Wrenched my back yesterday grabbing for the big dog’s collar when he was jumping around in the garden. It wasn’t sore at the time, a single twinge, but when I went off to bed I fell asleep, woke and couldn’t sit up, a brutal pain in the lumbar region. Fortunately the beloved housemate was there to help me sit up and then stand. Gradually the pain eased and today I’m fine but moving around gingerly. Back ache is always a worry for me because of the sedentary writer’s lifestyle. I walk and get exercise but nothing counters that habit of sitting each day for six or seven hours at a desk.
Rioting has resumed, shouting and megaphones on the main road. The windows of a large Pentecostal church smashed. Expecting a very long and stressful day.
Luckily, there is always reading online or from books on the shelves around this quiet study. In between trying to write a sentence that says just what I want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less. The shape of a thought-through sentence holds my attention.
This, from the essays of Mary Ruefle
“we each only really speak one sentence in our lifetime. That sentence begins with your first words, toddling around the kitchen, and ends with your last words . . . in a nursing home, the night-duty attendant vaguely on hand. Or, if you are blessed, they are heard by someone who knows you and loves you and will be sorry to hear the sentence end.”
A grey day with rain possible and welcome. The garden bone dry and we may have water restrictions next week. If water pipes break ( a frequent occurrence) there will be nobody to fix them and I keep buckets of water covered with damp towels in the bathroom. All the shops are closed and barricaded, so we rely on milk powder and long-life milk, bake our own bread. With luck the riots will remain sporadic and localised, tail off as wage negotiations continue. The dogs chase yellow butterflies, a cloud of butterflies like a buttery mirage, across the garden. Birds swoop on the nectar of purple buddleia, scratch for grass seeds and the wild fennel browns crisp. What goes on, regardless.
In the cool dark before dawn I sit meditating and then reading my medieval mystics, those men and women so painfully conscious of the absence of God, the unknowable and elusive Presence that could often only be felt as absence and insufficiency. David Bryant writing in the Guardian writes about this ‘unknowing’ from a theistic viewpoint, not my own, but I like what he says here:
Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God’s nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing. This is not as outrageous as it seems. An apophatic thread, a belief that the only way to conceive of God is through conceding that he is ineffable, runs throughout Christian history. Jan van Ruysbroeck, the 14th-century Augustinian and man of prayer, maintained that “God is immeasurable and incomprehensible, unattainable and unfathomable”. St John of the Cross, one of the pillars of western mysticism, put it even more succinctly: “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he travels on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”
Living with uncertainty, that’s how it has to be for now.