My dream of growing old with you, my Beloved, has died with you. What dreams can be birthed anew for me? I did not die with you. How am I taking back life when it is without your breath next to me?
One dream I take back is to have a sanctuary at the sea. A safe space where people can come to rest and be restored. Where their soul can find its song again. Where I can live my unique God design to comfort, equip, encourage and inspire. Last week I wanted to run away from this house, this space where I fought for your life the past four years. This space where your despair became too much for you to bear. How can I live where you died? All the books on grief advise against making drastic changes in the first six months. Our rental contract expires at the end of January 2021. How do I get from here to there?
I will be a sanctuary for others in pain. And immediately opportunity raises its hand. I counsel a beautiful young woman with a mercy heart on Zoom. She dissolves in tears saying: “I am so lonely.” “Why don’t you come and have lunch with me on Sunday? I can put a chicken in the oven and make us some salad.” “I can eat chicken,” she replied hesitantly. I burst into laughter and said: “My good listening skills detect that you might be a vegetarian.” She was actually a vegan. I remembered about a vegan recipe with flair that you once made for a friend of ours, my Beloved. So, on Sunday we had lunch together on the stoep. The sun warmed our bodies. Our conversation warmed our hearts. We lent each other the comfort of conversation and connection. Neither of us were lonely.
A student of yours sent a message that she is considering leaving the course. Her laptop has broken, and she has a bad internet connection for the following week’s Zoom webinar. I invited her to come and work at my house on my laptop and attend the Zoom webinar there as well. We have soup together for lunch. She laughs when she tells me a story. She had finished two reports in the morning. She has new hope. “It is so quiet here with you,” she says. “There where I live (nine minutes’ drive away) all you constantly hear are the sounds of gunshots.”
I do not have to wait until I have a sanctuary at the sea to be a sanctuary to others. In the words of Graham Cooke: Lord, I give You permission to get my attention, even when I am not paying attention. Help me to be sensitive to the needs of others and provide some shelter emotionally, physically and spiritually where I can.
Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You (Psalm 38:9). While I hold onto You to bring about my dream in its fullness, I will with joy obey Your heart’s desire to love: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Annette de la Porte.