Sue's Everyday Faith

Sue is a keen walker and lifelong lover of nature. She worships in the Ironstone benefice – a rural group of churches near Melton – and was called by God to create a thriving woodland near her home as a legacy for the planet…

I’ve always loved being outdoors, although I didn’t do much walking when I was younger. My father was a keen plantsman and my mother had a botany degree, so nature played a big part in the lives of me and my sister, Anne, growing up.
Both parents had a strong faith and that became part of our lives, too. 
There was a long period when I didn’t go to church, and didn’t feel I had God in my life – particularly when my children were little. I used to walk down the country lane and say, ‘God, I need help.’ I needed answers, and I couldn’t hear anything. 
Later on in life, as I have had time to look back and think about my faith and what it means to me, I realise He was there, supporting me. The story of the Footprints in the Sand resonates so much.
Now I don’t need answers – I know He is there, just by looking around me and being outside. 
When I’m at one with nature, I’m with God. He made the world and I’m in His world.  
Every morning I look out of my bedroom window to see what’s happening in the garden and that’s when I talk to God. 
There are so many beautiful places, I see Him everywhere; on the beach, walking along the canal, in the middle of the countryside – anywhere where there’s nature. When the sun shines in all its glory and illuminates everything, I think, ‘God’s put the lights on today.’
The only other time I feel such a strong connection to Him is when I take Holy Communion.   

I’ve always been surrounded by nature and I have always wanted to grow trees. When we moved to this house in Melton, there was not much in the garden and though we planted many fruit trees, we soon ran out of space.
Then I had an idea. Maybe I could buy a field and grow some trees? My dad died in 1997, and would have been 100 in 2008, and this seemed a fitting memorial for my parents. My husband, Ray, never knew his father, so it was for him, too. And moving forward, it would become a legacy for the planet.  
As soon as I saw our field, in Sproxton, I knew that it was the one. 
With help from the Woodland Trust and a few locals, since 2015 we’ve managed to plant the two acres with more than 700 native trees, varying from oak, holly, yew and rowan, to the hazel (which the squirrels love and have enjoyed plenty of nuts from this year) and the spindle trees with their incredibly beautiful red and orange leaves.
It’s absolutely amazing how they’ve grown and how they’re all slightly different with their individual personalities. I also met a bee keeper through church and he now has eight hives on the plot. 
God is there. We visit a couple of times a week and it is very special for both of us. 
This is definitely God’s work – we just helped a little, and talked to the trees.
We need to look after our planet, the situation is desperate. It means a lot to me to be contributing in this way and leaving a legacy for the sake of the environment and God’s wonderful creation.

This article was first published in Shaped Magaine in Novemeber 2019

First published on: 19th November 2020

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