The sand has been running in this year for nearly a month now and here I am, just climbing into my blogging seat. Why the delay? Late nights? Late mornings? Too much fun? Not enough?
All of the above, really.
A fire broke out at our house just after Christmas. No injuries, thanks to a cracking team of firefighters who got to our old wooden house just in time. The worst damage was a couple of holes burnt through the floor, an exploded bath and a house that smells like my first barbecue. I had no idea smoke could reach into so many places.
We are now in our third relocation in four weeks. God has kindly provided, and house-hopping has given me great insights into how other people organise their homes (some great ideas), their cutlery drawers and their laundries. We are surrounded by kindness and compassion from friend and stranger alike in a land where our flesh and blood number a total of six, four of them children.
It is humbling and difficult to receive help, even in circumstances like ours. Our sense of ourselves as self-sufficient and generous has had to sit down and shut up while we accept the help and share the space of others, sleep in their bedding and wear their clothes.
It’s not easy to maintain some kind of equilibrium because the children need to see Mum strong and smiling, not foetal and wailing. It’s hard to wait for the wheels of the insurance machine to grind forward. You get the feeling they don’t turn that willingly ;). The shock of it hits us afresh every couple of days. If only I had asked for a time machine for Christmas…
But the emotional and physical toll of our temporary displacement is nothing compared to that on the millions of homeless families who rely on the goodwill of strangers, some victims of bushfires here in Australia, others further afield victims of conflict and political upheaval, all suddenly forced out of permanence, out of stability, out of home. What must that be like?
Next week our school year begins and we have to create a new normality out of the random collection of things we’ve brought from our smoky house. I don’t know how long this stage will last, but I know what I must do in order to keep my balance, which is to tell God (occasionally foetal and wailing, yes) how I feel about it all and then trust him to get on with the clearup operations.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you: you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel and afterwards you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73 vs 25 – 26