For our silver anniversary Dave and I toured England, Scotland and Wales for 15 days. That first trip to the British Isles introduced us to the above graphic at each underground stop. Americans might say, “Watch out!” or perhaps the more formal, “Watch your step,” but Brits post, “Mind the gap.”
We can well apply this idea to what happens to us between a crushing incident of grief or pain and any ability to move our life on after that. There’s no time line, no outline, no series of steps that fit all. Wanting a closure date, though we do long for relief, sounds presumptuous. So with tentative, faltering steps, we venture into the open fields that lie before us. Can we bring the space between the pain and some measure of peace closer together? If so, how?
Perhaps an illustration from our woods can help. Three Lady Slippers stand as sentinels on the mossy hill, while a solo plant sits isolated, down below. Digging up the one to move it closer to the three rarely works because of the fragile nature of these flowers. Aren’t grieving, suffering people equally fragile? There is healing happening in the soil that we do well not to disturb Those who wish to offer help or come alongside a hurting person do well to also mind the gap. Some consolers decide they don’t know what to say or do, so they avoid the one in pain. Others rush in with platitudes or their own experiences. Whether the hurting soul or the hopeful comforter, we all do well to avoid attempts to pull, push, or transplant. Why? Don’t we long for relief, quickly and completely?
Yes, we ache for a quick remedy, but in the secret under the ground, work does continue. Left alone, the Lady Slipper (or Moccasin) orchid reproduces via symbiosis. The New England Today website explains this well.The organism, in this case a fungus in the soil, causes the stubborn seed to open. Once the fungus cracks the seed and attaches, the fungus gives needed food and nutrients for the plant to flourish.
While people, music, solitude, or cards and written notes may all prove helpful, God can crack the most stubborn heart in the work He accomplishes in the secret places. May we have the grace and patience to allow the Gardener to close the spaces as He chooses.