Sunday morning, and once again I am wondering what to do with myself, I have listened to the service on Radio 4, a Harvest Service, listened to the news, prayed, read the daily devotions from my Northumbria Community Daily Prayer book…. I could go to worship, but am not sure where to go for various and complex reasons. I find myself in a state of disorientation.
As I write this I am reflecting that the last time I led face to face, in person worship was March 2020, the combination of the pandemic, and my own illness have meant that I have had a prolonged absence from any form of meetings, work related or otherwise. I have seen my family from time to time, but usual visits to friends in Norfolk and other outings have all been put on hold as I have waited for an operation, and operation that has been cancelled 3 times, and I now join the waiting group of approximately 5 million people! My life and health have undergone huge changes, and am disorientated.
In the last few weeks I have moved house, setting up a new manse, a place to live and to work from, but I am not yet working. Tomorrow I speak to a doctor for an Occupational Health Interview, and will be assessing with him what a phased return to work might look like for me over the next few weeks and months, but I will not be returning to what I left, and that is disorientating!
I have to reflect that I don’t do disorientation well, I have spun in all directions, been cross with life, with other people and with myself, sometimes all of those things at once, this might be because of prolonged periods with only myself for company, and I am my own worst critic, I also tend to invent scenarios in my head. I have struggled with depression, which has meant that getting out to walk, which usually helps, has been an immense struggle, even forcing myself into the garden has been hard. The world inside my head has been, and continues to be disorientating.
Sunday morning, and pondering the news and the theme of harvest, shortages of petrol high energy prices and empty supermarket shelves seem to be a theme, alongside that climate change and the need for action is high on the agenda as it should be. It feels like the world, or certainly the UK, is a strange place particularly with the Governments peculiar agenda seeming once again to be to save Christmas, placating the masses as if that is all that is needed! I suspect I am not alone in feeling disorientated.
In short, I am a bit lost, and am asking myself who I am and what shape my life needs to be… A bit of me wants to rush in and gather up as much normality as I can, while another wiser part is content to allow new and potentially creative things to emerge, which means allowing the disorientation to go on for a bit longer, something I am not comfortable with.
Of course the Scriptures are littered with people going through times of disorientation, through exodus and exile, loss, famine and radical reinventing of lives, on a personal and even national and institutional level. Psalms of lament offer radical expressions of loss and anguish as the psalmists pour out their hearts to God in an attempt to re-orientate themselves often only landing on the deep connection they find at rock bottom, God is good!
While praying yesterday I kept coming back to the words “I know the plans I have for you”, with a deep sense that striving and pushing and trying to scrabble my way to a semblance of normality is not going to be helpful at this time. I am disorientated, and right now there is nothing I can do but accept that, that is how life is right now. There will be a way forward, I just can’t see it, all will be well, I just can’t feel it. My struggle for certainty and a firm place to stand isn’t helping me when the place I am looking for has gone. So I will say with the psalmist;
Wait….. for God, Wait with hope.. Hope now, hope always (Ps 131- The Message.