I have not been well, and the only thought that made sense to take and expand from this sorry time is the utter brinkmanship experienced, and the gap made oh so small between stable, white-grey life, and the kaleidoscope of early-mid life crisis. I have emerged from this with a cough I can no longer feel, a determination to resign from my job, and a new distant look in the eyes. There is this feeling, as the codeine finds a way out of me, and the smell of vaporub persists, that I am somebody different, and that the old, very sturdy, very neat way of living is in fact an unbearable way to get on.
Though flu season is officially an omen of December through to March, London is already a chorus of coughing, a hub of flem and decomposition. As we leave November, I know now that tis the month of quitting– in 2021, more people resigned from their jobs than in any other month. In December– the official genesis of flu season, we are officially 29 days away from ‘divorce month’. These are the great stretches that totally hold a candle to my point– which is, flu season is a period of erraticism, shock change, an indicator of nation-worldwide crises.
I threatened God with a collapse of my responsibilities, an evacuation from production. I said to him that this dilapidation of all things good would be carried well into post-sickness, because I felt so very terrible, and my perception of things, though hindered by medication and exhaustion, was an opinion that would withstand the ages. I was ready to give it all up, as if I’d be sick forever, as if I’d feel that strange and incapable until age had shrunk me into some even stranger old woman. I highly suspect that the quitters of November, and the divorcees of January were moved by the hand of winter sickness. I want to believe that the woman who leaves her spouse in the new year began work on this resolution while heaving over a bedroom bin, feeling that all things are irreconcilable. And if the November quitters felt anything like I did, then resignations were written peering out of fogged windows, wondering what all of this is really about anyway.
But I’m well now. Instead of wondering what life would be like if I went back to school to do art, maybe law, alongside other impossibilities, I am resuming things. I do not often get sick, I forget what it’s like, what it subtracts, and its many foolish recommendations. As for God, well, he knows that it usually takes less for silliness to ensue.
God is used to fluctuation. He also knows very well the implications of a collective loss of hope. Christianity is now a minority faith in England and Wales. The decline in belief and the ever-rising popularity of self-governance is perhaps a reaction to the last two years, maybe. For that reason, there is a collective understanding of how we arrived here, yet, no one is more understanding of it than God himself. That does mean that there is nobody more capable of accepting it.
There have been calls to dissolve the C of E, naturally. And what if we do? The feeling is that we replace it with nothing. The feeling is that we puncture some holes, so that the nation can breathe. Religion is stuffy, and in times of great despair, belief can be humiliating. The nationwide style of belief is built on that pompousness– distant and empty, impersonal and irrelevant. It is enough of following a God we do not know in an age of all seeing and knowing. So, we aren’t doing it anymore. But rather, it is the font of belief that is hindering the appeal. If God is seen as someone who won’t come down, then he is one meaningless, disregardable God. But he does come down, all the time.
We are not always supposed to understand, there is not always a comprehensive answer. But there is always relief, always an incomprehensible closeness right where we are, here more than in any other place. We have received improper training on how to download and accept it. To be forced into a corner where you must know him for yourself switches the light on. And that is what these two years have been, a prompt to look him in the eye, or to turn your back. We’ve turned our backs without knowing what we’ve rejected. But if you did know what was really on the cards, you wouldn’t, you could not.