Rhythm of Life
Over the years I've dabbled in gardening from time to time, but lockdown has given me the opportunity to really get stuck in. When all the children had left home I filled my empty nest with a few hens in a corner of the garden and looking after them helped to fill the mother- shaped hole gouged out of my life by the departure of offspring – offsprung!
A few years down the line and my chicken- keeping responsibilities are few as I've become used to what they need from me, which isn't much. The space once occupied by childcare responsibilities has shrunk, but so too has the therapeutic value of hen husbandry. While life outside the home has provided much in the way of distraction and fulfilment, home has once again become the focus of my life in lockdown. Where to find succour now? More hens? Too much poo. A dog? Too much hard work!
No, the family menagerie is complete – just ask the cats. And so I came to dabble in the garden once again. Unlike previous short bursts of interest, the many weeks of lockdown have made a constant gardener of me, and as I have stuck with my daily toil I am now beginning to see – literally – the fruits of my labours. More than this, though, I have begun to tune in to the timescale and rhythm of nature.
Where once I wore a watch every day, wrote all my appointments diligently in a planner and managed my schedule to keep all my commitments, now my perspective of time is more measured.
However impatient I may be, the dwarf beans won't germinate any faster. The spray has subdued the powdery mildew for now, but unless the roses are sprayed again in a couple of weeks – and then again – the disease will keep coming back. Keeping to nature's timescales is surprisingly different from keeping to other people's, or even my own.
In the early days of lockdown the loss of routine and structure in my daily life left me feeling rudderless, drifting. Now I struggle to remember which day is the Zoom meeting I recorded in the diary which has become my notebook. The natural pace of the natural world is soothing me.
It won't last. Winter will come and my planner will be out again as I examine my dormant garden through the window, from my cosy arm chair indoors. There will still be Zoom meetings to schedule into the diary, but also personal get- togethers to organise and attend. Hugs!
But my garden is calling me to look to the coming spring, to plan out my seeds and plug plants, enrich the soil for the harvest ahead, move things round to keep the soil from exhaustion. I don't want to lose this new and ancient rhythm of life. I choose to keep it, to make my other interests and commitments work around it. Like my spiritual life.
Being in tune with God's rhythm for me provides enough structure to keep me on a productive path, enough spontaneity to keep me on my toes and enough love to last more than one lifetime.
The greatest story ever told begins in a garden and ends there with the tree of life. While I am in my garden at home I pray that God will continue to walk with me as he always has with his children, in the cool of the evening in particular, when the day's chores are done.
Whether I am a successful gardener, fruitful or not, he loves me just the same, and is a constant presence tending me as I grow: after all, he is The Constant Gardener.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
Thankyou to Katherine Atha, Local Preacher and member of our church at Stokesley