I’m standing in the garden first thing, as is my weekday routine, taking stock of the plants and wildlife around me, a time just to be with God quietly and appreciate our joint work, when my youngest surprisingly comes out to join me. Surprising because it’s rare for a student to be up that early. But he’s leaving this morning to go back to university after five months at home because of pandemic restrictions.
We stand together, each with a coffee in one hand and the opposite arm around each other, looking and appreciating.
Then we talk about the mulching I’ve started and a discussion I’ve been involved in with other local gardeners about the benefits of horse manure. My mother, as a child was sent round the streets to follow the rag and bone man’s cart with a shovel and a bucket to collect the droppings and bring them home for her grandfather’s roses.
Who would have thought that excrement could be so beneficial?
Although it does need time to rot down and process into good fertilizer and compost, which feed the soil with an abundance of nutrients, all beneficial for growth.
Sometimes life feels full of manure. Our own, others’, life and world events. In this last year, I’m sure many of us have felt like we’re wading through the stuff.
But if we process this ‘excrement’, learn from it, look for the good and the lessons in it, it has the potential to produce growth in us too.
My family, my youngest perhaps in particular, has had to deal with a lot difficulties – a lot of manure – in the last couple of years: trauma, mental and physical illness, bereavement. It’s been immensely painful and frightening at times. But we’re coming out of this heavily mulched ground stronger and more vigorous – as a family we’ve become closer, our communication more open and honest, learned new coping skills and better self-care; we’ve all grown up.
And I’m reminded that diamonds are formed in conditions of great heat and pressure, then often moved to the earth’s surface by traumatic events.
So if you’re feeling that your life is full of manure or pressure at the moment, hold on.
Look to the Expert Gardener, the Jewel Maker. God, if you let Him, won’t let your terrible circumstances be meaningless. At some point, you may find that He was using them to grow something stronger in you.
Something as strong and beautiful as a diamond.