Driving over the Peak District one October day four years ago, I was stunned. The trees staggering down the hillside were all changing colour: burnt amber, sunset red, sunflower yellow, olive green, rusty brown all mixed in together in an array of hues I had never seen before in such intensity. There was no mistaking that autumn had arrived.
The first year I moved to Peru, I was so disappointed when autumn supposedly arrived – no leaves cascading off the trees. No leaves changing colour. No dramatic windy rain; no damp muggy walks. The trees seemed unmoved by the slowly decreasing temperatures. A damp drizzle was the most rain that fell that year on the Lima coastal desert.
It was the same with the arrival of Spring – in Sheffield, my favourite season would appear with daffodils and tulips springing up in the park, which I passed each morning on my walk down to the university. Trees erupted in bridal whites and delicate pinks and snowdrops humbly draped from dew-soaked stalks, holding up a silent sign, announcing the end to the cold stark winter.
I hardly noticed Lima’s spring: a couple of trees or bushes flowered and a few more birds tweeted, but no fanfare arrival like in England.
That is, until this year. As I have looked harder at the gardens in our neighbourhood, some intentionally planted, others wild and haphazard, I have begun to recognise the new plants that this spring is bringing. Little sunflower-type flowers adorn the pavement garden patches, opening their petals bright red, orange and yellow as the sun gains strength against the cloud that covers Lima through the winter months; only to create an unimpressive green carpet again as dusk falls. Bushes are blossoming, pruned trees sprouting, and fruit trees flowering and budding.
How did I miss all this the first few years I was here? How did I mistakenly believe that the trees and plants here in Lima remained the same all year long?
In England, the changes are dramatic and obvious, and living year after year, season in and season out, from childhood I learned the natural rhythms of spring and autumn, noticing the years when autumn arrived late in November or when it came early in August. Here in Peru, I have had to relearn how to discern the seasons – they are more subtle; the flowers different. My yearly body clock has begun to readjust from expecting spring early in the calendar year to towards the end.
It has taken three years for me to recognise the arrival of spring. It makes me wonder how I ever missed it.
As I am learning to discern God’s voice, I have mistakenly assumed that perhaps He was not speaking to me because I was not listening. But as I begin to take time to slow down, to look, to write down the impressions and dreams that I have; to write down the words I have received from others and conversations with them, I have begun to see a dramatic guidance throughout my life. Throughout every stage of my life, God was clearly speaking and guiding me – even when I was not engaging with it.
For God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it. – Job 33:14
Where is God speaking to you at the moment that you might not have realised was Him? (Dreams, other people, impressions, thoughts, nature, films, etc.)