Where the winds blow

Easter(n) Pilgrims
By The Rev. David Burrows
July 28 , 2019
  • The Rev. David Burrows reflects on his relationship with creation and God in today’s Ministry Matters.

My most vivid memories of childhood are of time in the summer and fall spent walking the tundra of Baffin Island with my family and our huskies. I was always open-eyed, searching horizons for glimpses of wildlife, beautiful scenes as cloud and sunshine, winds and weather affected the experience. In my wanderings, I encountered the Holy and seemed to have an ongoing dialogue in prayer and being with God as I experienced all of creation around me. For me, the encounter with God was likened to the experience of the wind on my face, against my body. The winds in the north blow strong through all seasons; in the summers, the crisp wind would bring with it salt from the ocean, sand from the shores, and seed from far off lands.

As I continue in life and ministry today as a parish priest, these memories for me still form my expression of love and devotion to the Holy One. Whenever I have the chance to experience creation I feel the closeness of God, and I am instantly transported it seems, to the tundra and barrens of forty-odd years ago. In my daily encounter with the Holy One, I am reminded of the blowing of the wind, and with it the encounter of those things that are transported by the wind: seed and snow; salt and dust. God seems to bring all sorts of life and wonder through the blowing of the wind.

Memories of wind in creation seem to be swirling around me this summer. I have had many unforeseen experiences and encounters; in my personal reflection, I liken it to the amazing wonders and revelations I have experienced in my backyard garden. Each day as I review and tend the garden, there are new discoveries that have been brought by wind and weather, some of what is found is good and wholesome, other parts are not helpful for the garden, and are frustrating to me.

Like any amateur gardener, I presume, I try hard to nurture and cultivate the land which is in my care. I am by no means a professional, but I work as I can with the tools, experience, and gifts I have been given. Our backyard is primarily perennials, with a few bulbs and annuals; yet here and there, there is new life that has not been planted by my hands. The wind and weather bring weeds, other flowers, and plants that I do not always expect.

Over the years of cultivating this garden, I have witnessed the successes and the failures of the plants in my care. Tending, weeding, watering, cultivating, pruning — these actions do not always produce the expected results. The impact of the climate, unfavourable seasons and pests change things. This results in stunted growth, challenge to this tiny ecosystem and brings change in response for this gardener.

Overall, this garden brings me life, establishes and expands my love for God, for family and neighbour, and daily brings me fresh perspective on life, humanity, and the Holy One.

This garden reminds me I need to be open to new possibilities, flexible and willing to be open to new growth. This place reminds me that I must be attentive to the need for weeding, pruning, cultivating daily, so that I am not overwhelmed with the things that choke me from the response to God and neighbour in my daily life.

The winds blowing this year seem to be reminding me again and again, to be open, to be observant, and to receive the blessings and challenges of the wind as it comes. There has been much in my life that has been surprising, like the seed blown from far off places, offering much beauty and contrast in the garden. There have been surprising parts also, that have blown into my life causing pain and suffering, challenge and death.

These winds still blow. In these winds, I stand, and the Holy One stands with me. The Holy One does not abandon the garden of my life — nor should I abandon the garden that is before me.

MinistryMatters

MinistryMatters is a space for Canadian Anglicans to share stories on the ongoing work of the Anglican Church of Canada, its life, ministry and mission.

Easter(n) Pilgrims

WRITTEN BY

David Burrows is a priest of the church, currently serving in parish ministry within the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.

MinistryMatters

MinistryMatters is a space for Canadian Anglicans to share stories on the ongoing work of the Anglican Church of Canada, its life, ministry and mission.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, August 15, 2019

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