A Message from Claire Whatley

Posted by Admin on 20 April 2013, 2:30 pm

When I sat down to think about what I would write about for this month of May many things came to mind. Firstly the festival of Pentecost (Whitsun), Ascension Day, May Day and spring cleaning (as the improved light shows up all the cobwebs). The Chelsea Flower Show is in May and the annual question of when can I put the plants out that I have managed to grow from seed and get the table back in my conservatory. And then there is the great weather debate, when to put out plants to harden off and where to put them where the Puppies cannot play with them. Then remembering to bring them inside in the evening, whilst not filling the table up with various other things whilst they are out.
Then there is the double bank holiday planting debate. Do I rush to a large D.I.Y store and buy plants at the beginning of the month; resulting in even less room in the conservatory for a few weeks, or leave it to the end of the month when everybody seems bent on reproducing the show gardens of Chelsea? In a short space of time the ‘relaxing’ occupation of gardening becomes the centre of the fashion world, as people strive to make the ideal garden for the perfect family to relax in and grow vegetables that will feed a family in a small raised bed!
I must confess that this year (Last year really) I decided to give up some of the ‘annual’ fight and have planted some more rhubarb crowns and new raspberry canes, two things that we like to eat as a family and are not easily purchased. I would really like to grow lychees; as for the second year now we have been unable to buy our yearly treat of a box from an independent local retailer. I did get some pips to germinate one year, but failed miserably on the watering, which is probably just as well as I have been led to believe that they get quite big, take many years before they fruit sensibly and Roger moans enough about the plants as it is without me turning the back of the house into an extension of the Amazon rainforest!
So how can I, trying to be a ‘good’ Christian deal with all these demands on my time apparently placed there by God and his creation, celebrating all these things and stay on the right side of sanity? The short answer is that by myself I cannot, but all the celebrations this month relate in my view to hope.
Although the mourning and confused followers of Christ did not know when Pentecost was going to happen, they remained faithful to the memory of Christ and had their hopes confirmed with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Like Christians throughout the ages they grew to know the freedom that a life following Christ promised. I am comforted that they did not wait individually, but as a group supporting each other in a terrible time of trial. Their hope was not totally groundless, as Christ had been seen since his death. Many people had reported seeing him, talking to him and sharing meals with him. A group of them witnessed his Ascension in to heaven and his return to his father.
May Day you might feel is the odd one out in the list as in recent history it has become a secular celebration and brings to my mind tanks being paraded through Red Square and a threat of war.
But if you look back far enough, May Day and even the actual month of May has strong associations with both Mary the mother of Jesus and his earthly father; (May 1st being St Joseph the Workers Day) Some authorities argue that May is actually named after Mary herself, the May Queen a reflection of her presence as a queen in heaven with a crown of flowers. I think that the trust that both Mary and Joseph showed in God gives us grounds for hope today as we strive to lead lives that are led by our Christian values. Even those of us who would not claim to be Christians would I am sure have morals that in this country are strongly influenced by the writings of the Bible.
In pagan terms May Day is the first day of summer (Beltane) and I am sure that all of you who are reading this would not like the idea of the beautiful May Queen being sacrificed as part of the fertility rites that hoped for a good harvest and therefore survival through the winter to come.
As a Christian I can take comfort that I no longer need to make sacrifices as Jesus is the sacrifice.
You may have noticed that I have not mentioned spring cleaning. Well I suppose that I always hope that if I do it well enough that I will not have to dust again until Advent when everything gets moved around to try and accommodate all the trimmings of Christmas!

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