I wrote this some months ago, out of my own experience of a very difficult time. I post it today in limited understanding and great sadness for Robin Williams.
image by Chris Choat
The fog does not come pussy-footing
around a bend in the road.
It does not roll in ominously from the sea;
nor does it cascade in slow motion
down the mountain into my valley.
The fog seeps up from the ground,
from this very earth greening beneath my feet.
It does not puddle about my knees,
nor swirl in terrifying eddies around me.
It simply rises to envelop me in a fine mist,
which I cannot help breathing,
cannot prevent my pores absorbing.
Climbing the tallest tree does not lift me above it.
Bathing in the river does not wash it away.
Walking doggedly on does not carry me beyond it.
Ely Cathedral Rose
image copyright Rebekah Choat
“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but
lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.
It feels like living in a minefield, this walking through depression; an achingly slow process of unearthing harmful things buried deep for years, fearing the fallout of their exposure to air and light, knowing absolutely that they must be pried out to make the soil safe for building on and planting in.
Some of the mines are easily discovered and, by the grace of God, disarmed fairly quickly, with minimal damage.
You know the general area where some of the mines are located, and you know that they are going to explode when you try to move them. So you make plans and equip yourself as best you can with God’s great help, and avoid them until you feel strengthened for the task.
But one day you are walking along unconcernedly over ground that has been swept many times, ground that you believe has been completely cleared, and a land mine blows up directly beneath your feet, ripping you to stunned little shreds.
The best you can hope is that it happens when you are walking in company with friends, friends who are just far enough off not to be injured in the blast but near enough to rush to your aid. They assess your wounds when you cannot, and discern that immediate attention is required – here, now, even with nothing to dull the pain. The field surgeon, wounded himself, steps forward to take charge, but your friends stay to help. They are obedient to the surgeon’s instructions, doing what must be done as firmly as necessary and as tenderly as possible. When it is over, they stay with you still, holding you, murmuring prayers, singing lullabies in the dark, until you are strong enough again to stand, to walk on.
image by Rebekah Choat
Lord, let me be
securely growing, thriving,
though hanging by
~ Rebekah Choat
image by Rebekah Choat
Genesis 2: 8-9: The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden,
and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground
the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and
good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Revelation 22: 1-2: And he showed me a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the middle of its street and on either side of the river was the tree
of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.
And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Trees, at the beginning of life as we know it, and at what we call the end of life as we know it – or, we could say, the beginning of life as we shall know it even as we are known. Between them, this long stretch of time, some of which is now ours – the days of living between the trees.
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud or greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall — the sap of spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.
~ Christina Rossetti
Small as a world, this smooth round stone
you gave to me, and large as alone,
and grey as the sea it rolled in from,
hurled on the shore to be brought home.
Within its sphere are foam and sky
and bite of salt and seagull’s cry
and height of wave and stretch of sand,
and here I hold it in my hand.
It sings a song of tideswept stars
and deeps where untold wonders are.
It keeps the memory of the wind
and brings me whispers of a friend.
I can’t be lost — it anchors me,
this smooth round stone out of the sea.
~ Rebekah Choat