Apr 26 2012 by Louise Jordan
Louise Jordan (Helen Casey)
arrived in London this morning to find that the office space I’m
borrowing got a bit flooded in the torrential rain we’ve been
You’ll be glad to know that my ancient laptop survived the deluge and lives on to blog another day, but it reminded me of two floods we had soon after moving in with my mother-in-law in February. Now, I’m not one for omens or messages from above, but even I was slightly disconcerted at the timing - the garage we’d recently filled with all our worldly possessions flooded not once, but twice in the space of two weeks. And the reason? Two different ballcocks had perished of old age, and the overflow pipes both emptied into the garage on different sides. What are the chances?
Nothing of great value got damaged, but several soggy boxes of books were a write-off, and we had to bring some more of our belongings indoors and find cupboards and corners in which to stash them in case it happened again.
We were already struggling with our new situation and this seemed a spectacularly unfair coincidence. I found myself muttering 'someone’s trying to tell me something' as I lugged boxes out on to the front drive to dry out.
Despite being a committed atheist, I can see why people having a lot of bad luck look around for something to comfort them. And this was brought home to me when I arrived at West Drayton station earlier this week, to be handed a leaflet entitled 'All Suffering Soon to End!' by a kind-looking, middle-aged lady.
‘Thank goodness!’ I thought.
The leaflet had a picture of a happy couple sitting on a grassed plain with some kind of elk in the background and baskets of pumpkins and apples in the foreground. I suspect it must have been American in origin.
Normally, such offerings from Jehovah’s Witnesses (for such was she) are taken with a smile and a word of thanks, and added to the next waste bin. But something about the words were a real comfort to me. For a moment, I believed it. Work is beginning to pick up a bit, my husband and I are well settled at his mother’s house, and sometime in the next few months we may be out of the woods financially. So maybe the leaflet is right, maybe my suffering is about to end?
Feeling a warm glow inside, I investigated further.
“For thousands of years, the human family has suffered greatly from wars, poverty, disasters, crime, injustice, sickness, and death… Will all of this ever end?”
Ah, I felt a bit guilty then, for thinking of my suffering at all, when there are people who have real problems in the world. My ‘suffering’ could hardly be compared to poverty and disease, and I hope very much that that remains the case.
Feeling glad that the leaflet had put my problems into perspective, I read on:
“All the evidence shows that we are nearing the end of man’s tragic experiment in independence from God…. Soon God will intervene in human affairs by destroying this entire unsatisfactory system of things.”
Yikes! That’s hardly comforting is it?
Into the bin it goes after all, what a shame that the comforting message on the front is followed by a warning of certain death unless I “learn Jehovah’s will and do it”.
Let’s take religion out of it, and just speak about comfort.
I prefer my mother-in-law’s approach, which is simply to be really nice to people whenever she can, and to be endlessly supportive and thoughtful and generous.
the kind of comfort I think we can all do with in these difficult
times, whatever your beliefs.
Louise Jordan is a journalist currently not quite 'sofa-surfing' at her mother in law's in West Drayton while between jobs.