On being surprised by plums

BVN Article

Friday 01 September

The Browns, with considerable assistance, have been custodians of the huge Rectory garden for over six years. In that time we have hacked down the sleeping-beauty-castle defences of bramble, ivy, convolvulus and ground elder bequeathed to us by my delightful but non-gardening predecessor at the Rectory. (I don't mind confessing that in the first two years of sweat, scratches and sheer hard labour we did not invariably bless her holy name!!)

In the process we have rescued many trees and shrubs from suffocation and had some joyous surprises emerge from what were evidently once some fine borders and beds. One of these surprises has been a plum tree which we knew was there because a solitary bough waved forlornly out like a drowning ogre in a choppy sea of organic barbed wire. The bough has produced a few mangy fruit each year, mostly assaulted by wasps before we could get to them.

Last autumn we tackled that particular part of the jungle, half expecting a small stone-age tribe to emerge blinking into the light. We unravelled yards of ivy and discovered that a great chunk of the asphyxiated plum tree had broken off. Woefully we left it alone, expecting to have to uproot a dead tree later

But lo! Today we have gathered10 kilos of dusky sunset-coloured Victoria plums. I am no horticulturalist but a theologian so it looks to me like a minor miracle. The crop is glorious and glowing and plumptious and has grown out of damage, serious affliction and neglect.

Transformation; new life out of old. The bread and butter of our God from whom all blessings flow and who can and does transform hearts, minds and lives that may seem to be lost- not waving but drowning like the ogre in the jungle. All it takes is a bit of love from the Gardener and His friends; the stripping away of the things that entangle and strangle, the removal and healing of that which is broken, the freedom to grow into who we are made to be and only God knows what fruit we can yield.

If you want to find the plum tree just ask the gardener.

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