We live at the edge of a market town which is surrounded by arable farmland. Some fields of rape have already turned into a fluorescent yellow, while others are different shades of green with cereal crops. The hedgerows are a mixture of green leaves and pink and white blossom. This colour scheme is interspersed with fields of sheep, pigs and cattle. For a little while the hedges will form a neat border around these fields.
However, there are still signs in the roadside edging of the brutal attack of the autumn pruning by the bushwhackers. These heavy machines, using a whacking and flailing method, strip overgrown hedges to their bare bark in the autumn. It is almost an assault on these hedges, leaving them scarred with split and frayed spikey branches as the picture shows. There is no green left on the hedges and no sign of the fruiting branches of blackberries, sloes, bullaces and badly pruned crab apples. Once the bushwhacker leaves, the road is covered with lethal splinters of wood for any passing cyclist. Many a bicycle tyre has been ripped beyond repair by the aftermath of this assault.
A passer-by during the summer months would not know what the interiors of the hedgerows would look like. They have grown again as though nothing has happened a few months earlier. It’s just possible in the following autumn, when the leaves fall, that some of the previous year’s onslaught would be exposed again.
As I drove past one of these recovering hedges, I noticed a branch lopped off at the end, but about eight inches towards the main stem there was a splintered fracture in it. A tiny section of the branch was hanging on by a thread. Two leaf buds had completely unfurled. It was only by looking closely that I detected that this section of the branch was hanging on by a thread.
There are times when so much is thrown at us, we could legitimately feel deprived of who we really are. It is worth grabbing onto any thread of hope and believing that life will carry on again. It might take time as in the case of, for instance, a blackberry taking two years to properly fruit again, but there will be the opportunity to grow and be restored. There is always hope sustained by faith and carried forward with love.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13