Friday, 6 January 2012

The Ache of Loneliness Continued: To Everything there is a Season

I have spent much of the last few weeks watching the world from my car window. Several moments have really stood out for me and I’ve been carrying them with me in the memory bank of my soul. The first was the journey to Great Hucklow for the Urmston Christmas dinner. It was a beautiful sight to behold, the pure white fields and the lonely winter trees, stretching out from cold pale ground. There is something very beautiful about the trees in winter. These lifeless stick like sculptures stretching out from the ground are stripped right down to the bone. They look vulnerable and exposed, but they are not. By next spring life will have returned and I know this scene will be very different. If I travel that way again I will see the new lambs and the rolling fields, separated by dry stone walls and the trees will once again be bursting into life.

To everything there is definitely a season

I have also been carrying the most wondrous image of the deepest richest coloured rainbow I have ever seen. I saw it on the morning of the Advent Service on my way to Urmston. I always like to travel the back way there and it was a beautiful morning that day. I saw the rainbow as I got near the football training grounds - no it wasn’t coming from United’s or City’s or Sale Shark’s for that matter. It was stretching from the Lymm area and it only seemed half formed when I first caught sight of it - As I turned towards Flixton I saw the other side of the rainbow. It seems that the pot of gold is actually in Flixton and not those training grounds full of those rich and famous men.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the M62 these past couple of weeks, travelling to and from Yorkshire, visiting family and friends. I love that time in the car, looking ahead, focused but relaxed about what I am doing and listening to music I love. So many times as I pass the white rose symbol at the side of the road I am listening to “Green and Grey” a song by my great love New Model Army. It is a song about where I come from in the world and it’s also a song about never forgetting where you come from; it is a song about remembering your roots, where ever you are in the world on your journey of life. This always brings “The Wizard of Oz” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and that simple message of “there’s no place like home”, to my mind. Home for me these days in anywhere I no longer feel alone.

I have been reflecting and talking a lot about the ache of loneliness this winter, ever since I heard the news of the suicide of Gary Speed. Gary was one of my footballing heroes, part of that great Leeds United midfield that pipped Alex Fergusons Manchester United to the title. Fame and fortune does not make us immune from life’s troubles. That beautiful rainbow stretched to Flixton, it did not land on the training grounds of Carrington.

I witnessed a beautiful manmade site from my car window. It happened on Boxing Day as I travelled back to Altrincham. I was approaching Stott Hall farm (the farm in the middle of the two carriageways of the M62), coming towards me was this stream of yellow lights and moving away from me was this stream of red lights and smack bang in the middle of all of this was this farm, this island. Two streams of traffic going in opposite directions, to who knows where and who knows why. For some reason this brought Ecclesiastes 3 to my mind, especially the lines “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and time to dance.” I suppose this view from my window brought these words to my mind because this is exactly how I have experienced the last few weeks.  I have known moments of joy and great laughter but also mourning, sadness and some weeping. There have been times to cry.

Ecclesiastes 3 has stood the test of time. There is good reason for this; it speaks an eternal and universal truth that everyone can relate to. These words from this ancient source link we who live today with the generations that have walked the earth before us. People who have travelled one way or another, ok they may not have travelled in streams of red and yellow lights, but they have journeyed through life. They have travelled through their own dark valleys and emerged at the other side. These words remind me that the strength and patience that can elude all of us at our worst moments has felt elusive to all people in all generations at some point or another and yet they came through the tough times.

I see parallels here with the phrase “This too shall pass”. Nothing is permanent and nothing lasts forever. Some folk are travelling in one direction and others perhaps in another and we all usually travel back the same way at some time. No one will ever escape the pain of life, but that’s ok because if we remain open we will also know life’s joy. Yes there is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to dance; there is a time to weep, but there is also a time to laugh.

I was invited to party on Christmas Eve. There were many people there, most of who I have come to know during my time in Altrincham. It was a really good time, lots of jollity and laughter was had by all. In the middle of the party I got into conversation with someone I quite like, someone it would seem I have grown to love to talk to in short time I’ve known her. She knows a little bit about my life and was asking some questions, that I found difficult to engage with. The subject of Ethan and Claire came up and for whatever reason I found it difficult to talk about them, there and then. I suspect that this is because I haven’t for a while or maybe it was because I was in a public place and I was afraid to express my pain. This is probably the more honest reason. I am someone who still finds it hard to show their pain, to express my vulnerability. I am making progress though.

It is a familiar trait that so many of we men seem to suffer from, some women do too, but I suspect that it is we males who suffer from it more. I suspect that half the reason is that we fear that if we let the pain out we may never be able to make it stop. This is of course crazy and a denial of our humanity. There is a time to cry. During times of loss an acknowledgement of weakness and softness suggest a tender heart. If there exists, in this world, a single person who cannot find something worth crying about I do not think that I would like to meet them. Such people frighten me.

I spent a few hours with Claire last Monday evening and we talked and shared and remembered her remarkable little boy and all that he brought to our lives and so many other people in the short time that he lived. I shed my tears and she let me. Afterwards I could see that this had been the trouble recently I had not been able to talk about my pain and grief for my loss and it would appear that in actual fact she is the only person with whom I can share these things. I had forgotten this and it would seem I had been seeking elsewhere.

Grief truly is the price we pay for love, to not grieve is to not truly live and to deny this grief is to deny this love and I am no longer into the denial of life, not these days...there is a time to cry.

The author of Ecclesiastes is so correct in saying “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” I have shed a few tears these last few days as I have remembered the people who have loved me and who I have loved, but who are no longer physically in my life. They are of course still with me though, I know this because I have experience of the truth that love never dies. As a result I noticed that some of those barriers that block me from life, from love, from God have been removed; I feel that I have been opened up once again.

There are many seasons in our lives, just as there are many different emotions. Yes sometimes we can experience all those emotions in one single day, just as we can experience four seasons in one day. There is a time and perhaps a place for all them, for to diminish any of them is deny what it is to be fully human. Yes there is a time to weep, just as there is a time to laugh and there is a time to mourn, just as much as there is a time to dance.

 Living a full, productive, and involved life is a wild ride at times. There are many hills and valleys, there is green and grey, but there are rainbows and pots of gold too. If we are ready for whatever comes our way we will find rich blessings amongst life’s trials and tribulations.

Let’s keep on looking out of our windows, let’s keep our heads held high and our minds, hearts and souls open.


  1. Excellent.
    I am new to bloging and i found your blog very useful. Preaching the word of God and helping other humans spirtually,is the best thing one can do in his life.
    i would love to hear more writings from you.
    May God bless you.

  2. Thank you JJ for your encouraging and loving comments. Please feel free to follow my blog and read the many others that are on the side bar of this blog. Just click on the different months and the will be revealed...start spreading the word my friend...there can never be too much love in this our world