During my latest visit to Falaise in Normandy (Where William the Conqueror came from), I went in search of a beautiful flower which grows near the centre of the town. It is called, I believe, a Bignone in French. We know it as Campsis.
It is 3 years since I last saw it so it was more in hope than expectation that I searched for it. I needn’t have worried. It was surrounding a small walled garden as usual and it was in full bloom, the deep orange/red petals dominated an otherwise dull street.
I’ve been thinking about it since I returned and why it seemed so attractive to me.
Of course, the splash of bright colour is an instant draw but when the orange/red is added to the trumpet like-flower shape, it brings an additional attraction. It feels as if the flowers are making a big statement, an announcement of some significance.
Yet again, the world has had a bad week, not least because the muted celebration of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union has brought more grief, more despicable action by Russia, and most of all more death to innocent people. There are so many other places of need in our world which claim our attention, prayers and concern.
At home domestic issues to do with the affordability of the basic things in life, are also worrying us. Even the weather is worrying us!
So a lot of darkness is swirling around right now and it would be easy to just despair.
Whilst the darkness closes in, the little trumpeting flower of Falaise is telling us another story.
In the midst of our difficult days we can look for things that allow us to hope. So many people have become kinder to others as a result of the Lockdowns. Neighbourliness, just saying ‘hello’, has brought a new care and life to many communities. We must hold onto this and develop it.
There is such an abundance of goodness in our world and love really does abound. It’s hard to see that sometimes, like when we hear of little Olivia in Liverpool. Yet the little flower of Falaise bursts forth too and we shouldn’t ignore it.
One of the BBC Radio 3 presenters spoke the other morning of our ‘lovely, beautiful planet.’ She’s right. It is. We need to hold on to that.
And there is so much more. This week we have seen some amazing photos of Jupiter, sent back to us by the new James Webb telescope. We cannot really conceive what that means about the Universe we inhabit but it does sort of put us in our place!
Yet it brightens and gladdens some of our hearts because though dwarfed by the discoveries, some of our community – especially astronomers and other scientists and specialists – have made it possible for us to be put in our place.
Not to make us feel small but the opposite which is to feel part of the vastness of all that is.
It’s exhilarating and uplifting but no more than the trumpet flower of Falaise.
There is a light shining in its message which opens hearts to see God’s creation both in a street in Normandy and in a vision of something far, far away in the vastness of space.
To me, I see both explode with God.
But you too! And me too! As long as that is happening then all is indeed not lost. Indeed quite a bit more is found.We can find a marvellous experience of our Mother Earth and so of each other.
I love this prayer so I want to share it with you again.
we thank you for this earth, our home; for the wide sky and the blessed sun,
for the ocean and seas, streams, rivers and the towering hills and the whispering wind;
for the clouds and the pinprick light of stars, for the trees and green grass;
for plants and animals, fish and all that swim in the sea; for deserts and mountains,
We thank you for our senses by which we hear the songs of birds, and the conversations of animals and see the splendour of fields, of nature, and taste autumn’s fruit, and rejoice in the feel of snow,
and smell the breath of spring flowers and delight in the warmth of the sun.
Grant us a heart opened wide to all this beauty;
and save us from being so blind that we pass unseeing when
even the common thorn bush is aflame with your glory.