When someone you love is ill everything slows to a stop. The focus of your mind narrows to a pinpoint. Your priorities become clear and all that is less important fades into a grey blur. You want to make it better, wave a magic wand so that all is well and the pain is over. Or take that pain yourself. But you can’t. And nor should you necessarily do so. We learn and gain so much depth and perspective when we go through hard times. Certainly, when I look back on my own life I realize that I would not wish away all the difficulties and tragedies that I have experienced, however painful they were at the time. I have come to see that it is these challenges that provide us with the opportunity to develop some wisdom.
Many years ago I was running a Creativity workshop for Kent County Council and I remember asking the group individually to draw something that gave them a sense of wonder. One woman drew a picture similar to the one below:
When I asked her what the picture meant, she said that once you have children your heart is living many lives, for as they wander around the world on their many journeys, one’s heart is not only on one’s own path but also on theirs. I found it touching and have thought of it often when I think about my children flying across the Atlantic or my grandchildren going to school or nursery for the first time, or taking a school trip. My heart seems to have flown around the world in multiple directions over the last few years. And there is always a sense of relief and gratitude in a safe return, a safe landing. There is also immeasurable joy in a school cup rewarding a 5-year old’s effort, or a 3-year old granddaughter telling me very seriously “When I grow up I want to be a tooth fairy.”