Friday, March 8, 2013

that moment when...

It's my first day at university, and I'm at an orientation event for a Christian group. I sit in a plastic chair listening to a bespectacled guy speaking on the topic "Good people make God vomit", which intrigues me more than a little. One year later, I give up my medical course and start an arts degree. I've found my vocation: I want to work with uni students, to teach young women about Jesus. Twenty-five years later, kids growing up, I walk back into uni to lead a girls' Bible study, and the past ripples through my mind. I love this as much as ever.

That moment when the world spins...

At that very first meeting, up the back of the room, I notice this guy. He's sitting frog-like, cross-legged on a table, brown legs clad in 80's-style brightly patterned shorts. As girls do, I register: yep, he's cute. His hair is short, his eyes blue. He laughs, head thrown back, and his laughter echoes across the room. Four years later, and we're a cliché: the cautious early days, the Christian uni romance, the all-too-long engagement. We're married, setting up home in a tiny flat filled with the noise of passing trains. Twenty-five years on, and our home is bigger, bursting at the scenes, and our marriage so much more than it used to be.

That moment when the world spins on its axis...

A few weeks into uni, I notice this girl at our Christian group. She has long, dark hair, and there's something about her. She has a quiet presence and a listening ear. She's thoughtful and reflective. She's funny. In my usual deliberate way, I decide I'd like to be friends with her. I sit nearby. We chat. The years pass, and another friend joins us to pray. Together, we live through it all: the free-and-easy uni days, marriage and children, suffering. We uncurl dozens of curly topics. We share and discuss hundreds of books. We weep and laugh and pray. Twenty-five years later, it's hard to imagine travelling this journey alone.

That moment when the world spins on its axis, and everything shifts around you...

I've been at uni for a year or so, and I'm chock-full of doubts. Do I believe what my parents told me? Is Christianity real? I delve into books and beg God for help and ask questions of anyone willing to listen. Piece by piece, I build the intellectual scaffolding that will support my adult faith, but it's not enough. One day, I open the gospel of Mark. I try to read like I've never read this before. The guy on the page speaks and dies and rises. He won't let me off the hook and he fills every corner of longing and his love can't be denied. There will still be doubts, but life without him is unimaginable.

That moment when the world spins on its axis, and everything shifts around you, and life...

My long uni days nearly over, I get the news we've been waiting for: I'm pregnant. On my way to tell my husband, walking the straight path by the cemetery, I'm floating, feet treading air. And my daughter is born and three sons come later and it's everything we hoped for and harder than I ever knew. It's sleepless nights and sacrifice. It's dreams laid aside and dreams fulfilled, noise till you can't bear it and chaos over the edge of patience. It's repetitive labour and a thousand sparkling memories. It's a small hand in mine and a child's ardent kisses and a teenager who's become a friend.

That moment when the world spins on its axis, and everything shifts around you, and life will never be the same again.


This was written in response to Meredith's Prompted to write.

8 comments:

Jane Lister said...

What a beautifully descriptive and thoughtful post, Jean. I wonder what paragraphs you might add with the living of another 25 years?

Jean said...

Well, I did consider adding one on blogging, but I thought I'd written enough... :D

rachi said...

Beautiful reflections...

Sarah said...

Lovely. So well written.

Meredith said...

Gorgeous writing and gorgeous post. Thanks so much Jean.
Mxx

Catherine said...

I love this post Jean. Beautiful images and memories so well distilled!

Shona McCarthy said...

That was great! You really are a talented writer!

Jean said...

Thanks, friends, for your kind encouragement.