Saturday, May 23, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week, day 6

The wind is wild today, whistling tunelessly through the fixtures and fittings of the house. Part of me wants to hunker down until it blows itself out; part of me has already had enough of hunkering down.

The wind makes my wife feel anxious, she says; reminding her of all those camping holidays when we have wondered whether the tent would be torn away from us*. It makes me feel sad, though I cannot put my finger on why, and perhaps I am mistaking anxiety for sadness; but while clarity can be helpful, sometimes it is more helpful to resist the temptation to probe deeper.

Mental health includes the full range of (basic) emotions and (in response) feelings and thoughts, in the present moment and tapping into our shared histories, some fleeting and others more enduring. This is mystery, both universal and of great diversity, that draws us out from ourselves and closer together with our neighbour, and our Creator.

I cannot stop the wind from blowing. I cannot even, by direct effort, rewrite the script of how I respond. But I can choose to foster—by degrees, and as much as I am able—a reverent wonder for that response, and for that of others. You are a miracle, a holy mystery; and so am I. Wild; and, sometimes, tuneless.

*Including the time when she spent a sleepless night in Aviemore while I slept, having seen a vision of Jesus or an angel sitting in the tent, but failing to tell Jo ... the time at Clachtoll when the site manager came to ask if we would like to spend the night in an empty static caravan ... the time, taking down our trailer tent at Dunstanburgh when the wind filled the great sail of canvas and twisted and snapped the metal frame beyond repair ... and other times, none of which have prevented us from going camping again.

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