“God…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” I Timothy 6:17
Deep in the archives of the BBC there is a recording of a 1950s broadcast featuring the writer and garden designer Vita Sackville-West. In it she reveals that within her family a particular expression grew up to describe those simple pleasures that brighten up life. They are many and varied, but very special to those who find enjoyment in them.
That expression was “through leaves”. It began with discovering that walking in autumn, after the leaves have fallen and dried out along the path or in the park, crunching them underfoot, or kicking them along in front of you, could be a source of great pleasure and fun. Walking through the leaves became a symbol for all sorts of other delights – sights, sounds, activities – that lift the spirit, until it became shortened and could be used to describe any such experience. As they listened to one another sharing their particular joys they would say “Oh yes, that is very ‘through leaves’”.
I wonder what would be “through leaves” for you? For me, one of the top ten would have to be pausing by a stream or small river in the sunshine and listening to the sound of the water rippling across the stones. Another might well be that first sight of the sea you get on a journey to the beach. Having grown up in the heart of the Midlands, about as far as you can be from the English coastline in any direction, it was for our family only a once in a year event and, if I had known the expression as a boy, I might well have described that as very “through leaves”.
How good God is that he colours our lives with those pleasures which come to mean so much to us, that among the deeply serious, the demanding, the challenging, the humdrum and the almost too hard to bear he blesses us with those moments of richness – however simple in themselves and, to others, quite unremarkable maybe.
There is a prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (and reproduced in Common Worship in fact) usually referred to as the “General Thanksgiving”. It is a wonderful discipline to use it on a regular basis, particularly in times when it is easier to complain than to rejoice. While it reaches its climax by rightly thanking God most of all for his “inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace and the hope of glory” it also gives thanks for “our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life”. Among those, I am sure, are those things that for each of us are “through leaves”.
Why not pause and enjoy one today – and thank God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift?