Signs of life and hope, new birth, the end of winter; snowdrops have been a February blessing, so look forward to even more crocuses in March and all the floral harbingers of Spring

Look up March in Wikipedia and you will find that its derivation is all about the start of the new agricultural year. The days are longer, the soil is warmer, at last things will start to grow. I cannot believe it’s pure chance that Lent and Easter fall in the spring, for they too are about a glorious new start after a time of hardship.

Sometimes we think that the 40 days of Lent, which fill the whole of March this year, are about self-denial, giving things up. There’s only any point in doing that if it helps with our self-examination. That’s not the same as self absorption, which is a somewhat unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves, but is a more useful kind of stock-taking of just who and what we are, what our relationships with others and with God are like, and what we need to do about them to make them bear more fruit. Self control might be a more useful phrase to consider, for a thorough self examination will most likely reveal a few widening cracks which need attention, or some weeds which need dealing with.

Starting work again in the garden is a time when we could contemplate Jesus and his experience in a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane – which we remember on Maundy Thursday. Jesus wrestled with his very human desire to escape, and God’s divine will that he go to the cross. That garden became for Jesus a hard place, a wilderness. Yet in spite of his fervent prayer and tears of blood, Jesus did as was expected of him. His example to you and me is one of trust and obedience, of faith in the God who is with us through the good times and even more wonderfully through the tough times. If you’re having a hard journey right now, why not ask Jesus to help you along the way?

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