Tag: Nicky Gumbel

Holding Hands Today For A Better Tomorrow

I didn’t sleep at all Election night, though I went to bed about 4 a.m. GMT still praying for a miracle for Hillary Clinton. And at 5.22 when I couldn’t help searching out my I-pad in the dark and checking the BBC’s website, I still had this hope. But around 7 a.m. when my I-phone’s alarm stirred me,  though I was wide awake, I turned the television on just in time to see the Clinton hopefuls sent away from the Javits Centre. It was then that I asked Paul if he didn’t mind if we didn’t watch the news any longer.

I re-drew the blinds and crawled back into bed and set my alarm for about 9 a.m. and attempted to go to sleep. But all I could do was listen to my heart pounding, feel my stomach hurting, and then the tears pushing through. I must have lay in my bed for some thirty to forty minutes weeping desperately and passionately. And even when Paul came in to console me, I couldn’t stop the pain, the emptiness, a longing for something, something that evaded me.

So when the time seemed reasonable, I called a local friend, who is not American, but has lived there and continues to love and cherish the country as her own. A compassionate, reasonable person, I knew I could seek refuge in her, a place to openly and honestly talk about how I felt. I thank her dearly for being there for me, for answering my call. And for another friend who called later to see how I was faring. 

But it was only when I hung up from her and texted two long-standing American friends that this expat began to piece together the emotional quagmire I found myself in. Not only was I feeling a bit confused, dumbfounded, I was feeling the heartache of loss, something that sits deep within the gut and churns. And in this state, I longed for something that had passed, something that no longer existed.

This loss reminded me of a personal time when I saw the values around me change, when I experienced things that I thought could never happen in my world. This loss reminded me of when the unreasonable becomes reasonable, when the abnormal becomes normal. When the very values that life, community has been built on become devalued, when the world crumbles.

In that moment, I crawled out of bed, put the alarm off and headed for the shower. Now all I could seem to think about was my 13-year-old niece. Four years is a long time, I mumbled to myself. She’ll be 17 when this is all over and done with – a big part of her life will have been shaped.

And as the tears returned and I wept for Jana and for young women all over the US, young men, too, I asked God what could I do to hold her hand, if only metaphorically, and though I didn’t get an answer immediately, I had a sense that it had something to do with keeping the faith.

When I sat to read my scripture for the day—I have been doing so for more than a year now through my church, The Bible in One Year, I read these words from Psalm 21: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?…

And then I reviewed what Nicky Gumbel, our vicar, had to say about the psalm. “Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up.”

At that moment, I reflected upon the state of worry I had been in all night and into the morning and though it still resides within me on some level, I decided then that it would have no permanent place in my gut.

I would have to look upwards and onwards, if I was going to be of any use to anyone. On this note, I encourage anyone who shares my grief to do the same thing. We must look to the future but in doing so remember that what we do today defines it definitively—the future, that is.

On that note, I leave you with words from an email from Hillary Clinton to supporters:  “Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.”

Yes, Hillary I will, and not just for me, and for you and what you stand for, but for Jana and her generation, for Chandler and Chas, and theirs, too, and for everyone, with a view to re-shape, restore morals and values that will serve us steadily now and forevermore.


Ready to Work

Readiness is important in many major areas of life: ready for university, ready for marriage, ready for parenthood, and sometimes after a long absence, we need to be ready to do something vital again such as work.

For weeks now, I have not written anything comprehensible, haven’t worked. I am sure this hinges on the loss of my mother. Though I have had much to say, I haven’t had the wherewithal to say it in writing. Let’s face it. Daunted by grief, I quit working for nearly three months.

This is not to brag about it. Nor is it something that I am particularly proud of. On the contrary, I would like to pretend it hasn’t happened. But it has and all things that happen out of order, my silence as a writer, deserve an explanation.

Otherwise, such practices sneak their way into the norm, though I do understand that it is normal to grieve. And that there is no set time when we should get back to work, back to life as we knew it before loss. Of course, the latter never happens since with loss, life changes and often drastically, depending on the degree of the loss. We find ourselves taking on new roles, living in unacquainted space, etc. I know I have, but that’s another blog.

In any case, most of us have a responsibility not only to ourselves, but also to our surviving loved ones to live after loss and often to the deceased one, too.

A friend pointed out that surely my mother wouldn’t want me to quit indefinitely. Spot on! When she lost her father to a tragic accident and then her mother to an illness, my mom felt broken hearted as I do now, but was able to maintain her commitments to family, church, community and work and so on.

On this note, it is fortunate for me that I am self-employed and have a fall back—my husband. Otherwise I am almost sure I would be out of job, not to mention what else I would be out of.

But writers, artists, the likes, do have a history of long absences; dry spells and so on, since the mind is our most valuable tool. And grief, at least for me, has been mind blowing. The tricks of the trade that helped me out of the dessert in the past have been futile —stepping away from the work, running, which normally satisfies my thirst, letting the work rest and going back to it and so on.

Typing for Inspiration
How about typing for inspiration?

This time, the quagmire, whatever you want to call it, was different. As I came to terms with this, I accepted my feelings as natural to the grieving process, although they felt (and still do) rather alien, as alien as death itself, though dying is a natural part of living, I said with a brave face to a dear friend the other day.

With heartfelt remorse, she replied, no it isn’t.

Of course we’re both right. Everyone has to die; there is no way around it. It is the natural end to life, however it comes about. But death is an evasive matter, one that plunges us into the depths of grief. Nothing about it feels natural. Nothing.

Yet, here I am, to some still early days yet, returning to work. To others, I am ever so late. Due to the nature of their work and the way they process grief, they’ve been back for ages, even if their hearts still ache.

But here is the thing that we likely have in common. To some degree, we return to work, do what we need to do, when we are ready. Ultimately it was such words that provided the incentive I needed to write again, coupled with a take away from my church’s Bible in One Year subscription.

In Luke 19: 11-14, Jesus tells The Parable of the Ten Minas, in which a man of noble birth called ten of his servants and gave them a mina each before he left on a journey. When he returned, it was the one who turned the one into ten that received the highest of blessings, precisely because he made good use of his resource.

To paraphrase our vicar, Nicky Gumbel, we are not only supposed to use our money, but also all the gifts God has given us. That means the gift of writing, too.

Hence, I am ready and I hope you are too. Visit sonjalewis.com or sonjalewis.com for weekly blogs on life, on lifestyle, on London, and other relevant topics. See you next week.