(photo thanks to Justin DoCanto at Unsplash)
This afternoon I had a long to-do list, on the last day of a hectic March. It was sunny outside. People say if you put your laptop in a cardboard box, you can still work in the sunlight, without it making the screen illegible.
But that hasn’t worked for me yet. Squinting through my varifocals, I still can’t see the screen clearly.
And did I mention it was sunny outside?
I’d already put the washing on the line, a simple Spring ritual I relish. Living in a flat for most of my life, with no garden, means I still love the novelty of a peg. Pegging clothes for sunlight & fresh breezes to dry is still a joy. Even when the entire wash seems to consist of 137 socks, I love to peg. One sock is always hiding, ofcourse…
After the washing, I should have been getting on with my to-do list. Emails to reply to, emails to write, emails to send, articles to write, sessions to plan etc. But it was sunny outside. And the forecast for tomorrow didn’t have big yellow cartoon sun symbols on it, so it probably won’t be sunny tomorrow.
So it would be rude not to go outside, wouldn’t it?
I wrote a funeral service last week, for my work as a Civil Celebrant, and wrote a line about how important it is sometimes in life to ‘turn our faces to the sun’. And right now, so many loved ones are struggling with all sorts of things, and life in 2021 is far from simple for any of us at the moment. We’re all just doing our best.
Sometimes we really do have to turn our faces to the sun. Not just metaphorically, although that is certainly true. When things get really difficult, stressful and broken, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to try and find that chink of light that Leonard Cohen wrote about. ‘There is a crack in everything… that’s where the light gets in.’
Over the last year of lockdown, many of us have had to repeatedly remind ourselves, or nudge ourselves to turn our faces to the sun, to try and find some light in the darkest of days, as that is the only way we can keep going. Finding our way out of the dark one tiny bit at a time.
And sometimes you just have to go and sit in the sunshine in the garden, on the swing and enjoy the sun. It can be rare in the UK, so if it’s at all possible, when we can, to go out and relish and appreciate it. Even just a half hour break, with a cup of tea.
Humans are a lot like plants… some sunshine, and water helps us grow in places where we’re welcomed. Just sitting in the garden, hearing the chattering of bird song, watching robins, blackbirds, sparrows and blue tits at the bird feeders and then splashing around in the bird bath.
Seeing the signs of new leaves growing on the lilac and blackberries, and last year’s chard getting a spurt of new growth. Gazing at the cuddly furry bees waggling around, and spotting butterflies just doing whatever they were doing fluttering round our little garden.
Bliss. Utter bliss.
I’m not so important that my to-do list couldn’t wait till tomorrow. Sometimes we just need to sit and do nothing at all, other than observe what is going on around us. Notice the world carrying on quite happily in spite of whatever dramas are currently consuming us.
Then I went for walk and called a friend who is still recovering from surgery. She sounded a lot brighter and much more herself than when we last spoke, and is able to go for short walks or hobbles. This is the good stuff. All part of that sunshine we turn our faces towards, with gratitude. Finding the cracks where the light gets in won’t always involve actual sunlight. Although on days like today it does.
I took a book outside, ‘The phonebox at the edge of the world’, which a friend had kindly sent as a gift. One of those exquisitely written books that you want to read just a few pages at at time and savour each phrase like a morsel of the finest chocolate truffle.
So after a few pages, I marked the page and tucked it in the shade under the swing and savoured the last few minutes of sun. I had to move the swing around a few times as the sun moved, or tucked behind buildings. This reminded me of that phrase ‘turn our faces to the sun’. Sometimes it takes a bit more work than that, like getting up and moving the swing, or chair.
Sometimes it takes walking to the local park, or driving to somewhere open, or flying off on holiday to be in the sun… maybe one day in the future we’ll be able to do that again. But for now, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, or local park, and we’re lucky enough to get some sunshine through April… we can turn our faces to the sun and let it shine on us.
If you take your chocolate eggs with you, keep them in the shade, or you might need a teaspoon to enjoy your chocolate smoothie!