If you walk from Ealing Broadway to the church, you will have passed the open space of Haven Green. Last year, new signs appeared there. On one side they read, ‘Welcome to Haven Green’, and on the reverse, ‘Thank you for visiting Ealing parks’. I have to say, I was a bit dismissive. Haven Green was, for me, a convenient short cut to Morrison’s; or the place where all the buses stopped. Yes, there was grass in between, but hardly a ‘park’, not like the nearby Walpole Park.
Then, this week, I walked down with the dog and saw the bright yellow splash of daffodils. Only a few days ago they were hardly in bud, but a couple of days of Spring sunshine had drawn them into full flower. It was lovely – a little burst of colour amidst the muddy grass. Stopping to take in the scene, I noticed all the people sitting on benches… and the children on bicycles and the dog walkers and the parents with buggies… and I remembered last summer the wild flowers around the low hedges, and the groups of students playing or lying in the sun. Of course it’s a park. It is a place of recreation. It’s just that I’d been too busy stomping through to get somewhere else and had never really appreciated it.
A bit of light and warmth can change a whole perspective. We are in the season of Lent now. We reflect on Jesus being tempted and tested, not in muddy grass but in stony desert; we walk with him on the hard path not to the shops but to Calvary. But we have a different perspective from the first disciples. We know now that Calvary is not the end of the road. We know that after the horror of Good Friday, and the desolation of Saturday, comes the dawn of Easter Sunday. We know that the new light of resurrection changes the whole world; that the warmth of God’s love breaks through the bleakest of circumstances.
If you are looking for ways to mark the season of Lent, the Lent Discussion group runs on Mondays till 19th March, and the Night Shelter runs on Saturday nights till 31st March. If you prefer to reflect at home, I can recommend the URC Daily Devotions, which throughout Lent offers a series of reflections by Revd Dr Janet Tollington on the book of Job www.devotions.urc.org.uk and in a daily feed to this website www.standrewsealingurc.org.uk/daily-devotion. Then in Holy Week itself, leading up to Easter, we have a service on Maundy Thursday evening (29th March) and the Churches Together Walk of Witness on Good Friday (30th March).
Whether you mark Lent or not, I wish you all light, joy and warmth on Easter Day.