Added to the dross of leaves today was the sparkle of frost.
I never can get on top of the leaves this time of year. The hour you’ve swept, they re-pile, massing into gaps by walls and blocking drains.
But today there was frost to add sparkle. Seems apposite at this time of year as the sparkle is there, threatening to burst out in shop windows, adverts and early present buying, despite serious priestly types reminding us all of Advent and waiting.
Wait for the sparkle. Resist.
There are added pressures this time of year for people living near the edge. Near the edge of advanced old age; near the edge of mental and physical health, near the edge of depression or relationship fracture.
You simply couldn’t make up the kind of life stories people tell you when you’re a priest. Bereavement, deprivation, hunger, abuse, neglect. The dross of life happens to the best of people. Yet underneath, like sparkle on useless brown leaves, is a resilience which you have to marvel at.
Morning Prayer today has the ‘die to live’ verses which are so challenging, but which make perfect sense spiritually, and naturally (look at leaves, dead and trodden underfoot, but beautifully sparkling). It’s often when things die that other things can be born. We have to lose our lives to find them. Complacency, feeling you have it all, is the single biggest barrier to discovering yourself in God.
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’ (John 12:24).
Accept all your little bits of dying; your embarrassment, your fear, your desire to hide. It’s just the dried up brown un-remarkableness of crumpled leaves, and without them you’ll never see the sparkle that alights from goodness knows where, from time to time.
Sometimes when you’re least expecting it, or most need it.