The Season of flowers and singing (Song 2:12)
Some of you know that I’m a keen gardener, as well as a keen hiker and trekker on the Heysen and other local trails. It’s not a new passion – I grew up in my dad’s greenhouse, my entire childhood it seems was spent in or around the fields, and my brother and I would hike up mountains in France, Switzerland and Scotland well into our late 20s.
Throughout my life I’ve travelled to places where I can hike to see a view, or more often than not: a tree or a flower. From the Spanish moss hanging from the trees in Savannah, to the red maples in a Vermont autumn, to the giant redwoods in California – there has been so much to see. And I haven’t run out of places to see either – there’s still the lupins of Lake Tekapo, the fritillary meadow in Cricklade near my family, or closer to us here: the thousand or so blue sun orchid spikes around Neagles Rock up in the Clare Valley.
I love the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Somehow the things I worry about feel smaller when I’m wandering in nature. And hiking and gardening, while switching off worries and anxieties, seem to switch on the bit of my soul that feels joy. There’s a balancing out in all that – less worry, more joy, breathing out, breathing in.
Nature gives us so many lessons – patience, things happening in their right season, the relief of spring after the winter, the idea of belonging to a particular environment, thriving when conditions are just right, space for recreation, symbiosis and community.
I love the poem by David Wagoner called Lost, in particular the line, “Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.” It points to a knowing that is greater than our knowledge. Like when St Paul writes from prison to the church community in Philippi of the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”
I always garden by myself, and usually hike out on my own. Very occasionally it feels like a lonely endeavour. But all I have to do is stop. Slowly I hear the wind in the trees, or the birdsong, or the buzz of some insect, and I’ll remember that peace of God that Paul wrote of. Peace for my daily pilgrimage.
In the Song of Songs, we read these words: “Arise, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come…” I love those words – this is the time of flowers and of singing.
Spring is almost upon us. The season of promise. And I am sensing a new season for us at Clayton Wesley. I wonder where the Holy Spirit will lead us as a community in the months ahead? Where are the new shoots of life and promise already showing? What songs might we sing as we journey forward?
I pray that our joint pilgrimage in the months ahead will bring us peace and joy, unity of purpose and a sense of anticipation and hopefulness. May we all know something of that season of promise.