There are times in my life – many times over the past few years – where what has happened seems to be one damn thing after another.
Unfortunately, I do not find currency in this. I have no interest in being “Oh poor Josie!” as if people are expecting one more dreadful thing to come flying at my head. It irritates me hugely. I am not interested in drama (somewhat ironic for an actress), and I long for the moment when news might travel far and wide on the airwaves prefixed by this, “Oh my word, how BRILLIANT! You will NEVER GUESS what has happened for Josie – she’s had a WIN!”
In the meantime, I sit with what is. I am not disconsolate nor in despair. I have retained my sense of humour, I can mostly see the funny side. I have good perspective.
And here’s the interesting thing. I realise that because my life has so often played the bass note, I find that I can be the “go to” person when friends are in difficulty. I either reach out to them, or they will contact me.
For here is the treasure of darkness. Once you have sat in the ashes (and been willing to stay there knowing that, ultimately, God will bring it to good no matter what) you are willing to do it for other people also.
Oswald Chambers (as so often) puts it well:
‘You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you.’
It’s not that you are no longer impacted by tragedy or heartbreak, you feel it wholly. But you no longer feel excluded from involvement by its enormity. Because you know that actually there is nothing you can say to mitigate the circumstances, the key is just to show up. Just be present. Be with. Sit it out.
I think of the bass notes in jazz and how they ground the tune. Carve it out, deepen it, enrich it, bring out every shade of tone and temper. They give the higher notes room to dance, to soar, to play around. They give the music its frame.
Without them the score would be lightweight. With them, it’s breathtaking.
And when those bass notes play in your own life, those who will walk beside you become doubly precious. Not simply because they know a part of your journey, but because they stayed with you through it, no matter how unending it seemed to be.
I cannot flee the music of my life, it’s my only one. Tellingly, as much as I think I might prefer to be a soaring high note, when I’m rigorously honest with myself I recognise that perhaps really I wouldn’t.
For the greatest riches of my experience have all come when everything else has been stripped away. They are the ones I truly cherish, because they came at a cost.
And of course the greatest gift through all of it is this. It is indeed because of the bass notes that I have come to know that I know that I know that I know
that God is real.