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Catch for us the foxes,
    the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
    our vineyards that are in bloom.

Song of Songs 2:15

In its context, that verse above is talking about protecting a budding romantic relationship, but mum and I have long used it in a more general sense. The little foxes that break in and ruin your joy or your contentment. The tiny things that erode, that chip away, that pull on a thread and unravel everything. So many times I find myself overreacting or getting upset or sad or whatever about something and when I stop and analyse it, I can see it’s the cumulative effect of all the little foxes ruining things. And the result of that is that it takes my eyes off God, and makes me self-absorbed and self-pitying.

Today the final little fox that…broke the camel’s back…hang on, I’ve gotten tangled in metaphor…anyway, the tipping point was a council clean up.

The day started with waking up from a series of troubling dreams after finding it very hard to go to sleep. But I was determined to get up, to get going, to have a shower, to start the day well. But one tiny thing after another started to irritate me. The kitchen bin I hadn’t emptied into the compost that was overflowing. The broody hen needing to be tipped out of the eggless nest again and me wondering whether she’s actually sick and I’m neglecting her and feeling guilty that I don’t have the energy to do anything about it. Finding the elderly cat has recommenced her campaign of expressing her extreme displeasure about being an elderly cat by pissing on things, this time my thongs (which I discovered when I put my feet into said thongs). Having to deal with more cat unpleasantness in the garage. But the final thing was getting a call from the council in reply to my query as to why they hadn’t told me my pick up date for the annual clean up, even though I’d registered for it in September, and I could see our neighbours putting stuff out for collection. Evidently, something went wrong or I didn’t submit the form or something because even though I clearly remember doing it, they have no record of us booking. And they will not be doing any more collections until this time next year. Sorry.

None of these things are big in themselves. They’re just little irritations. Tiny little foxes.

But next thing I know, I’m in floods of tears, sobbing about (get ready for the Rollercoaster of Irrationality): how I have no capacity to deal with any of this; how I’m 45 and still feel like my life hasn’t begun; how I can’t do the most basic of things, how I can’t even schedule a council clean up properly so how can I even earn a living; how this invisible chronic illness makes a mockery of me and how very few people actually understand it and probably everyone thinks it’s psychosomatic or completely made up and how ridiculous it is anyway; how I’ve been trying so hard not to just lie in bed all day but maybe that’s all I’m actually good for; how by the time you get to my age people are CEOs and State Premiers and running schools and having careers and if I haven’t gotten married and had a family then shouldn’t I have been concentrating on a career at least; how am I 45 and have nothing to show for it.

Even as I sit in my beautiful house. Even as I think about my insanely expensive flute and having the ability to play it well. Even as I easily create things that others have no idea how to do. Even as I look at all the work I’ve managed to do in the last several weeks in spite of being unwell. Even as I know in a deep-seated place that I am a beloved woman of God and my worth is not in what I own or achieve. Even as I know that I am loved by many people, and I have many dear friends. Even as I know that people look at me and think I have it all together and might even be, dare I say, envious of me from time to time (not that that’s my aim in life!). Even as I look at the rich and luscious nature around me, the abundant trees, the delightful wild animals and birds, the quiet and calmness of our garden. Even as I reflect back and think despite all I’ve been through in these 45 years, I’m still here and I’m still moving forward (no matter how slowly) and I’m still trying to fix my eyes on Jesus in the midst of the wind and the waves.

I stopped crying as mum talked me down off my ledge. But I couldn’t help the words escaping my mouth: “I hate being alive. I hate having to be an adult.”

Neither of these things is true. I don’t want to die, and being an adult is a privilege. But I’m tired of the foxes.

I might go for another walk to the middle of the Tamar again today if I have time; I went yesterday but only got a little way in. But I recognise that a) I really need to start at least walking more and b) that sitting on one of the bridge benches, just staring out at the horizon, watching the swans doing their swan business, delighting in the blue wrens dipping and flitting everywhere, hearing the shushing of the reeds, letting time pass and letting my mind quiet and letting the truth of who I am and my worth bubble up…it is a good balm. Eremos.

Photo by Sunguk Kim on Unsplash