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Geese Preening - Do Not Worry
They need more water in February. Normally four full buckets of fresh rain water drawn from the water butt will last the seven geese very easily a day and, in case of our forgetfulness or absence, then almost two days. But around this time of year a bucketful can be emptied at a stroke by the head gander who spends a lot of energy dipping his head deep inside, then throwing it back to preen his throat and chest, fluffing up his feathers making them Omo white before strutting off around the flock in his finery. This year the ritual has been intensified by the presence of two active males indulging in competitive grooming and the two of them do indeed look to be in all their glory. It is all God given, I can see them from the library window walking about nibbling away at the grass in the paddock, like little sheep with wings. They have everything that they need and stroll leisurely, unhurried and unworried.
“Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life.“ But we do don’t we? We almost invent things to worry us. It is as if, without worrying, we are not taking life seriously enough.
I got into terrible trouble with this when working in America. It was a small company being run by a fiercely ambitious man and a small leadership team. Our largest customer was making car dashboards for Cadillac in Detroit and somehow the inks we were making were insufficiently black or little minute holes appeared when they were printed or we had delivered the wrong thing or not on time or a combination of all of the above. It was a cauldron of concern.
I had to go away for a couple of weeks to asses the safety of our several factories spread from New Jersey to California, during which I discovered that some things needed urgent improvement if accidents were to be avoided. I reappeared after my trip with these things dominating my thinking; things that could affect peoples health. And there was this impassioned argument in progress about a gallon of yellow that was either too red or maybe too green and amid the recriminations and the blame and the worrying about it all, I suddenly realised that I could not engage with the question. These people, whom I had worked with for two years, suddenly seemed very foreign. Surely this was relatively unimportant. Now I am not sure that this attitude did my career any good, by the way, but something of this dislocation of thought is what Jesus is talking about.
“Do not worry about what you will eat, or what you will drink, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Strive first for the Kingdom of God and these things will be given to you as well.”
You can appreciate that as Son of God, Jesus, looking around at the ways of the world, was completely taken aback. Why were these people worrying about such things? A brief scan of the television schedules yields, “How to look good naked? What not to wear? Come dine with me? Gok’s Clothes Road Show” and many others that suggest to me that Jesus’ comment is as least as valid now as it was 2,000 years ago.
"Strive first for the Kingdom of God," he said. Surely this is about balance and priority. All of us get hooked into the way of the world and what we need, as I was reminded on my trip around America, is to be reminded of what is really important.
Lent is approaching and this is the perfect season to redress that balance, to make the time to step away from purely worldly things, to make a spiritual trip, if you like, to nourish the spirit and soul.
What we do will be different for each one of us, maybe reading a poem every day, perhaps going for a daily walk, finding time for prayer, attending a lent course, studying a particular book or really listening to a piece of music. But whatever it is, it should be unhurried and unworried. For we know that if we are with him, then God will provide what we need and will be there when we need.
Consider the lilies of the field or indeed the geese in my paddock, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.