Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
There is a picket fence running along the border of our property. Not that you would notice it as there are shrubs growing alongside, and over it, on either side. Sadly our previous neighbours have rather neglected the shrubs on their side. We have tidied ours to a reasonable height and width but the fence was, until recently, utterly covered. Our new neighbours have cleared their shrubs away to be composted. They intend to put in bedding plants, which will no doubt look very nice.
Perhaps the garden border reminds you of your life? Do the bushes, rampant on one side eager to gain an advantage over everyone else, to have the latest whatever it is, to reach the sun first, represent you? Maybe no problem if, like the bushes on our side, they are controlled but otherwise...? Anyway those material things will not last; they will decay and end up in landfill sites just as the shrubs went to the compost heap. Our lives need regular attention, a good clear out of the unnecessary clutter and a refresh and renewal of what remains. And what does remain? Within the tangle of bushes is the little picket fence that is now on full view. It is looking a bit tired now and needs refreshing as it will have to withstand the heat of the sun and the rain unprotected by the shrubs. A fresh coat of preservative paint is needed. I suggest it represents our spirit, our soul; what Thomas Merton called our True Self. Remember it is part of our life, not separate from it. We need to preserve and protect our souls and bodies from what St Paul calls the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11(KJV). To do so he urges us to: ‘Put on the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:11 KJV). And what a suit of armour that is! Just listen: ‘the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet girded with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, wherewith you may quench the fiery darts of the wicked, the helmet of salvation and lastly the sword of the spirit which is the word of God’. With such a strong defence nothing can harm us. St Paul ends by saying: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV. Just as the fence needs a good coat of preservative paint, our security comes from our conversations with God, our prayers for ourselves and for all people.
Painting the fence took most of Wednesday but it does look a lot better and will last for a few more years yet. Putting on the whole armour of God will preserve our souls for eternity.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years