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His Great Goodness - T. M. Moore, Principal, The Fellowship of Ailbe

(MEDITATIONS ON SCRIPTURE AND CELTIC TRADITION)

He's flaming forth and oozing all around us. 

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, 
And on Your wondrous works. 
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, 
And I will declare Your greatness. 
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, 
And shall sing of Your righteousness.   

- Psalm 145.5-7 

Understand the creation, if you wish to know the Creator; if you will not know the former either, be silent concerning the Creator, but believe in the Creator.
   

- Columbanus, Sermon I, Irish, 7th century[1] 

How important did Columbanus think it was that we learn how to meditate on the works of God and discern His presence and glory in them (Prov. 25.2)? He indicates that, while we can know the Lord and believe in Him without understanding the creation, we don’t have sufficient experience of Him – of His glory, flaming forth and oozing around us – to talk convincingly about Him. 

Only as we discern the splendor of His majesty in all His wondrous works will we be able to talk persuasively about the awesome acts of God and all His greatness. Columbanus is only echoing what the psalmist proclaims. 
thirteen acres of Lupine with the twin spires of Clear Lake Church as a backdrop

How much we miss each day because we have not yet learned to hear the voice of the Lord in the things He has made! 

All around us, day by day, the creation “pours forth” (Ps. 19.1-4) words of glory, glimpses of God and His splendor, majesty, greatness, goodness, and righteousness. We go through life like travelers at an airport, rushing to the next gate to make our connection, paying little attention to whatever is going on around us and thinking only about what we have to do next. 

But the creation is not like an airport terminal, but a great museum or curiosity cabinet, in which are displayed the glory-filled works of God. The fame of God’s abundant goodness awaits us, if only we will take the time to look. 

Choose an object – a tree, leaf, bird, or even some artifact of culture. Focus on its shape, size, proportions, function, unseen components, and overall beauty. As you study it carefully, to apprehend and appreciate its many features, recall that God upholds this object by His Word of power, and through it He bears witness to Himself. It is a token of His power, a sample of His greatness and abounding goodness, whereby He fills His creation with objects to serve and delight those who know and honor Him (Pss. 119.89-91; 111.2). 

Speak to the Lord; praise Him for what He has shown you of Himself, be it ever so grand or slight. Such meditations on the Word of God in creation and culture can be a source of enrichment for our souls. The artistry of the Great Master speaks to us of His steadfast love and faithfulness, but we must be willing to slow down, reflect, and wait on Him to make His presence known.  

God is speaking to us in all the things He has made. What are we missing by not taking the time to listen? 

Psalm 145.1-3, 4-6 (Brother James’ Air: “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want”
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name! 
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same! 
Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame! 

To ev’ry generation we Your wondrous works shall tell. 
The splendor of Your majesty we contemplate full well. 
We speak of all Your mighty deeds and all Your greatness tell! 

Lord, let all the elements in heaven and earth bring eternal sweetness to enrich my soul. Adapted from Litany of Creation 

To subscribe to T.M.’s thrice-weekly meditations go to https://www.ailbe.org/columns/crosfigell and click “subscribe.”


Pass the mustard please... - Article and photos by Fred Wooley

And pass it right out of the preserve! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing this spring on a few Blue Heron Ministries projects and other resource managers have been doing elsewhere. Part of good stewardship is removing non-native, invasive species that plague the integrity of natural areas. The techniques and tools for land stewards are as diverse and involved as herbicide application at the right times, or simply pulling weeds as you do in your home gardens and flowerbeds. 

Pulling and removing rids the entire plant from its lock on the soil, plus eliminates this year’s seed production and future plants. An all too common invasive in both disturbed and high-quality sites is garlic mustard. Many of you know it by now, the knee high, tall, slender weed with triangular leaves and small clusters of tiny white flowers, each with four petals in a tiny cross. It is a biennial, producing a basil rosette of kelly-green leaves the first year and then bolts with a tall stalk of many flowers in year two. Talk of many; those flowers produce long, skinny capsules, called siliques, each with two rows of tiny black seeds. Information from the Midwest Invasive Plant Network says one plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds! Yikes, that’s a lot of mustard. 
Brennan Woods 5_10_2016 before pull

Coworker Rita Smith and I found a lot at the Brennan Woods Nature Preserve, a unit of the Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy. BHM is contracted to help care for this unique property on the northwest side of Clear Lake. Brennan Woods is a rolling 25-acre parcel that also drops to a very unique wetland fen. Both high quality and somewhat degraded in areas, the preserve offers wonderful opportunity for restoration and management. 

Managing garlic mustard was priority this year. Rita and I began April 25 when the plant was just beginning to bolt and set flowers. We began a methodical process of walking east west transects from north to south, pulling along the way. Within days we noted the plant had advanced in development where it maintained resiliency even when pulled and left to air dry on stumps and fallen limbs. Wet weather seemed to give life to pulled stalks and their tops turned skyward, much to our dismay. By May 2, we were pulling and hauling it off site. We worked parts of another eight days in the coming weeks until we felt we got as much as we could. 

