Go to the woods……

Today is a Saturday.  A gorgeous, luxurious, well-earned Saturday.

After a dreamless, restful sleep, I woke up to the sounds of my daughters playing and laughing in one of their bedrooms, giggling away at jokes,  I reached over with my right arm, to see if my husband was there…his side was empty, so I knew that he was getting himself ready for work.  So I lay there for a second, before the guilt of being the only person in bed crept in; so I got out of bed and pulled open the plum coloured, Jacquard print, blackout curtains, letting the sunlight blast through the huge bay windows.  The light was so intense and bright, I shot back into bed with a single leap and covered my eyes with the duvet. It doesn’t matter how old we are, when no-one’s around, it’s funny how you can revert back to habits you had when you little.

After a few moments, when I felt ready to face the daylight again, I felt that there was a yellowish tinge to the sky again.  So that’s becoming a thing? I thought to myself.  For those of you who are wondering what I’m talking about, last Monday we experienced a phenomenon called ‘Hurricane Sun’.  This meant that the sun had a red tinge, and the whole world was covered in a jaundiced, yellow hue.  It was as if God had made an ill-advised choice of filter from Instagram for that particular day.

I lay musing for a while, continuing to wonder if the yellow sky was going to become more of a common occurrence…then what about the rhyme – red at night, shepherd’s delight?  How would yellow sky fit into this equation?  Eventually, I decided that I probably should get downstairs and leave those important musings for another day…

My daughters were now having breakfast downstairs in the back room; I sneaked past them into the kitchen, where I saw my cup of tea ready for me…Like a ninja, I grabbed it and tried to tip-toe into the front room, but they saw me!  So happy to see me, the avalanche of questions and conversations began.  No – it was too early for this, I hadn’t had my cup of tea yet; I silenced them with a sharp, ‘Come on! Eat your breakfast!’ Then continued with my mission -drink cup of tea in peace in the front room.

I opened the curtains in the front room and the light streamed in, less violently than when I first woke up.  I breathed a huge sigh as I inhaled the morning sunshine  –  the yellow hue was still there.  As I sat drinking my tea, looking out of the window, knowing that I wouldn’t have to gulp it down before racing out of the house; knowing that I had time to stare out of the window and look at the different shades of colour in the sky; knowing that I could stare at the young sapling in front of our house, that was growing stronger and taller every year; knowing that I could reflect on its skeletal beauty as it is silhouetted against the sky, having lost all its leaves…..I narrowed my eyes and I felt ancient.

Not ancient in the decrepit and dilapidated sense.  No!  I felt ancient…it was as if my soul was looking at the world with different eyes.  Taking the time to look at the sky and the trees and notice the ever- changing beauty and colours of the world.  I felt as though I had a connection to the humans who lived thousands of years ago, who worshipped the Earth, who paid attention to what was happening around them.  Like a pagan priestess, taking the time to look at what is happening around me, and think.

At university, we were told briefly about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and how both lived their lives ‘going back to nature’; I’m not doing them any justice, but they (separately), went into the woods ‘to find themselves’.  Although the details in my mind are hazy, I remember thinking that, that was not as crazy as it sounded.  This is what people do isn’t it?  We live our lives at breakneck speed because everything has to be done now!  Instant!  Deadlines!  It must all be done now or the world as we know it will come crashing down around our ears and the apocalypse  will begin.  That’s the story we’re sold.  We all subscribe to it.  We all do it.  And then we realise that we ‘need to get away from it all’.  Recharge our batteries.  Go to the countryside.  Spend time in nature.  We go to our version of the woods to find ourselves. Then come back, supposedly recharged, to go back to whatever it was that were doing, back on that treadmill of life all over again.

Whilst I was drinking my tea, I was thinking about all of this.  Then my thoughts turned to the person who had made my tea.  The person who makes me my tea every morning, because if he didn’t make it, I wouldn’t be able to have one, because I would be racing out of the house, rushing off to work.  My thoughts turned to him, and how blessed I am to have him…

Lately, I haven’t smiled much at him.  Not because of anything to do with him.  Recently, he hasn’t seen me smile much.  He’s just seen my tired, downturned face.  The thought struck me suddenly with horror – how long has it been since he’s seen me smile?  How long has it been since he’s seen me as the person I was, the person he fell in love with?  The person I used to be?

I don’t know.

And I thought to myself – why aren’t I smiling?  By the grace of God, I’m married to the most caring, kindest man in the world.  I have two beautiful daughters.  I have the most wonderful, supportive family surrounding me, always there, ready to help, ready to listen.  So much love.  I am blessed to belong to a faith that keeps me strong, and always gives me hope when circumstances are tough.  And I am fortunate to have choices in life too.

Sometimes, you have to go to the woods to find yourself.  Sometimes you have to have a cup of tea, stare out of the windows and look into the yellow hue to discover how rich you are; how successful you are and how blessed you are about everything wonderful that you have in your life.

I whisper a silent prayer to God, thanking him, being grateful for all that I have.  Thank you.

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