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From the Goldfields: Flowers

The permission I give myself to shine is the permission I can offer to others.

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From the Goldfields: Flowers

by The Reverend Elizabeth J Smith | Senior Mission Priest, Parish of The Goldfields

This winter has been a dry one. The trees and shrubs know it, and have restrained their reproductive impulses this spring. The bees have been going hungry.

With fewer flowers there will not be as many seeds set to feed the ants and birds this year. Some of the annuals, the mulla-mulla with its little green rosettes that send up purple spikes, have hardly bothered to germinate. They are biding their time. If we get a couple of classic thunderstorms in October or November, they will seize the day and sprint for a summer flowering.

But it would take more than a dry season to bleach all the colour out of the bush. Wattles and cassias still shine out in golden glory. Little white daisies show their faces. Desert-loving Eremophilas flower in mauve, cream, yellow, pink and red. There is a hop-bush whose bright bracts, in every shade of wine, splash vividly across the blue Goldfields sky.

Even in tough seasons, nature takes measured risks for the sake of fertility, of fruitfulness, for the sake of another generation. The genes of the hardiest plants are passed on for the next thousand years of the woodland eco-system.

In my spiritual life, too, I measure the risks, bide my time, and choose the moment for splashing out with extra ministry and mission. The soul has its dry seasons.

There are hectic periods to be survived as the parish year goes round. Sickness or sorrow will drain away energy for a while. There are also are times of abundance, when there is plenty of welcome space for me to think, pray, listen, write, and love generously. God always sends enough grace, though not always on the timetable I would prefer.

People are not machines, to keep on pumping out energy day in, day out, with no variation. Wisdom consists in embracing, rather than resisting, the finitude, the boundedness of my life in this body, in this place, in this particular moment in time.

The compassion I show to myself, whether in times of scarcity and weariness or in seasons of abundance and flourishing growth, will be the compassion I can show to others. If I am driven, if I expect unremitting activity of myself, the people around me are more likely to get reproach, exhortation, pep talks, challenges; less likely to receive empathy and care.

The reverse is true, too. The permission I give myself to shine is the permission I can offer to others. If I can recognise in my own spiritual life the times of blessing, energy and creativity, and seize those moments with gratitude and fruitfulness, the people around me will also be encouraged to blossom and flourish whenever God’s goodness showers down on them.

They can trust me to delight in their achievements, as they take pleasure in mine. Between us, some seeds of the gospel will always be set for the next season’s growth, sustaining our witness to the beauty of Christ in the world.


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