Still, we see the basil rosettes forming for next year’s plants. We’re told that seeds can remain viable for seven years. So we’ll be back. Over time, the plants will dissipate, but the effort is a long one. I’ve seen it work in other areas and yes, it is worth the work. Since it is at least a seven year project, obviously longer with missing some plants, there are opportunities to help! Please watch for volunteer days or just visit this, or your favorite, natural area on your own in early spring and lend a hand! 
Brennan Woods 5_10_2016 after pull

In some areas at Brennan Woods, the garlic mustard is currently so thick it provides a dense monoculture. As depressing and overwhelming as that appeared, we bent over and pulled and pulled and hauled and hauled. The effort to keep going is driven by results. Photos do not do justice, but to see an area of solid garlic mustard and then the same area with the plant gone and remaining native ground plants again seeing the light of day is quite rewarding. 

I liken it to cleaning a child’s room, or the garage, or back to your home garden. It’s a mess at first, but when done; you stand back with dirty hands, sore muscles, and smile. 

On May 23 we were joined by Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy members for the fun. BHM and the Conservancy hosted a volunteer work day at the preserve and while we felt good about the garlic mustard removal to that point, another mustard was shaking its fists at us – Dame’s rocket. This is also a biennial or short-lived perennial, that shares all the mustard traits, but its four-petaled flower is bigger, ranges from 
Dame's Rocket 5_28_2016 close up of blooms
white to lavender to blue and yes, I admit, prettier. So pretty, it is often included in wildflower seed mixes and planted as an ornamental. As many wolves in sheep’s clothing, this one is bad. The plant escapes and becomes problematic. In early May we found patches of dame’s rocket, which began to bloom by the May 23 volunteer day. We had 12 people come for the event. We attacked a hillside near the entrance and eliminated stands of dame’s rocket, some small bush honeysuckle, some remnant garlic mustard, and general litter. Conservancy director, Bridget Harrison provided snacks and BHM director, Nathan Simons, provided interpretation of the preserve and management plans. We hiked two adjacent property acquisitions and discussed further opportunities for management of what is now a 45-acre corridor of three natural areas.

Dame's Rocket Pull at Brennan Woods
The event typified an excellent volunteer workday outing of these two great organizations. Like-minded, good-willed, nature enthusiasts and land stewards gathering to do good work and enjoy fellowship in a wonderful setting. We all left feeling a great sense of accomplishment and a fulfilling afternoon in the field with friends. I left with a pick-up full of dame’s rocket mustard and a smile on my face…


From Beans to Peas - by Peg Zeis

lupine and black oaks at BBThe soil scientist was here for the purpose of performing pre-building soil borings. A hike through the woods followed and as we stood together overlooking the failed soybean field to the north of the wood’s edge, he explained the natural history of the sandy, nutrient deprived soil referring to it as “drift dunes.” Not long before Steve’s visit I had learned about a unique and highly endangered habitat called Black Oak Savanna and visited small parcels of that habitat type that had been rescued and protected by several organizations in NW Indiana. Now my interest was piqued as was my desire to see that special twenty-seven acre barrens restored to what it was when the early settlers arrived in the area and eventually tried to grow crop in soil conditions not at all suited for corn and soybeans. A considerable number of contacts finally led me to “the only man in the area who knows anything about that type of habitat”, Nate Simons. It wasn’t long afterward that Nate and I took our first walking tour of the area which, by then, we had learned was for sale. Blue Heron was without the finances to buy a twenty-seven acre sand box but a developer was and purchased the ancient dunes to be sub-divided for building purposes. 

By and by Blue Heron Ministries was able to obtain ownership of thirteen contiguous acres and restoration plans were underway. As the ground by that time had been left fallow, a few grub oaks had begun pushing through the soil and several species of native grasses and sedges were discovered to have survived the chemical applications made throughout the farming years. Volunteers worked in the hot evening sun to cover native plants and the small oaks with containers and plastic bags to protect them from the chemical to be boom sprayed to eradicate the agricultural weeds which remained after farm efforts were abandoned. To better help us understand what and why we were doing what we did, Nate arranged a tour to a small Oak Savanna near Bristol, IN, where we could catch the vision of what was being proposed for our newest Blue Heron Ministries sanctuary. In December, 2008, the first seeds of grasses and forbs were cast onto the snow-covered soil. By the following spring Badger Barrens* started bursting with plants which at an earlier time had graced the landscape. 

Peg hiking thru lupine at BB
Throughout the years since 2008, BHM has utilized fire, mowing, and some limited spot chemical applications to control invasive species. Each year we have enjoyed the grasses and plants that thrive in dry soils including little bluestem, big bluestem, Indian grass, side-oats gramma, various goldenrods and asters, native clovers and blazing star, coneflower, butterfly milkweed, and tall coreopsis. A 0.6 mile loop trail was installed to enable hikers to traverse the preserve. 

