by Cherie-Lynn van der Merwe
“Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.” B.Oakman
Autumn is advancing, and winter is not far off in South Africa. Leaves, once clinging in green splendour to the trees, are now scattered on the ground making a colourful carpet. If used wisely, they will form the mulch required for holding moisture in the soil for new growth in Spring. Autumn is a busy time in my garden. Summer flowers, long past their prime, have been removed, leaving open spaces where they once stood. Bulbs have been dug up, inspected, divided and spread, preparing for the promise of an even greater display next year. It occurred to me as I busied myself in the soil that the birds keeping me company won’t be the same birds who will greet the new growth of Spring. It will be a new generation with a new song and impact on this land. In all this, I ponder the ever-present rhythm of life and the lessons it teaches.
When we live in a season of abundance, it feels as though everything is safe and secure. Everything blooms and grows – relationships, opportunities, faith, hopes and dreams. How often, I wonder, do we live into this abundance wisely? Unfortunately, not all that comes to live with or within us is good. As with our gardens, weeds appear, robbing us of the good, slowly overrunning us. Our weeds are often our attitudes, greed, entitlement, corruption, and even ethical and spiritual sloth. When we have all we need, we may not always recognise what we have. Unchecked, our weeds live off our abundance like parasites, wanting all the goodness for themselves.
This is not just an individual challenge. It is a societal one. Post 1994, South Africa began to bloom. We were seen as one of the world’s greatest success stories, and for good reason. Our colourful nation seemed to burst with hope, and the world wanted in on the action. Citizens felt they lived more fully and abundantly – with education, job opportunities and investment plentifully promised. We took it all for granted. But slowly and subtly, those weeds of greed, entitlement and corruption grew, robbing the most vulnerable of a fruitful future.
We are, as a nation, slowly entering a Winter of discontent. All is not lost. There is value in the in this season. It is a time when God brings about tremendous healing and restoration.
Could it be that we as a country are being called upon to tend to our roots? Could we dig up and inspect those greedy, overgrown occupants in our midst? Is it time to turn over the soil to thoroughly rid our land of weeds? Is it time to free that which is life-giving to produce spectacularly in Spring? Could it be that God is calling us to be co-creators in renewing our land?
The work will be challenging. Sorting the good from the bad will take careful and prayerful discernment. The wait afterwards may also feel long and barren. But if we invest the energy in digging deep with faithful hearts, we and the next generation will sing praises of the great wonders of God’s work in our land.
Can I pass you a hoe or some secateurs?