We had an interesting session reflecting on the part of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel which begins, “do not worry”, and continues with the advice to “look at the birds” and “consider the lilies”. I found myself in a critical frame of mind and thought how hard it is for birds to gather food and find mates, and flowers do not have it easy either. So if they are the examples we should look too, then our life is not going to be a bed of roses!
I think that ‘worrying’ may not be the most helpful thing to do when faced with a crisis. By then any preparations we should have made will be too late. But that does not mean we should avoid making plans, and making provision for whatever the future holds.
I also regard being thoughtful about what is most important in life a good thing. And yet I find myself often spending times on those things that actually I do not regard as vital. So keeping the focus on the essentials, the relationships that really matter, the long term important not just the short term urgent, all of these are advisable.
There are plenty of pressing issues at the moment. Responding to safeguarding issues is one of them. This is a task that is likely to take years rather than hours, lots of awareness raising, training as well as updating policies and procedures. Trying to overcome the natural ‘optimistic’ view of people that Quakers tend to hold is one of the challenges. And another is the almost paralysing fear of doing something wrong in responding to a safeguarding incident.
Keeping up with the weeding on the allotment and at the same time trying to harvest the fruit and vegetables that are ripe is another pressing responsibility. All the rain we have had recently has produced a widespread crop of weeds. But it has also made a bumper raspberry harvest. I have lifted the wonderful crop of red and brown onions which are drying out in the shed, and the spinach keeps on growing despite picking leaves every week. At least I have occasional moment of rest like watching the butterflies on the Buddleia.
The most urgent task as well as being the most important has been making a dvd of the photographs of the seventieth birthday last August. I have had to opt for a simple arrangement of photographs with a short pieces of music to accompany them. The longer version with video clips will have to wait a bit longer. But the job is done. It is good enough (I hope!). It brought back lots of lovely memories and that I suppose is the whole point.
Now we look forward to autumn, with “the nights drawing in” as they say. We need both light and dark, and the movement of the seasons is a strong influence on our lives. I found myself reflecting on the phrase ‘light shows us our darkness”, which in Quaker advices and queries leads us to new life. I suddenly realised that the light does not destroy the darkness, but reveals it. It is in the revealing that we are able to find our true selves. So in the light of love and truth we can look at the challenges and crises as they come and perhaps face them with courage and hope.