Saturday, 1 May 2021

The three-cornered dance of life

This short piece was submiited for the May 2021 issue of Newslink, the Diocesan Magazine for Limerick & Killaloe

How blessed we have been by our gardens in this second Spring of Covid lockdown! The early bulbs - the snowdrops, the crocuses, the daffodils – seemed brighter and more numerous than ever this year. As I write it is the turn of primroses, cowslips and tulips to star. Dandelions are everywhere, so bright and cheerful – if they were rare and difficult to grow, gardeners would pay fortunes for them. And I have been harvesting purple sprouting broccoli, and the first asparagus from the polytunnel - so much tastier than that from the supermarket.

Bees feasting on pear blossom as they pollinate the flowers

It is the flowering fruit trees that attract my attention just now. The wild blackthorn, damsons and cherries blooming in the hedgerows promise an autumn feast of jams and flavoured gin, and I trust the birds will leave a few Victoria plums and Morello cherries for puddings. The pear blossom is already fully open, and bees are busy fertilising it, as they gather pollen and nectar to feed their growing young. The apples and the quince are in bud and will be out by the time you read this. I look forward to fine weather so that we will have a good fruit set.

The ravishing pink of apple blossom


This prompts me to reflect on the wonderful three-cornered dance of fruit trees, insects, and fruit eating creatures. The trees offer up pollen and nectar to the pollinating insects to feed them and their young, while the insects return the favour by fertilising the flowers. The trees then bear sweet and tasty fruits, so irresistible to us, while birds and mammals like ourselves spread the trees’ seeds far and wide.

Looking forward to harvest
- Still life with quince, apples and pears by Paul C├ęzanne


By the grace of God, the trees, insects, birds and mammals have evolved together over millions of years to partake in this communion of life, in which all benefit and no one loses. I see it is an image the kingdom of heaven, reflecting the mutual love and communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our triune God.


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