Spring is here - milder weather, blue sky (howling arctic gale, but we'll overlook that), crocuses and daffodils coming up, little tiny bits of green on the trees and hedges. It's almost time to plant tomato seeds and put them on the kitchen windowsill and forget to water them, and the children are wanting to go outside to play again even though the garden is muddy. Because the garden is muddy.
It's usually the time of year that really energises me; makes me feel hopeful and optimistic (within the parameters of my characteristic pessimism, I mean) and generally cheers me up. This year it's not happening.
I stood outside Elizabeth's school today being buffeted by an icy wind (why does her class always come out last whenever it's cold or raining?) and contemplated how not happening my Springness was this year. I could see the daffodils they'd planted along the side of the classrooms and the crocuses in neighbouring gardens and little bright green things on some bushes, and it was sunny and yet I just felt like waking up from hibernation, opening one eye and then closing it again and deciding to give it another month or so.
This time last year I'd already cleaned the greenhouse and organised the plant pots and had smiled a lot more and written about how wonderful it was to see clothes drying on the clothes line again after a winter in the tumble dryer.
Why am I so apathetic? I put it down to three things:
1. I am definitely not a picture of health at the moment. I've got a season ticket to the GP, who smilingly informed me that I was 'chronically viral' the other day and this very morning added encouragingly that my immune system must be pretty much knackered (as you know, that wasn't the word he used. His was slightly less polite, to my surprise). I am at present attacking three separate ailments with antibiotics and I ran out of paracetamol the other day - and you know how obsessive I am about having crates of painkillers ready for every eventuality.
2. I have given up Facebook for Lent. This might sound trivial and somewhat frivolous, but I am definitely missing the company and support of my online mates. Today I would have posted that I'm not a happy bunny, and they would have doubtless been supportive and sympathetic and encouraging and made me feel loved. Hmmph.
3. Something else.
I feel as if things are going wrong for me. One thing after another is breaking, crumbling, aching, becoming troublesome. Is this the co-incidence thing that we've talked about recently? The more I step out in faith, the more difficult things get? The more I try to do for you - the more excited I feel about my walk with you, the more I find obstacles in front of me? Maybe my giving up my prodigious Facebook habit in order to concentrate more on you is making (ahem) The Enemy feel uncomfortable, so he's throwing in my way circumstances that would normally have me running to my support network? That sounds a tad melodramatic to me, but as you know, I haven't really got this devil thing sorted out.
CS Lewis (who spoke so much sense) said that it makes the devil happy when we underestimate him but I still feel a bit uncomfortable about giving him credit for all the duff things that are going on right now. I must get to grips with the idea of spiritual warfare. That's for another day.
To continue my whinge, I'd like to bring it to your attention that this week I've missed two church meetings I really wanted to go to, am even as I chat with you now I'm missing the lovely acapella group that lifts my spirits so much. I've had to cancel a coffee date that I've been looking forward to for weeks as I've got something stressful that has to be done in the afternoon and I know that I can't fit in both things either time-wise or energy wise and I'm unprepared for both. I have spent much of the time that I should have been busy doing this week sleeping instead, which in itself is a blessing but doesn't seem to have given me the boost I would have expected.
Oh I just need to get a grip, don't I?
I can see you nodding, only you do it in such a way that I can't take offence. You've got that lovely indulgent, loving expression on your face so that I don't feel got at, I just feel like my Daddy is amused by me, but loves me too much to take the mickey.
What do I do, Lord? What do I do to feel full of energy and expectancy and enthusiasm again? Can you see your way clear to just filling me with it while I sleep tonight so that tomorrow I start the day feeling great?
Or maybe I just have to keep on keeping on. Be a brave soldier. Learn to be a bit more self sufficient without my Facebook buddies? Or better still more dependent on you. Look at you when my instinct is to look to them. Listen to you when I'd be seeking advice in cyberspace. These are fundamental things, aren't they, Lord? I am such a spiritual baby sometimes.
'I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.'
So if I lift my eyes up I might see you.
Or at least, if I'm lifting my eyes then I'm not focused on the ground, on the problems, on the puddles and the mud, unable to see the vastness of the sky, and the sun, and you. If I lift up my eyes I'm not looking inwards, or at myself and my problems and hurts and anxieties. I know that you won't let me down. I've been here before, when I'm feeling bewildered and hurt that you're letting these things happen to me and maybe I'll never get to the bottom of why. But, as I've said before, what I do know is that you will never leave me. And if I can't feel you next to me, that doesn't mean that you're not there.
'The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.'
You always have, and you are still watching over me.
So why is all this rubbish happening and why do I feel so low? I don't know. Maybe when I'm wiser and more mature as a Christian I might understand what it's all about; or maybe not. Maybe that saying is true, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Maybe I knew that when I started to do new things for you, when I gave you a little tiny bit more of me than I'd done before, when I just opened another little door of my life and let you in, a bit that I'd been withholding, maybe I knew that I would meet with opposition. Maybe as the angels celebrate, in another place there are demons grinding their teeth (now I do sound like CS Lewis).
Well, I'm going to keep on with this, I'm going to keep on talking to you, and leaning on you heavily.
I'm going through this week with my worship CD on in the car, my devotions applications on my iPhone, my Rick Warren book and the new one by Eric Delve on my bedside table next to my Bible, and the distraction of Facebook absent for once.
Ok then. I'll keep taking the pills.