The year had started off in a promising way. We had moved from living in a flat to a bungalow. I was expecting a baby in the spring, and we were working hard in the church. Mum had been to stay over Christmas, and returned home in the New Year. Tragically, mum became ill and died within a few weeks, on my 28th birthday.
My mother had been young at heart and pretty. Her death seemed very unfair. Although I grieved as I sorted through her things, I had to keep looking forward. There was a baby arriving in the near future. Simeon was actually born in April, and I took him along to my many committee meetings and prayer meetings, fitting in his feeds as discreetly as possible. By July, when Simeon was three months old, I was extremely tired, and weepy, and was very suspicious of people’s motives. I wondered how I could possibly have post-natal depression so long after his birth.
Everything in my life became an irritant or, even worse, a serious problem. I had the excuse that I was still grieving, but that did not do anything to help get rid of my depression. My husband John, whom I was beginning to nag unmercifully, was working hard to complete his doctorate, and was looking forward to possible ordination. He was very faithful at keeping our morning and evening prayer times going, but I sank deeper and deeper into depression. With the depression came a declining interest in spiritual things. I would nod listlessly when he commented on our daily readings, and would examine the hairs on the back of his hands while he prayed!
There was no point throughout this period when I thought there was no God, or that Christianity was a sham. It just all seemed so distant and irrelevant. I felt trapped, and I wanted to be left alone. Added to this, I began suffering with terrible digestion problems. As I lost interest in food, so my weight went down. Thankfully John, and other friends, persuaded me to seek help. The surgeon at the hospital diagnosed a long-standing diseased gallbladder, which would require surgery.
As is nearly always the case, it could not have come at a worse time. John had just started a full-time job at the college, having completed his doctorate. I had three children to be cared for, Simeon being only five months old. Thank God for wonderful friends who stepped in and organised everything before I had time to think about it. All I had to do was have the operation and convalesce.
When I succumbed to the anaesthetist’s pin-prick I was transported to a world so different from the one I had left that there was not even the faintest memory to remind me of it.
Despite this being a strange new world to me, I felt completely at home in this world of yellow sunlight, filled with floating gold dust. It seemed as if I had been there forever, and I wanted it to stay that way. Not that this was a passive state. I was filled with hope and excitement, as I could see the distant source of the light that surrounded me. I knew that the source of this magnetically intense light, flashing and bouncing off the thickening gold dust, was somewhere ahead. All I wanted was to be drawn into it. This was, of course, Jesus, and I wanted to be with Him.
As I was moving towards this centre of light I realised that I was required to take a deep breath. I knew that if I did so, I would have to leave this wonderful light, full of peace and hope. This was somewhere that was more ‘home’ than anything I had ever known. Worse, it would mean I should have to rejoin some awful forgotten place where I had been distressed. Knowing what I was doing, and what it was costing me, I took that deep breath. I drew it somewhere near the ceiling, but I expelled it from the table.
It was difficult to try to explain to people what had happened. I know that I had been allowed to return to my family. I do not pretend to understand why this should happen to me. All I know is that it did. I acknowledge that it must be part of God’s will for me and my family. One thing I was certain about was that God would not want me to withdraw from the warmth of His eternal light, just to sit in the darkness I had been in prior to the operation. Suddenly, I could feel the September sun. I was on the road to recovery.
Throughout the long months prior to this experience I had been disinterested in prayer or Bible reading. Even now I found it difficult to get back to that close personal relationship I once had with God. One evening however, whilst on my own, I started reading through the Psalms. By the time I got into the ‘hundreds’ they would no longer just words. I was playing the ‘Sanctus’ from Verdi’s Requiem. Never was there a more appropriate accompaniment to the true joy and adoration that filled my heart as I wanted to tell God again and again how much I loved Him.