Bluebells and oak trees
By Sammy Jordan
With the continued uncertainty Covid and restrictions bring, how can we embrace kingdom opportunities this summer season? An invitation to look for joy in short term seasonal blooms like bluebells whilst we wait for long term stability, oak trees, to return. Can we use this summer season of better weather, school holidays and being out and about more, as an opportunity to pray? Can we find 21 places to pray and make prayer walking an oak tree habit rather than a short term bluebell bloom?
It is summer, although it is raining as I write, after months of grey and wet, things are blooming. On the new estate where I live it’s exciting watching things come into season for the first time. The building work along with the weather, has meant that the local woods have been out of action for months. However, when I walked through them last month, bluebells had suddenly appeared. Paying no attention to the orange construction ‘keep out’ mesh fence, they bloomed anyway. I was reminded that often God works slowly until he can work suddenly, that he promises to break through hard ground, and to both take delight in and make the most of the seasons.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly Isaiah 35:1-2
The season of Covid and lockdown was long and hard. I’m ready for summer season and the easing of restrictions it brings. Long may it last. The joy of being able to have a cup of tea with a neighbour again, and the luxury of being able to choose whether to sit inside or out! I aim to embrace this season, temporary, like the bluebells though it might be. I think we all need space to breathe again, to relax in the sunshine, see people and taste something a little bit more like ‘normality’ whatever that is and however long it lasts.
I wonder is there a message for the church in this? Over the last two thousand years has our focus been on the oak trees rather than the bluebells? On continuity and the structural rather than the seasonal? Do we sometimes miss the opportunity in the now because of our focus on permanence? How can we make the most of the bluebells now, the things that bloom only for a short season, whilst we wait and wonder what the long term holds?
We have a walk and talk group on the estate where I live. Sitting in a PCC meeting a couple of months ago I confess I got a bit bored and checked Facebook. A neighbour had posted asking if anyone in the group would walk with her after work. I commented that I’d walked with a neighbour every week since the November lockdown and now we could walk in a bigger group, the more the merrier! So, whilst the PCC were debating mission and how to bring people into the building, God did it anyway, gathering a group of ten of us outside, where we walk every week after work sharing life together as we go. It’s a bluebell; something beautiful God has birthed in this season. I’m not going to turn it into an oak tree but will delight in the now and see where he takes it.
‘I will give you every place where you set your foot.’ Joshua 1:3
So, let’s make the most of the season of now. Let’s enjoy the summer looking out for the bluebells…well by now it’s the poppies, roses and daisies; embracing the opportunities as we go, praying as we go. The better weather, school holidays and fewer restrictions are a great time for prayer walking, which can be as simple as thanking God for where we are and what we see. If you’ve never prayer walked before check out the new ‘How to Prayer Walk’ resource on the website hopeforeveryhome.org and remember to pin your prayer on the OIKOS app Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App as we pray for every street, every road, every lane in the UK as part of Prayer Walk 21. If you want to hear more about bluebells and oak trees check out the interview with Rev Dr Frog Orr Ewing from his bluebell covered farm at Latimer Minster coming soon to our Facebook page Hope4EveryHome | Facebook
As this summer season allows us to get out and about, perhaps you are up for some fun? As part of Prayer Walk 21 we are challenging people to pray in 21 different places. We have a list to start you off File.aspx (hopeforeveryhome.org) but feel free to suggest places of your own. We’d love to see photos too! Post them on our Facebook page (3) Hope4EveryHome | Facebook
Psychologists tell us that new habits can take up to 500 repetitions unless something is fun, in which case it can take as few as 10-20. So maybe the summer season is an opportunity for prayer walking to become a habit, to come into bloom…a bit more permanently than a bluebell perhaps!