Today I was chatting online with an Australian, hearing word of the terrible fires that have claimed so many lives. People burnt up huddled in their homes, trying to shelter in vain; people burned in their cars as they tried to escape; a great tornado of flame as high as a four-story house, sparking new fires up to 40km away. Terrifying, devastating events. No way out.
Today I had an email from a friend facing up to the possibility of a marriage ending. To go or stay? What to tell the children? How much coldness and rejection is it possible to bear? No way out.
Today I had an email from a friend who has been through extensive treatment for illness; harrowed by long-term illness, harrowed by treatment side-effects; harrowed by life consequences associated with the circumstances of the illness. Yet another trip to the doctor’s. How much more intrusive investigation is it possible to bear? No way out.
Today I am thinking of my daughter suffering serious pelvic pain as a result of pregnancy: creeping slowly along leaning on a stick, instead of striding up the hills faster than any of us as she normally would. Nothing can fix this: in time and with care all will return to normal after her baby is born.
Today I am thinking of a friend whose husband left her, but still paid her rent – and then stopped. All the fear and anxiety of going it alone, finding out what to do, figuring out how to make ends meet…what the possibilities are.
Recently I have been aware of myself slipping into depression; working out what steps to take to climb back up again as soon as possible, before negativity becomes destructive – depressed people are not easy to live with!
Unable to finish a book, unable to face social interaction, unable to look constructively on anything or see any purpose, or conceive of my life and myself as anything but an embarrassing superfluity, I consider what I can do to improve my state of mind while I can.
A lifelong aversion to taking exercise will not be helping! We have the abacus out, mumbling numbers, calculating the possibilities of getting me a Wii fit, so I can exercise and inject a little fun and lightness, even while in a state of ultra-retreat.
I am eating super-healthy food, letting the carbo-fog clear from my cells.
My main problem is that I miss my family so much. I need to be near them. It is possible of course to create a new social circle; join groups, sign up for activities. But the thing about being a writer is the discipline of solitude; creating a social buzz is inadvisable. And, I don’t want to seek out new friends, new commitments, new groups, that will prevent me even further from making my way to the family who I love, so far away.
Now: I am healthy, I have the most wonderful life, free to write and think and make our home a happy and peaceful place. I love my husband more than I could tell you, and am so grateful for his companionship.
It seems like the ultimate frivolous whinge to be hankering after a Wii fit to play with, and to be grieving for my family, when there are people with ghastly diseases, people whose whole town has been burned to a cinder, people going through the tearing apart of a home and a history and a heart that marriage break-up brings, people facing financial troubles without the comfort and encouragement of a companion.
And yet… I am finding that a life with the fun trimmed off is…er… not fun.
I feel a bit guilty about this.
But, having been a child loved and cared for and raised in a home full of laughter and interesting things to do, I have this healthy instinct for finding my way to the light.
And, in a small voice, feeling somewhat ashamed when others are suffering so, the me-inside-me thinks it matters if I am depressed or not, and if I figure out ways to have fun and be cheerful while my family are far away during the years we are committed to living here.
So here in this space, I light a candle for the people of Australia, and cry out to God for their healing, for hope, for rescue…. I light a candle for my friend’s marriage; for peace, wisdom, right choices, understanding, comfort, respect….. I light a candle for my friend who has been ill; for healing through and through, for courage, for sustaining, for laughter and ease, for strength and hope, for the way forward….. I light a candle for my friend facing financial challenges; for generous provision, for security, for encouragement, for strategies that work, for good companions on the journey… I light a candle for my daughter; for patience and peace and contentment, for good cheer and easing of pain…. and I light a candle for my life; teach me to be sensible, to love my neighbour as myself, to share and to shine, to choose life, happiness, health.
God bless us, God bless us; share Your peace with us, shine Your light through us - God make us whole.