by Pat Whalley


When you are a child you believe in all sorts of magical beings, fairies, talking animals, toys that have a life of their own when the light goes out and all manner of weird and wonderful things. Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist, our parents told us that a tooth fairy carried away our tiny tooth to use as a stool in their home, leaving us a small payment in return.

We are constantly reminded not to talk to strangers but I think every young child has been plonked on Santas’s lap and expected to smile for a photo. This big, hairy guy is our friend they tell us and it is fine to sit on his lap and talk to him. Rather mixed messages from parents, but we go along with what they tell us.

As we get older we lose our belief in things magical and slowly begin to realize that there are some things in this world that are not good, in fact some things and some people are just plain bad. It takes experience and maturity to separate the good from bad, the right from wrong and the true from the false, but gradually we work most of it out for ourselves.

Many people lose their faith in God along with the realization that Santa is a myth for the young. How can a loving Father allow wars, cruelty and evil to prosper, bad things happening to good people and innocent children to suffer?

The Bible tells us that God gave us a free will, he makes us decide what is right and wrong and he lets us decide for ourselves which path we want to take. I am not a church goer and find no solace inside the building, in fact I sit there thinking of all the things I could be doing instead. This is not the attitude to assume in church so I do not go.

To me the idea of reading the prayers and responding with the written word has no meaning. My prayers come from inside me, I talk to God as I would to a friend, as I feel that is what he is. God and I get very close in my garden as I watch his handiwork in every unfolding leaf and bud. I stand doing dishes at the sink and look out at the waving branches and God listens while I discuss my problems. It is a good place for a discussion and I find that problems may not be solved but definitely lessened when rested on shoulders broader than mine.

If there is no God, no greater power than ourselves then what is that part of us that tells us when we are doing the wrong thing? Very few people do not have a conscience, psychopaths are thought not to have one or are strong enough to override it and commit their atrocities, without the inner pain that most of us feel when we do wrong.

The voice of conscience is very strong and, if ignored can give us sleepless nights, indigestion and all sorts of self recriminations until we put right the wrong we have done and ask for forgiveness.

We are faced with decisions every day, some are large and some very small such as making the choice to take the extra piece of cake. A sin of indulgence that will remind me of my choice by sitting around on my hips, this is a bad choice that I make often but I can shrug it off as not hurting anyone but myself. So is the choice to spend the day in idle pleasure, such as reading, doing crosswords or talking on the phone when the furniture is covered in dust and weeds wave at me through the window. This I can also ignore as I think that I can catch up on this tomorrow and that I am old enough to make that decision for myself.

As I age I definitely get less worried about housework. Bathrooms and kitchen are kept clean and sanitary, bed is usually made as it is visible from the living room and screams at me every time I walk past. Meals are not made for any particular time as we do not need to follow a clock any more, we eat when we are hungry, so dinner can be served any time between four pm or seven.

The years have brought the maturity to know what is really important. Each new day is like a new page of life and I try hard not to mess up the page. I try to be a good friend, help out in the community and harm nobody and, when I go to bed, I don’t have to listen to the voice inside me telling me that I committed a bad act today. If I am kept awake, it is because I ate too much or too late or that because the bed didn’t get made, the sheets are wrinkled and are not comfortable to lie on or the dogs are taking up too much room. My conscience, however, is clear and I can sleep in peace.

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