One morning, a few weeks ago, I started writing a blog post. I wrote it using my iPad, but decided to draft it in an email so it would be easier to edit. I spent an hour lovingly tapping out a thousand words. I edited, tweaked, smiled.
I could feel my brain slowing down and becoming fuzzier – the characteristic ‘brain fog’ of M.E. that would mean that my ‘brain battery’ had run down for the day. I was unlikely to be able to do any more activity that day that involved concentration.
But it felt good to have done something creative, productive. I could evaluate my day and say to myself, ‘even though I’ve spent most of my day lying around in bed, I achieved something today.’
All I had to do was save it to drafts, then I could copy it and paste it into WordPress. My brain was decidedly clunky and confused, but there was not much more to go now. I pressed to close, and my finger hovered over the two options: ‘save draft?’ / ‘delete draft’?
Horribly, inevitably, I pressed the wrong one. I didn’t even realise I’d done it – I don’t know if I was fully in control of my finger movements at that point. It disappeared. I had deleted it. I sent out a panicked tweet for advice, even though I knew really that I would not be able to get it back.
I thought rationally. It was fresh in my mind. Even though I’d spent ages crafting the sentences and structure, I might be able to reconstruct it if I re-wrote it immediately.
But I knew I couldn’t. My brain had packed up for the day. It felt like most people’s brains do after five solid hours of intense revision for exams, and I knew that it would take hours to recover. That was it for the day. There may be an opportunity to rewrite it tomorrow; I would have to see.
I sighed. There didn’t seem much point dwelling on it. But I felt once more the frustration of this illness.
This is so hard.
Last week, I had a happy afternoon. I had had an unexpectedly emotionally replenishing phone call with a friend, and had been able to rest in bed in the afternoon while Jon took our boy out to play in the garden. Because I’d had some extra resting that day, I was able to come out in the garden, just for half an hour or so.
The sun was shining, the beautiful, hopeful sun of Spring. It felt so good to have sunlight on my skin. I watched my boy toddling proudly round the garden in welly boots. He picked up the (full-size) rake to show me what he had been doing.
“Have you been helping Daddy in the garden?” I asked.
“Yuh.” (It is one of the few words he knows.)
“The sun is amazing. Don’t you just love it when it’s sunny?”
“Can you hear the bird singing? It sounds so pretty.”
(The toddler stage is often said to mirror the teenage stage. I have a feeling that I could be having very similar monosyllablic interactions with him when he is fifteen. Somehow that realisation gave me great pleasure.)
I sat down on the step and waved to him. He came up to me and sat next to me on the step. I pointed to my lap, “Would you like to sit on Mummy’s lap?”
He shook his head. He tapped the step where he sat. He was too grown-up to sit on my lap today. We sat companionably, watching Daddy chop wood. Chatting, hanging out, like we were friends.
I closed my eyes and could feel the joy bubbling up. My heart was full. I was so thankful to God and aware of His goodness.
This – this little vignette – was so idyllic. The phrase ‘thin place’ has been used in Celtic Spirituality to describe those places where it feels like the boundary between the ordinary and the spiritual is blurred and the boundary between the two is not as strong as normal.
It’s those times when you feel like you are breaking through into heaven a little and there are echoes of Narnia all around. It felt like that.
I am so blessed.
I was chatting to a friend on the phone yesterday who asked the usual question: ‘how are you?’
The answer is: ‘This is so hard; I am so blessed.‘
When I was watching my little boy in the garden, I was conscious of how immensely privileged I was to have a house, with a garden, with my amazing husband and child. I found myself wondering – is this what life is like for most people?
You know, ‘others’, ‘the rest of the world’ – the pseudo-mythical ‘normal people’. Is this what life is like all the time for Others who aren’t ill? Is it one long extended idyllic vignette of perfection? I think it can often seem that way when we peek at others’ lives, (especially when we look at them through the rose-tinted lens of Facebook).
But I reasoned, actually, most people’s lives are mostly taken up with Hard – the busy, the demanding, the day-to-day. There are different and varying degrees of hard, but we’re all part of this fallen world and none of us are immune from the effects of it. There is much toil and meaninglessness under the sun (Eccelesiastes, paraphrased).
I think that those special, golden moments where we feel alive and – (there is no better word) joy-ful – are typically infrequent, even for the most privileged of us. Most of the time we toil ‘under the sun’ rather than living life ‘in the sun’.
Is it possible to live life continuously aware of God’s presence, focused on heaven, seeing the spiritual and the real rather than the temporary and toil? I don’t know. It would be nice. Perhaps some Christians do. One day we all will.
For now, I am in the in-between. For now, that is okay.
How is my life? It is full of hardship and blessing. I suspect yours is too.
Over to you:
- Are you more conscious of the Hard at the moment or the Blessing?