Nothing stays the same – but knowing that doesn’t seem to stop my expectations that I am in control and some things will stay as I want them. Then In mid- January there was a hail storm that knocked out the bathroom skylight, peppered our flat roof with tiny dints and left cracks and holes in the laser light that runs the length of the back veranda.
The storm over, we cleared the veranda, secured a tarp over the hole in the bathroom ceiling, discovered a length of guttering swinging from the car port, and finally looked up at the sweep of hailstones littered with leaves and twiggy branches covering the rocky space we call our garden.
The little shrubs had a squashed look, the bigger ones like they’d had a raggedy home haircut. The one wattle tree and two bottle brushes that I had nurtured for their first couple of years, now stood nakedly amid the leaf litter, while the upper branches of the many gum trees that shield and protect the houses scattered through our little valley, had been shredded.
Now it’s not the same. We’ve kind-of lost our privacy – and instead of leafy trees, the back of the house behind us has been revealed in all its one-day –they’re- going –to fix –this state.
I’ve spent the days since wondering why I feel so bereft. Unlike people whose houses and belongings were swallowed up by bush fire, I’ve lost nothing. Insurance will fix the damage to the house and the garden will recover, as will our bushy surrounds – but unexpectedly something as small as shredded gum leaves moved me out of my comfort zone.
That happens a lot in the second half of life and revs up the older one gets. Nothing stays the same, and certainly not the weather Some of the changes are big, like relationships that don’t seem to balance the way they used to, physical strength levels that begin to dip and what used to be a too-full life can begin to feel a bit empty. We might even decide that now we have time for God, only to discover that the comforts of childhood religion are nowhere to be found.
Then there are the small challenges, pin pricks really, and they can be much harder to accept.
Whatever it is that pushes us out of our comfy spot has the potential to edge us further into a life that is less selfish, moving us ever closer to the God blueprint impressed on our soul. Or we can complain, endlessly mulling over the unfairness of whatever it is, letting it dominate our conversation and disturbing our sleep. I can be good at that.
For the next few months, or even longer, I know that I will miss the thickish leaf canopy that filtered the sunlight and gave me the impression that I lived in a screened garden. I’ll fill green bin after green bin with the left-behind leaf litter and try to thank God for the damaged beauty around me.