Joy Comes in the Morning

I seem to have a thing these days about having songs run through my head, before I fall asleep. (Did I ever tell y'all about singing "row, row, row your boat" through labour?)

My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music was running through my head last night. I'll spare you the singing, 'cause you're a good friend, and I just don't want to do that to you. But it got me to thinking.

I have someone in my family, who is, shall we say, plastic-y. She's a rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens kind of girl. She sticks to the cute and the cuddly, and keeps her mind off bad things by sticking her fingers in her ears and chanting Jesus Loves Me. I can't stand talking to her. It's painful. I'm not mean, and I'm not violent, but I want to shove her, face first into the real tragedy and pain in the world.

When I was in University, it was fashionable to live in angst. To be cynical and despairing of the world. To blame a vast right wing, left wing, alien conspiracy for everything. Everything was going to hell in a hand basket.

Then there's me. I'm grumpy some times. I dwell on things that upset me. I keep reading Boundless, which makes me despair of there ever being intelligent Christian Evangelicals. I think that there are some honest politicians, that I don't pay too much in taxes (this is actually a rant of mine), that there are marriages that work, not all children in daycare turn into sociopaths, and that when given tools and skills, people often have a surprising ability to make good decisions for themselves.

There's tragedy in the world. People die for no reason, people in our world live in mind numbing, soul crushing poverty. Children die of preventable diseases. Babies die right after birth. I'm living tragedy right now. I can't make it go away. I don't want to be plastic, but I want to try to choose my attitude. I was so relieved when the therapist I saw told me that Gabriel's death would be a part of me, it would change me, but I didn't have to let it define me. It could just be part of my life. I'm broken now, I'm going to be broken for awhile, but I won't be broken forever. Jesus loves me, and joy comes in the morning. I'm in the night right now, and that's ok.

Mr. Spit and I are having some problems with our family and with the Whiny Thursday Friend. It looks very much like some friendships are going to end. Late Wednesday night I was thinking: "We have no friends. No one likes us. No one supports us. We are all alone." We stayed home from church last weekend because we didn't feel welcome, and no one cared enough to call. Before I knew it, I was in a right pout.

In actual fact, before the pout, I spent most of Wednesday night knitting with a friend. I enjoy spending time with her. I enjoy talking to her. We talk about politics, about life, a little bit about religion, about feminism. . . And I enjoy it. She's smart and funny and witty and genuine. And I look forward to seeing her.

It occurs to me: the purpose of thinking about good things is to gain some balance. It's like driving: where we look on the road is where our car is going to be. It's easy to focus entirely on the negative. Or the positive. Spend too much time in one camp, and you wind up in the ditch.

My attitude doesn't change my circumstances. I can't make Gabriel come back, I can't remove my tragedy. I can't stop being sad. I can't keep friends and family that I'm going to have to move away from. I can ignore my sadness, and focus on kittens and roses. I can mindlessly mouth bible verses about God providing, and chant Jesus Loves Me. I can insist that Gabriel is in heaven, and I have no reason to be sad. I think that's plastic.

I suspect grief has a way of ensuring you go through it. You either turn and face it and keep walking, or you spend the rest of your life running away from it. I'd rather walk through it now, and keep the faith that there will be a morning, and joy will be in it.

My attitude changes my capacity to respond to my circumstances. I can choose to save my energy for the difficult work of grief. I can choose to grieve actively, to grieve fully, and to take what joy I can, where I find it. I can choose to try and keep my focus balanced on the good and the bad.

And in this long, dark night, I'll take what pleasure I can in my favourite things.

Here are a few of mine:

- Ann's baby has kidneys!

-knitting with friends

-how my husband makes me laugh

-a good cup of coffee in the morning

-being surrounded by smart people

-good music

-cheesecake ice cream with sour cherries and graham crackers mixed in

No prizes for sharing yours, except that maybe your perception will change, just a little bit. We'd all enjoy hearing about yours.

And go over and wish Ann well, will you? A baby with kidney's is a big prayer of many of us. A reminder to some of us that God is with us, and things go the way they should, sometimes.