Shrieks In The Night

As I start writing this it is 3.20am. The storm is raging outside, and a piercingly painful shrill alarm is sounding all through this little house. The rain has entered into the roof, dripping through the ceiling and it’s short-circuiting a fire alarm. I’ve tried everything I can think of… which was only one thing… I turned off the mains electricity, and it made no difference. The shrieks continued. So, the power is back on and the dogs are in a right old state.

That paragraph was written an hour ago. I’ve discovered how to turn off the shrieks, at least for a moment or two. You don’t quite understand what the term ‘ear-splitting’ means until you’ve spent an hour standing under a high ceiling with a broom handle extended above your head, pressing the ‘off’ switch on a fire alarm, with three dogs barking at the noise and running scared, and a grandchild trying to sleep a few feet away.

My poor granddaughter! She arrived today for a week with her Nana… that’ll learn her!

Anyway, anyway, as my sailor brother was wont to say “Worse things happen at sea”. When it’s light we’ll see what the damage is, probably a few loose tiles , and I’ll ask someone to disable the stupid damn alarm. If it’s anything worse, well, it’s something worse. So what? I’m on my second cup of coffee, fully dressed, I’ve read a chapter of Romans (should have been Lamentations, or the account of the Flood) and I’m wondering if I really need a slice of toast. I think I probably do.

If this had happened two years ago, I’d have been in a right old state. As it is, it’s fine. Annoying, but fine. Each time it screams now I run into the hall and hoist my broom. My Doctor said to me a little while ago “You’re not the worrying sort , are you?” And I’m not. But I need to communicate in order not to feel entirely alone. And so, a blog! I wonder if my first thought in a fire would be “Ooh, must remember to put this in a blog.”

We need communication, fellowship, even the pretend fellowship, the pseudo-companionship of a blog. I write, therefore, I am not alone. When my husband died, so shockingly and suddenly, my agent (also my dear friend) asked me “Have you kept notes?” I hadn’t, and I think I probably swore at her quite a lot for even suggesting it, but she had a point. Writers don’t take days off.

Hey, following on from my last blog; I’ve been thinking about miracles. Particularly what Jesus said about signs and miracles. He said that unless ‘this generation’ (us) see signs and miracles, we don’t believe. He knew that we see them every day, every second, but we don’t recognise them. We don’t appreciate that every second of every life is the gift of God alone. We are the miracles. That sentient life exists on this lump of spinning earth in the vast expanse of the Cosmos is a miracle. That the God who created us did so in love, is a miracle. That his love is so great that he has joined us, shared our pain and vulnerability and loss is a miracle. And that he calls us, that’s the greatest miracle of all.

And that we long to be with him, to know him better, to reach up in all our frailty , to him…. that’s the greatest gift. This longing, this need, this passion. His greatest, greatest gift.

A few days ago I had a late lunch of bread and olives and cheese and for once I was really hungry. We are so rarely hungry in this Western culture, but when we are, everything tastes so wonderful, flavours deeper, textures richer, gratitude greater. I thought about Jesus the man, walking all day , preaching, pursued by crowds, surrounded by devoted but squabbling followers, living so simply, and I hoped that there were real moments of joy for him in his life as one of us. It made me pour a small glass of wine as a sort of personal communion. A tiny glass of wine – or I’d be semi comatose all afternoon. As I ate, I thought that maybe this was a meal Jesus used to eat, olives and bread and cheese, and I hoped that he had moments of simple human happiness, laughter and fondness as he listened to his follower. I hope that Jesus the man knew affection as well as his own deep love. I hope that when he rested, he was fully at peace. I love to think of Jesus laughing. My God.

Right. It’s 5am now. The rain has eased off, the alarm hasn’t sounded for about half an hour, the dogs are still wary but less fearful. Time for another coffee.

Wherever you are, East or West, North or South, just know that God is with you. He goes before you, he is behind you, he is above you, he is below you, he is for you, not against you. He loves you. Even in the middle of the night, in a storm, when you’re alone, and don’t know what to do, he is with you.

No need to be afraid of the shrieks, the fears and the confusion of the night. God is with you.

**Update. 10am. A pal is walking the dogs, it’s stopped raining for a while, I’m feeling a bit nauseous and light headed after such a disturbed night, but there are two men on my roof and they seem to have found the problem. Nothing major. Deo gratias.

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