Slow and steady wins the race.
Mark 4: 26-28.
26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.’’
Like an awful lot of people all over the country, we’ve been doing a good deal of gardening since the start of the lockdown. With the benefit of deliveries from places like Perfect Perennials in Forward Green, we’ve been able to fill several spaces in the flower beds.
I wondered about the usual events at which, in previous years, I had bought tomato, courgette and pepper plants (Stonham Aspal Bank Holiday plant sale, Coddenham coffee morning with plant sale, and so on) I imagined that they wouldn’t be happening this year, so decided to order some vegetable seeds and flower bulbs on line.
They arrived. I duly planted the seeds in small pots and the bulbs in the soil, never certain if they were the right way up, or, in the case of the seeds, whether it was too cold to leave them in the greenhouse overnight in April.
Meanwhile, as I waited to see what would happen, we started on our daily exercise. We passed fields that were bare, some that were just showing hints of green. Though the sky was blue, spring seemed a long way off, in more ways than one!
Back in the garden/greenhouse, there were mixed results.
The courgettes leapt up, keen to show themselves. But the bulbs remained stubbornly unproductive. And there was nothing to be seen of the other seeds at all. “Be patient” said Paul – who usually does the gardening. Me, after a couple of weeks of staring at blank soil, I gave up.
Then suddenly, after I’d decided to plant something else in their place, green shoots started to appear in most of the spots I remembered planting. A week or so later, other shoots showed where I had planted different sorts of bulbs. The pleasure was out of all proportion to what I’d achieved – though if you read the Bible reading above, it’s fair to say I hadn’t actually achieved anything!
Sadly, the seed trays remain clear – no sign of any growth. But I have moved them into the lounge on the floor in front of the window, where they get the early morning sun. I’ve watered them and I am, for the first time, being patient.
Meanwhile, back on our walks, seeds have, just as they do every year, germinated and grown. Crops look well, growing, to my eyes, strongly in the fields. The farmers may well have concerns over harvest and prices, but it is good to see that nature is paying no attention to this pandemic and is continuing as she always has done.
It all seems so apposite, as we listen to the Government’s suggestions for our future with apprehension twinned with frustration. It is harder than ever, now, to continue to be patient, as we long for these restrictions to be over, whilst feeling nervous about what tomorrow may bring.
But just as those bulbs did finally appear, just as the wheat and the barley has appeared once more in our fields, our lives will germinate too, when it is time. If we need to stay dormant for the moment, then that’s what we’ll do, so that when we do grow, when we do emerge, we’ll do so strong and healthy.
Do you remember the story of the hare and the tortoise from childhood? The tortoise who beat the hare in their race. The hare had been so over confident that he had run and run then thought he had time to take a nap, and so had been passed by the tortoise, who had slowly, surely and steadily, inched ahead, little by little, crossing the finishing line first. Slow and steady wins the race. There must be a moral in that for our situation today.