Soft Things

 

I am one of the many recipients who receive an email from Alan Webster, who writes his thoughts in a daily output called Quiet Times.   Often there is food for thought and encouragement for those who need it.

At times I can be a  ‘word-and- phrase catcher’ and so it was with the last QT that came my way,  the phrase – ‘soft  things.’
For some reason it conjured up in me a feeling of gentleness, and I got to thinking about what the ‘soft things’ were that spoke to me personally.
But before I expand on this I want to share with you the Scripture and the particular paragraph that stood out.

The title of his writing is Spring into Life,  – with a nod to the coming season of Spring,
–  and as Hosea writes to those who have fallen away, to return to the road less travelled.

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Hosea 14:5-7
5.    I will be like the dew to Israel,
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon,
6.   His branches shall spread,
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
7.  Those that dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

“What a wonderful picture of awakening is given in these verses by Hosea
Note the gentleness of the Lord who offers  soft things like dew and shade,   

            morning-dew

almost imperceptible touches of grace to allow room for healing and restoration.
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated.
Providing the right conditions of water, sun and shade,
the plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.
        ……….   And even while the hot dry winds of August blow, 
blossoms are appearing.
Father, I praise You for the life that comes after a dormant season.  Amen “

In essence it is to me a description of the way the Lord works.
He offers soft things like dew and shade…
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated….
…. The plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.

Such a gentle God, a characteristic we do not often ascribe to Him, yet He is gentleness itself.    Gentleness, when delivered, brings with it such grace, relief and freedom to the person to be themselves and feel acknowledged, accepted and loved.

So what soft things talk to me ?   My ‘beeg’ blue soft cushion on which I prop up when I read, or when I feel to rest my sleepy head.   The nearness of my cosy cat.

Ice cream in cone

Soft serve ice-cream !
And for soft cool breezes on a humid and hot summer day.
But most of all the soft kind words of people by, through and to people,  –  are a few that come to mind.

What are the  ‘soft things’  that imperceptibly move you ?
Give it some thought, write them down, even create a poem ? –  and perhaps discover the gentleness in you.

 

 

Sap Rising

 

Big tree

 

Here in our part of the woods, the Southern hemisphere,  Spring is coming.
The sap is rising is an often heard description of early spring.   If you cut into the stem or branch of certain trees  on a cool spring day, you may see sap dripping from the cut end.

Did you know ?

In early winter, deciduous trees enter a dormant phase.   They drop their leaves, move sugar to their roots and wait for warmer temperatures to return.   During this time, as long as the temperatures are above freezing  (water is still liquid), water will continue to flow into the roots.
Trees will absorb water until the water pressure in trees is equal to the surrounding soils.
When air temperatures rise, the tree is primed and ready to go.   It’s flush with water and starts moving sugars from its roots to the twigs, supplying the energy needed to grow new shoots and leaves.  Ref : Woodlandtrust.org.uk

Isn’t Nature wonderful ?   There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn by observing nature.   The soil, the seed, the plant, and the seasons – the essences and cycles of life.    And these cycles of life have one purpose in mind – to restore, replenish, rejuvenate and  resurrect.
All done in the silence and mystery of the nature of things.
Sometimes when a tree is cut right down, and the stump gets a scent of water, it will send out shoots in anticipation of new life, of resurrection.

Job 14:7-9.  says it beautifully

8.    For there is hope for a tree,  if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,   And its tender shoots will not cease
8. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.
9.  Yet at the scent of water it will bud,  And bring forth branches like a plant.

Resilient humans are like that too.    When brought low, they may be dormant for a while then at a hint of hope, will rise up, like the sap in a tree at the coming of a new spring.

To continue in the metaphor of the tree, there is also a pruning season. Why a pruning season ?   Well in nature, the reasons for  pruning trees are  –  beautifies them,  helps the tree to grow, encourages fruit production, removes hazardous branches, treats diseases and improves vistas !   Most humans need pruning too, that is spiritual pruning, probably for the same reasons trees do, only we may feel the pain of it more intently.

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In trees is the breath of life.  They take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a commodity we cannot live without.   They fulfill such an important part of our existence here on earth.   They provide the nutrition of good food to keep us healthy,  wood to keep us warm, and paper to write our hearts on.  On a hot summer’s day they give shade to man and beast.     And they are a beauty to behold.

jacaranda trees

I love the parallel between people and trees.
In Scripture there are many descriptions of people like trees :

Psalm 104:16   The trees of the LORD are full of sap,  The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Psalm 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.   13.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.   14.  They shall still bear fruit in old age,  They shall be fresh and flourishing. 

Isaiah 55:12    ….   And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Job 8:16   He grows green in the sun, and his branches spread out in his garden.  

