Everything will be fine - - Madonna Magazine

Everything will be fine -

Clare Deignan 01 March 2018

Dear Charlotte,

It's been a hard week. The death of a family friend, the rural area I went to secondary school in is succumbing to a devastating and deadly fire, and at eight-and-half-months pregnant I've developed a rare itching condition, which means I may be induced early. I'm waiting for test results. Powerless. But I'm finding solace in the words of a song from the 1970's Catholic cult classic Brother Sun, Sister Moon.

Brother Sun and Sister Moon
I seldom see you, seldom hear your tune
Preoccupied with selfish misery

OK, you might be like 'mum what are you talking about?' Let me explain. These lyrics are from the 1972 musical about the conversion and life of St Francis of Assisi, based on the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon by St Francis. I actually love this song because it reminds me of how I so often miss the simple beauties of the day (the only moments we really have) when I'm preoccupied with my own 'selfish misery' and – more recently extreme itchiness.

Self-pity can be delicious. There are so many things to be miserable about. On any given day, I can just read the news, pay attention to politics, or call someone and just wallow in all the terrible goings-on that are completely out of my control. But it only creates misery.

And it's not easy to let it go. Because misery is usually brought on by my unrealistic expectations, undeniable control issues, and believing my will should be God's will. Then I confuse God with Santa Claus, and start asking for my wish (or will) list. My will always gets me into trouble. It's when I let go, and become willing to conform my will to God's will – that's when I find peace.

The bad things that happen in life are a part of living in this world. It's our job not to let them swallow us whole. Even though I may be terribly sad, want to Google incessantly and scratch the day away, the theme song from Brother Sun, Sister Moon reminds me to tune out of my misery, and tune in to God.

I came face-to-face with my love of misery when I first met your father in Brighton on the south coast of the UK. I was completing a Masters degree and he was finishing up his PhD. We would buy coffees, and if it was warm enough, two ice creams, and walk for hours up and down Brighton's famous waterfront.

Being a foreigner, I relied on your father's experience, as a Brit, to help me navigate the UK education system. But no matter the stress of the week or the pressure of an assignment, your father's advice came down to one simple sentence: 'Don't worry. Everything will be fine.' At first, I would look at him and think, 'Who raised you? Nothing is fine. Look at the world today'.

Around the time I fell in love with him, I also fell in love with Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Friends from my Bible study group back home gave me a copy to take with me to the UK. The film became a comfort for me, and I would watch it when I was lonely or couldn't get to sleep. It became a bit of a spiritual medicine.

The film ends with St Francis' audience with Pope Innocent III. Disturbed by the jewels and wealth of Vatican elites, St Francis quotes the Sermon on the Mount.

'Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?' (Matt 6:26-27).

Watching this movie helped me understand more deeply your father's 'everything will be fine' motto and even more so, true dependence on God.

As time passed, I learned your dad was right. Although the world wasn't fine, no matter what the news said that day, or the stress of an assignment, or waiting for marks, your father and I usually found ourselves back on the Brighton seafront with a coffee, watching the starlings fly in formation. And he was right – I was fine.

I understood that for your father, 'everything will be fine' was, unbeknownst to him, a sort of spiritual practice. Those words kept him in each day, completing the next right action and trusting that the future would take care of itself. Although I was a daily Mass-goer and relied heavily on prayer, I realised your father, an agnostic, had more faith than I did.

So 10 years later, your father and I continue to walk daily and he still tells me 'everything will be fine'. On our evening walks with my protruding belly leading the way, I take in the sky and listen to the birds. I look at you curled up in your pram eating your before-bed snack – a banana with milk – and I know just for today he is right. Everything is fine and I'll let tomorrow take care of itself.


Your mum.


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