The weather could not be more beautiful - not too hot, occasionally sunny, occasionally cloudy, ready to water the garden for me for free. I am sitting in my favorite cafe (Flower Power in Enfield) listening to the steady but seductively inspiring strumming of Jack Johnson.
Flowers, birds and tall palm trees dominate the space in front of me. It's time to take stock once again of where we are in the real world of life as it is lived not imagined or stressed about.
Ideally I'd be in a holiday house, on the verandah, watching my children play with their grandchildren on the beach, walking meditatively amongst the luxuriant bush untouched by recent fire or flood, or driving through the country with a non-urgent mission of discovery. Life cannot be more privileged for those of us who live free from poliical or community fear, or from the effect of a disaster. As I sip my coffee - affordable even though I am almost penniless - millions struggle to find shelter, grieve for lost opportunities and nurse heart aches for tragic separation from loved ones. But for me, despite the long hours I currently put in to establishing a business, learning new skills, keeping a house and family fed and educated, I can still dream as I close my fifth decade of life. I can still dream, plan, pursue goals - certainly with more confidence that my fellow humans in much of the world. I still have a house, a business, and I have opportunity.
That is not to say that I have not had challenges which have at times robbed me of things I loved whether personal plans, family, wealth or health. But that's okay, because life is all about challenges.
The Pope was asked over Easter by a 7 year old Japanese girl, still traumatized by the earthquake and tsunami "Why do children have to suffer such sadness?" He did not have an answer.
But I have an answer, because as a child, for reasons that were inexplicable to me but not to those around me, I woke each day to fear of failure and unfathomable heartache. Sleep beckoned only with a black eternity, spinning away into infinity. Relationships begun in hope were tainted by fears of rejection and although outwardly happy, inwardly I lurched from desperation to self-loathing. But I'm not sorry for it, even though I wish I could reach out to that child that was me and reassure her that such tough times would pass, that she would discover hope and belief and personal success.
This is life - and you'd better not forget it before it's all over. It's easy to be seduced by these delicious luxuries - the warm poppyseed friand covered in syrup and cream that I am deliciously rolling around my mouth. These are privileges - the ups. But life is not lived without the downs, classically sketched by the simple poetic image of a field of beautiful waving grass, inevitably replaced with dead stalks ready to be dug into the earth for a new crop.(Quran 87:4,5)
Loss and suffering are the root of life's challenges (We have certainly created man into hardship Quran 90:4) - how do you measure up, who do you care for, who are your real friends, what unknown resources do you find - the source of poetry, art, real love and real appreciation.
I feel sorry for the leader of the church who cannot adequately explain these matters which are the heart of the 'why?' in man's search for meaning, and so happy that I can turn to the words of the Creator for a deep and satisfying understanding of the choppy waves of my existence.
Yep, the hard work over the past six months means I can thank God for the exquisiteness of sitting detached in this comfortable, luxurious, busy environment. And return refreshed to the challenges that have been set for me in the remaining days of my life.