I’ve had my hands in the earth today, transplanting seedlings. Mrs Llew has been pruning the herb patch: lemon balm, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme and rampant mint, blocking the light from the tiny bay tree. It is the third, maybe the fourth bay tree we have planted. The last one, in Finchley, was about 15ft tall when we moved. We also left behind my little plantation of elder trees, which will be in bloom now. The blossom is out here now, at the roadsides, and I hanker after the scent of brewing elderflower wine – the flowers mixed with lemon peel, soaking in boiled water. And the strained liquid brewed up with sugar, simmering on the hob, with the juice of the lemons added when it cooled. I used to say that the wine, fermented out and cleared, and retrieved from the garden shed on an icy Christmas Eve brought back an entrancing memory of the high summer from which it came six months before.
Maybe I’ll take my bike – my arthritis finds it easier than walking – along the old railway and see if there are any flowers to pick for a brew this year. I am not a ‘green’ zealot but I want to pick them from where fields are all around and there is no motor traffic.
Actually I was intending to write about dreams, as a kind of sequel to my previous post. I think dreams can be a guide to us in our lives, if we listen to them without fear and with a desire to learn. The bereaved poet in the mediaeval poem ‘Pearl’ (see last week’s post) finds himself in a heavenly garden and sees his lost daughter on the other side of a shining stream. At its most mundane this brings a message of hope to us in our human condition.
But such a message also tells me that what I do, say and think, matters at a level far deeper than the friendly coinage of everyday social intercourse: ‘how are you?’, ‘Good’, as they say on the ‘Today’ programme. In my dreams people I have not seen or thought of maybe, for years, many of them long dead, re-enter my world. On waking I pray for them and if I have harmed them I ask them for forgiveness. This idea was suggested to me by the book ‘If You Sit Very Still’, by Marian Partington, of which I wrote last week. I am not referring to this situation in any ‘spiritualist’ sense. I am not saying they are there – although I wouldn’t be sure. But I think my subconscious is telling me something about the deeper levels of my dealings with these friends, associates and relatives and theirs with me. And I feel this process helps me to sort things out and make peace, make things whole (see my About section).
The dreamer in ‘Pearl’ found himself in a garden. – paradise. Recently, when sleeping, I found myself in a place where there was nothing but dereliction and nothing green in view. I think that when we find ourselves in a situation which that might represent – I can only interpret for myself – that is the moment to trust totally in the Grace of Christ.