At one of the zoom after service meetings, conversation got round to the relaxing properties of being close to nature. In the course of conversation, I said that the problem with trying to sit and ‘be quiet’ is that the mind won’t stay still, it wants to churn on with its thoughts, so that we don’t get any peace at all. Well, of course, it takes time and practice to quiet one’s mind, even to let God in. Perhaps an aid to this is to consider how nature can be a mirror of things which are happening in the spiritual world.
For example, let’s consider wintertime, with its coldness, its ice, its hail and snow, its rainstorms and gales, with its great dark clouds that block out the sun, with its bareness, with great trees stripped of leaves standing dark and gaunt and gloomy, so we see portrayed before us the spiritual world that surrounds us now, the evil of the world assailing us, death and disease seeming to pervade everything.
And yet, out of sight, there is a movement, a time of preparation, for the faint breath of spring lightly touches bulbs and roots – and so likewise, as we enter the time of Lent, a time of preparation of each soul, the breath of spring is like unto the breath of the Holy Spirit.
Even at the beginning of earth’s history, as the Spirit hovered over the waters of the formless earth, there was the cry: ‘Let there be light’, and there was light, so it is even in these days, spiritually.
For, in these dark days of winter, just as there are delicate little snowdrops growing perhaps singly, or in small or large clumps, or even in whole carpets of these little flowers, so spiritually, there are individuals, or groups or whole churches full of souls, lit up with the joy of the glorious light of the Holy Spirit, and of our Lord's glorious gospel.
In the midst of spiritual darkness and desolation, these people, who are like those fragile little flowers of liveliness of the Spirit, stand out as examples of our Lord's work as a light to lighten up more people, they having been awakened by the Holy Spirit in the midst of the spiritual winter - and so they are foreshadowers of the spiritual spring to come.
For just as the warmth and the gentle rain showers of spring illustrate the more visible work of the Holy Spirit, so those who come later, who are attracted to the warmth and light, are like the other spring flowers - crocuses, daffodils, primroses - and all the lovely wild flowers - violets, dandelions, celandines, buttercups, wood anemones and later the bluebells and so many more - all creating a glorious riot of colour as if they were shouting out their praises and thanks to our Lord God, creator of the universe, for their existence, for their well-being, for their lives.
And so, because many of us are only like those frail and fragile little snowdrops, we should pray that although small, our light will be sustained and will shine forth to cause others to join us and become part of the heavenly host, all manner of people and gifts, who will become like the many-coloured flowers of spring, and who will join us in calling upon our Lord's name at Easter-time, shouting - ‘Alleluia! Hosanna in the highest, almighty and glorious, ever living Father.’
And with the many flowers, as we walk or sit in God’s creation, we hear the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves, we see the wild animals – the deer, the foxes and badgers and hedgehogs, and smell the beautiful scents of spring and later of summer, and see the wonderful colours of autumn – these are all examples that will aid our contemplation of God’s creation and so will quiet our minds, so that we will finally meditate on our Lord, His character, His blessings and His overpowering love that is beyond anything we can imagine. It takes time to reach that stage of contemplation, but when you do, it will be a wonderful experience and we will be able to thank our Lord for all His blessings and be refreshed by Him.
One last thing, remember that our Lord can speak to us in many different ways and certainly not always in words; so as we are listening out for Him, we should not try to ‘push’ Him – our Lord will make up His own mind what to say, how to say it, and when.