Another glorious afternoon. The sun streams through my study window, whilst the willow behind the house provides welcome dappled shade for a short break. Now we can consign the winter woollies to the back of the wardrobe, and dust off the summer things; or can we? Will it last? Discussing the weather is a national pastime. Global warming may be increasing our temperatures and changing the patterns I remember from my youth, but I doubt it will make our weather any less varied or unpredictable. The fact is, we are used to the variety it brings.
When the sun shines, we pray for rain, if it rains for more than a couple of days, we pray for sun again. Is it because we are never satisfied, or is there something deeply embedded in us that, at heart, needs variety? The Rectory Garden, for example, plays host to many species of bird. These, in turn, have their favourite feeding places and foods; the equally rich variety of insects, seeds and, though we rarely see them, small mammals. A mono-culture garden would be as boring as it was lifeless. I am sure that each occupant of the Rectory has left his or her mark on the garden over the years, but our role is to tend it, not create it. The diversity of life which we so much enjoy is natural; our challenge is to work with that God-given, diverse, natural order.
What’s true of the garden, is true of human life as well. If the pandemic has illustrated anything, it must surely be that variety is not just the spice of life but a critical element of it. The list of key workers, whose contributions we couldn’t manage without, just got ever longer. Strikingly, many came from low paid, low status jobs. Now, the ongoing Ukraine war, with its’ disruption to the supply of basic foods, has further stressed our global interconnectedness. It has also shown the danger of being too dependent on one food stuff from one place. Whatever the outcome of this particular struggle, it will lead to further change.
Variety implies change; change in the weather, change in the way we live, change in the way we worship. Change is not always easy, and variety can be challenging, but looking back, I can see that at each stage of my life, growth and development has gone hand-in-hand with change.
For the moment it’s warm and sunny, I’ll enjoy it while I can; it will rain again.
Rev’d Philip Payne Notice Sheet for 22 May 22 can be found here