One of my favorite passages from any book, anywhere, is the one below from C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. The set-up is that Screwtape (the devil) is writing to his nephew Wormwood, a neophyte tempter. When WWII starts up and England enters the war, Wormwood's "patient" is of an age where it's possible "but by no means certain" that he will be called up for service. Screwtape advises:''
"We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.We are going through tough times around here, moaningly overwhelming times. I am trying very, very hard to stay 'in the moment', to accept what there is to accept at any given point in time -- and not to focus on whatever worries the next step may bring. Today it occurred to me that part of this involves paying close attention to the things that there are to be thankful for. For even in times of darkness, life still holds light.
"Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy's will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him -- the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say 'Thy will be done' and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only the things he is afraid of. Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is easier and is usually helped by this direct action."
We had a period of silliness today, involving Playdoh and Polly Pockets and My Little Ponies all mixed up into a ridiculous story line. There was sunlight outside when we finally emerged from where we were. There were people who could have been nasty, but instead were kind and open. A fine playground wasn't too far off, and we found a store en route where we could buy sunscreen. We arrived home in time to walk the dog before she peed in the house. (My folks were supposed to dog-sit in exchange for an apartment this weekend, but we canceled their visit because of Big Guy's crisis, and so we're now drop-in dog walkers three times a day.)
We arrived home and one friend had already dropped off supper, and another arrived with tomorrow's meal. She also brought this, because, she said, it's a good thing to have on hand when the sh*t flies:
And Dancer, wonderful Dancer, who spent the day alone at home as we journeyed into hell, went and did the laundry without being asked and made us individual chocolate lava cakes for dessert.
These are the things that I hold in my heart, even as it is breaking.
We do have choices in the midst of darkness. Know your cross. Carry it. Notice the light, and treasure it. If you can, eat chocolate lava cake with whipped cream and raspberries. And love your children and hold them close.