Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not out to compete with John Weaver - I deeply admire John for his ability to challenge us all, in helpful and necessary ways, to regain our Christian place around the environmentally friendly table. I’m talking about the environment of the Church (what else, I hear people chorus).
I’m proud of our garden when I look at the marked difference over eight years of living here. However, what’s the difference between someone who enjoys gardening and a gardener? One has an idea of what they’d love to see grow, but the gardener knows both what will grow in any given place and also where, what they’d love to see grow, might best thrive. Such knowledge comes from attention to both the plants and the environment they need to grow and thrive. I’ve been looking at our garden and thinking ‘this really is a great place to be’. When we moved in eight years ago it was bare, with the exception of a massive tree. It blocked the light, which now streams into our lounge, Now, on a sunny evening watching Euro 2008 or Wimbledon, with the French doors open, or a glass of wine on the patio, it’s wonderful! The huge solitary tree has gone – that was the first job, but a brave decision (my neighbour wept over it - not because of her environmental stance, but because of memories). The garden is really now too full of stuff (because basically both Maggie and I are merely those who enjoy gardening) and really needs some thinning out for it’s own good and to enable what we want to see grow reach its best potential. However, it’s now an environment in which birds are frequent visitors (we hardly had any at first). Blue Tits have nested every year since Emily built a nesting box on arrival and Blackbirds have nested nested for the last two years.
I think I picked up this idea of the Church Leader being a cultivator of an environment from Alan Roxburgh who talks about the need for the key leader to cultivate the missional imagination of the Church and the more I engage with it the more I think it’s coming close to what I believe I (we?) need to be about in today’s context. Most Ministers, it seems, have an in-built tendency to over-function. We love Ministry and want to do XY and Z, but a true gardener chooses the right plant for the right space and then relies on the germination and multiplication principles to do their stuff. My allotment friend, who's in charge of local plots has a quiet word with folk at this time of year who's allotments aren't up to scratch. He says it's a symptom of them not putting in the time in the early months of preparation.