen. Region 4, have worked with Jo before when she was based at Salcey Forest and Jo happened to mention that she loved working with us all … and we all loved the opportunity to be with them both outside, in the fresh air and enjoying nature, seeing the results fairly instantly. Many photos were taken and a few of the comments are included here:

The question was “what brought you here and are you having fun?”

“Enjoying myself in the open environment having a satsung with devotees and the trees! It’s a great idea to be outside and so much more can be achieved as a national project with more helping hands. It’s also great to be working with the local community”

“Here to cut trees and have a good National get together. It’s great to interact with devotees from all over the UK and it’s a good mix of youth and adults. It needs to be more regular.”

“It’s great to be doing something different to the norm and I’m enjoying the fresh air”

There was no shortage of good humour and fun during the whole day either…

“I’m a Sai devotee, get me out of here!” came the cry from one of the youth obviously a reaction to seeing the video camera in action!

The day ended with a prayer for the environment, a poem:

“When upon life’s billows, you are tempest tossed.
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you, what the Lord has done”

There were also bhajans and a couple of quotes from Swami for everyone to take home in their hearts:

“In ancient times, sages and scientists commended the Ayurvedic system of treatment as it was considered a natural system for curing diseases. Trees play a vital role in helping mankind receive oxygen from the atmosphere; they absorb the carbon dioxide exhaled by human beings. Hence the ancients favored the growing of the trees to control atmospheric pollution. But nowadays, trees are cut down indiscriminately and pollution is on the increase. The relationship between man and trees is indicated by the term vanaspati in the Ayurveda” Sai Baba SSN Spring 1994 p5

“The atmosphere today is polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment with antibiotics as it were.” Baba

Swami had given us a fabulous day spent in an amazing environment with much good company. If you weren’t there then you missed a treat so please come along to the next one … a lot was achieved but King Richards Trail needs finishing!

Jai Sai Ram

Jenni Robson
Region 4 Spiritual Co-ordinator