The Making of Us – Who we can become when life doesn’t go as planned by Sheridan Voysey
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life
When HOH and I got married, we always just assumed we would have children. Hardly thought about it really. We got married, got on with life for eighteen months and then decided to “go in for a baby” as they say Up North. “Be prepared for a wait” people told us. I waited approximately four weeks before I suddenly realised I felt a bit queasy. My doctor said – “It’s very unlikely – not this soon – and also…oh”. This last little exclamation came when I took a pregnancy test out of my handbag to ask his professional opinion about the big blue line on it. All went well (apart from me being one of the charmed people who feel nauseous until the actual moment the baby pops out) and so, when we decided that we would “go in for another one” we had no reason to expect that this would work any differently. Nine months later, I still wasn’t pregnant.
I understand that, against the years that others struggle to conceive, this is no time at all but I do have a bit of an idea about that monthly feeling of loss, when you discover, yet again, that no baby is on the way. Again, this ended well for us as I fell pregnant (am loving using all these phrases beloved of Aged Parent) but it doesn’t happen for everyone and it is this sense of loss and disappointment that Voysey addresses in this book.
He has documented the struggles he and his wife have had with infertility in other places and this is not really central here. However, we know that he is truly shaken by several huge disappointments and seeks to address some of them whilst on an eight day pilgimage in the footsteps of Cuthbert; a 6th century Celtic monk. Cuthbert seemed to be a particularly saintly kind of saint with miracles coming out of his ears but this is not a book about miracles. Well, not that kind anyway.
Voysey and his friend DJ find the pilgrimage physically challenging – both are limping badly by the end and there are no easy answers here. Since sharing his struggles in other places, he has been inundated with people sharing their losses and their disappointment with God. This isn’t a book about altering these circumstances but about what we do with how these events have left us and how we find our way through it.
I believe that Voysey is a contributor to Radio 2s Thought for the Day on the Breakfast Show. (I tend to listen to Radio 4 most mornings and Thought for the Day there is usually presented by someone called “The Reverend Doctor…. or a Hindu scholar with loads of letters after his name. At the end of it, I can find myself screwing my nose up and thinking – “no idea”) It is meant as a compliment when I say that this book is more Radio 2 than Radio 4. It is an accessible and sometimes emotional read on an important subject. So many people so broken by life and having to find who they are supposed to be now.
I enjoyed the journey, his take on life is very helpful. The little insights into God speaking to him are especially enlightening. I wouldn’t read it thinking you will have a formula to right all wrongs in your life. I would read it to find out that you are not alone and that there is a way forward, even if the final destination is not what you hoped for or expected.