|Published by Sarah Bourne on Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:00|
A month ago, our white wisteria was looking spectacular. It had over 150 flower racemes starting to open as they poured down from the branches and I sent daily photo updates to my family so that they could share in my anticipation of a glorious display. I was starting to catch hints of the sweet scent of wisteria which we treasure, all too fleetingly once a year, and I was thrilled at the prospect of enjoying an abundance of its sweetness. And then one Sunday night in May, we had a hard frost – that’s what accompanies bright sunny days in spring. And almost instantly the white fronds turned brown, cut off before their prime, and the tender green leaf shoots shrivelled up before they had even started growing properly. To say I was disappointed is an understatement! The sudden removal of what I had been anticipating seemed doubly disappointing, not least because it had looked all set to be a bumper year. We even worried that the whole plant had been killed by the unexpected frost.
As I reflected on this, I acknowledged that my gardening disappointment was a minor matter compared to the life-changing disappointments which thousands of people have experienced over the last few weeks. But there is a parallel in the sense that all the things we were looking forward to in 2020 seem suddenly to be snatched away from us, with huge uncertainty about if or when they may take place. Pupils have been deprived of the normality of school and friends; families have been deprived of celebratory parties, weddings, christenings, funerals or even simply meeting together; university students have been deprived of lectures and social opportunities; the lonely have been deprived of company; those with non-Covid health conditions have been deprived of treatment; businesses have been deprived of a thriving economy; pubs have been deprived of drinkers; shops have been deprived of customers; the list of those who have had their reasonable expectations snatched away from them is unending. And where is God in all this disappointment?
As I continue to pray each day, I believe that God is right there alongside us in our disappointment, and shouldering our pain and sense of loss. And the reason God sent Jesus to live on this earth was so that God could most fully participate in human emotion, and support us along every step of the way. Last week I wrote about clothing ourselves in St Patrick’s prayer of protection https://www.banburystmary.org.uk/blog/57887 and I want to focus on another verse this week which speaks of the comfort which we can find in the presence of Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives.
Adaptation of St Patrick’s Breastplate by Mrs C F Alexander (a verse from her hymn)
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
And to return to the wisteria, yesterday as I sat on a chair under the wisteria, I looked up and to my grateful amazement, I counted another 15 fresh flower shoots nestling amongst new green growth.
Sarah Bourne – 10th June 2020 firstname.lastname@example.org