I'm hitting pause!

OK, let me start this with a caveat. I’m not a gardener! In fact, I have no idea where stuff should go to suit the soil. That’s way over my head.

I’ve been doing some work with a client recently on what it means to come out of Covid lockdown, to return to ‘normal / not normal’. We’re all different. Some habits have been broken (good and bad) and some ways of thinking altered. What does our return look like? And can we please just hit ‘pause’ before we race back to the way things were? Can we please make conscious decisions to re-engage with some things because they are good for us and challenge ‘going back’ for other things just because we did them in the past?
So why the flowers?

This rose has always been a scrawny, twiggy thing. A friend was chucking it out about eight years ago and I plonked it in our front gravelly bit. It didn’t grow height-wise and was about two feet tall. It had about five green leaves and a pathetic attempt at flowering most years.
Around October last year I moved it to the back garden to give it another shot at producing something. It’s doubled in size and has been utterly prolific in flowering this year, for the first time ever. I was watering it this morning and it got me drawing a parallel …

Many of us have taken a breath in lockdown. Some of us have flourished and enjoyed it in ways we never expected. Some of us have been treading water, not growing, and barely showing signs of life. And for some it’s been really tough.

As we explore our new ‘normal’ we have such a unique set of decisions, a choice of where to plant ourselves, to find good support (the rose has grown so much I’ve had to attach it to the
fence), to dig in, grow roots and produce beautiful things. The rose won’t show off it’s best if it’s not supported, fed, watered and rooted.

To work out where to move to, we need to take a breath and to assess where we’ve grown in the past, what we’ve learnt about ourselves over lockdown and what we want to take forward. These need to be conscious decisions made with thought, hindsight and prayer. We get this unique opportunity, in this season, to decide how we move.
This plant in the second picture I moved yesterday. It was under a tree. I don’t even know what it is! You can see the growth has been stunted and the leaves are facing down. Quite frankly, it looks not in a great way.

Maybe, you used to serve as a part of a team? It was OK, you got on with things and stayed well.
I love some words that were shared in church recently. They were about the fresh air that’s coming, the creative release, the new season.

This second plant has space, light, and food. It’s ready to own its own corner and offer so much more. It will be creative in the direction it takes and draw from the roots. And that is so exciting when I think of that happening with people.
This plant (the green one at the back in the third picture) had an ego. It was in the right space for growth in terms of its food, but it was huge and dominant and it was all you could see and it was squashing some other really pretty plants.

I’ve moved it and I’m hoping it won’t die. Its got food and water and shade and it just needs to take a breath from being dominant, regroup in its new home, provide some coverage and do a new job – allow the other stuff in its old home to be creative and have a new lease of life.
Maybe we’ve been in a space that’s allowed us to be dominant and run the show? Maybe it’s felt tiring but has also fed something of our ego? Can we take a breath? And look at the people around us. Can we provide support for them to flower, to start new things? Can we regroup and take a step back?

I’m hoping all this makes a little sense. It’s exciting for me, but I know not everyone is feeling excited. Can I encourage you to find a support to talk it through with if it’s making you feel wobbly coming out of lockdown? But really it’s normal! No plants can grow right if they aren’t supported or fed. (I do have that basic understanding!)

We get to hit ‘pause’. What do we want to take forward? Are we in the right space? What can we add in? Some serving positions may seem boring but utterly right for the right person and need doing.

I don’t think this is just about church. It’s true as well in our homes, work, families and friend networks.

I’m struggling to find my way out of all the rules, to connect again physically, to remember what it was like to have a plan at the weekend – and I’m an extrovert. This has been tough!
Let’s be kind to ourselves, take a breath and look inward, to be able to take a purposeful step forward to grow outward.

Lou Larkum