Today sees the beginning of a new Methodist year, and for many is the start of a new chapter of their lives. For others it will mean that they endeavour to ‘pick up’ from where the suddenness of lockdown left them. Those who study and work in schools, and colleges will be amongst those, and my thoughts are with them as they seek to establish safe and stimulating opportunities for learning which will help to prepare young people for their futures.
Education, and life long learning, are close to my heart. I spent most of my working life in schools, and close members of my family were, and are, educators at one level of our education system or another. My heart goes out to the dedicated and committed educators whom I know will be doing everything in their power in difficult circumstances to do the best they can for their students. I think they will need considerable resilience.
When we moved into our house some years ago, there was a passion flower plant growing near the kitchen window. As the Summer approached it started to grow at a phenomenal rate, threatening to cover the window and block out the light. So, I cut it down to the ground, from where it grew again. I reduced it again. It was not growing in good soil, but in the gravel of the drive, so I decided to dig it out. The following year it reappeared, slightly further away from the window, but growing just as vigorously and threatening to grow over a gate. So, again I cut it back. I have been doing this every year now for thirteen years. This year I found another plant had secured itself just a few feet from the first one, and both have flowered well. The flowers are beautiful and each time I look closely at one I am reminded of the story that associates them with Christ and his passion. The Conquistadors of South and Central America used the flowers to teach the indigenous peoples about Jesus. It is still a story told, particularly at Easter time in many catholic communities.
For me however, more recently the flowers have set me thinking about how to be resilient even when there are significant set backs. The way my plant has resisted every attempt from me to eliminate it, is actually quite inspiring. This year so many of us have had to face set backs and changes to plans and intentions, to put things on hold. We have had to draw on our own resilience to find ways to adapt and to keep developing. I hope that such resilience may continue to be found ; that one positive outcome of our present restrictions will be a determination to keep striving even when faced with difficulties. Perhaps the passion flower has something to teach us.