I had a discussion with friends recently about the power of prayer. Some were regaling us with evidence of long convoluted stories of times they and their young children prayed for random things (a pony, a clear view at the top of the mountain, a cure) and rather like Christmas day morning found those things waiting for them. They spoke of joy at having their prayers answered, and an inner peace for being able to voice their needs and doubts. Other told of feeling let down, full of wry disappointment and grief that the circumstances they had spoken out for were not resolved (a death, a financial problem, a falling out). Other still spoke of thanks, and gratefulness and the feeling of immense goodwill that they wanted to share.
I sat rather quietly, not feeling particularly qualified to wade in with an opinion. It was only later, in hindsight, that I thought of something I really should have voiced. So if you are still reading, it gets a little bit personal from here on in. Turn back if you must!
In my early to middle thirties, having been independently single for a while, the reality of that began to hit home. My sister had two small children, friends were settled into couples and families, and life was ticking on. I worked hard. I spent my free time getting involved in activities- school trips, volunteer work, kayaking expeditions, scouts. They were all great. I had some fun times. But I realised unlike everyone else, I had no one to call home to, to say I had arrived safe, and to tell stories or our mini adventures. I hiked out with the scouts, seeing them through the highs and lows of learning how to camp or conquer a fear, but it wasn’t me who they ran to at pick-up time full of happy fatigue. I began to feel more of a facilitator, rather than a participant, at life.
“Oh ho” said my friends, “you need a man”. More easier said than done, on a rather small island. There are slim pickings for the slightly discerning amongst us. Even putting myself in what I thought might be the path of potential ‘outdoorsy’ suitors (kayakers, environmentalists, scouts leaders) simply meant I met lots of really nice chaps but none of whom floated my proverbial kayak, if you catch my drift. Or I theirs. This all reached a head at one point and I remember a gently boozy sunny May Bank Holiday weekend, wild camping with kayaking friends on an inaccessible beach, that I lay back and looked at the stars, the pebbles grounding me in my back, and formally decided with myself that the next working day I’d contact my GP and start the ball rolling to investigate using a sperm donation. If there wasn’t a ‘Man’ available for me, then stone the crows, I’d just tackle this head on by myself. I could be a single mum. Was this a prayer? At the time I didn’t think so, more of a gritting the teeth, this is the path I now choose.
The following day I met Digger.
Now for those of you missing the back story, see sample post here for earlier insights, we had both been volunteering for a number of years for our island’s woodland trust, planting out saplings to try and re-green this once wooded isle. We just hadn’t both attended the same session till that point. Digger’s reasoning was more altruistic. He loved trees. Me, I was man-hunting.
My version of the story is, I spotted him coming in from the top of the field with an iron bar across his shoulder and immediately knew he was The One.
He says, “Could you even see that far?”
I said “Well no, I couldn’t see you exactly given that I’m a teeny bit short-sighted, but I could see you were someone new (and a man) and there was a ‘frisson’ in the air, which I later understood meant you were The One”.
He says ” Are you sure you didn’t just have a touch of hayfever?”
I said, “Well who was it gave me their phone number that very day? Was I not your One?”
He says, “It didn’t matter whether I had given you my number or not. You had already decided I was going to be your Sperm Donor”
“Hmmm” I pondered. “Yes that is true. Luckily for you I decided to keep you as well”
So was this evidence of an answer to a prayer, or a wish, or a sheer determination to bend the rules of the world to work for me? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
So this sunny (if windy) Bank Holiday we have been back doing more tree-planting at the same site that we met. We checked on the growth of the trees we planted those years before, feeling very much relieved they hadn’t all died off due to poor quality control while we were swapping phone numbers. This time of course though, Tiddler is with us, helping to plant. The beautiful, awe-inspiring outcome of my hidden wish.
I’ll leave you with a final quote, of unknown origin, and I challenge you all to put it to good use, in whichever format, or method, or plan that works for you.
‘A hidden wish is no more than a wasted dream’
(Trying to understand the title of this post? A little bit of inspiration and literary theft from here. )