Some brambling thoughts...

Folk passing by on their ‘daily walk’ shouted up to me, commenting on and admiring the dazzling display of blue, and all I could think of was ‘ah yes, but you can’t see what I’m battling with…!’

I’ve just come in from the garden and I’m absolutely shattered. I feel like I’ve been doing battle! And I have - against the brambles!! They are relentless. I’m sure we dealt with these last year? Yes we did, and guess what? They're back! You think they’ve gone - you think you’ve done a good job, but, they’re here again and there seems to be even more of them. Just where do they keep coming from? My husband reminds me - ‘it’s the roots… the roots go deep.’

So as I take a ‘breather’ to mop the scratches and carefully (and painfully) remove more thorns from my fingers, hands, and arms, I stop, look up and am suddenly amazed. I look out over the garden, and over the brambles, at a sea of blue. It’s magnificent.....they’re everywhere, and I just didn’t realise they were there or how beautiful they were. Bluebells. Everywhere I look.... more and more bluebells. I’ve been ‘head down, getting on with the job’, so intent on dealing with the dreaded brambles that I didn’t notice the overwhelming loveliness surrounding me.

These haven’t just appeared - these bluebells have been there over the years, just like the brambles, but until now I guess I just hadn’t noticed how beautiful they really are. They’re quite exquisite - each one there to remind us of the amazing craftsmanship of our Creator. I know I didn’t put them there. Maybe I’ve just been too busy – didn’t have time to notice – but now, within our strange new world, I find I have a moment or two, to ‘be still’.

We have, according to my husband, ‘an acre of rock and weeds’. I prefer to say that we go for the more natural ‘meadow-like’ approach; that sounds more positive! So as you can imagine, that’s a lot of brambles, but an equally beautiful array of bluebells. But not only did I not realise how beautiful these bluebells were, I didn’t realise how ugly and damaging those brambles can be. Well, you don’t do you, until you come face-to-face with them! They seem intent on choking and destroying everything in their path. Ah yes, I remember, ‘it’s the roots….the roots go deep’. Strange how you can be equally ignorant of beauty and ugliness when you don’t have time to ‘be still.’

I’m not a great gardener - not had the time; it’s not been a priority – I always seem to be too busy with other things, but being in the ninth week of ‘lockdown’ (as I write this) has given me time. Time to think, to re-evaluate, to appreciate, to wonder, to even, occasionally, ‘be still’. We can be so busy ‘doing’ that we can forget the Christian life is about ‘being’.

At the beginning of ‘lockdown’ I remember saying that, at the end of all this, I did not want just to have a clean house and a tidy garden. I want to learn whatever it is the Lord is trying to teach me. But maybe it’s nothing new. Maybe it’s the same thing he’s been trying to teach me over many, many years but I’ve just been too preoccupied with other things. Yes, the road can be tough; yes, the lessons he teaches us can be so hard, but when we have time to ‘be still’ we can see his grace in ‘bucketfuls’ all around us.

So what’s my plan of attack?

Well, I could just let the brambles take over - give up in despair. What’s the point? They’ll be back! Am I tempted to think that sometime? The Christian road can be hard going - you think you’ve dealt with a particular sin in your life only to find it’s back again, so subtle, so relentless, so damaging. And it’s back there before you even noticed. You see, ‘it’s the roots…the roots go deep.’ Maybe you’ve come through a particularly challenging episode in your life only to find there’s another one just around the corner. Yes, life is not without its challenges.

Yet growing alongside the brambles, is something so wonderful, so precious - those amazing bluebells. What a picture of grace - God’s kindness, God’s loveliness, God’s mercy urging me, surrounding me, encouraging me. He says “My grace is sufficient for you” And if I’m not careful I don’t even notice.

Folk passing by on their ‘daily walk’ shouted up to me, commenting on and admiring the dazzling display of blue, and all I could think of was ‘ah yes, but you can’t see what I’m battling with…!’ All I could see were the brambles…all I was aware of was my ongoing battle with them. But these folk actually saw a ’bigger picture’.

I need to take time to ‘be still’. I need to, not ‘daily’ but ‘moment by moment’, remind myself that although sin will continue to want to ‘choke’ my life and my Christian walk – because ‘it’s the roots….the roots go deep’ – although I will continue to battle with whatever challenges life will bring, there is more than enough of God’s grace to keep me; he says that it’s ‘sufficient for me’; sufficient to help me, sufficient to encourage me to keep going. And that’s more than enough! But I need to give myself time to see it, when God reminds me to ‘be still.’

Pat Norbury, June 2020

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