This week I went to the plot a day later than normal to actually garden, when I got there I finally managed to put in a final crop of potatoes (King Edwards this time) in all it took eight rows in the area recently cleared by friends from Sheffield University Chaplaincy project – the weather being fine and sunny makes it all much more pleasant to spend a few hours working, as long as the graft isn’t too hard. I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the good weather, as well as others on their own allotments the butterflies and bees were hard at work too. All this hard work could mean we don’t spend any time actually enjoying the beauty of what is around on the allotments and that would be sad, in some it would only let us enjoy half the story The balance between use and beauty was one that monastery gardens in particular worked hard to achieve, with food (fruits and vegetables) regularly being grown alongside medical herbs and plants such as roses.
We often (those less often now as “austerity” becomes the new watchword of the rich and powerful) hear about the desire for people to strike a balance in their lives as well; the ‘work-life balance’ a ‘balanced diet’ and even the need to ‘balanced budgets’ – it seems that we are well aware as humans that too much of something, anything ends up not being a ‘good thing’. And just as eating and drinking the rights things, and doing regular exercise will keep us physically fit and well balanced, so too we can keep ourselves in better spiritual balance by spending time out from the pressures of everyday life. That’s why Jesus regularly took himself off to a “quiet place” away from the crowds, away from his friends, away from all the demands and pressures that were put on him, and in that place; often a garden, or hillside, he would sit and meditate and talk with God. In my mind it wouldn’t surprise me if he spent some of that quiet time with God also taking in the beauty that surrounded him, the insects, and birds, the trees, plants and flowers – and there among all the beauty that is part of creation he would come close to God and feel transformed and renewed. That gift of a balanced spiritual life is possible for all of us ….. if you haven’t already, try it – maybe you’ll feel transformed and renewed too.