this article for her.
I write this looking out of my study window at the green in front of the house with the sun shining
brightly out of a clear blue sky. The bitter cold we experienced in mid-December is a distant memory
although there will undoubtedly be more cold, wet, foggy........ weather to come. But dwelling on the
miseries of the past or speculating anxiously about the future can blind us to what is happening right
now in front of our eyes. So no more doom and gloom, I want to share with you what I see in front
of me now.
There is a particularly splendid tree on our green. It is taller than many of the others, which are
mostly apple trees, and its white bark stands out vividly against the blue sky. To my mind it looks
more beautiful now in its dormant phase than it does when it is in full leaf in the summer. I can see
the strength in the main trunk and the lesser branches which stem from it, giving the tree its overall
shape. But this particular tree combines delicacy with strength and I can see the very smallest twigs,
so fine they can scarcely be seen individually, gently waving in the breeze. They droop downwards
because they are not strong enough to withstand the pull of gravity but I know that come the spring
these tiny twigs will be the ones that bear the leaves which draw the nourishment from the sun that
sustains the whole tree. In the summer every part of the tree works hard, not only for itself but also
supporting insect and bird life but for now it just is, waiting for the season to change and revealing
its essential self.
Sometimes we, as individuals or as a church, can be so busy working, thinking about the next thing,
fussing about our own needs and caring for others that we can't see and appreciate what we truly
are. We need to know what our overall shape is and work with it, just as we need to know where our
strengths lie and where we are delicate and sensitive. Looking at the tree I wondered what my
overall shape is. Of course I know what my physical shape is, which is nowhere near as tall and
willowy as I would like it to be, but thinking less literally am I a single dominant trunk with a few
minor branches at intervals or do I have several equally sturdy branches which themselves split into
slightly smaller ones and so on.
The month of February is a time in the church when nothing much appears to be happening, even
the names of the Sundays, third before Lent, second before Lent and so on suggest that we are
merely waiting for the next big thing. But being dormant is not necessarily as bad thing. As with the
trees outside my window it gives us chance to simply be and to reveal our fundamental selves. These
winter months are bookended with amazing revelations about Jesus with the feast of the Epiphany
at the beginning of January and the reading about the transfiguration towards the end of February
when Jesus was revealed in all his glory before his closest disciples. In between times let us take
stock and ask what unique shape God has designed us to be and the way he wants us to grow in
Kate Brown