It's 9 o'clock, still light out and the children sleep; all is peace.
I sit on a slab of clean wood, and start pulling with my bare hands. The dark red soil yields. It lets me work it, smooth, generous, velvety, almost chocolate-like. The new, spring-born weeds don't stand a chance; at this rate I'll have cleared a whole bed in half an hour!
I settle on my makeshift bench and look up from the ground; all around me is fresh and glowing with the day's rains. I am grateful. I feel my heart swelling with thanks, and I whisper a love-song to the Maker of it all.
It is sundown and the blackbird woos the night as only he can, melodiously, graciously beckoning the chorus with which he started the day. They join in, more lazily, with much less intent and excitement than they did all those hours ago, and hand over to the night crew, almost grateful for the end of the shift.
I lower my gaze from the darkening sky to the garden once more - there is a job to finish!
But this is my 'kind of' job. In fact it is more a joy than a chore.
The scent of the moist, freshly upturned dirt is overpoweringly beautiful.
It is one of those gifts of nature, like a promise, that makes the grey, threatening skies, the blanket of heavy cloud pregnant with rain, and the sheets of water that poured down earlier, so infinitely more bearable.
By now I am once again familiar with the delight of being in this moment and feel so connected. I'm where I'm meant to be - and so I start to dig a little deeper. I feel the Father gently probing my thoughts, and I go with it.
Those weeds that spoil my lavender beds, they are a bit like all the ugly things that darken and pollute my life, my whole being.
The big, deep-rooted ones - lies I have believed for years for example, long-borne resentment and bitterness, unconfessed sin, unforgiveness and more... - as well as the littler, newer ones, the everyday ones, like the frustration and hurt of being ignored by a friend, or the anger of being shouted at (heaven forbid!) by one of the kids.
They need 'pulling out'. They don't belong here, they mar the work of the Gardener and have to be dealt with.
The conditions for this have to be right.
Dry, rocky soil is very back-breaking, and unforgiving to work with, it lacks integrity, and is devoid of goodness. If you have ever tried to dig into dry soil, you won't get very far and will quickly, gladly give up; you'll know what I mean!
On the other hand...
Just as working the soil after the rain, cleaning and tending it, allows me to get to the roots almost effortlessly and pull out the nasties that don't belong in my garden, maybe in a similar way my heart needs watering, tenderising, softening before a deep work can truly start within me and eventually yield beauty and fruit.
In other words.
It is easier to get to the root of an issue when my heart, mind and spirit have been drenched in God's Spirit; and through worship and time spent reading His word, to see things for what they really are... As He sees them, unwelcome scavengers that rob and cause damage.
Rain is good...!!
The night draws in, I feel chilly and my back aches. I have cleared the lavender bed and it is time to take off my muddy wellies, and come inside for a warming cup of cocoa.