Thursday, April 03, 2014

Spring Forward

Blackthorn blossom...
Spring has sprung, as they say, full of budding potential. On our allotment and in our garden there are plenty of green shoots. Leaves unfurling on fruit canes we planted from cuttings over the winter, recently sown seeds germinating in pots all over our house, and all around us many fruit trees are in blossom. Vivid pinks, bright whites, hinting at fruit to come later in the summer.

When we moved to the West Midlands a few years ago we were really struck by all the blossom around the place. It felt like there was so much more blossom in the Midlands than we were used to seeing on the sunny South Coast. Maybe there are more fruit trees here, who knows?

Blossom has a special place in Japanese culture, where it's a sacred thing. I read afascinating book the other year about a chap making his way across the Japanese islands by bicycle, chasing the cherry blossom as he went. If not quite to the same extent, I also appreciate the coming of spring that the blossom heralds. It's a sign that winter has thawed and warmer weather is on its way.
"I appreciate the coming of spring that the blossom heralds"
Spring also brings more light into our lives - we "Spring Forward" when our clocks change to Summer Time (although we lose an hour's sleep.. fine in general but having spent all year trying to get our kids into a good sleeping routine, this really sends their body clocks haywire!). After the short days of winter, and the cold weather, I can finally crack on with my to-do list in my workshop and on the allotment, now they've both thawed out (I really need to think about some heating in my workshop over the winter).

The other Christmas my wife Kate gave me an inspired present which was the complete set of Star Wars films on Blu-Ray (along with over 40 hours of documentaries etc). Needless to say, it was the perfect opportunity to introduce my daughter to the films, and I was delighted that she loved it so much! In 'The Empire Strikes Back' Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite and sent to Jabba the Hutt. When he's finally rescued (in 'Return of the Jedi') he has to be thawed out from his frozen and captive state.
"it can sometimes feel that parts of our lives are 'on ice'..."
As I've been thinking about Spring, I've wondered if it can sometimes feel that parts of our lives are "on ice". Maybe we've shelved some dreams until circumstances are better. Maybe, through no choice of our own, we've been forced to stop doing things we love through illness or other external factors. For whatever reason, parts of us may be in hibernation mode. Like Han Solo, we may be frozen and in need of thawing out.

I'm reminded again of Narnia, where the ice thawing and Spring returning are a sign that Aslan has returned to free the country from the tyranny of the White Witch. I was speaking to a Finnish colleague once, who said that where he lives there's often snow on the ground for six months of the year!

For those parts of us "on ice", now might be the right time to come out of hibernation. Maybe it's time to allow God to de-thaw some of our dreams or those aspects of our personality that we've hidden away through fear, hurt or circumstance. Maybe it's time to allow these things to blossom!

We love growing things on our allotment. We love the community aspect of it, and we really enjoy eating our home-grown produce - yes, it really does taste better! Personally I like the connection with the seasons that "working the land" brings, and one of the main things I've learnt is that most of the time you've just got to let things grow and keep the weeds down in the meantime. This can be surprisingly hard work, especially in the spring, since this is the time that the weeds seem to grow the fastest!
"Maybe it's time to allow God to de-thaw some of our dreams..."
Weeds seem to get everywhere, but this isn't a reason not to grow things in the first place. If you want to reap a harvest then you've got to plant seeds - it's inevitable that weeds will grow up, but you've just got to manage them, and the end result is worth it.

The reason I mention this is that we can often be discouraged when we step out into new things and allow them to blossom, but the main thing is to manage the inevitable weeds that crop up around us in whatever form, and let our skills, abilities, dreams and relationships grow until they bear fruit.

This can take a while believe me, but just because it's going to take a while doesn't mean we shouldn’t plant the seed in the first place. As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago - the second best time is now.

I think that my mind is like our allotment in some ways. There's some good stuff that's been planted in there over the years, but I need to be a good mind-gardener to weed out the unhelpful stuff that just keeps cropping up, and instead to nurture those things which I really want to see develop. Those things that really define who I am and who I've been made to be.
"As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago - the second best time is now"
It's great to have new ideas, to step out into new areas - I want to encourage us all to do that, but we need to allow ourselves time for these to develop. This is, I think, pretty counter-cultural in the midst of the now-now-now, instant gratification society we find ourselves in. But in many ways, it's often the things that take time that are the most rewarding in the long run - another whole subject in itself.

As I wrap up, why don't you prayerfully ask yourself if there's anything in your life that needs thawing out so it can blossom and bear fruit? Maybe you just need to do some weeding in your mind, to give all the good things in there more space? Maybe you just need to sit back and give yourself time to grow?

Whatever it is - I pray that this year you Spring Forward rather than fall back. And if you're serious about making space for your dreams to grow, you need to read my book Life Space...


Thanks for taking the time to read Spring Forward! If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here).

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon!

No comments: