It was my birthday again last month and given the lockdown situation I really hadn’t any expectations for it beyond loafing around on the roof terrace in the sun. So it was a lovely surprise to receive this box of biscuits from my Mum – and not just any box of biscuits but these hand-iced masterpieces from the Biscuiteers Baking Company, a bright star of the biscuit scene in London.
As you can see, these ‘homegrown’ biscuits are garden themed and, like the masterpiece of creation itself, full of that beauty and attention to detail that marks the work of a true craftsperson. So beautiful in fact it was hard to bring myself to eat them but I made a start with the trowel on the grounds that it had got a little cracked on its way out of the box. Having shovelled the first one in (chocolate shortbread, delicious) I decided to give it a bit of welly, and after that… Well, I was quite proud of myself for making them last more than a week in the end. Whatever recipe they use for their biscuit base, it’s built to last.
I’ve written before about the Parable of the Sower. It’s one of the best known stories of the gospels and one of the few parables where Jesus provides a gloss on the meaning for his audience: the seeds are the words of God and the soil is the hearers’ hearts, which may at times be soft or stony, choked by weeds or eager for new life. It’s also a picture of what happens at the very beginning of God speaking to us: a seed, a thought, takes hold and with it a little glimmer of hopefulness. A promise of growth to come.
This week I came across a further application of the story I think the medieval clerks would have approved of: what do we do when the seed of something wonderful drops into our lives? It might be a new idea, creative vision, word of faith or moment of insight. What part can we play in helping it thrive?
Light and water, space and shelter, vigilance and tenderness, patience and encouragement. Keeping on believing, waiting and trusting until you see the new thing springing up… The laws of nurturing the spiritual life aren’t that different to those of the organic one, really. In yet another great gardening parable, Jesus speaks of a mustard seed planted in the ground:
It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants: it grows long branches and birds can make nests in its shade…
The Kingdom of God is like that, he says. It may start small but it grows!
Shameless promotion of the Biscuiteers’ wares. While away a pleasant hour admiring their decorative arts.
Still in lockdown or bored of your new fangled garden? Here’s a no-nonsense approach to designing a medieval one.
My friend Amy alerted me to this erudite blog post from English Heritage on biscuits past. Something to savour after your gardening’s done?
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