There are all kinds of things I need to do today, many more I’d like to do, but for now I’ll open up both sides of the french window and enjoy a little garden sunshine and a well earned cup of tea.
We came back from our holidays yesterday, the house is a tip and the garden has grown up and over its early summer goodness. The post-camping laundry pile glares at me accusingly when I go to the bathroom. The view from my bed if I lie down is cobwebs on the curtain rails and dust balls in the light fittings. Even form my bed there is no rest.
There are visas to apply for, funds to be found, a boy to send to university, and one to college. There is money to be earned, purchases to be made. Summer’s nearly done and school-time is closing in on us fast; a race against time where I’m running my best but the schedule’s about to overtake me on the outside lane.
There are teenagers everywhere I turn, long limbed and larger than life. When I can’t see them I can hears them and I’m alert for an argument about to begin. They eat mountains of food every day. The supermarkets deliver it, I go out and fetch it, I cool it, heat it, bake it and use every method known to man of multiplying it, but it seems there is never enough. There are sandwiches to be cut and muffins to bake, chickens to roast and vegetables to peel. All the time, every day.
These beautiful children, they don’t raise themselves. They have names and needs, a wide world stretched out and busting with promise and I am entrusted with the task of showing them how to find the joy and live well, how to fail well, how to get up and start again when things go wrong, how to run this race and not grow weary, to love with out ceasing. All the things I can barely do myself. It takes skills I don’t have, a wisdom I’m still searching for. More than laundry and dusting and groceries, four young humans growing fast whether I clean the house or not.
Overwhelmed, I come to the garden with my good intentions and my tea. Today the foliage on the tomato plant is silver grey and dying, her compost dusty and dry. The white roses got damaged in the rain and the perennials and bedding are dying back fast. In shady corners where the sun does not shine, plants without light have bolted high and sway out of proportion to their strength. The last strawberries shrivel on the stalks where the birds did not manage to reach. A little quiet pottering would barely scratch the surface of what needs to be done here. If you want to find the beauty in this you will have to look harder and longer, but there is always beauty to be found even in the over grown mess of it all when the edges of the hosta leaves are fading brown and the tall weeds in the borders are the only healthy plants left.
Stilled by the hum of cars on a distant road and machinery on a building site nearby. Swayed to rest, by the wind in the poplars, swelling and subsiding like waves on the beach. There is still work to be done in the house and the voices of the children can be heard upstairs. God gives us gifts where we least expect them, when our need is great and when our need is small. The provision is now and not somewhere in the never-never when all the mess is tidied and all the noise has stopped. Un-accounted for mercies and tender grace, there will always be enough.
There are plump tomatoes dripping red from the vine and the white rose smells as sweet. There’s a proud new scabious bud amongst the failed tobacco plant flowers and blue-green succulents surviving the worst of the drought. A few weeks ago I cut back aggressively, a honeysuckle overcome with mildew and mould. She survived, scrawny against the red brick wall, but now she bursts forth golden, a sweet scented bloom at the end of every stem. All day long insect visitors come amongst her curling petal horns, honey bees, bumble bees and hover flies, drinking from her final flowers. In the failing mess of the overgrown garden there is always enough nectar for the bees. Things you planted and the things that just grew anyway. Bees and butterflies uninvited, sunlight and shadows that were not planned, spiders will spin webs, birds will sing, flowers fall and fruits form. Some mornings there is a silent drenching of dew, that fell quieter than the rain and was gone before you were even out of your bed.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.