Seven short years ago my life was completely different, four of my children were coming to the end of their second year of undergraduate degrees. Now all five have graduated, some of them twice! They are all working, all live away from home.I now have two granddaughters, seven years ago I had one. Life is very different!
Seven years ago I was coming to the end of working as a Community Outreach worker in Downham Market in Norfolk. Now I am an ordained Methodist Minister, have moved twice and am preparing to move again. Life is very different!
Seven years ago I was married, now I am not…. enough said. Life is very different!
Seven years ago my mum was alive, now she is not, she died shortly after my first move, and I still miss her. Life is very different!
Seven years , somehow in those seven years I managed to complete a Masters Degree, to learn that I can paint ( well enough for people to buy my paintings!), to learn that I am a half decent photographer and have a few photo’s published. I have also questioned myself deeply and am learning all over again who I am. Life is very different.
I like myself more than I did seven years ago, I have more patience with my faults and flaws and am less likely to wear a mask to hide them from others and even from myself.
I also question myself more than I did seven years ago; I wrote recently about my discovery that I did not like mushrooms, a bit of a crazy discovery that led to me asking a number of other questions of myself. Those questions will and should be ongoing, maybe not about eating habits so much, but the courage to examine our actions and reactions to life can be very revealing.
Seven years of change, seven years of finding and losing, of changes and challenges, of pain and tears, and of great joy and rejoicing, graduations, a wedding, a birth, an ordination, and new relationships formed, have sat alongside funerals, challenges, divorces, and old relationships broken… moving home, and moving home, and now moving home again, it seems quite a lot for seven years to hold! Some things that I wanted desparetly to hold together have fallen apart while other things have fallen into place.
I have known myself held, even in the depths of darkness where my prayers were silent ( and better for the silence), echoing with the wisdom that was taught to me what seems a lifetime ago through the words of this Psalm:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103: 1-5
That wisdom was to turn to God, to come through the questions and doubts that batter our souls and to say “even though” these things have happened yet I will praise you, to live a life of if only’s and regrets will hold you back in bitterness and wallowing. It is not an easy choice to make, especially when the bitterness and struggle to forgive have felt like the highest mountain to climb, but turning to another Psalm I have known that even in the depths he (God) has been there, and has waited with me until I am ready to begin climbing again.
Seven years, seven years of learning and growing through life that I could never have gained from a thousand books! So I am moving on again, and as I do I am content to live with questions, with uncertainty, with things unresolved and unsolved…
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”― Rainer Maria Rilke