We could argue whether this is lockdown 2 or 3 but for us in the world of small children at home it’s lockdown 2 for sure. The weird fake lockdown that happened in November just doesn’t count, I could still sit on my sofa and read without a small boy trying to sit on my face. That aside. Here we are, one more week to go until Half Term (an arbitrary maker point in the sand, nothing will change around here other than our collective guilt at failing to do any school work will go down a notch or two).
I’m sitting in our shed typing away with the lovely Binface (search for Binface in previous blogposts from the last 15 years if you want to know who she is and why she’s called Binface) in a zoom box in the corner of my screen as I type. We’re doing this thing where we write together and it feels less lonely and more actual writing takes place. I would like to do it again soon. It makes me write rather than search facebook constantly, I mean she probably wouldn’t know if I was searching facebook but then again maybe deep down she would. Maybe. Anyway, it’s reassuring to know she’s there trying to write whilst I sit here trying to write.
Husbandface sent me this quote the other day from the wonderful Mary Oliver:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
Those words felt like a big hello to the writer in me who never quite gets enough time to play on this screen. I read Midnight Library recently by Matt Haig and was struck by how few regrets I think I have so far in life. But if life goes on much further without me having sat down and tried to write more, express what I think I have in me, to give it a go, I think I might have a massive regret in a few years time. So here I am.
Obviously I’m right now writing a blog post but I think that’s all part of the process, I’ve written other stuff in our time together this afternoon and I think I have a next step in my project to tap into next time I sit down and write. But I also wanted to write without thinking too much about it, which I think is a part of my blog post process. Here lies the writing that comes easy rather than the stuff I dig deep for and refine. Both are good, but the easy stuff feels like a good win for this first foray into actually intentionally sitting down to write, rather than feeling the wave catching me and grabbing a moment to tap on my screen or laptop.
Self analysis of why I’m in a cold shed on a Saturday afternoon over.
Lockdown life eh. Well it’s much the same as when I last wrote, except we are more tired, more fed up of this blergh landscape, of the endless grey. The questions of when will this be over loom loud. We know hope is on the horizon, the sun will shine again, the Spring is coming, the great cycle of flowers has begun again with snowdrops all over the place. But still. It’s hard and relentless and a big old slippy walk in the mud on a grey misty day.
Honestly, that’s about all I’ve got.
The biggest bright spot in my week is, as usual, my spiritual direction course. Each Wednesday I slump into the shed, lock the door with a huge sigh of relief and sigh. Each Wednesday I am drawn back into the reality of love that will not let me go, into depth and into reminders of the One whose love goes deeper than the deepest crap of this world.
This week we had to write a poem based around the hinge point of the phrase ‘And Yet…’ To write down our worlds without covering over the cracks but then to write ‘and yet’ and see what came out of that about the reality of God in our lives. I groaned a little inwardly, fearing it would be trite, a forcing of the nice neat bow on the end of the story, especially when I felt more in a Psalm 88 place. Then I grudgingly remembered that more often than not the Psalms end in these places of reminders and hope. They end in the- but I know this of you God or they remind us of the character of God, or they scream come on and show up already because you love us God.
For me it turned into a powerful exercise in reminding myself that the reality of God always goes deeper than the darkest deep, that even in the most extreme horrid there is always an ‘and yet’. Even if those are the only words on the page. Even if those are the only words we are able to write. We wait for our ‘and yet’ and maybe in the waiting we are somehow finding it. Psalm 88 doesn’t end with any nice joy at the reality of God but the fact it is expressed to God provides it’s own ‘and yet’.
Here is my slightly raw edged rant with the ‘And Yet’.
Weighted heavy thoughts
trudging through the mist.
Scared I’m messing those boys up
Scared at my anger, rage,
frustration at this
relentless long bleak walk
Where is there hope? How can I keep going?
How long will this take?
Will we be able to repair and repair after so much rupture?
Questions I throw at your feet in anger
Questions I sob through the night.
Questions I shout into the resounding dark.
Questions I can’t be bothered to ask any more.
The relentlessness of this slog
is matched by
your relentless love, perseverance, grace
when all is gone of me again.
Your relentless patient endurance, presence
the bedrock at the bottom
the damp-proof liner in these walls
the safety net, the catch me when I fall,
that will not
let me go.
And to some it will still sound trite, but on Wednesday night it made a whole lot of difference and gave me some strength to keep on walking.