|Published by Louise Adey Huish on Mon, 1 Jun 2020 18:39|
The gifts of Pentecost – the first fruits of the Holy Spirit – were beautifully invoked during yesterday’s Diocesan online service. Encouragement. Inspiration. Enthusiasm. Yet I wonder if I am the only one struggling to connect with those feelings this year?
It’s true that the weather and the season are inspirational; and that we’ve perhaps had more opportunity than usual to focus on the journey from Good Friday to Pentecost in ‘real time’, to savour its significance and its nuances. Yet despite the loosening of some lockdown regulations, meaningful change still seems very far away, and the real problems of the world we are called to serve loom large. A news report by John Simpson this morning drew attention to ecological challenges that are going unnoticed (stepping up the deforestation of the Amazon; the commercial exploitation of endangered species in Africa) – which point to the cynicism of those in power, seizing their moment while the world’s attention is otherwise engaged. Other items in the news underline the current difficulties for our young people, thanks to wild disruptions in the usual patterns of exam preparation, applications for jobs and courses, any kind of planning for the next academic year.
Closer to home, my never-ending garden improvement project rumbles on, and there are days when I feel I’m making no progress at all. Ground elder, like sin, still lurks in all the darker corners, and the thirstier plants are definitely showing signs of a stress with which I can identify! On the other hand, it’s definitely looking better than it was, and at least the weeds grow back more slowly when there’s no rain…
But I realize that what is giving me the greatest pleasure at the moment is the fruit of last year’s labours. An area of the garden that I literally had to dig up and start all over again in the spring of 2019 is now enjoying a brief Chelsea moment, resplendent with iris, lupins and delphiniums. Last year’s perspiration and sore knees is now the only bit of the garden I don’t have to worry about; and by the same token, I have to remind myself that what I’m doing this year is all preparation for better things to come. As so often, gardening is a salutary reminder to take the long view, where hope is the key virtue – just as it was for the early church.
“We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 2b-5)
I can never quote this passage from St Paul without some misgivings, being not entirely convinced that suffering is necessarily good for the soul (or the character). But it may be helpful in our present context as a reminder that God’s time unfolds at a very different rate to ours. Sometimes all we can do is grit our teeth and – in the immortal acronym of Sir Winston Churchill – ‘KBO’!