Today I chopped back the forsythia in our back garden. Not really the best time to do it; I winced at next year’s flower buds falling to the ground. But it was necessary – the fence had been leaning against it so hard that it was growing at a really awkward angle. In fact it has pretty much been holding UP the fence so I didn’t dare do too much about it…until now, because now the fence has been replaced by our neighbours.
I got the little hand saw out (its actual name escapes me right now) and got rid of most of it within 15 minutes. I left the only bit that was ‘more or less’ growing in the right direction, to persuade it to carry on with such behaviour. I then turned and regarded the pile.
I do find that more than half the work of this kind of gardening is the clearing up afterwards. It took about five times as long to dismantle all this in order for it to be taken to the tip later.
Still, I set to work diligently, secateurs in hand, and since it was the morning I didn’t feel too weary (my energy levels are always better in the morning).
Finally, it was all chopped up and shared between one bin and two trugs, quite a compact job, I thought!
As I tidied up, I pondered…
Often we do things – necessary things – in our lives. Things may need changing. Things may need cutting out. But it’s not just that one moment; not necessarily. Sometimes we find that the stuff we’ve tackled has left us with a pile to sort through. It doesn’t just disappear; there’s more work to be done, perhaps a bit of assistance needed.
It is life – messy. Prone to the occasional pile of prunings; the bits we are still getting rid of, slowly.
And that’s normal and healthy and fine. A bit of a nuisance, yes. Rather tiring, yes. But rather than focus on the size of the pile we begin where we can, snip, snip, snipping away, not giving up, remembering that this is a process, not a magic wand.
And for those of us who believe in the God whom Jesus once depicted as the gardener, we know we have an expert in garden-care – in soul-care – to help us work through all the rubbish.
And take it to the tip.