From the Team Rector
First, it was the snow-drops, then the crocuses, daffodils, tulips, various cherry blossoms, and hawthorn and apple, and the chestnut candles. Each year this wonderful pageant of flower serenades spring, each though only flourishing for a few days and then dying away. Meanwhile, the trees turn green or actually a whole palette of greens, again at slightly different times and the bluebells choose their moment to flourish.
This year, maybe more than some others, we have noticed the seasons changing, and the birdsong chorus that goes with it. It is only as the flowers fall that the fruits develop, and this takes longer, happens more slowly, and is less impressive to see. Underneath the grass grows, gets munched or mown, and grows back determinedly – and our churchyards will be witness to the determined growing of the grass.
We can try and capture and protect the blossom but pick a branch and it quickly droops; and photos, however good, don’t really catch the tapestry of blossoms or bluebells that the human eye can enjoy. Partly because we reduce the scale to a computer screen or a phone screen.
And meanwhile – lest we pretend to forget – the “weeds”, the plants we don’t want, are also growing; the dandelions competing with the grass for the lawn area; the nettles and the brambles which sting and scratch. The wise know how to use the dandelion leaves, the nettle leaves, and prune the brambles for fruit. And there are more difficult plants, particularly what we call the invasive species, though it is us who have brought them here – like Japanese Knotweed. And as the climate changes, so some native species are suffering, and some new species are settling – both of which unsettle the eco-system. Nature is pretty resilient and can cope with much that is thrown at it, but not everything. It can and will grow back if given a chance.
And so with human life and living. Each year there are those things to enjoy which then pass: celebrations, and events, social and religious, but they are to be enjoyed and not hung on to. The things which bear fruit take more time and will need more careful nourishment if the fruit is to be good. Some things (like the nettles and dandelions) can be managed or even worked with, but others need resisting or they will overcome us. Coronavirus is an invasive species, which we have brought and helped move between people and communities. It will take a dedicated effort. And like nature, human life has its beginnings and endings; and if we unsettle the environment too much, many will find their levels of resilience tested, and maybe to breaking point. Even the greatest of trees or the best of plants has its natural lifespan and can be damaged before its normal time is up.
This is the world our Creator has made, with the daily, seasonal, annual and longer-term rhythms. The tides, the lunar months, the solar year, the massive movements of jet-stream or El Nino, all tell us of a living planet on which we live. And the Word who was with God and through whom all things were made, became flesh and lived among us. And in Resurrection life, he remains with us in the vagaries of this wonderful but fragile world. Creator, God made us; Emmanuel, God with us; Jesus, God rescues us. Knowing this we can put yesterday, today and tomorrow back in his hands – He is with us in everything.
Revd Peter Reiss April 2020