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Somewhat Obscured

You may remember that, some months ago, I wrote about going to choose a new wheelchair. (Click here.)

And how I wasn’t overly pleased about having to choose a wheelchair.

But I could see it was sensible.

So I did it.

I ordered one.

And then I put it out of my mind.

Even when the ’ready by’ date had been and gone, I didn’t chase it up.

Out of sight, out of mind.

And then the appointment came through.

The date to try out and collect my chair.

I determinedly called to mind all my previous ‘rainbow wheels’ optimism, but found it strangely lacking.

Oh, it was easy to see rainbows in things like the fact that I live in a country where healthcare is very available.

I’m always thankful for that.

But the rainbow wheels had become somewhat obscured with the passing of time.

 

Nevertheless, I went and sat in the chair.

Wheeled it around.

Hollowly, but at the same time genuinely, admired the workmanship that had gone into it.

It was state of the art.

Then, as I spun round, it was almost like going back in time.

My spin stopped as I was facing a wall.

The wall where I’d seen the rainbow wheel last time.

The wall which, this time, was empty.

 

“Oh,” I said to the salesman, “The wheel’s gone.”

It turned out they’d moved it to another wall.

Carrying on the conversation, I asked whether many people chose the rainbow wheels?

“No, not many.”

How many?

“Well, umm, one,” he said, looking at me rather significantly.

I expressed surprise.

Why wouldn’t people choose rainbow wheels?

He laughed, slightly ironically.

“Emily, ‘rainbow wheels’ are not really a thing…

The multi-coloured wheel is actually there for people to choose one colour for their own wheels.

That’s why your wheelchair took so long to be ready.

It turns out that it takes more time to make a wheel with lots of colours in it.”

It takes more time to make a wheel with lots of colours in it.

A rainbow wheel.

And yet he’d done that.

He’d made extra work for himself.

For me.

 

Sometimes it takes time to find rainbows, too.

 

As my hands pushed my colourful wheels out of the door, rainbows were no longer somewhat obscured.

Shining through rain?

Yes, maybe.

But there all the same.

‘I choose rainbows.

Every time.

Even when they are invisible, I carry on looking.

And I will find them.

I do find them.

Because there are always rainbows somewhere in the rain.’

(Still Emily)

 

Later that day, I was at a Christmas Tree Festival.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Christmas trees in one place.

They all looked lovely, each one differently decorated.

It was a cold, dark night when I arrived.

And this is the very first tree I saw:

rainbow-tree

A rainbow one.

2 In Blog/ Writing

Getting to Christmas

Will you do a pass-the-parcel?

It was a text from my sister, asking me to prepare the game for my niece’s birthday party.

In my family, pass-the-parcel is my job.

Every birthday (and we have a lot of birthdays).

Every Christmas.

I wrap layer after layer after layer.

And I love it.

One Christmas, thinking to expand my festive contribution, I volunteered to make the mince pies.

Politely, although less politely as Christmas-time wore on, everyone munched away.

The next year, the family unanimously asked me not to make the mince pies.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister celebrated her birthday and, true to tradition, I prepared a pass-the-parcel.

As I carried it to the room where the party was being held, I bumped into my three year old nephew.

Seeing the parcel in my hands, his eyes lit up:

“Are we playing pass-the-parcel?”

When I told him that we were, he very confidentially said;

“We need to open it carefully because there will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

Well, I knew that.

I put the surprise in each layer.

But it got me thinking.

“There will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

What he hadn’t said was;

“There’ll be a prize in the middle.”

He knew there would be a prize.

But he knew that getting to the prize was special, too.

It made me think about Christmas.

25th of December.

The ‘prize’ we rush towards and focus on.

So manic and busy that perhaps we forget that actually getting to Christmas can be special, too.

“We need to open it carefully because there will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

Or maybe a surprise to look for in each day.

A surprise we need to be careful to take time to notice.

Or we’ll miss it.

I had a surprise today.

My niece came in from the cold, pink cheeked, with something she’d collected for me.

A surprise.

Some dead leaves.

I said, “thank you,” and turned to carry on with what I was doing.

What else was there to say, really.

But, as I turned, I saw that she was taking those leaves and arranging them into a bouquet.

I paused and watched.

Each leaf was individual and beautiful,

arranged with precision and care,

and I’d nearly not noticed in my rush to carry on with what I was doing.

