Yesterday I was given a lovely apricot coloured patio rose and a ceramic pot to put it in. So this afternoon I planted it. I thought it would be straightforward, just planting a small rose in a pot, but it wasn’t. First of all I couldn’t get the rose out of the plastic pot. It should have come out easily, but it didn’t. I poked around with a trowel, pulled gently, gave it a good shaking, and finally it came out. I put the rose into the pot, and back filled with compost. Then I stood back ready to take a photo to send to the person who gave it to me, and with disappointment I realised the rose was not standing up straight, but had gone in with a rather pronounced tilt. I now had a choice; I could leave it as it was and hope it would straighten as it grew; or I could do something about it. I decided to try to straighten it, so I put a small stake in the pot, but when I stood back I could see the rose was still pulling to the side, and the stake made it look messy. So I removed the stake, and dug up the rose and started again. This time I took more care, making sure I held the rose straight while I slowly put compost in bit by bit. Finally I stood back, and could see that all my effort was worth it – the rose was now standing up straight. I gave it a good watering, took a photo and sent it to my friend.
Forgive the analogy, but I think there are times in our lives when God wants to do a similar thing in us. We may suddenly become aware there is something wrong deep inside us, and we realise we have been growing crookedly in our pots for a long time. It maybe that terrible things have happened to us in the past, or maybe not so terrible things that have still marred and marked us, and caused our growth to be stunted or somehow askew. Over the years we have probably found ways of coping, but there can come a time when God can re-plant us and help us to grow straight. It won’t be comfortable, being uprooted, shaken free of what holds us, our roots bare, and we will probably want some good, experienced friends to help us get through it. But God is a careful gardener, and He will do it as gently as He can. And from my own experience I can tell you it will be well worth the effort.
After weeks of grey skies, or so it seems, we have finally had a few bright days, when the sun has warmed the cold earth, and encouraged some early flowers to open at last. I was beginning to wonder where the snowdrops were, when a couple of days ago I realised that they were hidden under drifts of autumns leaves. Now I have brushed some of the old leaves away from the borders, clumps of snowdrops have opened to the sun, along with a sprinkling of yellow crocuses and a pink blushed hellebore. And this afternoon I was surprised and heartened to see a solitary miniature iris, its vibrant blue petals flung wide like arms to greet the sun.
Spring is on its way.
The wisteria in my garden is in full flower. It climbs across the pergola, with long, pale-lilac racemes reaching down to gently touch my face with delicate, purse-like flowers. As the air around them moves, like dancers the racemes drift together in slow-motion, first one way and then another.
My wisteria is beautiful during the day, but at night, when I stand and behold the muted colours and drink in the faint perfume that hangs in the air, it is truly glorious.
Wisteria at night
I was sitting in bed a few days ago with my morning cup of tea, and I heard a familiar tap-tap-tapping from outside. It was the woodpecker back again, but I was aware that through my closed window, what should have been a bright, sharp sound was dull and muted. I love listening to the sounds of nature, especially the birds, so although it was a cool morning with a slight frost, I opened my window wide in order to hear more clearly. I snuggled back under my duvet and while listening to the lovely rhythmic drumming, I got to thinking as I frequently do. And I thought how we often hear God in a muffled, indistinct sort of way, in-between all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We are aware He is there, but we can’t hear clearly what He is saying. It’s at times like these that we need to fling open our metaphorical windows, and let the fresh sounds of His voice stream into our stuffy rooms, and take real notice of what He is saying to us.
What a beautiful morning! Clear blue sky; birds singing; leaf buds thickening on the trees. Makes me feel glad to be alive.
Thank you God.
I had to look upwards again today when I heard a familiar tap-tap-tap high up in next-doors old oak tree. I’d noticed it first a couple of weeks ago, but until this morning the culprit had eluded me. I was just leaving the house with my dog Charlie for his daily walk, when I heard the tapping again, a hollow vibration echoing through the clear morning air. I stopped and gazed upwards into the oak tree, scanning up and down the trunk and branches, and listening out for the sound again. Finally I saw him – a greater-spotted woodpecker – perched high up on a branch. I watched for a brief moment, then there was a flash of red under-belly and he was off, swooping across the pale blue sky, and leaving me with the feeling that spring is just around the corner.
The woodpecker was too fast and too far away to get a photo this time, so here’s a photo from a couple of years ago instead.
Once you’ve had a dog, life is very empty without one. So let me introduce you to Charlie.
After Brinny had gone (see my previous post), I searched local dog rescue websites, and a few days later Charlie almost jumped out of the screen! I emailed expressing my interest; had a home check, and then went to see what he was like in real life. Charlie is a small, three-year old black and white terrier cross, with a bit of spaniel. He is very energetic, with an intelligent harlequin face, and a constantly wagging flag of a tail. I was hooked! Charlie sat quite happily with my friend Maureen on the back seat going home, with thankfully no sign of the travel sickness Brinny had had. After showing Charlie around and settling him down, I took a look at the notebook I had been given, with notes and tips from his previous owner. It told how Charlie had been rescued from the streets of Galway, Western Ireland, where he had been found on a busy roundabout; before being re-homed with an Irish family. However, I then discovered that he kept escaping their garden, over five foot walls – surely I should have been told that vital piece of information! My fences were all about five feet high! I couldn’t risk Charlie escaping, so until a good friend had added some trellis to the top of my existing fences, Charlie had to go out in the garden on a lead. (Thank you so much David for all your hard work before Christmas – and what a fantastic job you’ve done!) Now it’s safe to let Charlie run around in the garden, and he can bark madly at squirrels and pigeons, with no risk of him following them over the fence!
Charlie is still frightened of other dogs and barks uncontrollably at any we meet on our daily walks. And he still strains to look round every driveway and gate post, and under every parked car, anticipating the dangers he probably came across while he was on the streets. Indoors during the day, he sits on ‘squirrel patrol’, looking out, and barking at any squirrel who dares to climb through the trees at the end of the garden. He barks when pigeons sit in the trees taunting him, and even barks at trespassing blackbirds and blue tits! He loves playing with his ball, rolling it round with his mouth and cheek; poking it up the wall and catching it; losing it under a low shelf and laying on his side to reach for it with his paws. In the evenings he is just happy lying on my lap while I watch TV. Charlie is a very different dog to Brinny, and he does have some problems, due I’m sure to his time on the streets, but he is already improving; and with time, patience and love, I hope and pray that he will continue to do so. I’ll let you know how he goes!