THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

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I like a green lawn. The colour of grass is beautiful. It is lovely to have something that is alive and growing. Tending it beings a sense of delight. Mowing a lawn and trimming the edges to make it all tidy is very satisfying. My bugbear are the weeds.

There are many weeds that change the character of a lawn as they have broad leaves. They change the look of the lawn even before their flower heads are present. In particular dandelions are like this. When the flowers turn to the cotton like seed heads I try to make sure that they are plucked before the seeds are scattered across the lawn to produce even more dandelion plants. The problem is that these seed heads are just so wonderful.

Who has not taken a dandelion and enjoyed blowing all of the seed onto the wind? The seed heads are so light and delicate with a beauty all of their own. I try to capture this by carefully plucking the dandelion. I then spray the seed head with hairspray which sort of glues it all together. Finally I put a wire in the stem which gives it a permanent strength. They look great and last for weeks. Are dandelions a weed and a pest or a delight with a beauty to preserve? I think they are both.

I can ask myself the same questions about the seasons of the year. We are in Summer and as I write there is a prospect of many fine warm sunny days ahead. Last Sunday I promised perfect weather for the Mothers’ Union Summer lunch. The congregation laughed! I think I am going to fulfil my promise but of course not by any virtue of mine. Spring is wonderful as the earth brings forth new life. The early flowers such as snow drops and crocuses are a delicate delight. Autumn brings harvest, wood smoke and makes the home feel cosy as the nights draw in. Each season has something to relish. It is said there is no problem with weather. It is just a matter of  having the right clothes to wear.

Disappointment is about expectations not being met. Many years ago I remember one of our daughters had a birthday cake that had been artistically decorated by a friend with her favourite animals. We served the cake being careful to do as little damage to the image on top. After the party we put it in a tin for safe keeping. A couple of days later we opened the tin to admire the cake and have some for tea. But ants had got in and were all over the icing. There was nothing to do but throw it away. We were disappointed. Is there a limit to the range of experiences we can put down to the variety of life?

This week The Guardian had a focus on the refugee crisis. There is an organisation that has been recording the deaths of people who have been seeking to come to Europe. The paper published a supplement that gave the names, means of death and date of the event for some thirty four thousand people. I read some of it. The experience was sobering and overwhelmingly tragic.

Three years ago the refugee crisis was a major discussion point at the Diocesan Conference that the Bishop held. There was a real willingness from the people to want to welcome and help people who have fled the tragedies. In the following years there have not been the opportunities for these ambitions to be fulfilled. The U.K. like some other European countries has been very determined to take the bare minimum number of refugees.

I am surprise how I can be disappointed by relatively unimportant events. Too many weeds in the lawn is not a crisis. A Summer’s day that turns out wet is no tragedy. Obviously I cope but I hope I register my disappointment because it still matters. I have an ambition to know what is good and wonderful. It might be that I count my blessings that I am not a refugee. But it is not enough to say ‘other people have a more difficult life’. Put just like that I may find comfort. I know there is little I can directly do about the refugee crisis. But what can I do?

Our community about us does have people in need. They are literally hungry, homeless, enslaved and abused. Perhaps the variety of our lives is not to be about a range of joys but to robustly live in the places of challenge as well as comfort. We are not to live to merely preserve items that are precious but spend some of the value on people and situations that are in real need.

Best wishes

Alan Keeler