I think my favorite book is “The Forest,” by Stewart Edward White. In that book, the author has a chapter titled something like, “On Lying Awake at Night.” In it, he talks about the night when sleep just will not come. Or the night when, perhaps, you have slept for a short time, and then become so completely awake you can not go back to sleep.
I have been having a few nights when I wake up at two or three in the morning, and just cannot go back to sleep. And so my mind churns and churns. Often, I use these moments for prayers of supplication. Sometimes, I try to remember the words to songs or poems. At other times, I will recall the notes of a melody that sounds so familiar, but I just can’t get enough of it back. Last night the tune was, “My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison. And the poem was one of my favorites, “Normal Day,” by Mary Jean Irion.
Think about your normal day. What do you do in a normal day? Do you visit a friend? Pick some beans? Work in the garden? Change the oil in the truck? Go to work? Talk to a friend at the post office? Bake a cake? Watch the news and weather? Do some reading? Listen to some music? Enjoy a grandchild? Do something for somebody?
The fabric of our lives is made up of these normal days. These normal days are good. The more adventurous among us may tend to think of these days as boring. They are not. As the little girl in “Family Circus” says, each new day is a gift: that’s why they call it the present. Cherish your normal days.
The past year and a half or so has had some very rough moments. As happens to all of us, the loss of loved ones hurts us so much that we think nothing will ever be the same again. When we lose someone close, be it a parent, a brother, a sister, a spouse, or – heaven forbid – a child, it seems that we just can’t go on. It seems that there will never be another normal day.
For many of us it is a belief system that enables us to move forward, to put one foot in front of the other and continue on our journey, knowing that things will get better. For others it may be something akin to what we heard from the commentators during the Summer Olympics, when they talked about Churchill’s strength and resolve and his advice to Londoners when the city was being bombed, to “keep calm, and carry on.”
Whatever your source of strength and perseverance, call on it when the times get tough, as for all of us, eventually, they surely will. And, in the meantime, treasure your normal days, for as the poet Irion writes, “. . . one day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”