“The life that surges in the veins of a child
is akin to the sap that makes trees grow.”
At this time of year, Charlecote Quiet Garden is flourishing! It could do with a bit of tending, but even if I spent every day in the garden, the new life and growth is far beyond my control. Where only a few weeks ago everything seemed dead, now there is abundant life, and it seems unstoppable!
In the Christian tradition we believe that Jesus came in order that we could also experience abundant life. Yet how often does daily life feel like a merry-go-round of busyness and responsibilities. Living from day to day can often seem like an act of survival not the ‘more and better life than [we] ever dreamed of’ which Jesus promised (John 10.10, The Message). We live for the weekend or the day off, and life passes by in a blur. In our busyness we fail to notice the blooming tulip and the blackbird in full song. While we are caught up in our responsibilities our cup of tea goes cold and prayer becomes yet another chore.
One of the reasons why we host quiet days at Charlecote Quiet Garden is as an antidote to our culture’s tendency to incessant busyness and productivity. What if abundant life might, on occasion at least, involve sitting on a bench in the sunshine doing nothing other than noticing, wondering and rejoicing at the signs of Divine presence all around us? For in doing so we make space to recognise the Divine presence within us, and to hear the often unexpected still small voice of Wisdom birthing and sustaining all of creation.
On our last quiet day, we did exactly this. In meditation we acknowledged how we spend much of our thought-life in the past or in the future. We made a commitment to be fully present and to wonder afresh at how we might avoid ‘the unlived life’, which John O’Donohue describes as ‘one of the greatest sins’. For a few hours we sought to live in the moment; practicing the presence of God; delighting in creation; being alert to the Spirit’s inspiration and movement in ordinary and extraordinary ways.
We pulled all the threads of our reflections together by creating some beautiful collages from the abundant life of the garden, and committed ourselves to being open to allowing new and abundant life to rise within us.