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.
I walked round Ifield Millpond yesterday. It was a beautiful, cold, crisp, winter morning. The sky was clear and blue, and the sun hung low, so that blinding sunlight bounced off the frozen surface of the millpond, making photography difficult. The grass and undergrowth were rimed with frost, and ice scrunched underfoot. A heron who habitually sits at the waters’ edge, was perched on the branch of a tree. The water birds, usually seen swimming happily, were today skidding and skating precariously on the ice. Three Canada geese one behind the other slowly and carefully plodded towards a patch of open water near the bridge. The first two held their footing reasonable well, but the last one slipped drunkenly on every step – two steps forward and one slip-step backwards. Seagulls coming to land, ran a few slippery steps, wings flapping wildly to keep their balance before coming to a standstill. A solitary duck padded across the ice, webbed feet flapping, but the rest of the ducks seemed to be crowded into a narrow stretch of water between the bank and the boardwalk.
The funniest of all had to be the coots. They looked rather like misshapen, feathered rugby-balls, with ungainly legs and long flat toes that are usually hidden under the water. No doubt the toes with flabby flaps of skin that act rather like webbed feet are ideal for paddling through water, but they are not really designed for walking on ice! The faster the coots tried to go, the more they slipped and slithered. But however much difficulty the birds had staying upright on the ice, I didn’t see any actually fall over; and thankfully neither did I!
I awoke this morning feeling sorry for myself – not a good way to wake up! I’d slept badly, and tatters of disjointed dream images still clouded the back of my mind. I opened the curtains, the sky was as overcast and grey as I felt. I went downstairs, let the dog out and made myself a cup of tea. Then I slipped back into the warmth of my bed to do my daily Bible reading – today it was Psalm 62, maybe this would cheer me up. It starts, ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.’ “Well Lord,” I grumbled, still feeling sorry for myself. “I don’t feel very rested!” I sipped my tea, and stared out of the window; and the colours of next doors oak tree took my breath away. Oak trees are amongst the last to lose their leaves, and now the colours were finally changing and the leaves fluttering to the ground. The colours are simply glorious. With a quick glance from a distance, you might consider the leaves to be merely brown, but when you look more closely, the various intermingled shades of green, yellow and brown are amazing. My day has been lifted, not only by Psalm 62, but also by the unveiling of God’s beautiful creation.
After seeing the Green woodpeckers a few days ago, my sister and I were treated to a fleeting glimpse of two Little owls. We were driving down a country lane near Bicker, Lincolnshire, on our way back home, when first one, then another swooped silently overhead, and off over the fields. They are just like other owls, but in miniature; typically about 22cm tall, with a wingspan of 56cm and weighing in at 180 grams. They are territorial, and usually nest in natural hollows in trees. Unlike most other owls, they can be seen during the day, and although we saw them in flight, you can sometimes spot them perched high up on posts and fences, ready to swoop down on any unsuspecting small creature or bug.
It all happened too fast to attempt a photo, but they looked something like this:
A family of Green Woodpeckers frequent my sister’s garden in Bicker Gauntlet near Boston in Lincolnshire. They are often seen feeding on the ground, digging their long beaks into ant-runs – ants of course being their favourite food. Like the other British woodpeckers, of which they are the largest, they are striking birds, with green plumage above, light green below, and yellow on the base of a stumpy tail. They have a bright red cap, and black slash across their eyes.
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