Friday, 26 August 2011

Still on the mountain

Well, Lord, I haven't covered myself in glory today, have I?

Here I sit slouched on the sofa after a glass of wine on a week night (I know, but it felt like a Friday night so we gave it honorary weekend status and opened a bottle. And very good it was too) and I'm so tired that my eyes are all squinty. I've had a pretty crap day and I've not been very nice to be around.

You know what? I have just realised that I'm scowling. I'm staring at the computer and I'm actually scowling. I have just made a conscious effort to relax my forehead and let my shoulders drop a couple of inches. Sigh.

It's raining, too.

We're going on holiday tomorrow and I'm at that point where I wonder if a week at the seaside is actually worth the monumental hassle of organising people, clothes, toys, toiletries, food, bedlinen etc to take away, pack the car, drive all the way there, unpack, do everything that I normally do in a week but without the benefit of a routine or familiar surroundings or home comforts then do it all again in reverse arriving home with three days of unpacking and a dozen loads of washing.

There's ingratitude if you like.

Lots of people don't have holidays. I know. In the current financial climate I suppose even fewer will be treating themselves. Indeed, if we'd known then what we know now regarding finances I suspect we wouldn't have booked this one. So a lot is riding on us Having a Really Good Time on this holiday. I have packed buckets and spades; cold weather gear, hot weather gear, in-between weather gear, rainy weather gear and miscellaneous other items of clothing and we will be paddling and eating fish and chips on the pier whatever the circumstances.

Pause here while I retrieved the girls' wellies, which I realised I hadn't packed. Was that a divine revelation?

Am I still feeling under the weather following the stress of Katy's surgery, or do I have to come to terms with the fact that this grumpiness and intolerance and short-temperedness is my default position? Do I just need a holiday? And if so, will a week on the Suffolk coast with two small but demanding children count as a holiday? I remember with nostalgia those days when Bryan and I used to take a fortnight's leave from work and go away on holiday, just the two of us, doing what we wanted...getting enough sleep, going to films or the theatre or just driving until we saw something we liked then stopping and walking. Now I need to pack entertainment for the car to try to keep the girls occupied so we've at least got to the end of the road before they ask if we're there yet.

I'm just getting it off my chest, Lord. Is that ok?

Look, I'm tired. I've spent all day today organising things and my head is full of lists. Katy has just had a tantrum over something she needed more than anything else in the world which has already been packed and is in the car (a matchbox car among scores of the things but it had to be this very one) and as I type is refusing to settle down. I have a list of things that I still need to think about and an early start tomorrow (never something that fills me with joy).

I love the sea. I'm really looking forward to seeing the sea. I am hoping for some fine weather so I can walk along the beach and skim stones with the girls and make sandcastles and wander on the pier and gaze at the vastness and majesty of the ocean in front of me. I always feel close to you at the seaside and, Lord, I really feel in need of that now.

Where are you? I know you're there but I can't feel you. I feel consumed by my own self-pity and bad temper at the moment.  Earlier on I was struggling with a duvet and duvet cover upstairs and it was all twisted and I had hold of the wrong corners (I know you know what I mean) and no-one offered to help me and I felt temper rising up just as I imagine Katy does when she doesn't get what she wants and then stamps and screams with frustration. I could have done the same. I stood in the middle of the room and thought, 'Self control. Self control.'  And then I hurled the duvet to the floor, which, as I'm sure you witnessed, didn't help much as you can't make a satisfying crash with a duvet. Still, the rest of my family remained unaware that I'd just thrown a small muffled wobbly in the bedroom and that can only be good news. You saw it, though. Self control? Yeah, right.

So the Fruit of the Spirit then. I think I'm catching on. I ask for patience, and you give me opportunities to be patient. I ask for self-control and you offer me tangled duvets and screaming children. I ask for peace, and you give me turmoil - but the opportunity to find you?  I feel as if I'm going round and round on this one. No wonder the Israelites wandered around the desert for forty years if they were doing this. I read somewhere recently that their journey should only have taken a couple of weeks but they went round and round in circles because they didn't learn... and then you said:

'You have stayed too long on this mountain.'

Deuteronomy 1:6

It was time to move on. To enter the promised land.

Lord, don't let me go round in circles for years before I can take the next step on this journey I'm on. Even though I'm thick and lazy and slow to learn help me so that I can get to the promised land.

Give me a break, Lord. Please speak to me so that I can hear you. When you're with me tomorrow as I drive to the seaside with two excited children help me be patient and self-controlled. When I see the sea please fill me with a sense of your presence. Keep me going, Lord. I need your Holy Spirit; I need a top-up. I need energy and inspiration and fun and a bit of joy, if you could see your way clear, Father God. I'm tired and in need of a pick-me-up. Let the sun come out.

Thankyou for families and holidays and the seaside. For cars and picnic lunches and duvets and small toy cars. Thankyou for opportunities and second chances. And third chances. And so on.

I'm going to bed now, Lord. Tomorrow I'm going to look at the sea and breathe you in. I'm going to stand on the beach, whatever the weather, and praise you for the wonder of your world.

See you in the morning.

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