Not all beer and skittles.

This is just going to be a ramble because I have no one to talk to so you’ll do. I didn’t mean that to sound quite so rude. You’ll more than do. You’re perfect.

This morning I found myself singing a daft little song to the dogs as we walked on the beach, and one of my fellow dog-walkers turned, hearing me, and spread her arms wide to the sky, a gesture of happiness. No words were needed, we shared that magic moment and it was great. Where did that unexpected dollop of unalloyed joy come from? My life at the moment doesn’t look, from the outside, like it’s all beer and skittles, so what’s going on? I’ll tell you what’s going on – I’m struggling. Occasionally really struggling. And then I’m soaring, really soaring. I’m two different people just now; happy and expectant as I step into my next adventure, not knowing what it will be, where I will go, how I will live. That’s the me who knows peace and certainty that God is working all things to the good. Then comes another me, and this me doesn’t want to leave my lovely beach, my good and loving friends, this funny house with its high ceilings and good neighbours. Sometimes I think I’m praying but then I realise that I’ve been distracted for a while, slipping away from prayer into fear about going into an unknown future alone, starting all over again, walking into a town I don’t know, friendless. That’s when my prayer turns to a sort of strangulated “What the hell am I doing?”

This is a huge moment of change; not only am I moving on to (literally) God knows where, but my granddaughter who has lived with me for three years is also moving on, to Uni, and in the same month very dear friends are returning to Canada. Each of these changes is completely independent of the others, I knew I was moving before I knew about the Uni, before I knew about the Canada move…. it brings an acute awareness of the earth shifting beneath my feet…. I walk towards August 2021 with that expectant but unsettled feeling of walking towards a roller coaster… will I dare to get on it? Won’t I? Should I? Will it be thrilling or will I be sick as we hurtle earthwards? Watch this space.

It’s very easy to feel alone and totally insignificant and never more so than when you’re a tiny speck in God’s grandeur, aware of the height of the sky, the depth of the ocean, the vastness of space.

This morning

And when we’re in ‘tiny speck’ mode we can easily become overwhelmed. Some overwhlemings are great, fabulous, full of grace. To be overwhelmed by God is just the best experience, but to be overwhelmed by loss and grief is a different kettle of fish. One morning last week it suddenly seemed too much to deal with on my own, and I came off the beach drained and weary, defeated by the too many unknowns in my life. To be heading towards my 73rd birthday with no security in the world, no partner, no family life, no obvious purpose, facing a lonely old age, that was hard and my thoughts were racing and a bit (!) fearful.

Oh, boo hoo…. boo blinkin’ hoo…… I am so sorry for myself…boooo hooo. Gosh, it’s miserable being miserable. Can’t stay there for long.

I know when I’m on a bad track of thought and we’re told

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’

I knew where to look for the excellent and praiseworthy… so I piled the dogs into the car and went to the Bible app on my phone because I wasn’t, at that moment, even up to starting the engine and driving home. Flattened. I turned to the ‘red letter words’, the words of Jesus Christ, starting with the Sermon on the Mount, in Luke, knowing that I had to make to make a real connection with the God of love, but before I could find that section, as I sat there, fighting tears, feeling so alone, my eyes focussed on these words,

Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother,
and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’

Of all the verses in the Bible…. just when I couldn’t hold back the tears, just when the enormity of everything I was losing seemed too much and the void I was stepping into seemed too wide… ‘his heart went out to her’. I knew his heart at that moment. And I wasn’t alone.

I knew his comfort. Even in the darkest hour, there is joy and comfort in Jesus. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

He has overcome the world. He is in control. Him, not little old me, with all my plans and bright ideas. Not this tiny speck in a vast universe. I can’t even add one day to my life, or by force of will change the colour of one hair on my head. What a waste of time to fret, and scheme and doubt about the unknowable future. And what a miserable way of life that would be. Why would any sane person choose that when joy and peace are waiting?

So then, aware of God with me, there in that scruffy old car, I sniffed away the snot and wiped away the tears and engaged gear….. he has overcome the world. It’s done already. Don’t let appearances fool you.

Here- do you want to have a little smile? You’ll have to concentrate… it’s a moment caught on camera before the lack-lustre England/Scotland Euro game…. look for the bearded guy with glasses and a tam o’ shanter…. he goes down like a domino, taking the next chap with him. I wonder how much of the game he remembers? My bet? Not a lot.

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