8 out of 10 cats probably know that half way through a panel game there has to be an advert break – at least there does on ITV and Dave. You will have to wait a bit longer to find out what the other 2 ‘top subjects of the week’ are in the Dyer household because this is the intermission – which is very fitting for a Sunday evening and perhaps a good time to get yourself a cup of tea while the random and varied images flick across the screen…
I am in the kitchen, slumped over my breakfast, worn out from a sleepless night. I had a horrible dream and lying awake afterwards felt the fear that only comes in the dark. Sleep proved elusive, tossing and turning, chewing over scenarios and motives with an acid stomach, worrying about the conversation I’d had with Sam just before bed. When I eventually slept again it was a heavy weight that wouldn’t be shaken off by morning, staying around, clogging up my head and heart.
Caffeine and carbohydrate. It seems the sky is in upheaval too today, the clouds chasing each other, the first signs of autumn around the edges of the leaves on the garden tree. Crinkled and dry they are beginning to drift down one by one and mark the grass and earth with curling, yellow patches: although it is still officially Summer, decay always starts in August. The fresh and gusting wind speeds the process – turbulence in the air and tumult in the sky, change in the season and conflict in the heavens.
I have no energy for today – I don’t know how to shake off the gloom and fear of the night. I have coped so well this week – even felt quite happy with adrenaline carrying me along on a wave of intense activity – but the night terrors call up lonely uncertainty, bringing doubts and trepidation to the fore: what if this all unravels, something terrible happens? What if it all goes wrong? Today I feel low.
Fear is an enemy – it binds up hope, paralyses joy, fills the place where faith should be: I need to fight this off, but don’t know how. Irritable and upset… Martin is playing loud music – Monteverdi Vespers, gloriously appropriate for the Lord’s day – but I must bite my tongue; he’ll be going out soon, has to work today – and I too need to get out. Out into the blustery day, under the windy sky, cycling to work off the pent-up tension, face into the breeze, pedalling to outstrip my thoughts.
It’s Sunday – I should go to the Open Heaven meeting. But I really want to go to the gym – work off the excess aggravation, try to lose the blues: that doesn’t seem a very spiritual choice! But gym is definitely best for body and soul and endorphins, church for soul and spirit and solidarity – and maybe a touch of peace: peace is what I am missing. You don’t really notice it until it isn’t there.
So – I do both. The ride in the sunshine is exhilarating – it’s good to be away from my interior existence. The exercise is an effort but makes me feel both awake and virtuous. After a two-wheel dash right across town I finally walk into the gathering of my church community late – but completely welcome. I love it when a plan comes together – have my cake and eat it too.
What was I wary of? It’s good to be here: I can sit quietly at the back, absorb the community spirit and forget about myself for a while as I lift my eyes and wordlessly submit all anxious thoughts to the God Who is bigger than any threat. The tears flow as hidden pain finds its needed outlet.
Of course this is the place to find the peace I need, the place to see off the night-time assault. To share and pray with friends, to feel their compassion and understanding – to be reminded I’m an honoured warrior in a battle, surrounded by my fellow-soldiers’ swords and shields – to hear again the good news of Love, the Story with a happy ending – and most of all to know the Spirit’s kiss as once more I put my burden down. Faith not fear: there is always a way through with Jesus.
Restored I mount my bicycle and set my face for home – renewed, refreshed and ready to be carried in the windy sky.