On Christmas Eve I finally tracked some down hidden in the back room of the florist in my nearest little town and purchased six iris stems. Feeling quite triumphant, I took my best vase and arranged them neatly then put them in the sitting room. They looked a treat.
I arrived home from Church on Christmas Day and most of my family were already assembled and helpfully trying to retrieve the lunch I had left cooking. I checked the sitting room. Oh dear, my irises were drooping over the edge of vase. They looked totally dead. I wondered whether I had forgotten to put water in the vase, but there was plenty. I walked through my kitchen with the droopy specimens taking them into the utility room which doubles as a sick bay for dying plants. On the way I asked my two daughters-in-law if they had any idea how to revive them.
I learnt two things. Did you know that irises need their stems pierced to take enough water? And that lemonade would help them revive? I stood in my utility room making pinholes down the stems and pouring in the soft drink not even sure whether my d-i-l's were teasing me. Then I spoke kindly to the irises and hid them behind one or two other things that needed attention and returned to make the starters for our dinner.
By Boxing Day my irises looked marvellous - new and fresh! I realised that if I had known how to look after them properly we would have had the pleasure of enjoying them earlier. It also made me think about other things I neglect, like practising my cello, and how my skills wilt away.
Which is a rather long way of asking whether we neglect our writing and then wonder why it seems stale or difficult when we come back to it. Is there something we can do to revive it, if it is becoming a neglected skill? Maybe not pricking its stems or feeding it lemonade, but perhaps by scheduling time to make sure we write a little each day. And if we look back at our former successes and rest on our laurels, or perhaps have a sense of failure over what we have not achieved then we may need to remember what it says in Isaiah 43:18,19:
'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
And streams in the wasteland.'
So let's make our talents and vision anew through prayer and seeking God's will - see them spring up and find God's way in the desert of our lives. I for one am praying I will move forward with my writing, letting God do a new thing through me and within me.
Annie Try is the author of Losing Face and has another novel, Trying to Fly, due to be released in February. This is the first of several stories all linked to Dr Mike Lewis, Clinical Psychologist. The second one, Out of Silence, comes out in October.