Whisper it… I think spring is here.
The crocuses in the church garden began to hint at it a while ago – but they were too modest, too diffident. The daffodils got involved – but they bloom so effortlessly it hardly seems an achievement when they begin to trumpet. I went for a run just before sunset, along the Surrey Canal Path, around Burgess Park. Trees have been planted along there especially for their fruit, and their blossom-flirtation with the bees is just beginning. But even with their scent, they didn’t qualify for my spring-test.
I think it must be something about the combination of them all, and the lightness of the skies (so many people still out and about enjoying it) that confirms it.
I walk past the church garden pretty much every day. In this season, it couldn’t make me happier if it tried. And it doesn’t. It just sits there, casually throwing out paintbox yellows and blues and purples against browns and greens, just being itself.
The garden been opened up for just less than a year, so this is its first spring. Arthur is one of a team who have given it this new life. And I wonder if what Arthur and others are doing, when they come to plant the bulbs, clear the weeds, mow the lawn, rake the rubbish, is a kind of living Psalm 148.
It’s a song which needs a kind of Brian Blessed of a voice – a human being issuing cosmic commands. To creation, the human voice says – praise him! To skies and mountains, animals and birds – praise him who made you!
To daffodils and crocuses – praise him with your colour! To blossom – praise him with your scent! To the lawn – let me free you from rubbish so you can praise him with your greenness and the way you move with the breeze.
On the one hand – how dare we? What gives us the right to coax, or free, or ignite praise from the rest of creation?
On the other – if not us, then who? And if not praise, then what? By which I mean – if we work with creation at all, is it for praise of our creator, or is it for satisfaction of us alone?
In some of my favourite words of all time, Peter – clumsy, impetuous Peter – names the people of God as priests. All of them. A priest gathers, encourages, opens up praise to God. A bit like a gardener? A bit like Psalm 148?
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.