As many of you know, I am currently writing my second book. Now, there are those, including at least one friend, who think I am more than a little unhinged to be doing this with a timescale of next May, alongside a busy, six days a week, working life. I have no sabbatical this time to bail me out.
This particular book is also more difficult to write, for various reasons, not least that its topic, Tears, is making me address my relationship with my own tears which, as I explain in the introduction, has been rather ambivalent. This book is, at least in parts, more personal and as any writer will tell you, putting yourself out there is difficult enough.
So yesterday I had a moment. 7 chapters in, I almost had a second of thinking ‘I can do this’ when I counted and realised that meant there were still 10 to go, and some of the most difficult ones at that. Could I really do this? Who was I kidding?
I did what anyone would do. I ate chocolate. Lindt, of course.
And then I went for a walk. As I walked, I remembered other walks I had been on, where, having gone quite some distance, I realised I had still got to get back, and had over-reached myself. Clearly I’m no athlete. There’s no option though in those circumstances – you just have to keep going. When that happens I concentrate hard – one step, then another, then a third. Don’t focus on the bits that hurt, just put one foot in front of the other. And of course in the end I always made it back to the cup of tea.
It seems to me life is sometimes like that. We simply don’t know how we are going to keep going. It might be what we have set ourselves up for, or it might be the stuff, sometimes really horrific, that life throws at us. But we find ourselves overwhelmed, and there is no metaphorical bench to take a rest on.
Jesus spoke about taking up our cross and following him, which in their culture would definitely have meant walking. I don’t think he meant carrying some burden, rather that each day we have to let go of things, surrender them as he was going to his life on the cross. There are plenty of things we have to give up – attitudes, petty selfishness, ambitions for ourselves - to live our best lives as God intends.
But that was not what struck me yesterday. Rather it was we are following him. So as he takes a step, so can we. And in the end, he will lead us home.
So today I will write another word or two, and remember who it is that walks ahead.