Friday, September 04, 2015

The Suffocating Weight of Blankets

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

There is a dream I remember from childhood.  I remember it because it was a recurring dream - the same dream night after night. There were two dreams, although the second one probably wasn’t a dream as such because I was awake at the time, or I had fallen into that place between being awake and being asleep, not quite one, not quite the other.

I’ll tell you about the second one first because it’s not really relevant to the rest of the story but it’s interesting.

It was in the days before duvet covers.  Blankets and sheets ruled the bed.  I liked to have my sheets and blankets very tightly tucked in – very tightly.  It was impossible to tuck them in tightly once I was actually in bed so I was very careful to slither in from the top and move as little as possible once I was in. I always slept with an arm outside the bed regardless of how cold the room was.  Not only was it in the days before duvet covers, but it was in the days before central heating.  There was a coal fire in the living room downstairs, but upstairs there could be ice on the inside of the windows.  Still the arm would be outside the bed.

I was convinced that the blankets were moving upwards.  Without the arm to stop them, I was sure that the blankets would move up the bed, cover my face and suffocate me.  

I hated to go to the toilet during the night because I was convinced that if I left the bed, the blankets would move upwards and tuck themselves in at the top and I wouldn’t be able to get back in.  I was always amazed that the blankets hadn’t moved an inch while I had been away.

The other dream, the recurring one, also involved blankets. 

The dream would start with me lying on the bed.  I was always cold because I didn’t have a blanket.  Someone would pass by the bed and spread a blanket across me.  It was just the one blanket, not a thick one, so I wasn’t that much warmer.  Minutes would go by and another person would pass by the bed and spread another blanket over me.  I was a little warmer, but it was a cold night.  When the third blanket arrived I was beginning to feel warm and cosy. Then there was another blanket followed by another and another. More and more blankets kept coming.  I could feel the weight of them pinning me down onto the bed.  I couldn’t move.  They were so heavy that I was struggling to breathe.  I began to panic and often woke up screaming.

I don’t have that dream anymore – but sometimes the reality that I live in feels a lot like it.

Not blankets this time, but the cares of the world pile upon me.  There’s a burden that’s given by God – the yoke that is light.  There's also the burden that we give ourselves – the not-so-light one. All it takes sometimes is an article or two in the newspaper, or some careless remark tossed out to the world by a politician or a picture of a three year old boy dead on a beach.  The “blankets” tossed over my spirit become heavy, one after another.  I am weighed down and struggling to breathe. 

Long before I get to the waking-up-screaming-stage I seek out God. I may not be able to take off the heavy load by myself, but in His presence I off load all my cares.  I tell him about the stories in the news.

I tell Him about people who are accused of petty crimes, who no longer qualify for Legal Aid, who have to defend themselves and can’t, who plead guilty to something they never did on the off chance that a guilty verdict means they only have to pay hundreds of pounds of courts costs rather than the thousands of pounds. 

I tell Him about the people who can’t work who get pushed through an assessment that insists they can to snatch back a paltry benefit and how the person they said could work when they really couldn’t…really couldn’t and dies.

I tell him about the boy on the beach.

Of course, He already knows these things but as we talk one “blanket” after another is lifted. The world and all of its bad news ceases to paralyse me.

I ask God to act and the government sometimes does its U-turns.

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