This spring, Badger Barrens was heavily carpeted with the most beautiful of all – the Wild Blue Lupine. It brought me to tears more than once as the woods trail upon which I walked opened to an endless sea of shades of lavender. Volunteers and friends who came to view, photograph, and hike the preserve were overheard saying it was beyond what they had imagined and that it simply took their breath away. 

Our work is not done. We will strive to keep Badger Barrens free from invasive species and this will be the first year that we will take large amounts of the abundant seed of the Lupine to other like habitat restoration sites. It is thrilling to think that this lovely plant will bless onlookers as it has those of us who have experienced a rescue, a healing, and a renewal of a piece of God’s earth – a testimony of a relationship made right. 

*Naming: In the summer of 2002, while hiking with friends, we found a young and obviously ill badger. We contacted Fred Wooley of Pokagon State Park fame to give our find credentials. We explored the field and Fred showed us what was confidently identified as badger dens. At that time the badger was listed as an endangered species in the State of Indiana.



Upcoming Events


Purple Loosestrife Bio-Control Field Day - June 17 at 1PM

Adult Galerucella 2
Join the Lakes Country Cluster of The Stewardship Network for a wetlands field trip on Friday afternoon, June 17 starting at 1 PM at the Marsh Lake Public Access Site. 

Have you heard about the insects that are controlling the non-native purple loosestrife in many wetlands? You may already have them in your neighborhood. This will be a chance to see what they look like, as well as what their feeding damage looks like. We should be able to see adults, eggs and larvae of the purple loosestrife leaf eating beetle, Galerucella. We should also be able to see the flower feeding weevil, Nanophyes. Once you see the bio-control insects at Marsh Lake you should be able to recognize them in other purple loosestrife patches. Rich Dunbar from the IDNR Division of Nature Preserves will discuss the importance controlling the population of purple loosestrife, and the impact this insect has had. 

The Marsh Lake Public Access Site is on the north side of Feather Valley Road, east of I-69, in Steuben County. From Marsh Lake, we will cross the road to Trine State Recreation Area. There we will see a wetland restoration that helps filter runoff from I-69. Wetland restorations can be a success, if carefully designed and maintained. 

We will also explore the fens surrounding Gentian Lake. Fens are an unusual wetland type that is fed by flowing groundwater. We will see the results of steps that have been taken to restore and manage the fen wetlands. Past management includes burning, mowing, and the removal of large trees that had grown to shade the fen. 

Rubber boots, or shoes you do not mind getting very muddy, are recommended. Shorts are not recommended. 

Do you have questions about the Lakes Country Cluster or this event? If so, don't hesitate to ask! Contact Lakes Country Cluster Coordinator Beth Williams at lcc@stewardshipnetwork.org today!


Duff Lake Fen Sedge Seed Collection - June 18 10AM-1PM


IMG_8405Duff Lake Fen is a 108 acre addition to Pine Knob Park (2825 E SR 120 Howe, IN 46746), and we are restoring the wetlands which were grazed (until 2015) and ditched. There is heavy reed canary grass infestation, but lots of high quality fen/marl prairie/wet prairie. The area has saturated soils, but no standing water. 

It is a long hike from the parking lot at Pine Knob Park, but we will meet there then carpool to another, closer entrance. 

We will provide the collection buckets, but suggest that you bring belts, footwear for wet ground, plenty of drinking water, lunch (if desired), sunscreen, bug spray, etc. Oh, there could be rattlesnakes!


Marsh Lake Sedge Seed Collection - June 21 at 2PM

We will provide the collection buckets, but we suggest that you bring belts, footwear for wet ground, plenty of drinking water, bug spray, sunscreen, etc. 

Meet at the Peace Lutheran Church parking lot (355 E. State Road 120, Fremont, IN 46737), and we'll carpool/caravan to the site.


Sedge Seed Collection - June 24th 10AM-1PM

We will meet for another opportunity to collect sedge seeds (likely at Duff Lake Fen or Marsh Lake). Collection buckets will be provided, but we suggest that you bring belts, footwear for wet ground, plenty of drinking water, lunch (if desired), bug spray, sunscreen, etc. 



Mission Statement

Celtic Cross 2
The mission of Blue Heron Ministries, Inc. is to build communities where creation is kept and to keep creation so that community may be restored.

Blue Heron Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and a ministry of the Presbyterian Chapel of the Lakes, a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Because the Presbyterian Chapel of the Lakes is located in the heart of lake country, environmental stewardship, education, and advocacy is a significant part of our Christian witness.  Acting upon our faith that relationships may be restored and experience substantial healing in an imperfect world, we offer the following four initiatives as tools of reconciliation:

Land Trust • Conservation Design • Education • Natural Lands Restoration

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