It’s been 10 days since I last posted a blog. I think it might be longer until my next one.
When I was a 15 year old convent schoolgirl I had my first job in Harris Sausage factory in Calne. I loved it! When I left school I became a Military Police Woman (loved it, no good at it but had a great time) , then a nurse (loved it, quite good at it), and in between house moves, responding to the needs of the family, I also did brief stints as a lifeguard at the local swimming pool (loved it, really really loved it, in the water at every excuse, saved people when they didn’t need saving etc) , I assisted at a nursery school (loved the children, was OK, quite good at making sandwiches) , and I was also, for a while, a clerk in a paper mill (loved it, had a great boss, good parties) but mostly I was a nurse (a proper grown up! Amazing fact) . Then I spent 35 years as a writer (parson’s egg). Then a very brief and stuttering (on/off) stint as admin at my church. Now I am…. none of the above.
It’s weird being a none of the above. Recently I was asked to witness a signature and part of the requirement was that I should be a JP or Solicitor or an MP or … the list went on. I was none of those things either, but by the time we saw the list it was too late, I’d signed. So we added an apologetic gesture – MBE, HonDUniv. Wonder if it’ll fool them? Doubt it, somehow.
Of all of those jobs, which did I enjoy the most? Well, writing. But a very close second comes the Summer I spent in that old sausage factory. I loved the people, the hum and thump of the machinery, the laughter and the teasing. I remember the work bus in the early mornings, so thick with ciggie smoke that you couldn’t see from end to the other, windows running with condensation, the banter and the nonsense. I loved learning to mouth silent shouts across the noisy factory floor and to lip read the answers. I loved making new friends who weren’t religious and convent and respectable. I loved living as me for 8 hours every day that summer. I think I was born to be a factory girl. Tell me what to do, where to stand, and give me a simple task, and I am truly, truly happy.
Now I can live as me every day. But I don’t know how to. I’ve lost me. I have no idea who I am. Absolutely no idea. The last five years have stripped me of who I was, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone stepping into the vacant space.
Last week I read the words of Blaise Pascal, writing of man’s desire to find happiness without faith, Pascal wrote:
What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.
So, Blaise, this strange emotion, this emptiness, is what I’m experiencing now your ‘infinite abyss’? And will it be filled only by God Himself? But what if God has created that infinite abyss? What if He’s slowly and surely taken away everything, everything, by which I know myself so that even I don’t recognise me any more?
Don’t think, dear reader, that what I have now is better than what I had then. It is poorer, colder, emptier. So, what to do?
What to do?
I don’t know.
All I know is that I never want to return to the worldly ‘happiness’ I once knew.
Ah. Maybe I get it. Maybe I’m beginning to get it… He has taken away everything in order that I will turn to Him.
But will I? Can I? Do I happily leave behind my me-ness and turn to Other?
We’ll see. Check in later, in a few weeks maybe, or months.