quote The Gardener

My father wrote the following in the early 1980s on the back of an envelope whilst travelling in the country visiting his parishioners. Of all the pieces my father has written over my lifetime, this one captures, for me, who he is. His love of God and Christ, his passion with gardening, nature, people. His devotion to the Church. His care and compassion with many parishioners, particularly the elderly.

And here I must add a reflection of my mother, his partner, wife, support and love for over 50 years. Mum is always ‘going on’ about these old people. She has been on holiday, shared her spinning and bobbin lace with friends, and never fails to mention “old people”. I look at her and ask in my cheeky manner, “and how many of these old people are older than you?” Mum always replies with a bright grin “none”. Mum just turned 83 and still approaches life like that of a young girl. Perhaps it is that dad keeps her young, being 4 years younger than mum. But I suspect it is her love of life. A youthful energy kept throughout her life.

Back to my father. The day when a fellow nurse commented to me that one of the students didn’t want to ask me if she could go home because I was ‘stern’ stopped me in my footsteps. Oh yes I can be stern, like my father, but only when it is required. I look back now and see where both my father and myself, in our different roles in life and careers, have both the sternness and supporting encouragement of the teacher inside.

As I stop now to reflect, I see what my parents have taught me. An appreciation of life. In all of its beauty. The capacity to act like a child. To be stern where needed. Ah, my children always say I am the biggest kid. After the past few years of chaos in my life, it is good to see the world again with open eyes, and to appreciate my parents and their life.

The Gardener

A gardener came to our church,
tall and slim,
dark of hair and eye,
straight and stern.

With scant delay he started
to weed,
to prune,
uproot.

Some were
hurt,
bruised,
bleeding.

But new
growth appeared,
buds developed,
fruit matured.

Some grieved plants lost, too harsh
the pruning,
the hoeing,
the uprooting.

Some rejoiced in
vigorous growth,
prolific flowering,
abundant fruit.

But the gardener’s dark eyes
often looked away,
beyond this garden,
in the distance.

As if he saw other
trees to prune,
flowers to encourage,
fruit to gather,
Another church in need of a gardener.

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