Taking a walk around The Rectory garden is a delight at this time of year. There are swathes of snowdrops like a white carpet in parts of the garden. In other places there are purple crocuses showing their colours in the grass, and primroses beginning to bloom. In some parts of the garden there is a patchwork of white, purple and yellow where the snowdrops and crocuses are joined with the daffodils as they begin to burst forth in glorious yellow. And in a hidden part, where the daffodils grow through long grass and weeds, they are standing tall as yellow sentinels and swaying gently in the wind. I know I am very fortunate to enjoy such beauty, and I am thankful to Tim who cleared all the leaves under the trees so that the signs of spring are more visible.
What is it that makes these flowers give such pleasure? I remember my Mum used to come in from the garden all excited to report to my Nanny the sight of the first snowdrop, crocus or daffodil. For me it is the hope of Spring; longer and warmer days and the end of the dark and cold longer nights. It is also a reminder that out of what appears to be death, life returns. The bulbs, which appear to die off each year, are back once again. I have flowers in the garden that I have received in pots in previous years that I’ve planted and they return year on year to give more pleasure.
Later this month it will be Mothers Day (or Mothering Sunday) however you choose to remember it.
My Mum passed away some years ago but it is always a delight to visit her grave with a pot of bulbs and see the flowers from previous years brightening that little piece of earth. I am thankful for my Mum and all she meant to me and did for me, but also thankful to God that she is in a much better place and like the bulbs, appearing to be dead, but bursting forth in resurrection life; which is the Christian hope.
The whole of March is taken up with Lent, which began on February 22nd this year. For those of us who mark this Lenten time of year, it is a time to have a look at the way in which our life is flourishing (or not) and to consider when needs to be done to enable our lives to flourish and be fruitful; it is a time of clearing the ground and planting new seeds, if I continue with the gardening analogy.
For some it will mean spending less time watching TV or on social media, but instead finding space to read a Christian book, or the Bible. Others might choose to take on something positive, such as 40 acts of kindness, or set aside the money they might usually spend on sweets/chocolate to go towards a charity supporting people in need, such as Ukraine or the Turkey & Syria Earthquake appeal. In the past, Lent was kicked off by Shrove Tuesday when all the rich foods were eaten up, and then not eaten until Easter Day some 45 days later. Lent was a time for fasting and preparation in readiness to celebrate Easter Day. Hot cross buns were enjoyed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday was a real fest day. Nowadays, hot cross buns and Cadburys cream Easter eggs are available all year round.
Whatever we believe, and however we choose to travel through Lent, I would recommend this time as a perfect opportunity to think about some of those big questions of life; to reassess where you are and how you are travelling. For Christians, it is a time to reconsider how faithful and obedient we are as followers of Jesus, to bring to God our failures and wrong life-choices, and to receive the forgiveness and encouragement that God so longs to give; and his help to live lives that bless our friends and neighbours. Seeing a life well-lived is just like discovering a patch of spring flowers vibrant in colour and standing firm and growing despite the odds