I’m the cook in the family, not the gardener. But the compost bin is where these two worlds connect, and I have to say I get a strange pleasure out of helping distribute the fresh compost around the garden, seeing what has become of all the vegetable peelings, smelly banana and onion skins, rotten apples…disgusting and worthless. Except, now it’s not. Compost is one of nature’s miracles and digging it out of the bin at this time of year is like a little meditation…on life and death, resurrection, how what is worthless can be changed…(I could go on, but maybe it’s just me?!)
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the weather last weekend was so glorious. When the sun’s shining like that I can enjoy any work in the garden a whole lot more! The birds seem to be celebrating too – the dawn chorus for the last few days seems to have been like a symphony orchestra outside my bedroom window! There was a chaffinch on the roof this morning singing so loud I couldn’t quite believe that something so small could be creating such volume – and that was at a time when the sun was a long way from burning off the morning haze.
I think you can tell from all this how much I like spring – and I know I’m not the only one. To me it always feels like the earth is breathing again, released from the death grip of winter. There’s an air of celebration in everything, tempered by the fear of a late frost or torrential rain that might just come and destroy all that hope. That’s what has happened for the last two years as far as my plum tree is concerned: blossom drowned in the rain, blown away by gale force winds, or frozen in an icy blast. Well, it’s starting to come out now and I live in hope: which is as close to stress-free as I can probably manage.
I’m very ready for a break from work. Despite the joy of longer, lighter evenings, losing an hour in bed last weekend was the last thing I needed! I confess I almost fell asleep this afternoon in a meeting – although I was still listening, honestly. I will get a proper break soon, though: only 11 more work get-ups. But in the meantime, and with a focus on Simplify 7, I am trying to think about how I can build in more of those little breaks that lift the spirit enough to let me carry on.
That’s what the prayer pauses are, but as this month has gone on I’ve become more aware of the instant refreshment to be gained by just taking a moment to recognise the good around me. Whether it’s spreading the compost, baking a cake, sharing photos of my spring garden on Facebook, listening to a favourite piece of music, closing my eyes and standing in the sun for five minutes, taking a few minutes to chat with a colleague about something not work related…there are so many ways to restore my soul.
I can’t pretend that I find it that easy. There are so many things to keep my mind focused on, so many demands on my time. And I’m sure many of you will identify with the despair that tends to flood my mind pretty much every time I catch the news. There’s always the latest tragedy, terrorist attack, economic disaster… Of course, we can’t ignore all that. There are terrible things happening in the world and we need to know about them. But we also need to know about the wonderful things that are happening too – and remember not to be so cynical that we brush them aside as if they are nothing. Sad to say, that’s become a terrible habit of mine and I’m actively trying to change it – if for no other reason than that it would be nice to see the goodness in the world instead of being consumed by all the negativity!
There’s a passage in Romans Chapter 8 in The Message version of the Bible that I came across a few months ago and really fell in love with. I copied it into the note app in my phone and find myself returning to it time and time again. Daffodils, sunshine, good food, friendship – all powerful reminders of joy in living; but for me, this tops them all:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
Other versions say it differently, but no less powerfully: