A friend brought me a potted plant the other day. She has recently joined Bink’s prayer group: a bunch of friends I update by email. (We are a select group: you have to select yourself.)
A growing number have only ever heard of Bink. They hope and pray for her, unseen.
I confess, my new friend had picked up that I have been discouraged recently.
Professor Paul Salkovskis once told me OCD is the most contagious of mental illnesses. In truth, I suspect all madness illness is highly infectious. It spreads its smoky invisible tendrils to anyone close enough to love and embrace and be brought down by it.
Thus one’s mood, caring for Bink and loving her, can switch and double back almost as sickeningly as her own.
Depression looms for life.
The sparse occasionally following suddenly seems able to overcome all.
Only to be dashed by deeper despair.
My friend is herself a vicar’s wife. We’d only met once before.
Ben occasionally plays the organ in her husband’s church. Not, he says, because the fee even begins to make the work worth it. But because any vicar running several small country parishes, who respects a musician enough to offer him any mite at all, deserves all the support we can give him. (He would know: he also plays for a big, snazzy church which could afford ten times as much… and can’t see the point.)
Rose played for his midnight communion last Christmas. Exhausted from school, and terrified. He doubled her fee... because (he claimed) it was unsocial hours but really because I told him she is saving up to help in an orthopaedic hospital in Malawi the summer after next, now she has decided to be a doctor. And when you’re fifteen, double an amount which your big brother considers inconsequential can be very consequential indeed.
(So if you can use a decent harpist for your next event, to help the Malawian trip along, I’m more than happy to act as Rose’s agent.)
So we then got to meet the vicar’s family because they borrowed Shaun’s dippy Great Dane. Why anyone would want Shaun’s dippy Great Dane is a blog all on its own...
So she rang my doorbell the other day, and said, I’ve brought you this.
Oh, is it tulips? Thank you!
I’ve no idea, she said. It’s hidden. And will one day be beautiful.
I planted it straight away, just outside the front door, where I will see it every day.
(I planted bulbs before. In a window box for my parents’ kitchen window, shortly after they’d moved in with us. When I should have been working… but I knew my mother would love them so much.
The following spring she lay in the cold, sodden earth. And the bulbs came up to bless me instead.)
Last night I needed the radio through most of the night. Melvin Bragg. I am steadily working through all eight hundred of In Our Times.
Faith. The assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of things unseen.
Sometimes we have to go on believing in something we can’t see. Not even the green shoots.
Yes, even when it’s really dumb.