I don’t know about you, but some days I wake up and the feeling about the day ahead is not good. Okay some days are like that because you know it is set to be a difficult day. However, other days my sense of self worth is at an all time low; I simply know I am useless; my creativity has flown away again, somewhere up into the sky, like some demented falcon on weed threatening never to return. These thoughts are not fruitful. I have certain things I do before I allow myself to think any further.
1. Exercise – preferably outdoors
I live near a park where I power-walk and jog. I’m not good at this, however I do it. I want my body to work. Somebody said and I heard and remembered, “If I knew how long I was going to live I would’ve taken better care of myself”. It resonated with me. I am trying to take care of myself physically so that I have every chance of functioning well. I like the green space, the birds, the squirrels, the sun beginning to rise at the end of the park illuminating the mist that carpets the ground, the still visible moon, the cold on my face, the nods from the regulars with their dogs. This is my patch, this is where I belong, I am rooted in something bigger than me.
Breakfast is an important meal for me. I look forward to it. I do my exercise with the knowledge that after the shower, the dressing, the make-up, that breakfast and real coffee will be the order of the day. On a bad day I still refrain from thinking until I’ve eaten because I know, I just know by the end of this routine, I will feel better.
I like to read. I like to reflect. I like to think about others and pray for them. It brings perspective and hope. I want to be a lover of others, a contributor to good, not a black hole desperate for others to fill it.
I love to work whatever it might be that day. I love to try to be creative in all I do. I want to give the best that I can give. I wish often that I could give more, but I have finally come to terms with the fact I can only give what I can. I can be no more than myself.
This is what reflection brings me, the knowledge that it is a privilege to have others to love. I think we were all born to love, but it gets mixed up with filling up ourselves rather than realizing it is in giving ourselves away that then we will receive so much. I know that sometimes I want too much just for me, and I fail to remember that loving others is that which ultimately fulfills and brings contentment.
We are not made to be alone, we are creatures of community and if we find ourselves simply wanting to fill ourselves up, without thought of others, we will ultimately find ourselves alone.
WHOM DO WE TOUCH?
Whom do we touch?
Who touches us?
My mother-in-law is called Joyce. She died on Boxing Day this year. I’m ashamed to say that if you had asked me to describe her life in one word, I would have said it was ‘little’. She lived in Bradford all her life and hardly travelled. She never learnt to drive, never wrestled with a computer, failed to master the mobile phone.
Yet she was the only one in her family to continue her education beyond school. She went to Cheltenham to study to become a primary school teacher and she loved it.
She also loved Albert.
She first saw Albert when he was a young man with a collection plate in Bradford Cathedral. She saw him and his huge grin and decided that she was going to marry him.
She did. They waited until he had finished his theological training to become a vicar and then they married. It poured with rain, but their wedding picture is one of the happiest I have ever seen. Their joy was obvious and to be shared with all.
Nine months later she gave birth to Stephen, my husband and three years later David.
Nearly seven years after they married he was dead. Killed by a drunk driver. So her life changed forever as did that of my husband’s and his brother. She went back to work and taught until retirement. A lovely Christian lady who adored the multi-cultural, multi-faith children that she taught accepting each and every one as she found them.
She is remembered by many.
At the celebration of her life I was shocked to see by how many. She was 80 years old when she died and some of her contemporaries were there to remember her with affection. But there were others from all walks of life: her hairdresser, several clerics whose vision for their path came from her faith, school colleagues, and her grandchildren who spoke so well of her kindness and generosity.
No life is small.
Our lives touch many lives and yet often that can be unthinking, uncaring, unloving. It has made me stop and re-evaluate every interaction.
Acceptance, love, joy, interest, laughter, value these are things I would want to catch, but also to give away.