'You've got half an hour to get dressed, brush your hair, eat your breakfast and clean your teeth' I said. 'OK' she said in a far away voice from the far away land which is her bedroom...... I was not confident.
Ordinarily this would be ample time for an average 8 year old to go through said list with time to spare but this is no average 8 year old! Biff is a law to herself and the many and varied techniques of both myself and Mrs F to coax daughter into being ready to leave on time often lead to immense frustration as the 'easily distracted one' majors on the minor to the point of making it an art form. I would go as far as to say that she may well do a thesis on it at university but....... between here and there are a lot of distractions!
So it was that despite regular timechecks - 'you've now got 15 minutes to do all those things' - I ventured upstairs knowing full well that because she had not ventured downstairs then at least one of said tasks had not been completed and she was going hungry! I was not helped in this by Tigger (who of course had been up for hours and was ready to go) wanting to distract his sister even more by 'borrowing' her hairbrush and then losing it!
There before me still in her PJ's and with hair that Toyah Willcox would have been proud of, sat the girl..... playing with her dolls house! I should have walked away or better still picked her up as I'd threatened and put her in the car in her jamas but no, I was 'choosing this battle' and she and I needed a chat. In the process of climbing over dolls house, I knocked the top off, so scattering numerous peices that she'd spent the last half hour carefully and lovingly putting into their various rooms. Salt and pepper came off the table, the fridge in the kitchen ended up in the sitting room and last but not least 'grannie' ended up falling from the upstairs bedroom and finished up head first in the bath! The wild haired one was unconsolable! This caught me off guard and my speech about not listening to instruction was not forthcoming as her despair that all her hard work had come to nothing came out in a very animated fashion albeit her facial expressions were difficult to see behind the huge expanse of hair! So it was that, although running five minutes late already, I spent time putting 'grannie' back in her bed and righting salt and pepper pots while the titian one finally did what she should have done in the first place and got ready.
As I thought about this later, my initial frustration was to do with her disconnect with me, but the flip side was all about her connectedness with the dolls house and her gift of creativity and imagination being put to good use (albeit at a most inconvenient time) as an 8 year old little girl should be doing. That's not to say that this takes priority over all things routine and necessary but nevertheless it got me thinking about connectedness.
Recently I've struggled with my connectedness with God. My faith is still intact but I've simply not felt 'in tune' with my running mate. This has led to a lot of soul searching and its easy for that to develop into introspection which is at best a distraction from the real issue and at worst, not healthy for soul, mind or body. I'm married to a wonderful woman who is very long suffering with me but also lovingly honest!
During this time, I've taken to looking again at Mark's Gospel. I'm a simple soul and this book is easier for me to undertsand than others - it also gives a very useful insight into the character of Jesus. He was a man for the people and on a daily basis expended a huge amount of energy of being with people and helping them physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. This meant that He needed to recharge the batteries on a regular basis and we see him either getting physical rest by getting in a boat for example and sleeping so deeply that not even a force 8 gale could wake Him, but more often just taking Himself off up a hill where He needed a 'one on one' with his Father. Then the cycle would start again as He was in shape to handle the multitude of people who would come flocking on a daily basis. He knew the importance of connectedness and being in tune and yet...........this very same Jesus would be found in such a state of depression, despair and fear crying out 'Father, where are you? I need you now more than ever' ..........and finding there was no answer.
Recently I read an article about Mother Teresa entitled 'the dark night of the soul' where she talked about the closeness and connectedness she had with God at the start of her ministry but one day that just stopped and for the rest of her ministry (and most fruitful part incidentally) to the poor in Calcutta she did not feel at all connected to her heavenly Father, the one who was her drive and motivation and reason for living.
Jesus found no answer in that dark dark moment but God's answer came, not immediately but, in an totally awesome way less than three days later when light, life and hope combined on Resurrection Day.
I suspect there's a lot of people who can relate to Mother Teresa. A lot of it doesn't make sense to me but rather than getting over analytical, as befits me I'm keeping it simple. What I'm learning is that my faith is less about feeling and more about fact. I may not wake each day with a cosy warm feeling inside but I stand on the promise that God 'is and will always be' .....and right now thats enough.