Tuesday, August 04, 2015

This Fragrant Patch of Ground

“Wake up, North Wind, get moving, South Wind! Breathe on my garden fill the air with spice fragrance. Oh, let my lover enter his garden! Yes, let him eat the fine, ripe fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16 The Message)

This verse has quite captured my spirit.

I’m sure I have mentioned before about my two garden-proud neighbours and how my little patch of wilderness is an eyesore in comparison.  I don’t think either neighbour would want my niece’s neighbour living next door. There are worse gardens out there than mine.

Admittedly, her neighbour is a lot older than I am and his health is not so good.  Where I have a copy of the yellow pages, a co-op around the corner that has a window of adverts and access to an internet full of green-fingered gardeners waiting to cut my grass and chase down my weeds, he keeps himself to himself and doesn’t ask for help.  Where I have a willingness to pay for said green-fingered gardeners, he is not willing.  His grass is far higher than mine – far higher.  The house is all but obscured by it. 

The back garden is really bad too.  I may have one or two statuesque thistles but he has a tangle of nettles and brambles and wild growing stuff.  It’s quite possible that some remote indigenous tribe is living undiscovered in his back garden.  I can make it to my back gate without a hatchet – the same cannot be said for him.

The stately thistles in my back garden are in a patch of ground near the back gate.  There’s a rhubarb plant nearby that is holding its own and a selection of herbs - mint, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme (I feel a song coming on) - that are wholesome and hearty and refuse to tremble in the presence of the thistles.  It’s a very fragrant patch of ground.

I don’t need to call up the north wind as it is blowing stiffly outside. It’s not filling the air with a fragrance of spices but dragging my washing off the line and decorating the honeysuckle bush with my not-so-smalls.

I’m never really sure how to take the Song of Solomon.  I blush as I read some of the verses.  It’s one of those books in the Bible that had a hard time persuading the scholars it wasn’t the early edition of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and holds its place in the canon by insisting it’s really a picture of the intimacy of God and His people rather than just about a king and his concubine.   

This morning I pictured the garden as my personal relationship with God. Commentaries talk about the north and south winds being the activity of the Holy Spirit – the north wind being the Spirit’s purging and cooling, the south wind, the Spirit warm and cherishing.  For too many of us it’s the world that seems to do all the blowing.  We rise and fall to the winds of opinion and current affairs and allow ourselves to be stirred to a state of mania and hype.  The breath of the Spirit should be what we respond to.

This morning I pictured the north and south winds as simply being the circumstances we find ourselves in – like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee when the storm blew out of nowhere.  The storm revealed, not just the fear in their hearts, but the weaknesses in the fishing boat they were sailing. Jesus ordered the storm and the wind.  Sometimes the storms we sail in are there to reveal our heart and the things that we place our trust in.

It’s the wind stirring the fragrance of the garden that attracts the lover.  The fragrance in our lives comes from the grace-character we cultivate and through the access we give to the Holy Spirit to breathe upon us. 

As the Spirit breathes upon our faith walk with Jesus, we should ask ourselves whether it’s a pleasant walk for Him.  Sad to say we have a tendency to get used to a smell so much so that we don’t notice it any longer. It ceases to bother us.

A bad smell bothered me today.  Someone posted a picture and a comment on Facebook, something not necessarily untrue, but something that did not build me up or encourage me. I sensed the Holy Spirit blowing over my inner garden, for want of a better illustration.  The fragrance was not a nice one and I shuddered.  

We shouldn’t be giving garden-space to thistles..

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