January and February can be bleak old months. It’s cold and grey and there’s no Christmas to look forward to (“Always winter but never Christmas” – it’s like we’re in Narnia before Aslan returns). One of my favourite solutions is quality retreat time with the people I love most, taking advantage of the new year diary’s vacant pages.
These past two weekends took us out to the green hills beyond the city lights; there was eating, walking, laughing and praying and none of it was rushed. First the husband and I were out west where Devon and Dorset and the sea all meet, and we ran around after small boys, and squelched through muddy fields. and watched the sun set over the grey sea as our teeth chattered and our shoulders shiverered.
And when the wrestling and the stories and the football ceased, and the boys slept, there was honest talk about hopes and disappointments, the way we fight against where we are, the more that we ache for, and the risks we are all afraid to take.
Then this past week I left the husband behind to hide away in the New Forest with my two closest girls. It’s past a decade since we first met, since we collided in the middle of this city and started to weave our stories together, steadying one another one moment, cheering each other on the next. Oh the crazy, deluded obsessions they saw me through. Every week we would commute across the city to breakfast together before work, and share the details of our tiny, complex, unfolding lives, and pray that they would grow in good directions. Since those days both girls have lived for a spell in distant climes and I have stayed behind. They both returned, and one left again and we are scattered more than we are together.
The past decade has accrued for us husbands, children, and a substantial share of heart-ache. We have serious history. And this past week we grasped hold again of those strong roots and steadied ourselves again, laughed and cried and listened and cheered. And were grateful for each other. We walked through the lush, tall forest (slightly further than we planned, despite being led by a geography graduate), swapping the baby between us. And it was good. And some new dreams began to grow there for me, amidst their cheers.
Where do you go to rest your soul?by