The garden is an oasis of peace and quiet. As I walk down it, often I can feel the stress falling away. When I had my little breakdown three years ago, the garden was a great source of healing. My habit most mornings is to sit down at the end of the garden with a coffee and then pray. If it’s rainy I sit in the shed, which is down at that far end.
Sitting in the garden early this morning with my coffee, across the birdsong and the peaceful rustle of the leaves in the breeze came the sound of drumming. Our neighbour behind us put up a shed last year at the end of their garden. It’s a luxury shed, with a slate roof and velux windows, so I’d hoped it was an office of some sort. Now it seems like someone in the family has taken up drumming and has been sent out to practise in the shed.
I know how much enjoyment you can get from playing music. I know that there is nothing like being in a band. I know that the band practice is usually at the drummer’s house (or garden shed). I have played with some drummers who needed to practise more. I know that drums have to be hit, not tapped, and that electronic kits are rubbish. So I have every sympathy with the drummer in the garden, and also with the rest of their family not wanting to have to put up with drums in the house. I feel very mean about feeling angry about drum practice wrecking my peaceful garden (coming on top of another neighbour who plays country and western hymns at high volume).
It’s a challenge to me. This morning, I felt like living in a cabin in the woods, miles from anyone, had never been more attractive. But that’s not a way to build a viable future for the world. We all need to learn to get along together so that we can all (including, of course, animals and plants) flourish. There is a time for drumming, but there is also a time for silent out-doors coffee drinking. The big flaw, I think, is that I have never talked to those neighbours in six years of living here. I don’t even know their surname. That’s modern suburban living for you. I talk about community but really, I would rather live in isolation from others and their noise. Perhaps negotiating creative co-existence at the end of the garden is an opportunity to reach out beyond my bubble and build a bit of what I say I believe in. On the other hand, drummers are a bit scary – there’s something of the animal in them. It’s often easier to stay with broken-ness than to grow, as I was preaching last Sunday (John 5.1-15)