So we packed up all our belongings, squeezed the kids into the back seat amongst their teddies and toys and pillows galore and set off.
As the counties whizzed by and the sun dropped down and out of the sky, we said goodbye to Cornwall once more and woke up in Norfolk. I love these breaks, these enforced changes in rhythm and routine. There’s something magical about just being in some-one else’s house for a while, away from all the distractions of home, all the stuff that always needs doing.
The landscape here couldn’t be more different from where we live. Rugged coast and windswept trees replaced by flat, broad skies and endless vistas. High points and hills give way to secret water inlets and bulrushes standing guard.
They say a change is as good as a rest.
They say you only need to remember to stand still and smell the roses.
Palm Sunday; and we gather – young and old -around the water’s edge. Clutching our palms, we say prayers and wave streamers and follow our ‘donkey’ (actually an old horse called Bertie) all the way up to the church. The apple blossom glitters pretty-pink in the morning sun. The churchyard is decorated in swathes and swathes of brilliant bright daffodils.
Later we talk – and walk – across fields. The children climb trees, investigate, explore. Everywhere I turn, I am surprised, delighted by springtime springing. New shoots just beginning to bud. Flowers warming in the spring air and slowly opening, revealing their glory.
There’s this beautiful song by Bethel Music that keeps tripping round my head:
“It’s always like springtime with You, making all things new
Your light is breaking through the dark….
This is what You do, this is what You do
You make me come alive
It’s like I’m living for the first time
Finally living for the first time”
And I feel like it’s me that’s emerging, as if from a long winter sleep or something. Like God’s glory has – as if for the first time again – broken through into my darkness. Disturbed my slumber. Breathed new life over me once more. I feel the sun on my skin and my soul unfurls.
And I stand still. Exhale.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Smell the roses.
It’s amazing how fast we run sometimes through this incredible life that we’ve been given, hardly stopping to look up. But the truth is, when I am rushing, I forget not only to see but to listen.
I manage to take care – just– of the day-to-day and the urgent, but I forget to take care of the important. I forget to nourish my soul. To enjoy my children. To spend good, quality time with my husband. I stop appreciating the little things – the flowers in bud, the wide open skies, the children climbing trees – because I am so preoccupied with deadlines and jobs and tasks still to be done. And like Jesus said to disciples when they criticised that woman for wasting all that expensive perfume on loving her king “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matt 26:11) I will always have deadlines. You will always have deadlines. There will always be more tasks to get done than hours in the day. But how long will my children be little? How long will I have this life to live? Good health to enjoy, strength in my bones?
And I thank God for reminding me again that life is for the living. That today is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Today I give thanks for the sunshine, for spring, for new growth and new starts.
For the one who makes us all new.
Let us laugh, love and live generously, just like the woman with the alabaster jar.