Who would have thought that I would come back to England’s bright late winter and feel moved and enchanted by a common-or-garden lawn flower? Since our old lawn was dug up as part of a ground source heat pump project and it was all re-turfed, the daisies have never reappeared, and I have missed them. I have memories from my junior days of creating daisy-chains on the school grass and at home; I made chains for myself and for my friends, for my ted Hoddy and for a little toy cat I made out of wool pompoms (as you do). And for my children 30 years later, of course.
Being in my home country, and in my family home which is still being occupied and enjoyed by my brother Phil and his family while we are abroad, again and again brings lovely familiar ‘ahhhh!’ moments, including, yes, those simple British wildflowers like the celandine or blackthorn blossom. I love the scruffy hedgerows, the view onto the sky from my bed, the thrush’s song that accompanies the dawn, the sound of the wind in the treetops. And the happy surprised faces of neighbours when we meet by chance on the lane. I am so thankful that I belong here! And thankful for the people I have shared this place with: family, of course, and friends, and neighbours.
One of my favourite moments in the week before last was when I introduced two friends of mine to each other at home. Sister Verity has been a nun since the age of 17, that is for 67 years; Mary is 101 (‘and a half!’, as she insists). Mary had asked the spiritual direction team at church for some help with her prayer life (‘it’s become dry’), and Sr Verity has recently had a new lease of life because, in her words, she ‘met the personal Jesus for the first time’. My thought was that the spring chicken of a lass could possibly inspire the older lady, or at least they might enjoy each other’s company! Sr Verity’s story is sweet: she had got really frustrated and despondent about the whole prayer thing over many years – too much ritual, too little meaning – but had attended a Lent programme last year in which she was invited to use her imagination to put herself into gospel stories and interact with the situation and characters there. And it had begun to open her up something to alive inside which she has continued to experience as a sort of knowing: a way of relating to Jesus, whose life stories she was engaging with, that she had not even heard possible before: exciting for her, and transformatory, and all in her 80s!
Anyhow, she said that as a teenager she used to wonder about this or that boy and did she have a chance with him, and she would pick a daisy and pluck off the leaves: he loves, he loves me not, he loves, he loves me not … but with Jesus she knows now: he loves me, he loves me, he loves, he loves me!
A sweet little story. And I hope I’m as open to change and growth at Sr Verity’s age, and at Mary’s age too!
When Nico and Jem were 10 and 12 we cycled up to Shaw’s Corner, in Ayot St Lawrence near Kimpton, for a poetry workshop. This was the home of George Bernard Shaw, and it is now preserved as a museum, both house and gardens, by the National Trust. We were encouraged to write about what we saw around us in the summer gardens; my inspiration came from a daisy. I'll share Jem and Nico's poems if I can find them one day; but here is my contribution, short and sweet, to end this post.
Yellow and white,
I hide from sight in grass my leaf,
But greet the trampling feet with no complaint,
Or plucking hand of unrestraint;
It is no shame to yield to childhood’s game:
“Love me? Love me not?”