By Clare Boyd-Macrae
6 August 2022
My mama told me, there’ll be days like this. For non-Van fans, the first verse of Van Morrison’s classic goes like this and the song continues in this vein: When it’s not always raining/when there’s no one complaining/when everything falls into place like the flick of a switch/well my mama told me there’ll be days like this. You get the picture.
I had a “day like this” last week. I’d just finished working at an intense conference, which took a lot of work beforehand and then 14-hour days at the gig itself. I was knackered, but the event had gone well, it was done, it was dusted. The night it wound up, I slept better than I had for weeks, and the next morning, the sun was shining and I felt renewed.
I walked to our local radiography clinic for a long overdue X-ray, feeling lucky that I have easy access to such tools. The way there is along a fledgling park planted under a new overhead railway. I hadn’t walked there for a while, and the plants were growing and lush, covering the concrete pylons more than they used to. There were book boxes and children’s playgrounds, a dog park and table tennis, and I marvelled at the capacity for people, just occasionally, to create beauty out of the most unpromising material.
I met my younger daughter for lunch and on the way we met a Staffy – my favourite breed – who not only grinned at me and let me caress her ears, but even rolled over like a big sook and let me scratch her tummy.
While we waited for our coffees, my girl, who has been so sick for so long but was having a better day, pointed out some blue and white mugs sitting nearby in a hard rubbish collection. I pounced, discovering that as well as being in my favourite kitchen colours, they were by one of my favourite potters.
Over the last decade in our family there have been plenty of the other kinds of days. Days when you simply put one foot in front of the other and try to keep yourself kind. I’ve learned to revel in the days of uncomplicated happiness. I used to feel guilty about such times, now I accept that they are as much part of the human condition as suffering and death, that they are a divine gift to be held to our hearts in delicious delight, storing up warmth and connection and simple content for the darker times.
The monastics taught “otium sanctum” – holy leisure. Jesus took time to feast, hang with friends, or be by himself. The principle of Sabbath is central to the Jewish and Christian faiths and essential to maintaining the life of discipleship over the long haul.
In my sixties, I’ve learnt that rest is a holy discipline, that the creator God made us to need leisure and joy and companionship, and that I am living in God’s way when I let myself delight in “days like this”.