The flowers and the birds spoke to Jesus; do they speak to us?

In the autumn of 1918 Ada Chesterton went to be with her husband Cecil, the brother of G.K.Chesterton, who was dying in a field hospital on the coast of France. This is her testimony:

Cecil looked up and smiled. Life was all around him and me; only in the brave face that still kept courage was it ebbing little by little, until it passed beyond the last faint breath. The future - our future - had ended. I should never hear him speak again. I should never feel his touch, or watch the light in his eyes when unexpectedly he saw me.

I could not think. The blank was so intolerable, the pain so limitless; I could not stay inside the hut. I had to get into the open; but the sky and sea and the earth in their vast aloofness were frightening - I could find nothing to lay hold of.

I think I was on the borderline of endurance when suddenly, without conscious wish or will, the long slope of the cliff side, curving out and down to the channel far below, held my eyes. It was a carpet of sea lavender - grey-blue and pink. The sheer fact of the small proud flowers brought a dim sense of security. In a world of torture they remained serene. Right up to the door of that grim squatting hut, soaked in the blood of sons, husbands and lovers, beauty had laid a tender touch.

I gripped at self control and went back to my husband.

Why did the fact of those small proud flowers bring a dim sense of security to Ada Chesterton? Behind the sea lavender stood one for whom details matter; one on whom we can rely in life and death; a God who will help us through.

Mungo Park the explorer shared Ada's experience. In 1796 he was near the upper Niger in West Africa: alone and robbed of all he possessed except his boots, shirt, trousers and top hat. Mungo Park felt his end had come and so he lay down ready to die. Then:

The influence of religion, however, aided and supported me... I was still under the protecting eye of that Providence who has condescended to call himself the stranger's friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small moss in fructification irresistibly caught my eye... Can that Being (thought I) who planted, watered and brought into perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the situation and sufferings of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not! Reflections like these, would not allow me to despair..

Mungo Park considered how the wild flowers grew. He believed that the God who looked after a small moss would be even more likely to look after him.

In the early summer of 1984 my mother had been very groggy. When I heard my father call out in the middle of the night, "John, come quickly. John, come quickly." I knew what to expect.

My mother was sprawled across the bed, dead. Once the doctor had been to certify her death and the undertaker had removed the body I sat in the lounge opposite my father. It was about 4am and I cannot say that I felt very cheerful. I had smoked my pipe and that had been some comfort. I had also started to plan out and write down all the things I was going to have to do in the future. That too was a help. But I wasn't feeling very confident or resolute. My father was an invalid and my life was going to change drastically following my mother's death. As I sat contemplating the days ahead the darkness lifted and a solitary blackbird began to sing. The clear, liquid, triumphant notes of that one blackbird singing out in anticipation of the dawning of a new and brighter day put fresh heart into me.

Mt6v28: Consider how the poppies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you Soloman in all his splendour was not dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the wildflowers of the cornfield, which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith.