“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”
I was having one of those days today. One of those days when you wonder whether you are doing the right thing, whether you are out of your depth, whether you are lacking in the skills needed to do what you came to do. We all have those days, but sometimes you just have to stop, take time out and reflect.
So today I did that, I took time away. I went and stood on the roof of my apartment building and just watched and listened. Watched the people in my neighbourhood going about their lives, looked out at the places around me, at Artillery Hill, at Ramallah and at Beit Hanina. Watched and listened the Myna birds and green parakeets as they flicked from tree to tree singing (or squaking in the case of the parakeets) as they go. I realise that what I write, what I say and what I think are what I’m meant to say, write and think – whether people agree with it or not – much like this blog!
The thing is, I know I’m not perfect, no one is. I’m here because I was called to be here. I tried various things and at each point the door was gently (or in some cases not so gently) closed on me. I was tested along the way, my resolve to coming here to this difficult but wonderful place and my resilience as things fell by the wayside and checkpoints were put in the road. All along I felt God’s hand on my shoulder, helping me in the right direction and not letting me fall along the way. I have my demons and they like to show themselves every now and again, but I know I can control them with His help.
When it comes to the times when I doubt myself, taking time and watching what is going on around me makes me realise why I do what I do. It makes me more certain that I am capable of doing what I came here to do and it makes me certain that I am in the right place. Whether it is just watching the world go by or chatting with the boys playing with ‘hover’ boards in the street as I walk home (they seem like a great idea but I’ve no doubt I’d break my neck if I tried one). If you weren’t open to what was happening around you, the kind, open and humble people around you here would soon open up your mind – even if you don’t speak much Arabic and they don’t speak much English there’s always a sparkle in the eye or a smile if you are willing to go out on a limb and give them something back.
At times like this, I think of St Patrick’s Prayer, a prayer which reminds me that God is always with me, behind me and beside me so that my path is guided and even if I stumble he is there to pick me up.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
So here I stand, on that rooftop near Jerusalem, once again sure that this is where I am meant to be and I’m doing what I’m called to do – the doubts are gone again – for now. Hopefully if you have doubts, you too feel the guidance and gentle reassurance of God’s love.