By the time I was presented with my bouquet, I saw how special my surprise actually was.

Because I’d taken time to notice.

Or perhaps to pause in our pursuit of being ready for December the 25th.

Of having the shopping done and the presents wrapped.

And just take time.

Time to look for special surprises along the way.

 

2 In Blog/ Writing

Granny’s Final Words

“I think the next one should be Esther.”

I held my Granny’s hand as I bent closer to the hospital bed.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“The next one should be Esther.”

And, once again, Granny lapsed out of consciousness.

I sat back down and looked at the hand clasped gently in mine.

Hands were always special to Granny.

I don’t know why.

But she had many hands on the walls of her home.

Pictures of hands, that is.

Perish the thought that even so much as a person’s finger should make contact with the wallpaper.

Looking back, I realised that Granny’s (real) hands had been there for me my entire life.

Helping me through my first steps, my first day at school, to ride a bike.

Nursing me through hospital and recuperation.

Many times.

Clapping me on through concerts, sporting events, exams results….

A little over two years ago, those hands clapped as my first books were published.

The first two books, 30 Days with Mary and 30 Days with Elijah, came in September.

Granny eagerly devoured them.

Her hands turned their pages.

Picked up a pencil and made notes.

Things she wanted to ask me.

By the time 30 Days with John came, just a couple of months later, Granny was ill.

She’d been diagnosed with aggressive cancer.

Which is why I was sitting beside her hospital bed.

My gaze travelled from our joined hands and rested on her other hand.

Which rested on a book.

My third.

It had literally been released that day.

Well, not even released yet, but I had some pre-release copies.

And I’d taken the first one straight to Granny.

Unsure whether she’d register that I was there, let alone the book, I placed it under her hand on the bed sheet anyway.

After a time – perhaps it was hours – Granny opened her eyes.

She felt something beneath her hand.

And her eyes lit up for a second as she realised what it was.

She drifted off again.

After a time – perhaps it was hours – Granny opened her eyes.

And that’s when she spoke:

“I think the next one should be Esther.”

Almost the last thing Granny ever said.

Fast forward a couple of years, and it was my turn to pick up a pencil.

Well, a pen.

To sign a contract.

For my next two books.

20161011_155104

Granny thought the next one should be Esther.

And it will.

30 Days with Esther will be published by Authentic Media in 2017.

As will 30 Days with David.

2 In Blog/ Writing

Learning the Value of Cake

When it comes to craft, there are two kinds of people: 

Those who are good at it.

And those who aren’t.

I fall firmly into the latter category.

I struggle to even thread a needle.

Which is why much of my GCSE applique was glued rather than stitched.

Which probably contributed to the fact that I didn’t get a very good grade.

Last week, however, I went to a craft evening and was surprised by the outcome of my efforts.

The result was not bad at all.

I attribute this to two things:

1.       It was nearly impossible to go wrong.

2.       There was lots of glue involved.

Our task that evening was to decorate a word shape.

In any way we chose.

The word was ‘love’.

We sat around a table, gluing and sticking and chatting.

By the end, we’d each produced a decorated word.

The same word as someone else.

But none looked the same.

We’d chosen to place the decorations differently.

Outwardly, each was unique.

But, underneath, the word itself remained the same.

Love.

When the evening was over, I looked at my still-dripping-with-wet-glue word, and I thought about how differently the same it was from the others.

 same-thing-diff-words

Or, in our case, we were saying the same thing in different glue styles.

Differently the same.

Love.

One of my favourite quotes is:

love-one-another

Jesus said this.

And I think that part of loving one other is learning to recognise love in others.

Cake is a good example:

My Granny really enjoyed baking and cooking.

If I was going through a tough time, perhaps just home after a spell in hospital, she would often turn up unexpectedly with a cake she’d made for me.

Now, cake was the last thing I wanted.

But I learned that it wasn’t really about the cake.

It was Granny’s way of showing love to me.

And, as I learned to recognise that, the ‘unwanted cake’ became precious.

It would also be fair to say that baking someone a cake would rarely, if ever, be the first thing that popped into my mind if I wanted to show love.

Differently the same.

A couple of days after my creative endeavour, the glue finally dried.

I looked around for a shelf for my masterpiece and my gaze fell on the piano.

There was no music score there.

I rarely play these days.

Like a big gap, the music stand stood empty.

piano-love

Love filled the gap.

Love’s good at doing that…