Something will be returned to us
This morning I found myself washing soap. I dropped A Soap down the loo, you see - a clean, flushed loo. And, as soap is supposedly in short supply at the moment, and it was too big to flush anyway, I thought I’d better retrieve it.
And then I thought, I’ll need to wash it now, and my head came quite close to exploding. It was like typing google into google. So I squirted anti-bacterial soap onto my bar of soap and lathered it up a bit a rinsed it off and thought to myself: I don’t think my day is going to come back from this. It’s official, the world and I have all gone mad.
I actually had a taste of the apocalypse a few weeks ago. I was watching a really, really scary episode of Doctor Who, one with a big scary dark house and ghosts and skeletons and perception filters and all sorts, and right at the scariest, screamiest part... there was a power cut.
Dear reader, I am not going to claim I did my best parenting at this point. I didn’t do very well at ‘modeling calm’ for a good few moments. Then I got myself together and was actually quite the Jodie Whittaker in my tone, saying “children: put on every device you can find to give us some light, so that mummy can find her glass of wine and think what to do next.” But
Meanwhile I was secretly thinking, wow, have we really slipped into another dimension? What if this is a perception filter? Or is this in fact the apocalypse? So I relaxed all the rules and got the chocolates out and we all behaved accordingly. As in that old ‘this is the end of days lets get that Milk Tray eaten’ kind of way.
And now, at the time of writing at least, we are all modeling calm aren’t we? Well actually, I think the thing about modeling calm is that there is an element of fake it till you make it. You start of by pretending to be brave for your kids and then you realise after a bit that you genuinely are brave.
A new normal establishes itself and you find out you were tougher than you thought after all. As long as you do the things, the boring, grown-up, looking after yourself things. The exercise, the healthy eating, the rest and prayer, the talking and looking at the daffodils, and all the other things that get us back on track when the sky seems to go black.
You see there is a steadfast spirit in all of us if we allow it to be there. We are not alone, at least not in the Doctor Who sense. Because a life-giving spirit supports us that always bubbles up eventually.
Not that there won’t be real, real, darkness. Those moments will come. And there will be anger and pain and fear and awful, awful frustration and boredom. Horrible feelings that we will fight and thrash about with until they become too much to fight, and then we just damn well feel it all and when we have felt it we will very slowly let it go.
Then (and we now know there is no time frame on this) once we have let go, someone else’s strength will uphold us. Something life-giving will emerge in us again, and things will be beautiful in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Pain still there, darkness still there, but sweetness too, and peace. Peace will always come.
Slowly. We are all going to have to get really, really used to whatever happens happening slowly. A very wise man told me a handy shipping metaphor a few weeks ago, which has been helping me with that. So I am going to share it with you now, I can tell you are all itching for a handy shipping metaphor.
Apparently, when a boat is sailing through a bad storm, it is one person’s job to just keep watching the front of the boat to see how much water is collecting on the front each time the bow dips beneath the waves.
He (we are assuming it’s a he, sorry, but do add your own pronoun of choice) is looking for green water, that is, he is watching for the point when there is more water gathering on the bow which is not draining away.
This is a critical point, because then the bow will become too heavy, and dip deeper and deeper each time. The boat will be overwhelmed. And so, at this point, the boat must turn and face the wind, and proceed very, very slowly. That is, it will actually use the force of the storm to slow itself right down and not become overwhelmed.
Its good that, isn’t it?
I told you he was a wise man. So, to summarise, you know what you have to do. Don’t drop your soap down the loo, eat all the Milk Tray and muddle on. But watch carefully for signs of overwhelm, and when that moment comes, face the storm, face the wind and pain and all the feelings, and proceed very, very slowly.
Sally Fraser finds herself in a power cut with Doctor Who and some Milk Tray
You can’t say you weren’t warned guys