Just Gardening

I was gardening.  Just that.  Strimming the overgrown grass, revealing the flowers that had been planted along the labyrinth path in the churchyard.  It always had a queer sort of fascination with the locals, seeing someone tending something new, something unexpected and many would stop and chat, poking good humoured fun or questioning why.  On this particular occasion, I was supposed to be sat in the ‘vestry’ waiting for baptism applicants and the like, but the grass really did need cutting.  So I was just gardening.  I say ‘just gardening’ because some might suspect the old Chaplaincy method of ‘lurking with intent’, but I was definitely just gardening, I was even dressed as a gardener so there would be no confusion.  As I strimmed and plucked blown-in rubbish from the path, an image from John’s Gospel came to mind.  Mary Magdalene by the empty tomb.  She does not find Jesus laid out there.  She turns and speaks to who she supposes to be the gardener.  Mary is searching for someone, for her Lord, friend and companion.  Jesus does not stand up and say ‘here I am’ but waits quietly, gardening, one presumes.  She is weeping.  Concerned, he asks her what is wrong, and she asks if he knows where he is laid.  The gardener calls her by name, and she recognises Jesus.
I think I’ll continue gardening, ‘without intent’ and if someone happens by and asks those searching questions, then I can point them in the right direction.

Fear is in the air…

… and the magazine letter is late. (as usual)

Fear is in the air, you can smell it!
You can see it as well, the shop assistants giving out adverts in the street for their latest offers, the new signs going up pointing to various retail establishments, information about flu precautions.
We used to be afraid of Nuclear Weapons, Global Warming and Sea level rises, then we were afraid our energy supplies would run out.  After that came the fear of financial ruin at the hands of the global recession, now of course it is the turn of swine flu.  Every so often nature gives us something to think about, to re-asses our place in the world, to challenge our assumption that we are the dominant beings, in control, subject to nothing.
Imagine an abandoned motorway…
The cars have long since gone from this place.
A barren waste monument to the automobile that once was king.
A healthy breeze drifts along its length carrying with it dust, grime and dirt mere ghosts of the heavy traffic that once flowed along this artery.
The old tired road stretches out like a panoramic picture as far as the next bridge, stoops under, and is gone.
The surface is rough in places, smooth in others where wheels once turned.
A dead, decaying place you might think.
Here and there, among the un-seeing cats-eyes, a small mound of tarmac is raised up, a slight crack at its centre, no more.  A blemish on the smooth charcoal grey surface.  Yet there in the midst of all this bareness and waste ground is the glimmer of life, a small gap leading down to the earth below hoping for a little light and a drop of rain.
In the dark of this crevice a timid green spear points skyward reaching desperately for the light.
How far has this shoot pushed up from? How many months has it taken for this one leaf to emerge from the dead road around it?  How many other shoots died on the way to the surface creating the food for others to build upon? Days of growth? Weeks of struggle? Years of death and decay built up the nutrient for this one solitary shoot to push above ground.
What would it be like to be that one leaf, the shoot that strikes the air, the first in that place to feel the breeze on its slender leaf and to remember that thousands like it never made it to reach the surface, hundreds of shoots pushing upwards didn’t make it out, yet all joined together in the effort for this one shoot.  First one, but then afterwards many stronger, larger shoots, a flower perhaps, blooms in the wilderness and a garden is re-born from the earth.  Nature takes back what is rightly hers swallowing the grey with green.  As we celebrate re-birth and resurrection there is nothing quite so optimistic as a desolate place.  Remember the wilderness, the place where God was to be found.