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JENNY ADAMS: Hope for the future

By Jenny Adams

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We’re very lucky that my job comes with a house. The church maintains it, and we have a responsibility to look after it.

Wagtail sits on a branch
Wagtail sits on a branch

With the house we get a large garden, bringing more responsibilities. Thankfully someone else cuts the grass, but that still leaves a lot.

With the garden, I feel responsible to many more parties. We are occupying territory vociferously claimed by robins, wrens, and other birds.

At the moment we have woodpigeons nesting in our woodshed, who I apologise to as I go past.

I can see pied wagtails gathering moss for a nest.

Earlier in the year I watched rooks with unwieldy sticks for their nests, from where they harangue me as I hang out the washing.

Jenny Adams
Jenny Adams

The house has other flying residents. The aerobatics of bats scooping up midges will restart soon, while bees explore south-facing gaps.

This may be our home, but this house and garden brings a responsibility to other creatures. The birds and bees are most audible, but there’s plenty more.

Visible are plants and trees. Some I try to maintain with some degree of tidiness. I would say that’s a losing battle, but I don’t like the warlike term. Let’s just say that life’s capacity to flourish is greater than my capacity to bring order.

Lots of it we leave semi-wild, as habitat for creatures and a source of brambles.

However, amongst, within and beneath the visible and audible residents there will be much more life.

In the ground beneath our feet, there’s the magic of soil and the mystery of fungi.

A recent BBC podcast “Fungi: The New Frontier” explored some astonishing research about fungi, as did David Attenborough’s “The Green Planet.” While we see fungal fruit above ground, there are vast networks invisible to us, which amongst other things help trees communicate.

That’s just part of the diversity of soil, supporting life and storing carbon.

This wee spot on the Earth is crammed with life, visible and invisible, audible and inaudible, tangible and mysterious. For me, it’s part of God’s amazing creation, but the mystery and wonder don’t depend on such beliefs.

I believe that in living here, we are responsible to the whole web of life. So, how do we show that in our common home?

For those of us fortunate enough to have homes and gardens, there are choices we can make in what we plant and leave, in compost and cleaning products, in when we disturb or feed creatures.

There’s also the bigger picture of climate and biodiversity emergencies. Those need decisions around energy use, travel choices, shopping habits – which may also help with economic and social injustices. Those options need active support by all levels of government, from Moray Councillors, Scottish and UK Parliament, to global bodies.

We’re lucky to have daily encounters with creatures sharing our house and garden. But I hope we all get the opportunity to enjoy the amazing web of life we’re part of, taking responsibility for thriving together.

  • Jenny Adams is Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland.

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