I think God likens people to trees.  I like to think that in His fields of Faith, throughout the ages and generations He has planted many seeds.  Some seeds (souls) lie dormant for a long time, some come to fruition in their time.
In the fullness of time, the seeds begin to grow, and if watered and nurtured by His Word, they fulfill their destiny and His purposes.
Of course there are dangers around every turn to prevent the souls from coming into their full potential.   Danger lurks everywhere once the stem pushes through the soil.
But once the seed becomes a fully grown tree it provides beauty, shelter, shade and food for others to enjoy.    In its season, the sap will rise, to bear more leaves and branches, to give more fruit and more shade.
A season for pruning may come, to cut away distorted growth, diseases and the necessary surge for new growth to take place.  All to the advantage of the beautiful tree.

God watches over His fields of Faith, the planting of the Lord.   He knows and sees the trees of the field, and knows their needs, their desires and their seasons.  He lovingly waters them and nourishes them with His care and by His Word.

So in this new Spring season I tell myself,  ‘don’t be a dying stump, reach for the promises of God, allow the sap to rise, and grow new praise branches.’

 

green-graphene-gum-trees-1

Bring in the Gold

gold in rocks.jpg

In the ordinariness of life, gold is found !

It was the first Saturday of Spring,  for those living on the south end of the Equator.  There was a definite whiff of something in the air.   Perhaps there was a change of frequency as the season changed from Winter to Spring, or perhaps it was a warming up of the weather, but something was stirring, a promise was coming !

The day was warm and welcoming, and there was a skip in my step as I set out to the  doctor’s waiting room.   I parked my car in the underground parking area and headed out to the Mall.
I had a lovely morning taking in the sights and sounds of the milling crowd, even did a little unplanned shopping, that always gives a lift to the mundane.   Stopped by for a  coffee, that goes so well with ‘retail therapy’  – and just soaked up the ordinariness of life.

It was when I went back down to the parking lot and paid at the underground parking station that I heard them.  Two old minstrels  strumming their guitar and banjo, and making the joy of music for those who would but listen.

I felt my heart stir, and went over to place an appreciation in their basket.   They made such a lovely picture, that on the spur of the moment, I asked if I may take a photo of them.   They kindly consented, as if it were the order of their day.

I lingered just a little longer to ask their names, and where they were from.  Just a little light conversation to seal the moment.   As I turned to walk away I heard myself say “You are such lovely people !”  Just in time, I caught the smile in Conrad’s eye as he said “You are too miss”    And right there was the gold, the exchange of community kindness.    What a lovely brief moment in time !    I walked away on a little cloud that had been the promise of that Spring day.

Buskers

Conrad and Raymond, the two minstrels  that have been playing and entertaining the ‘car-parkers’ and shoppers at that Mall for many Saturdays – and over the Christmas season too.   They are indeed a delightful feature an added bonus to the Mall, yet tucked away in the underground parking area.
Two old minstrels, with I am sure, stories to tell of their hard lives,  and yet they are  notably abandoned in the music they so diligently play for the passers-by.

Bring in the gold – threads of gold found in an ordinary day, in the lives of ordinary people.   Bring in the gold I say !

 

gold nuggets

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Bougainvillea

The blooming season has started.  Spring has come before Spring should be here !! Everywhere I look I see splashes of colour that lift my sagging soul.

Outside my bedroom window the Bougainvillea has been blooming  for sometime. Splashing out with tangerine petals that turn a bright pink as they mature , just plain showing off !  But it is beautiful, and just stands there in all its glory for me to enjoy.

Then around the corner into the back yard are three beautiful Bougainvillea.  One a bright cerise pink, planted about three years ago, so it’s a strong plant. The other one, a soft soft creamy pink, a “youngling” struggling to be magnificent too  !

Then there’s the little beautiful bush Bougainvillea, blooming in its softer shade of ‘petunia-pink’ – planted in memory of a dear sister who passed away last year.

When I look out my kitchen window, pass the wash-line, the tall wall and the hedge, my eye follows toward the sky. Over the road, on the high ridge are very tall trees, where the hadedahs have an over night resting place.  And monkeys often take up a view-point of the humans below, hoping to catch a whiff of what’s for rummaging.

But climbing upon the tall trees are two shades of beautiful Bougainvillea vines, one a magenta pink and the other a reddish pink. Sparsely spread they just make such a statement for the power of colour in the vivid green of the leafy trees.  A little out of place, but relentless in their climb for their beauty to be seen  – just for me from my kitchen window, I’d like to think !

Beautiful Bougainvillea everywhere to behold !  But now is the season to feast the eye on what God’s handiwork has created in the realm of nature, if we would just but stop and look and see His glory revealed.  Seasons come and go, as do the colourful petals of the Bougainvillea plant.   Soon they will be strained, stressed and stale, but never really die, as some plants do, and then !  –  and then comes the magnificent re-growth, the re-bloom.  I do like their never-die attitude.

The beautiful Bougainvillea, a beauty to behold, bringing colour and joy and heralding in Spring …… and so a new season begins.

When one speaks of seasons one is speaking of change.  Change is inevitable, but I am reminded of one constant, found in the Book of
Isaiah 40:8 :

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.