Advent – on life’s lessons learned – life and the alternative

when thinking about what to write in this year’s advent I had to bear in mind the fact that my hubby and I, together with several close friends and family are living in worrying times.

Is it perhaps, a sign of growing older, when so many people we know are ill or fighting illness?  Can this be the beginning of a roller coaster ride, until, as my eldest relative is fond of saying ‘everyone has gone, there is only me left’.  Something I have listened to for years, and while understanding where she is coming from, not really paying any heed to how it must feel.

So we began this year knowing that hubby had a medical issue, his broken heart has been well documented here and elsewhere, as has the wonder of the medics who fixed it for him.  It has been somewhat of a shock to discover that all is not as well as we had hoped.  Never mind, we say, life goes on, and it does.  Yet the life that is going on is one that is immeasurably different to the one we expected to be living.  The same goes for several friends, who are also managing to live the life they have, rather than the one they thought they would have.

I am minded to think of others for whom life changes with the spin of a coin, the twist of a wrist, the decision of a politician or the change of the wind. The people who have run from all they know towards a hell on earth, still trying to live and love and make things work.  I am thinking of my family members from childhood who lived through the blitz, at a time when medicine and doctors were for those who could pay.  My Dad’s sisters, one who lost a leg, and continued determined and strong to live a life not disabled by the lack of a limb, but enabled by true courage.  Her sister, lost her life in childbirth, a family gone for the price of a nurse.  Truly tough times.

Challenges, that is the lesson today, the side swiping, crazy, tipping the world upside down moments that come without warning and change everything forever.  How do we cope, and what do we learn?

Following on from our very own year of change, we are coping, as we have always done, by holding on tight, looking for the good, finding and relishing the happy hours in dark days and by refusing to be beaten.  We learn we are stronger than we could ever have believed, that the world isn’t fair, and not everyone has a happy ending.

It seems to me it is not where we end up, but how we travel the road, that is what is important.  At the end of our time we will take nothing away with us, but what will we be leaving behind?  That is the lesson.  For a struggle is just that, a tough time, they all will pass, as do all the good days, the sunshine and the glad to be alive moments. I think the lesson I have learned is to stay in the moment, not to overthink, and above all to not allow worry to diminish joy. For worry has never changed anything, but joy, well that changes everything.

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