Please note: This is a reprint of Malvern Mashal 12 from Spring 2009
I had my first opportunity to drive Ros into work in Birmingham yesterday. It is so helpful to be able to picture her in the work environment where she spends such a high percentage of her life and mission.
I immediately found myself remembering other ports of call in the region, images superimposing themselves on top of one another of Ros pioneering water births in the west Midlands, lecturing in the different universities and above all delivering home births across the Birmingham region.
After dropping Ros off, I visited the Botanical Gardens and greatly enjoyed revelling in the restful company of so many beautiful plants and trees. I admired a host of plants that “float” on water, and others that find the most ingenious ways to hitch a lift up other trees as they claw and scramble their way towards the light they crave.
On the basis that the Lord delights “to turn sight into insight” there are times when the Lord calls us to stop trying to swim and just learn to “float,” confident that He knows precisely where His current is taking us – just as there are other times when we must do all we can to advance towards the light.
Knowing as much about botany as I do about irregular Chinese verbs, I was grateful for the descriptive labels. How else would I have known that the tiny leaves of the ‘mimosa pudica’ fold in on themselves if anyone touches them and then open up again about ten minutes later? It provides the perfect protection against potential aggressors for this shy and sensitive plant , most of whom find this fast moving plant too tricky to handle!
Later, back home, I looked this phenomenon up and discovered that this type of activity is known as “seismonastic movement”. Taking this out of its botanical context, I have certainly known many “seismonastic moments” when I have known it has been right to withdraw into the Lord’s presence in order to gain perspective and direction.
Twenty years ago the Lord showed me from Ecclesiastes 7:18 how important it is to be able to handle paradoxes: “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.” In Nature we find nettles and dock leaves, kindly dolphins and distinctly dangerous sharks, but on display here were a wealth of plants which in themselves would prove poisonous to eat, yet whose seeds, taken in the right quantity and with the right preparation, can be of the greatest value to our health.
These ‘life takers’ are therefore also ‘life givers,’ providing essential antibodies in the fight to render the AIDS virus innocuous.
Then I came across the Rosy Periwinkle, whose leaves contain no fewer than fifty alkaloids, two of which play a vital part in the fight against leukaemia. I would never have suspected it! Aloe Vera, too, is distinctly unspectacular to look at – yet it has healing properties to aid against at least ten known conditions.
Few if any know quite how these medicinal qualities work – but God has filled the forest and hedgerows not only with incredible diversity, but with plants that benefit fit us in so many ways. And botanists remain convinced that by far the greater part of these healing properties have yet to be discovered!
If you are feeling that life is more than a trifle unpredictable at the moment – or alternatively that it is just a bit too predictable, take heart: the circumstances that surround you almost certainly contain more “healing properties” than you realise – just as you yourself contain enormous potential. As surely as the Lord has placed so much hidden power in herbs, plants and leaves, so He has also taken enormous care in shaping and preparing your lives. May the Lord find ways to help us realise it!
Earth is full of growing plants and living matter, and the delicate greens of early spring are a refreshing gift after physical or emotional winters. May He provide us all in different ways with a “deep green” detox to clear the winter backlog, and to drink deep of His living presence!