Categories
grateful gratitude

How to be grateful when life isn’t being fair

Photo looking across a wooden fence through trees that are just starting to turn autumnal towards a waterfall. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Swallow Falls, Conwy, taken by myself on Sunday 10th October

I’ve been having a quiet rant to God on behalf of a friend. I’m not sure if she’s ranting too but I am. Last week her youngest daughter gave birth to her first child in her early 40’s after years of trying; miscarriages, IVF, etc. But then at the start of this week my friend’s dad died suddenly. It isn’t fair, I am shouting into the heavens. Why can’t her and her family enjoy the awesomeness of this miracle baby just for a few months without having to deal with grief? Why???

The season in GodspaceLight is gratitude, and I know I’ve also written about gratitude on here in various guises, but my thought for today is “how can I/we be genuinely grateful when life is being unfair?

But then as I walked the dog in the park this morning I experience the second awesome sunrise of this week and also had a heron fly from the pond almost directly in front of me. It got me thinking – I only get to see the sunrises on my dog walks now because the days are getting shorter, daylight hours are getting less. And I can marvel at how there are amazing colours in the sky for a good 20-30 mins before the sun rises officially. Even if I get up in the summer really early the sun doesn’t do that same thing of filling the sky with colour and light earlier than it pops its head up. If it wasn’t for that shortening of daylight hours I wouldn’t get to see this. So a place to be grateful when the dark is getting more?

Also what I felt when all this was going on around me is that yes life isn’t fair but there are good things going on in the unfairness. It reminds me of the fact that the trip to Paris to launch my daughter into university was marred because my father-in-law died that same weekend, so when I look at the picture of her grinning over a very very frothy cappuccino I think of his death too. Life throwing one of its unfair curve balls.

So all I can say about how to be grateful when life is being unfair is to accept and grieve in the unfair bits, the death bits, the darkness, but also be grateful in the sunrises, the births, the trips to Paris.

Both are allowed. Both are ok. It is not ‘either or’ but ‘both and’.

A few years ago I supported another friend though the first year after her husband’s suicide and we cried lots but we also laughed lots. We were able to be ‘both and’. Even now when we meet we do both – laughing and crying – more often than not in a public place

So I will hug my friend as she grieves and laugh with her as she delights in her new granddaughter. Together we can accept that life isn’t fair and that there are sunrises and there are sunsets. Somethings are beautiful and some things are tragic. That we do not live in a world where only good happens and somethings we have to deal with both things at once. But we can do it!

And for that whole humanness of who we are I will be grateful

Categories
christmas solstice

The Coming of Christmas

I know this is probably a bit early to use the “C” word but it is what’s been buzzing in my head. And yesterday was the start of Celtic Advent – in the Celtic Christian calendar there are 40 days of Advent just as there are 40 days of Lent – so here we go.

View across Dublin, sunrise March 2016 taken by me

he days are getting shorter, darker, wetter and colder as they lollop towards the end of the year. It is a time when we should be slowing down and reflecting on the year. If we tapped into our pre-industrialisation roots this was the time when our ancestors in the North would stay home and wait, wait to see if the sun would rise again, if the days would get longer or whether things would just get darker and darker. Sounds a bit familiar that – wondering if it is just going to get darker and darker? Solstice means “sun stands still” and it is almost as if the sun is thinking about whether it will start to climb again. In fact. But 4 days later it appears that the sun decides to stay around for longer, which is why Celtic Christians pick 25th December as the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth so show that when there is a fear of darkness fully encroaching over the world the Son of God came to turn back the darkness. It was also a way of showing Jesus to be the fulfilment of a pagan festival.

Our bodies still remember this but we fight against the natural reaction of our bodies with our warm centrally heated, light houses, and the commercial extravaganza that this season has become. Even in Church we make it into a busy time and a buying time.

In “normal” times I would be at my wits end at this time of year planning Christmas plays where I never seemed to get the cast until the day before, planning a nativity skit with 2 or 3 close friends who “got it”, as well as planning trips off to see friends and family down south and who was coming up to visiting us. Much more into my 21st Century busy boots rather than my ancient roots.

