The beautiful weather we had these last days of the extended lockdown reminds me of the sunny days during lockdown last year. Then we were in autumn; now it seems spring has arrived. Maybe apart from the sunny days it is also that we’ve got a bit more time to experience the sunny days, even though we are quite restricted in our movements. We cannot travel to enjoy some of our favourite spring blossoms, cannot go out to places where the new life of spring is that palpable (I’m restricted more than usual, having a sprained ankle).
But as we are so restricted we can see the coming of spring the more clearly in our surroundings nearby. Living right next to St Paul’s Church I get to enjoy the spring colours of the graveyard. The daffodils and snowdrops signal that winter is ending and look cheerful in this weather.
Even in our garden there are plenty of signs of spring, even though it may be not as well tended as the graveyard. The croci and anemonai are flowering (I like the proper plural forms); the first begin to appear on the trees; the shoots of tulips and daffodils are coming up; and the tender green of wildflowers is covering the soil. Meanwhile in the vegetable garden lamb’s lettuce, spring onion and cabbage is ready for harvest. The weeds, of course, also flourish.
Being stuck here in our neighbourhood I am struck again how much effort many people put in to have a beautiful garden. Over the millennia people around the world have collected and cultivated plants to make their little slice of earth that much more beautiful. They have carefully ordered the wildness of nature to bring concentrated colour and loveliness together. We continue that tradition. While there are different ideals for a beautiful garden, I think many of us can recognize the beauty when we see it, as long as we don’t become too technical.
As our Lenten Study last year reminded us, the theme of the garden occurs throughout the Bible. The task of the first humans was to tend and keep a garden; the tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem were reminders of the garden of Eden with their artwork imitating the beauty of Eden. The promised land was compared to a garden, to which the people would return after the Exile. Jesus prayed in a garden before the crucial hours of the crucifixion. At the end of time there is a garden again, as the book of Revelation portrays. May the beauty of our gardens be a reminder of that abundant life in God.