Tracing the Rainbow
My Blog title is inspired by the words of a hymn that has become increasingly significant to me:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
(George Matheson - 1882)
I have had M.E. since my early teens. Through the years there have been better times and increasingly worse times until 5 years ago almost exactly when a bout of viral meningitis triggered a major relapse which continues to this day. My days are restricted by chronic disabling pain and fatigue and a plethora of other symptoms that make up this bewildering illness. I have very limited mobility and am dependent on my family for care. I spend most of my time alone in my room out of necessity.
In the struggle and the weariness that often threatens to overwhelm me, I am coming to recognise and depend on the 'Love that wilt not let me go.' I am amazed at how often, even in the darkest of times, something reaches into my soul quickening life and joy and hope. Sometimes it is the most ordinary of things that is the catalyst for this quickening ~ a doggy head resting on my lap; the companionable purring of a cat; a glimpse through the window of a red kite soaring in the sky; the wind gusting through the trees; a basket bulging with colourful yarn full of possibility; a hug, a touch, a message from a friend; the sounds of laughter and so many other things. It is as if Joy truly is seeking me out and finding everyday opportunities to penetrate my heart.
I believe that the rainbow is there, full of colour and reassurance and promise, painted over my life by the hand of the one who is Love and Joy and Life. Sometimes I can see it clearly. Sometimes I am so distracted and pre-occupied that I fail to notice it. Sometimes I am so bowed down and overwhelmed that I cannot lift my head to see it. Sometimes I need others to describe it to me lest I forget its existence. Whatever happens, I want always to be able to 'trace the rainbow through the rain'.
I am hoping this blog will help me as I:
- Notice the good stuff ~ I find it is so easy not to notice the good things in life in the face of day to day struggle. My eyes become persistently downcast and negativity can start to colour the way I see everything. Developing a habit of deliberately noticing the good stuff really helps.
- Wrestle with the tough stuff ~ Noticing the good stuff is not about ignoring or denying the tough stuff. I think it's important to be honest about the struggle and real about how I feel. I am a wrestler by nature - mentally not physically, in case you're wondering. I tend to grab the questions life provokes with both hands. I object, I lament, I weep and I wonder. I wish everything made sense, but it doesn't. Sometimes I become too much of a terrier worrying away at a bone and need to know when it's time to stop. I know that often it's more about finding ways of living with the questions that finding the answers. But I believe the wrestling process matters and shouldn't be bypassed even when it's raw and messy.
- Enjoy creativity, colour and crochet ~ I love being creative - using words and imagination, playing with yarn of all kinds and colours, dabbling in art and needlework etc. It seems to be part of being alive and an expression and celebration of being made in the image of a creator God.
- Recognise signs of grace ~ Each day I receive so much that I hardly notice. I am surrounded by signs of grace - reminders of God's sustaining presence and love. If only I always had eyes to see.
- Nurture that feathered thing called hope ~ Emily Dickinson's poem about hope begins "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul". The bird imagery strikes me as so perceptively apposite. Sometimes hope is elusive and sometimes it soars. Sometimes it's song is almost imperceptible, sometimes sweetly piercing, sometimes full throttle. But, feathered or not, hope is vital. It shapes life towards a fuller, richer, brighter future, as it restores faith in the present. I need hope.
- Seek life in all its fullness ~ All my life, as far as I can remember, I have been a 'quester'. I'm not sure if that's even a word, but it'll do. The quest shapes my thoughts, values and desires. It is the search for love, for truth, for honesty, for connection, for freedom, for wholeness - or, in other words, the search for life in all its fullness. It is the promise of the rainbow. It is the promise of Jesus.
A final word ~ I cannot finish my first ever blog post without thanking my daughter for holding her antediluvian mother's hand and convincing me that I really could do the blog thing.