I am still adjusting to the idea that the phone I have in my hand can do so many different things, one of those being that I can take photos. For this reflection, it would have been so easy to have put up half a dozen photographs to visually express what I would like to write about. However, unfortunately, I forgot to use my camera to take the photos, so I will have to rely on painting pictures using words. If I had taken the photos, each one would have had its own caption and explanation of what I’d learnt from it. It would have taken me less time, but possibly painting pictures with words is still a very worthwhile exercise.
In East Anglia, we have experienced a dry, hot summer. We have had weeks and weeks of cloudless blue sky and scorching sunshine; we could have described ourselves as an ideal holiday destination. The cereal crops have ripened early. However, as there has been no rain to swell the grain, the yield has been poor. It reminds me of the saying, ‘looks can be deceiving’. It’s very easy to be caught out by first impressions. My front lawn became a dustbowl; it baked in the sun, the grass withered, and the soil turned to dust. The dust became the seedbed of numerous weeds and so, when it finally did rain, believe it or not, the weeds flowered, some of them six to eight inches high with lovely white lace caps. A disaster, one might say, but, when the rain finally came, within three days my lawn was restored as though the drought had never happened.
My son’s lawn, however, was not affected by the drought. For most of the day, it was either shaded from the morning or afternoon sun. it reminded me of Psalm 91:4, ‘He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.’
So often in life, we stay in the heat of a situation and become frazzled. Wouldn’t it have been better to take time off to rest a while – to think, restore lost energy and to perhaps discover different ways of dealing with the problem that is driving us to the point of exhaustion?
It is also interesting that some areas of the country were given hosepipe bans, whereas here in East Anglia our underground water table didn’t drop to dangerous levels. We had inner resources to sustain us during a drought, whereas other parts of the country had been unable to replenish sufficiently what had been used and lost in previous years. We need to take seriously times of replenishing and storing for future demands. Do we take enough time off, take a holiday, visit friends and family? Do we take time to laugh and enjoy ourselves? It’s not good to keep on going, hoping that we’ll never run dry.
On one of the rare stormy days, we drove to the harbour at Southwold, eight miles away, where the river Blyth enters the sea. Dropping down from the sky was the end of a beautiful rainbow. The rainbow seemed to travel adjacent to us all the way and when we reached the harbour it was way out at sea. Clouds obscured most of the bow except for the end where we say the pot of gold is. Above this section of rainbow was a layer of peppermint cream coloured clouds topped with a layer of strawberry coloured clouds. Interspersed amongst these clouds were what looked like scoops of ice-cream. On either side of the rainbow there were forks of lightning flashing into the sea. What a picture of beauty, peace and turbulence.
Somehow the streaks of lightning were lost in the rainbow colours of the clouds and the deep red and pink of the sky, rather like a chocolate flake dropping into the sea. A lovely picture of an upside-down ice-cream! When I turned around to see the sky up river, I saw a beautiful sunset; the picture out at sea was a tiny reflection of the brilliance of the sunset.
We often look for hope and encouragement and are thrilled when we get a glimmer of what could be. However, I wonder how often we miss the bigger picture and find ourselves stuck in the mire of whatever we find ourselves standing in.
For every photo I could have taken there was another picture – the drought and regrowth, despair of the heart or an inner hope, a troubled place transformed by the brilliance of restored hope.
‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.’ (Isaiah 61:1-3)