I hope I do not let her down and completely dissolve when the big day dawns. I tell myself I'm a tough cookie, I'll keep that upper lip stiffer than an old fashioned shirt collar when it comes to it. But, you know what? She is my baby after all, and like all parents I want to keep her safe.
This 'safe' business has got me thinking. Why do I want to keep her safe? Safe from what? Life?
The truth is there is no such thing as 'safe'. We can hold hands while we cross the road to keep ourselves in the illusion of safety, but really life is all about the journey to death, and it is only in the denying of this basic fact that we insist on perpetuating the myth of keeping safe. This myth means we run the risk of not living life at all - it constricts us, binds us, suffocates us... If we spend too much time and effort trying to put off the inevitable, surely in the end we must regret the life we did not live. It may have escaped the notice of some, but when people challenge themselves, go to the edge and jump off, they often experience life in a way most of us never do. Wow! What a ride, what a rush! So that's what LIFE feels like! Most of us are simply hanging around waiting to die. I must tell a little sotry at this point...
One evening I walked to the top of the hill behind my house to catch a picture of the sunset. It was truly beautiful. The sun was golden and the air crisp and cold as I stood on a high bank and took some photos. All at once I heard a sound just below me. Looking down I saw a sheep had got her head caught through the wire fencing. She was stuck fast and bleated at me - 'baaah!' I climbed down to her, and tried to pull the wire apart and push her head back through. It was no good - the wire was too tough and the old girl wasn't helping. She had clearly been there a while, as all the foliage she could reach had been eaten. I went round the other side of the fence and tried and tried to free her - but each time I pulled her back, she pushed forward again and soon I became weary. Sheep are heavy and I am not a farmer! I left her, feeling confident the shepherd would be round shortly to check on his flock and all would be well. The next day I walked up the hill again with my dog, and thought I would just check the ewe was no longer trapped. To my dismay, she was still there. She 'baaahed' at me again. I had no wire cutters with me, and having been brought up to NEVER cut a farmer's fences, I decided to return to the hub of the village and tell them in the post office of the sheep's plight and hope they knew whose ewe she was. Having been assured that a phone call would be made to the relevant farmer, I was confident all would soon be well. That evening I thought of her again, but dismissed taking another trip up the hill - surely she would have been rescued by now! The next morning was bright and clear after a very cold night. As an after thought, I put my wire cutters in my pocket - just in case. Up the hill I went with my daughter and the dogs. I climbed the bank and looked over, and to my absolute horror, the poor creature was STILL there... I jumped straight down and set about cutting the wire. She had given herself up for dead. No 'baaah' left in her now. No water to drink for how ever many days, she must have been beyond desperate. I cut her free, but she was too weak to move. Her eyes were glazed and lifeless. I couldn't push her back - she wouldn't even try, although freedom was right there. My only hope was the dogs. My daughter brought one over the bank towards her, and at the sight of it, a spark of life flickered in those deadened eyes, and she drew back freeing herself from the wire. She staggered and fell several times as she tried to get away, her limbs numbed from days unmoving. I lost sight of her as she stumbled over the brow of the hill. I hope she is okay.
This story has highlighted for me the way in which we all become trapped by our life experience - how we think if we stay where we are, we are somehow safe. The truth is so many of us are simply waiting for death to take us, and we are not living at all.
Sometimes all we have to do is take one little step backwards to see the bigger picture of our lives - to see that we are still alive, still capable of living and loving in joy and fun - and that really, we are free.