We have a heat wave here in the UK and that’s just fabulous. The sky is amazingly heart-piercingly blue. OK, not ‘heart piercingly’ but so pure and blue and deep and wide that it brings tears to your eyes. So beautiful.
But we can’t see the sky from our house, or only a small patch of it. And there’s nowhere to sit outside in the sun, and indoors it’s cool and darkish, which is lovely when you first come in from the sun but not so great if you’re there all day while the sun is cracking the tarmac.
This morning I paddled in the sea for two whole hours and it was wonderful, but I was home by 8 with the long day indoors stretching ahead. I can’t go for the meandering walk I long for because my back won’t let me, I can only amble very slowly and when my back ‘goes out’ I have to stop and bend down until the spine rights itself. Or sit down. And you can’t do that walking on the pavements and roads. So here I am, stranded. Scuppered.
Mid afternoon I could stand it no longer, I grabbed my granddaughter by her ear and like an ancient old couple we set off for a drive. We drove past Fred and Freda’s house, and saw them in the garden. Past Bert and Bertha’s house and admired their sea view, past Pat and Patricia’s house and admired their decking, past Simon and Simone’s and wondered how long it took to cut that huge lawn, past Dave and Davina’s and remarked on the length of their drive…. and you know what? I was beginning to feel really hard-done- to. All these people with all these gardens, all that space and sky and sunshine… and all we could do was drive past. We headed towards Mwnt to sit on the cliff top and gaze at the sea, hoping for dolphins, but the road was closed (Covid, I think) and so we chuntered on to Aberporth but there the car parks were also closed, and with double yellow lines everywhere we couldn’t even stop. I was feeling a bit miffed with life by then. I started to enjoy a quiet seethe.
“I’m stuck here,” I said to God, “for another blinkin’ year, and no one cares a damn. Including you.” I may even have had a little thought about George being dead for, like, a hundred years and everyone else, truly everyone else in the whole damn world, married. I don’t see the point of saying the ‘right’ things to him, if my heart says something else. I told God that it was never meant to be like this, life and stuff. I think by now my thoughts were tumbling and incoherent even to me. I asked him if he remembered my lovely plans for a garden when I moved into my current house. Everyone else I can think of has one….. well, apart from a friend in a London flat and she’s got flipping London on her doorstep and over there they’re free to move around and meet and greet and visit and everything…. but me, I’m here in Welsh Wales (“where, incidentally, Lord, I never intended to live at all”) and I’m stuck, aren’t I? Proper bloomin’ stuck. And then .. and then…. and then….. I had a serious , first time ever thought…. is this what it is to covet?
Am I coveting my neighbour’s gardens? Their company? Their lives?
I think I am.
So I smiled at myself (because I know God was smiling too) and kicked myself (because he wouldn’t) and said sorry, and admitted (silently) that I had never before thought that I had any weakness in the area of coveting. Never! I don’t like owning things, I don’t hanker after success, I just don’t have the knack of holding onto money or stuff and nor do I want to. If you have a six bedroom house .. so what? So did I once, and that went the way of everything else. And you can live in only one room at a time, sleep in one room at a time. And success is crap. So is money. And I don’t want posh holidays. And I’ve had fast cars and I’m over it. And I always knew they were just nonsense trappings anyway. Give it away, I say… give it away! So I have never had a problem with coveting. But this afternoon… boy! I was covetous to the power of ten (whatever that means). And I felt alone and washed up and friendless. Really really, no, really sorry for myself.
Here’s the funny thing. Trying not to show my granddaughter how utterly pissed off I was, I was making all sorts of flat conversational segways. One of them was “Do you know what I’d really like now? I’d really really like a Mr Whippy ice-cream.” and warming to my theme I went on “You’d think, with cafes closed, that ice-cream vans would make a killing in Covid, especially on a day like this. But you never see ice cream vans these days, do you? Maybe there aren’t any left. It’s years since I saw…. “
And I kid you not, at that very moment, as a tractor turned off in front of me, there, in a lay-by…. Mr Whippy!
It was more than I deserved. Far far more. But I really enjoyed that ice cream. It must be about ten years since I had a 99.
So. I may be sour and human and flawed and full of self, but God knew just what I needed and he had pity on me.
I ain’t a preacher but I’m telling you now, as one who knows; don’t covet. It takes the colour out of the day.
And I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to moan about. This is the photo I took this morning, as I paddled. The sea was a long way out, and we were all alone with the blue blue sky and our great great God. You know, the God who gives ice cream to spoilt brats.