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"It was with all this in mind that I went this week to sit on Laura's allotment. Well, it's less of an allotment and more of a field. There are eight allotments altogether on the Chatsworth estate; seven are laid out in neat rows, with precision planted beans and regimented beetroot. Then there is Laura's. Laura has planted her seeds and is now in the business of listening to what they have to say to her. Laura is an artist and is considering the process of 'becoming'. At one end of Laura's allotment some tall artichokes are producing deep roots under the sandy soil. A tangle of raspberries crowds another corner, and a tree that has been laden with plums begins to lose its leaves as autumn begins to bite. She has harvested the peas but because their pods are a beautiful deep purple she has left them on the plant. There is a compost heap and a pile of sticks drying for kindling. The beetroot are a disaster, but she is leaving them in the soil anyway to see what happens. Between the vegetables, herbs grow wild and untended. We dig up some pink potatoes, their flesh creamy white, and we converse as we make a stew in her garden shed. Chopping artichokes into the pan of boiling water, we talk about the allotment, not as a thing but as a process of becoming. It is not something to be 'managed' but to be 'attended to'. It is quite clear that Laura has a loving relationship with this allotment, it tells her things and she is listening to it. As I sit on the small wooden seat in the allotment shed, spooning a stew made of freshly dug vegetables and herbs, I am mindful of the similar wooden bench in South Africa where I have so recently listened to stories of abuse and violence. I begin to feel the power in these small, radical steps of attentiveness as Laura and I chat and listen to the Derbyshire rain soaking the earth. After the Khulumani listening process, we sat with the counsellor at a motorway service station, somewhat dazed by what we had heard and needing time to process our thoughts. He told us that he attends such hearings every week. 'How else will the nations be healed?" he asks. In Laura's shed I remember the words in Revelation that his words have echoed, 'The leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations'. Within the Khulumani process, on Laura's allotment, at Holy Rood House and with my church community in Liverpool, I begin to understand that this healing, this listening, this attentiveness is a process of hard work, like giving birth. But it is essential work; the journey from 'sous vivre' to 'sur vivre' will take time, care and the willingness to listen to one another and to what is coming to birth among us." (Glasson, 2009, 6)

"Laura and I sit on the allotment. In a quirky kind of way we are a 'community in solidarity' as she talks about her art project, I talk about my writing. I discuss the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, she talks about her neighbours. It seems that there have been complaints about the plants of her diverse and wild allotment growing over the wall into neighbouring plots. We smile and nod. Such disputes are all too common in our small island, a place where personal territory is delineated by fences and hedges. ... I ask Laura what she did about the neighbours. 'I was angry,' she said honestly, 'what difference did it make that a few stray weeds grew across a wall? Then I realised that it looked different from their side of the fence, so I tried not to over-react. I cut down the offending branches and, when I had harvested all the plums from the fruit tree, and the raspberries and tomatoes, I made jam and chutney and took a jar to everyone on the other side of the fence - even the ones who weren't complaining!'" (Glasson, 2009, 83-4)

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