Despite a deep-seated desire to have a show-stopping, breath-taking, head-turning garden, I have come to the conclusion that, realistically, I don’t have the time / knowledge/ ability to achieve this dream and so, I’ve opted for a new gardening style. I like to call it ‘less is more’. Basically, I’ve discovered that there are in fact times when it is more beneficial to ‘tear down’ than it is to plant and so, that’s just what we’ve been doing. The result of this cull has been a reduced amount of actual growing plants in our garden, but the hope is that this will also lead to a reduced amount of time maintaining it and hopefully, as a result, we’ll be able to look after what we do have better.
One of the consequences of this has been that there is a little less colour in our back garden at the minute, but what we do have is a gorgeous, blooming, blue Allium. It’s hard to miss the tall, sleek stems and the explosions of blue that are bursting into view every day, but I couldn’t help but think, when admiring its beauty the other day, how this is not always the case.
Indeed, for a good part of the year, the Allium is at best a collection of leaves with very little to say for itself. But then, just when the time is right, gradually at first and then, it seems, with increasing strength and vigour, it bursts into life, full of height and colour and it stands proud amidst whatever else is near ( in our case now, not a lot ;o) ) The amount of time it spends being noticeable doesn’t make it any less a plant, nor does it make it any less impressive. If it were to bloom the whole year through, there’s a good chance we would probably stop really paying it any attention at all.
This made me think about how we can be so like the Allium. So often, we can feel that we don’t have much of a part to play, or, that what we can offer is very small and insignificant. But that is not the case. It blooms just at the right time, for the right amount of time. For a season. The season for which it was intended.
We have had the great pleasure, over the past three months of meeting three wonderful new little human beings into our wider family. Three months, three boys, three beauties. But I must confess that while I could happily take all three home, I appear to have reached a point in my life where I am happy to delight in the joy and love that these new little people bring, without actually feeling the need to have another one of my very own. Honestly, I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. But, it has.
There is nothing quite like holding a little baby and falling in love instantly – how do they do that? But, I am quite content now to share in that joy without needing to have it again for myself. I dreaded the move to new milestones which heralded that we were moving further and further away from having a baby in our home, but it seems that there does indeed come a time when it’s ok to appreciate the various stages that the girls are all going through, without needing to start from scratch all over again. The all night feeds, the nappy changes, the spoon feeds, the first smile, first words, first steps: all precious times, special moments, memories made. But all, for a season.
Time moves so incredibly quickly and while there are periods of time where we feel we are crawling through quicksand, in the grand scheme, in the wider picture, in the panorama of life, they really are but moments. Yes, even the long teething nights. Even the 13 weeks of refusing to take solids. They are all, quite simply, for a season.
I think it is when we realise this that we can embarce those seasons, realising that while some seem longer than others, or harder than others or more confusing than others, they are but for a season. Just for a time. We may have actual seasons of the year that we enjoy more than others, but that doesn’t make the others any less significant and, each one offers something completely different.
Perhaps you are in a season right now where you feel that you are a bit like the leafy stage of the Allium. Maybe you feel that you are in a season where you are needed at home, where you are so bogged down with commitments of one kind or another that you really don’t see how you can be actively doing anything outside of your own front door. Well, here’s something I think you may just need to hear: maybe, just maybe, this is the season where for you, quite simply, it’s behind your front door that you need to be.
I’m not saying you should be a prisoner in your own home, resgined to never leaving it or being involved in anything outside it ever again. What I am saying, is please don’t put pressure on yourself. As we look around, it can be very easy to assume (and to quote my eldest’s teacher on this one: ‘To ‘assume’ is to make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ ) that everyone around us who is in a similar season to us, has it all together, feels totally in control and is doing it all and managing it well. Excuse my bold generalisation here but, you can be pretty certain that they aren’t. Regardless of our season, do any of us really have it all sorted and working like clockwork all the time? I doubt it very much.
If you are feeling torn at the minute, like you don’t have your finger in forty pies and that you don’t think you’re doing all the things you ought to be, just stop. The Allium can’t be the one in the lime light all the time. It’s not created that way, and neither are we.
Consider your priorites: the people, the commitments, the places you need to be most right now. Don’t put yourself down for not being all things to all people all the time. You can’t and, it’s the things and people that most need your attention who are the ones your time should be invested in. This moment you are in right now is just that, a mere moment in eternity.
That role you play behind your front door, the one that noone else sees you play out? That’s quite possibly the most important job you will ever have. Times change and so, like the flowers in our garden (however many or few you may have), we too adapt and change to suit the season we are in. Don’t for one second believe that the things you do that only your nearest and dearest see don’t matter because they’re not on public display. If the flowers weren’t putting roots down into the dark ground, or growing in miniscule measurements without even catching our attention, they wouldn’t be able to burst into life and colour at just the right time.
Appreicate the season you are in right now. You never know the roots this time is helping you to put down. When David, viewed as pretty much irrelevant by his brothers, was using his sling to protect the sheep, I don’t suspect he ever thought one day he would use those same skills to slay a giant that armies ran from. You may not see the significance of what you are doing right now, but rest assured, God does and never underestimate how He can be preparing you for a different role, in a different season.
Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1 sums this up so well and, I may have referred to this before, but I know it’s a message my heart benefits from hearing frequently:
‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’.
Even if you cannot quite grasp the purpose or feel that this season right now is significant, trust me, for a reason you may discover later or, for one you may never learn in this life, you are in your present season, because that is where the One with the masterplan and the panoramic view knows you need to be.
‘My hope is hidden in the Lord,
He flow’rs each promise of His Word,
When winter fades I know that spring will come,
The Lord is my salvation.
In times of waiting, times of need,
When I know loss, when I am weak,
I know His grace will renew these days,
The Lord is my Salvation.’