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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rollercoaster ride

I have never considered going on a rollercoaster ride! It is not my idea of fun. (I'd rather walk on the beach or sit with a book in a quiet place!)

However, not all rollercoasters rides are taken by choice. I've been on one for a few months now - and it's still not my idea of fun!

My rollercoaster ride is internal - physical and emotional. Quite frequently my heart has been racing along in a totally chaotic rhythm. (Medical terminology: Paroxymal Atrial Fibrillation.) I'm learning that this is not a particularly uncommon condition. Probably some readers will say "Oh I've got that too" - or know someone who has. But that is a very small consolation!

The physical rollercoaster is not only each event when it happens. It is also the side-effects of the medications used to control these events. (Sometimes it feels as if the cure is worse than the complaint.) I'm still on that part of the ride.

The emotional rollercoaster is just as daunting (for me anyway). Fear and anxiety are hard to avoid. Not being sure I can trust my heart to behave as it should (and has done for 72 years so far!) is
de-stabilising. I'm grateful that I have many spiritual and psychological resources to call on - and believe me I do! Daily practices of prayer and meditation... plenty of relaxation exercises... doing my best with "staying in the present moment"... you name it! Over recent years (before this particular rollercoaster ride) I've come to accept that unpleasant emotions need to be accepted without judgement just as they are rather than resisting them. It's a kind of "feel the fear and do it anyway" attitude. Cynthia Bourgeault offers a Welcoming Practice which is a more nuanced, prayerful version.

All these things are helpful and I am very grateful that I have had years of building them into my life. It would be lovely though, if one or more of them would transport me into floating calmly six inches above this rollercoaster ride! But guess what - it hasn't happened yet!

A couple of days ago I was pondering something else I am grateful for - a lifetime of being immersed in  Scripture. I remembered several passages that urged us "not to be anxious", "not to worry about anything". I looked up one of my favourites in the Common English Version of the Bible and underlined the phrases that stood out.
Philippians 4:6-8:
"Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. 
With thankful hearts offer your prayers and requests to God. 
Then because you belong to Christ Jesus, 
God will bless you with peace that no-one can completely understand
And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Finally my friends keep your minds on what is true, pure, right, holy, friendly and proper. 
Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise."