Today this owl flew to meet the Artist at the local Botanic Gardens. It was premeditated and planned and still I had to make myself go.
I chose to sign up for this Lent course, I chose to set this date with the Artist, but still it wasn’t enough that I gave myself permission to … I literally had to make myself do it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go – I did – but I had to take on that nasty, nauseating persistent voice in my head whispering ‘you really ought to prepare your lessons before you go!’ and ‘what about the shopping?’ ‘the laundry?’etc etc- and silence it.
One of the important learnings for me in recent years has been that I don’t have to earn time off, and weekends aren’t to recover from the week that’s just been; no! – they are a gift to use, a time we can set aside for ourselves, if we choose.
One of the first thing I noticed when I entered the tropical greenhouses was that my ears pricked up – I heard bird song. I thought it was recorded music, and that perked this little owl up – but no, there were actually budgerigars and tiny parrot like birds there – free to stay in their cages or fly out of them into their wider environment. Not into the wild, but still a chance to try their wings! Fantastic!
I had expected to be greeted with heat and colour and I was not disappointed. The greens were lush and vibrant and my eyes feasted on all shades of green – so welcome at this wintery time of year, and the flowers that were in bloom were lovely too – but best of all – and totally unexpected – was the citrus garden!
I felt my cup was overflowing already!
During Lent ‘hungering for life’ encourages us not only to go on a weekly Artist date – but also to take time to reflect on a weekly scripture, and then respond to that scripture and our meditations creatively (for me that’s the challenging part). Today was my first attempt at combining the two. I’ve been thinking about the scripture since Weds
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen: it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
As I walked around – and as I stopped and sat to listen and observe I was reminded of two things.
Firstly, In Finland – and in the tropical greenhouses – things are happening beneath the soil that we will only see later. Seeds, once dormant, are waking up, being nurtured, and they will bring forth life in due course. The fact that we can’t see this happening doesn’t stop it from occurring!
Secondly, I was reminded of the kernel of wheat in scripture in which we are told it must fall to the ground and die in order not to remain a single seed and thus able to bring forth new life.
Eventually I made my way out of the green houses and to the coffee shop area. There (again a rather big step for this little owl) I took out my little notebook and coloured markers and began to craft a response to what I’d just experienced.
Arboretum in February
Chirpy birds greet me, shrill and enthusiastic
Embracing freedom within these safe walls of glass.
I stop and listen.
The roar of the gushing water reaches me … and I walk on.
Lush vegetation assaults me, and a hint of decay hits my nose.
It’s a different world in here!
Grapefruits – more than I could imagine on one slender branch
Ripen in this man-made cage
Nurtured by hands unseen, they bear New Life
I am reminded that a grain of wheat needs warmth, and light and moisture
to break the spell of winter
~~and so do I ~~
But then the wheat must die
to bring forth new life- ten fold, forty fold, a hundred fold we are told.
I sit. I wait. I ponder.
A man walks quietly by.
The heat lamps buzz, and hum and rattle
And the birds continue to chirp and chatter
While the earth nurtures its precious cargo.
And I wonder at the ordinariness of it all.