Tag Archives: silence

Miraculous recovery?

25 Mar

It’s been quite a while since I wrote on here. I have surprised myself with my silence. The truth is – the quiet has been a combination of two facts-of-life: 1. Busyness 2. Complete dearth of inspiration.

Work has been busy – for which I am deeply grateful. Life as a freelancer is constantly unpredictable and I am very happy to have an influx of work, which will keep me busy and out of trouble for a few weeks.

Mostly – and this I suspect is the “real” reason – I just haven’t felt inspired. Haven’t known what to write about. Haven’t felt that I had anything to say. Fleeting thoughts have crossed my mind but nothing has taken root.

Until today.

This morning, I went to church. It was a lovely service. On the whole. A guest speaker and lots of happy faces. All was going swimmingly. And then the preacher mentioned Muamba. Muamba – the man who “died” (technically for 78 minutes) on a football pitch last week, and is now alive. Muamba – the sudden object of the nation’s prayers (or at least, the prayers of those on Twitter). Muamba – the “miracle”.

I must confess, however, that I did not join in with the Twitterati #prayformuamba – although I do pray quite often myself. I didn’t get overexcited about this seeming “answer to prayer”, this “miracle” – and it may well be one (or both) or these.

I couldn’t. I am not a cynic. Nor a pessimist. Quite the opposite in fact.

For me though, jumping on this bandwagon would have meant quelling the difficult questions, the deep agonising, soul-wrenching questions about unanswered prayer.

I have friends longing for a baby, who have prayed again and again for a baby, and who remain childless. And devastated.

I have experienced the darkness of  unanswered prayer in my own life. Where there are no answers to the question “why?”, no “happy endings”.

I am not the only one.

And this morning, I watched a young girl fall apart as the preacher ecstatically exclaimed the miracle of Muamba and the amazing answered prayers witnessed. She fell apart, devastated, because three years ago, she prayed – again and again – that her mum would be healed from cancer. And she wasn’t. Aged 14, she lost her mum. And now she struggles to believe in the God who didn’t hear her prayer.

For her, talk of the Muamba miracle only rubbed salt into the wound. Only compounded her question “why?” and her sense of God’s abandonment and lack of care.

Her pain – so visible and raw – was almost too much to witness. I love this girl deeply. I know how much she misses her Mum. Every day. And like everyone else, I don’t have an answer, a satisfying response.

Does this mean I don’t pray? No. Not at all. I continue to pray even when my prayers aren’t answered. At times like these, my prayers may not be very eloquent or “nice”. More rant-y and raving. At other times, more silent than spoken. At others, there are only tears.

I do believe in prayer. But I don’t like jumping on a bandwagon. A bandwagon that seems to create more questions than answers, more pain (for some) than comfort.

Is Muamba’s life a miracle? Maybe. But let’s not shove that in the face of the hurting and grieving, for like salt rubbed in a wound, the pain created runs too deep for words.

Lost for words (sitting in the pain)

9 Feb

It’s s been a bit quiet of late. I’ve been a bit quiet, a bit lost for words. Trying to make sense of how I feel, confused by the complexity of my thoughts and struggling to navigate my way through the maze of ‘me’. Usually I find that writing helps me to make sense, to find sense in confusion and ambiguity, but this time I have found myself lost for words. Unable to find the words that will articulate and bring peace.

As I’ve been reflecting on the last few weeks, one thing I have realised is that much has been taken away. And there remains a chasm yet to be filled. The last few months have brought much change for my husband and I. Some of the transitions have been brilliant, others less so. Much of it has felt painful, yet sprinkled with hope and adventure. The reality is though that, mid-change, I feel lost somehow. Not sure where I ‘fit’ anymore, not sure where I belong. Uncertainty about the future exacerbates the feelings of temporality and insecurity.

During this time, I have been learning some important lessons. I have been learning to accept pain and to resist the temptation to escape it as quickly as possible. Our quick-fix culture – of ‘instant’ painkillers, instant credit, instant online purchases and interaction – encourages us away from pain and into a comfortable (yet possibly bland?) way of life. We learn to run quickly into these narcotics – into the warm arms of shopping/alcohol/cigarettes/exercise/starvation/co-dependent relationships/isolation/online escapism. I have started to recognise my escape routes. And their futility. The thing is – we become so used to numbing our pain in these ways that we no longer recognise our behaviour as anything other than ‘normal’. Everyone else does it – why wouldn’t I?

This morning, I read these wise words from Richard Rohr: “We must be taught how to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of pain before we have learned what it has to teach us.”

I feel challenged by this thought – that staying in pain may be the right choice, not wallowing but resting. Staying still rather than running away. Waiting rather than escaping. Dare I wait? In the pain? Is this how we find the healing we long for?

Keeping going

11 Jan

It’s January – dark mornings, cold days, dark a lot of the time, and most of us have the post-Christmas bank balance problem. I don’t know about you but I don’t like January. The Christmas break is over. Summer feels a long way away. And New Years resolutions tend to get broken, leaving us feeling weak and ill-disciplined on top of everything else!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep going, to keep on getting up in the mornings, to stay full of the joys of life. I have found January particularly difficult so far in 2012. I’ve longed to hibernate. Either that or relocate to a land of sunshine, beaches and cocktails! The January blues have hit me hard. And I know I am not the only one. But what is it like to struggle with depression and hopelessness in a more sustained and serious way? Mental health issues continue to be mostly taboo in our culture – a culture that doesn’t like to talk about the minefield of unseen health problems.

I think we need to talk about it. I have struggled with depression. I have been through burnout. I tend to feel particularly low at a certain point in the month (sorry boys!) and sometimes this hits me so hard that getting out of bed feels as hard as getting to the top of Everest. I feel listless, lethargic, bleak. I feel as though I am walking around under a cloud – a black cloud that will not leave me alone. I have mostly learnt to get through these times – to listen to my body. And so sometimes I give in and stay in bed; others I get up and fight it. Sometimes I just sit and cry; others I sit and write. Sometimes it defeats me; others I feel like I might be winning.

It is definitely not “in my control”, and probably never will be. But I am learning to navigate the uncertainties more confidently than I used to. I am learning to be able to talk about it too. At first I hid it from all (except my husband). Now I want to be able to talk about it more openly – although I still find that difficult. I am naturally quite a private person – but I feel strongly that keeping this in the dark only makes it feel more overwhelming.

This morning, the cricketer Freddie Flintoff was on Radio 4’s Today programme talking about a programme on BBC1 tonight about depression within sport. You can read about it here

I think this will definitely be worth watching – breaking taboos about depression within the sporting field is long overdue. Maybe it will help others, whether into sport or not, to talk about their struggles too. Depression is not glamorous. It is horrible. And I think it is still widely misunderstood too – sufferers cannot simply “snap out of it”. They have not “brought it on themselves”. As Freddie says – anyone can suffer from depression (and other mental health problems). Depression does not discriminate – you can be rich, famous, successful, happily married and with beautiful children, yet still get sideswiped by this condition. I know, I have been there.

Right now, I am just going to keep going. I am going to be kind to myself. I am going to try to do things that help – like exercise and eating well. I am also going to make sure I talk about it more too. I think depression is like a spectrum and I find myself at different points of the spectrum at different times. Don’t we all?

Maybe one of my resolutions for this year should be to  talk about this more. For the taboos will only be broken if we play our part in breaking them.

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