Today, I thought I would update you on the prayer tree - the Horse Chestnut tree here in the Rectory. It is so sad; remember I told you how it was so a mass of flowers and that I was looking forward to seeing the soft cream tinged with pink blossoms all opened up? Then if you recall, we had those storms. Well, it is now a mass of brown leaves, the flowers long gone and just the flower stems left as empty twigs against the sky. The flowers never opened to their scented glory and just turned brown and papery and there are very few conkers forming on the lower branches and nothing higher up. It is so very sad. I think it is just too windy here for it as this is the second time storms have wreaked havoc with it since I have been here.
The tree though still makes a valuable aid to prayer but a different one and it speaks to me of the times when perhaps it is hard to pray and we can feel it is all an uphill struggle. Things in our lives are temporary and that reminds me of a friend who wasn't a church person, and always said:
"in life we have opportunities but they are temporary ones, the comfort of our homes are borrowed, our families are ours, for a short while, our friends can be golden, but not ours to hold on to forever. "
Now, I don't agree with her exactly, but we do need to look to the best in all circumstances and often when we feel at our worse God impacts most strongly.
Our prayer life might be hard, we may feel we are not making that connection with God at times, but simply staying with it, changing the way we do things trying new and different things, using a book or praying extemporary, using music or a view from the window can all help and above all offering the time of difficulty to God. Our prayers can at times feel like the Horse Chestnut flowers after the damage - brown and papery, dried up and dormant. It is ok stay there and try different things, but gently. Remember that however hard it is for us, God is there in the midst of our troubles and doesn't desert us, simply accompanies us.
I recall meeting with a lady who said God had given up on her so she had given up on her time with God. She had gone years without any prayer life but we talked and shared and she with help from all manner of things and people slowly moved to a place where she started again to pray and discovered God hadn't left her but she had left God! God is there with us just as the Horse chestnut tree isn't dead and the green leaves lower down, speak of hope and surrounding us with love even in hard times.