It’s amazing when you start getting better after being ill – like coming back to life. I am not completely better yet, but today life feels fresh, promising – worth living. It’s like the sun coming out after endless grey skies or returning home from a strange land. It’s a great feeling – to be glad to be alive, to have renewed hope and purpose, rising energy and potential plans.
‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom’ Ecclesiastes 9v10.
Isn’t that right – those things are what we love about life: working, planning, knowledge and wisdom? And cat pictures on facebook of course, and lurve and a few other things… But that whole sense of purpose and direction and growth is what makes life LIFE and brings joy and meaning to our journeys. I love the differentiation between knowledge and wisdom as well – and isn’t it good to see work in such a positive light rather than a drudge or burden? Good old Eccles (as we call him).
Anyway, you don’t have that when you’re ill… or starving, cold, in physical or mental pain, depressed… Life is ‘not worth living’ then. That is survival – mere existence – what thousands of refugees and famine or flood victims experience, just trying to stay alive and keep their children alive. Those good feelings and well-being really do help with quality of life – the advertising industry certainly knows that. Is that what we live for though? No – there’s more to life than that. It’s not a right it’s a GIFT!
And it is nice to be not so miserable today… still grieving, still waiting, still walking through, nothing’s changed there – but I can get out of bed, potter round the house and watch the world go by outside without my legs giving way and feeling sick. I can ‘do’ today – and over many months and even years I have surely learnt that that is all I need. Plus I have a cat purring on my lap as I type, so I don’t even need facebook 😉
Yesterday I heard the words “I’ve got you” in my head while I was trying to pray. (These days praying is more of a silent groan and keeping quiet. Ha – I used to be a ‘prayer warrior’ – whatever that means!) Anyway, yesterday I wasn’t so well, but the antibiotics were beginning to kick in – I was coughing up the last of the nasty stuff and beginning to be hungry again.
“I’ve got you.”
I definitely like non-religious words. In fact I can’t ‘do’ religious words AT ALL anymore! Argh! It makes my planned ‘daily devotional’ books for the New Year impossible to read! It will have to be new language for a new season then… “I’ve got you” says Jesus to the lost sheep caught in a bush, as He throws her over His shoulders (Luke 15v4). He’s got me like I’ve got this cat… which is not even good English! It just IS.
Good English would be “I have you” by the way. Religious language would be “I am holding you, My child” or “This is when I carried you” 😉 All true, but I would rather hear my Hero grabbing and embracing me in true action-adventure movie language: it’s more REAL. Come to that, this blog post is actually today’s attempt at prayer…
Dark night of the soul – everything stripped away. You can’t rely on the old methods. St John of the Cross said there are 2 purifications that occur to strip us of dependence 1) on exterior results and 2) on interior results. The first makes us disillusioned with the way we used to do things, forms of liturgy and practise, “theological acumen or religious technique” – it’s the loss of control so that we realise we can’t manage God. The second is more painful because it threatens all that we believe in and have given ourselves to – we doubt the inner workings of the Spirit and even God’s goodness and love for us. Apparently through all this God is weaning us off any dependence except himself and producing detachment, perseverance and humility. THIS. Exactly. Plus being quite physically ill over New Year. Hmmm
Which is why working, planning, knowledge and wisdom – having some control and self-determination – are so attractive! But life is a gift and however that comes wrapped I have to know whatever happens tomorrow, He’s “got me”. That’s what matters.
In fact today it’s Epiphany – the day those star-gazing kings finally found the toddler Jesus and recognised who He was. Epiphany is the old word for revelation: it means ‘a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being’.
That’ll do me for today.