Matthew 6 v 28 – 30
From the Ashes of Disaster Grow the Roses of Success.
I picked up a leaflet recently; well it was more a booklet than a leaflet, published by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. It was dated summer 2020, and had obviously been written shortly after the first COVID lockdown had been relaxed.
I have to say that the information contained within the pages of the booklet was interesting and inspiring, describing the work of the Trust, their successes and their concerns for our natural environment and the state of our local wildlife.
One particular article caught my attention. It related to the state of the natural environment during the lockdown period. Prior to the COVID pandemic the threat to many of our wildlife species had been made painfully clear and scientists and naturalists have pointed the finger of blame on the lifestyle of all of us. However, although the crisis and the lockdown has for many been a traumatic and near disastrous experience, it would appear that in many ways the natural environment including our wildlife have thrived.
Lockdown forced us to stay at home, use our cars less, cycle more, and walk more and to stop flying to far off destinations. Believe it or not these changes have seen a measurable positive impact on our air quality and a reduction in atmospheric pollution.
Experts now tell us that due to lockdown, our air is fresher, fish have returned to many of our waterways, and birdsong is now louder and more vibrant, (Jo Smith Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)
The imposed, ‘stay at home’ culture has resulted in other advantages for our wildlife, such as grass verges not being cut, and road side hedgerows being left to overgrow providing a much needed haven for small mammals and insects. A noticeable influx of natural wild flowers and fauna in the hedgerows has provided of explosion of colour along many of our country lanes and across our fields.
All this is good news for our natural environment but it is also proving to be good news for us. Evidence has shown that cycling and walking in the countryside is beneficial to our mental health in addition to our physical fitness. Walking around a lakeside or following a stream or watercourse is known to have a calming effect on our stress levels and even listening to birdsong has proved to help reduce the cares and concerns of everyday life. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to parkland or countryside locations will also have greater opportunities to observe wildlife species perhaps not usually seen.
I am blessed that I live adjacent to a large area of countryside and parkland, and I regularly take myself off to walk across the fields, stop for coffee at a local farm tea rooms, (when COVID permits) and return home via a circular route. In recent weeks I have sighted Buzzards, Herons, ground and tree mammals, and the annual arrival and departure of the squadron of Canada Geese as they, in chevron formation, noisily pass over my house.
I can disclose that there have been many sermons mentally written while I have been immersed in the tranquillity of this alternative world.
The natural environment is an essential ingredient to the well- being of our physical and mental health, our spiritual fulfilment and our ability to cope with situations beyond our comprehension.
During this COVID crisis it is understandable that there are some people who are depressed and worried not just about the present situation but also about the future and it is natural that we concentrate on the negative aspects of the situation. However, the message we receive from Matthew 6 v 28 – 30 is clear, God will never desert us, never leave us on our own and will never reject us.
As God blankets the hedgerows with colour and beauty, and as he brings life back to the barren ground, so will he clothe us with so much more. We will emerge from the darkness of the COVID crises and we will feel the warmth of God’s love poured over us.
From this crisis perhaps there will be a long lasting transformational change in our relationship with nature and through that change we will experience further the love and strength of our gracious God.
Many years ago when I worked in Nottingham, I sometimes used an underpass, (now filled in), which tunnelled under Maid Marion Way. It was dark, unpleasant and often had a revolting smell. Half way along its length it crossed a second underpass and at the junction there was a small kiosk selling newspapers and soft drinks. Sometimes they also had a few cut flowers in metal containers outside for sale. It was a temporary haven in the middle of a dark unpleasant journey, an oasis of colour and hope.
Take care, if we return to business as usual at some point in time, will it spell the end of the wildlife revolution or will it start a new era of nature’s rule?