You had no sense of direction, my Beloved. I could visualise the route you needed to travel and give you directions. Your default setting was to turn left. The result was that you often drove in circles until I came along. I joked that apart from loving me, you were looking for a navigator. Somebody who could see the end from the beginning and visualise the route to take.
In the days of street maps, we had one in every car. I used to write you a set of instructions. For returning home after a meeting, I had to write a different set of directions on the back of the note, otherwise you drove out of the venue, turned left and got lost. After your death, the only instructions I gave myself was to do what was required of me. I debriefed our children, your staff and your students. I facilitated a week-long course in your place, one week after your death. With the assistance of our children, I organised your memorial, wrote an ode to you and recorded a video to honour you. I went away to mourn you for two weeks. After that I sat in your chair and fulfilled your obligations, did my own work, negotiated a budget without your salary and launched my new website and training to create a new source of income. I am so tired now of doing three jobs for three months. Can I get a break and just take time to be me now?
We have done the endless circle in the desert of chronic illness for 35 years. It took the Israelites 40 years. I would have been prepared to take the circle route again for another five years if that meant that you could enter the Promised Land with me, my Beloved. I never envisioned travelling on my own. Even when I scouted on my own for an oasis, I always came back to fetch you when you were too weary to travel further. How can I explain the extent to which depression devoured your soul, stole your vision? Job talks about it in Job 16:15 “I have sewn sackcloth over my skin, and laid my head in the dust. My face is flushed from weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death, although no violence is in my hands and my prayer is pure.” Job 17:1 “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.” Job 18:11 “My purposes are broken off.” In spite of the erosion of depression that impacted your body, soul and spirit, you were always wholeheartedly devoted to your cause of pastoral care. Your team was always your first concern. Assuring financial provision for salaries drove you only to work harder, at your own cost. Sometimes the oasis I spotted in the distance was just a mirage – the shimmer of water just a figment of my imagination. All it was, was an illusion. More of the same was what we got. Yet, we never gave up hope, because we serve the God of hope.
One of the stories on self-care you taught in your courses was about weary travellers. Once upon a time there was a man who wanted to discover new frontiers. He hired a bunch of scouts and assistants to carry all his equipment and food for the journey. On the fifth day his assistants refused to get up and walk on. When he asked what is going on, he got the following response. “We walked so fast the past four days, that we need to sit here today and wait for our souls to catch up with us.” We had to blaze a trail for ourselves where there was none. Dante described it in his ‘Inferno’: “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” In the wilderness of your depression I was often helpless to break through your despair. My panga had become blunt in my attempts to cut through the dark overgrowth to let in the light. Your death was a dead-end that stopped me on the edge of the cliff. I lost my job of being your navigator.
Oh my God, I am so familiar with the desert and the wilderness of sickness. Will I know the Promised Land when I see it? Will You be my navigator now? I do not know the road ahead. I do not want to continue circling the desert when You have an oasis for me. Psalm 25:16-17 “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” The Holy Spirit reminds me of the Scripture you got in the clinic in March 2019. Isaiah 43:19 “Behold I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
God, I resign as trailblazer, rescuer, and being the multitasking production team. I choose to just be me. You are my navigator. When my GPS has lost its signal, you will draw a map on my heart. I will just sit here and wait for my soul to catch up with me. I will wait on You. You will never leave me nor forsake me. I choose to rest my weary head on Your chest and feel the comfort of Your embrace. I will listen to Your voice and Your instructions only. Please show me the way that I should go now.