I am a planner who doesn’t like plans which means that I start my Christmas planning around October. I make lists that I then leave all over the house[ on the kitchen table, on the notice board, in my study, in my pockets; lists for this Christmas play and the skit and for other things I would have been roped into in church; lists for presents I think I should be buying; lists for the food I wanted to get for the “big day”; a timetabled list of our trip south.

I buy my Advent books, which this year is Christine Sine’s Lean Towards the Light this Advent & Christmas which I bought ages ago, and has been sat on the arm of my sofa so I don’t forgot to use it, looking battered and tired, and I’ve signed up for a couple of Advent writing course. Then because I don’t like plans I’d lie in bed and worry about the play, the shopping, etc but not get things done.

Of course this year we don’t know if we are going to be able to see any friends or family because of Covid rules. The weather is too unpredictable and days so short meeting outside will be difficult. Church can’t have lots of people in it so there’s no Christmas plays. I can’t go rushing round shops or Christmas markets buying things for people who probably don’t want them anyway! [Note gift giver is very low in my love languages!] Should I get lots of food? Will anyone be coming to visit us? I know my kids are hoping to but …

My body is feeling sluggish and unmotivated, which could be to do with covid rules and guideline, or could be because I can’t get out much because my ribs aren’t mending as fast as I would like. I’m sure they are mending as fast as they think best. But I do wonder if this year I am accepting my ancient roots more because of the restrictions, because I have had to slow down, had to spend more time inside just resting and thinking. At this time of year our ancestors would be resting from the busyness of harvesting and the preserving of the harvest; salting, pickling, bottling, making into wines, etc.

Maybe winter is a time to feel a bit low, to hibernate, and to ponder whether this year the sun will forget to shine and things just will get darker and darker. Perhaps this year God is staying that we all need to accept that feeling of lowness, examine its origins, to not try to rush around making it go away and trying to make things like they were last year. Maybe we need to hunker down and pray that the sun will rise again, that the light will return and that in the coming year as the days increase so will our energy, our productivity, our joy. And that the darkness will flee.

Categories
allthingsarenew being me gratitude movinghouse sunrise

Why Do I Take Photos Of Sunrises?

12832500_10153518986685698_6284486525866500011_n
Sunrise over Dublin – March 2016

I love the sunrise. I love taking photos of it. Yes I do take photos of sunsets too. In fact my lovely study room faces the setting sun and I have taken photos from here. But I love the sunrise. I find now, as the days get longer, that I miss out on the sun rising because it all happens too early. Though there are times that I get up to go to the bathroom and see an orange glow. Then I will go into the back bedroom, if we have no one staying there, and watch the back of the house get bathed in the golden light. Even Tesco’s carpark looks beautiful as the sun comes up.

I remember the first sunrise I ever saw. It was 1982 and I was at Greenham Common. I had gone up with a couple of car loads of women from the town I lived in to meet up on a big protest day with women from across the country. It was a surreal time. Anyway we were sleeping in this huge marquee and I couldn’t sleep so I got up and went to the camp fire. There as I sat trying to work out if I like drinking tea or not the sun started to rise. It was a clear sky and slowly it was filled with this glowing ball. I remember the only sound was the birds chatting excitedly at the start of a new day.

And that is how I feel when I see the sun come up; that it is exciting to start a new day. I

12814014_10153517274445698_2802497884257770259_n
Sunrise with angel’s wing at  the Hill of Tara – March 2016

take photographs of sunrises because for me there is so much promise in a sunrise. It marks the start of something new. The darkness of night has gone and it is a walking into the light. There is promise, potential, hope, expectation, a new beginning. For me, no matter what I know I have to do, the sunrise always says “today is a fresh canvass go paint something new.” So that is why I take photographs of the sun rising and why I love the start of a day.

12742724_10153462112075698_4464626227682851960_n
Sunrise on the day our furniture arrive to be unpack at our new house – Feb 2016

My husband on the other hand is a sunset man. He loves to watch the sun go down. For him it signals that the day has past and he has survived. Interesting how we are so different.