It is dark, but not cold. It’s warm enough that I can walk home with just a light t-shirt and not feel the chill. The streets, so familiar by day, seem strange and unknown in the dark. The pavements are patched up with tarmac that gleams under the streetlights and its inhabitants are almost entirely unisex, the women having gone indoors long before dusk. Only a trio of girls whose mothers believe they are at a friend’s house and a lady out drinking with her man and his mates buck the trend. There is an aroma of fine spices and the faint sound of Asian music. Shops that were weathered and empty this morning are now lit up and filled with people in their best finery, feasting and celebrating. I am not in some far-off country but in Harehills, Leeds, a neighbourhood homing representatives of almost any other nation you could name.
I’m walking home. I notice the strangeness, feel a little alien on the streets. I enjoy the freedom of walking alone but there’s a slight thrill, a sense of danger and I’m glad my mother believes that I am at a friend’s house too. This may be “my” country, but these are not my streets. Not because I’m white; some of those out tonight have British ancestors far out-dating my own; but because I’m green. I’m new. It’s still strange to me. I pass two men standing in a bus stop in long kurta robes. I turn off the main road and meet the smell of alcohol as a group sit in their yard drinking beer. A bunch of noisy youths cross in front of me and finally it comes into view, and then I am there: home. The gate squeaks, the door clatters open and closed again and the strangeness is gone, locked outside on a warm, dark night.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
"Worry is like a rocking chair-- it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere."
I am just coming to the end of a lovely week off. It feels a little bit naughty because it wasn't really for any occasion, but it's my first full week off since Christmas so I decided I deserved it. My plan was that while I had all this lovely free time I would write a whole list of blog posts that have been waiting to come out. Instead I slept in lots at the beginning of the week and then got up very early for busy things at the end of the week. So it didn't really work out, and tomorrow I have to be busy and working again so here is my last evening of "freedom".
It's funny actually, what difference a state of mind makes. In real life I have quite a lot of days off and work less than 30 hours in the average week, but those days don't feel like holiday because I have other responsibilities, other things to think about, deadlines hanging over me. Tomorrow I won't do anything I'm being paid for, but I have a full day's work and it's definitely not holiday. I'm learning that there will always be a to-do list, there will always be deadlines, but sometimes I have to put those things away and relax. It's difficult with my working pattern but I'm getting there, slowly.
About the working pattern. I swing between extremes of being desperate for the routine of a regular contract, and dreading the day I ever find myself in one. At the minute I'm enjoying the flexibility of life and the idea of a 9-5 job is horrifying, but as soon as I've written that I'm liable to change my mind. It recently struck me that I do live every week without the guarantee of a single hour's work, but I never doubt that it will come and I guess it's all just a part of living by faith. It's trust.
Every time I think about my life I want to post that song, Trust, again. This year more than any other I have learned that all I can ever do is in God's strength. The week before my break was a particularly difficult one- I had two new SLT clients to meet and no idea what to do with them; long hours of work; awkward situations with friends; a leaky basement that had me up every four hours through the night to empty a bucket and consequent discussions with our landlord. Every day I found that I knew Jesus was with me, I knew that he would take me through the situation and out the other side, but still I was really, really anxious to the extent that I wasn't in a very good mood for most of the week (except for a little while after each obstacle had been faced and overcome...)
So I have a new challenge. I have learned (am still learning) to trust from my spirit, my "know-er" as someone once called it. I know from experience and crazy blind faith that my God loves me and doesn't ask me to do what he won't equip me for. The challenge now is to deal with all that unnecessary worry that doesn't change anything other than the quality of my day and those unfortunate enough to cross my path.
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
We never stop learning, hey?