Puzzling Pictures 10: Data Transfer

Now that I’ve closed the front room door, the hallway is in darkness, except for a dim night light on the landing. The stairs are steep and narrow, rising between two walls, rather than open on the hall side, as in our house. I place my hand on the rail, and a foot on the first step; and then I pause. I can hear a little voice.

He’s still awake.

It’s been an hour now since his parents put him to bed. We’ll be leaving shortly, but before we go, I want to watch him while he sleeps. It pleases me to slip into his room, and lean over the rail of his cot, and look at him as he lies on his side, his face slack with sleep, breathing softly; and, after a while, I will pray for him, and say goodnight, then close the door quietly, and go home.

I can’t go in while he’s still awake. He’ll want to get up again. 

Nevertheless, I begin to ascend the stairs, slowly, treading softly. At the head of the stairs, I stand and listen. He isn’t unhappy. He’s talking away as if accompanying the activity of a day, except that it isn’t in chronological order, and it’s in various forms: comments and questions, expressions of surprise and satisfaction, fragments of rhymes and phrases from stories; occasionally, something that sounds remarkably like a remark of my own. It’s all very interesting to him, no doubt, but baffling to an outsider.

Why isn’t he asleep? He’s had a long day, and he certainly seemed ready for bed. 

He quietens down, then he’s silent - but then, a murmur, a few words, and off he goes again, whispering, singing, chattering away once more.

I’d better leave him to it. 

What has this got to do with diaries?

As one year turns into another, I need to take various items of information from my old diary, and transfer them to the new one. You know the sort of thing: birthdays, anniversaries, renewal dates, subscriptions, financial information, names, numbers, and so on. It isn’t any kind of journal - it’s just so that I can keep track of everything that needs to be done.

It’s a slow process: I use a fountain pen, and I have to wait for the ink to dry before I can turn over; and then, on almost every page, a few words will bring back a whole host of memories. It’s not just things like the dates on which my parents died, which I always include in the anniversaries that I record - it’s also many of the other events that have taken place over the course of the year. There they are, in black and white: the accidents, the illnesses, the operations, the hospital visits, the deaths, the funerals; the difficulties, the disappointments, the… but I’ll stop there. You get the idea. It isn’t any different for anybody else, I’m sure. 

This year, some of those things have stayed on my mind, despite my best efforts to dismiss them. I don't know why it’s taking more time than it usually does.

On the way home, I mention listening to Christopher on that dimly-lit landing. “He’s processing things. He’s just working his way through them until he’s ready to go to sleep.” That’s what my wife says.

Well, perhaps he is, though the word “processing” would need a bit more of an explanation before I was happy with it. And why does he need to do it? Christopher is as safe and secure up there in his bedroom as any child could hope to be, despite the uncertainty of a world in which “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5.7)

Have I been doing something similar? Why do I need to do it, when we have so many assurances of our safety and security in our Saviour? How does Paul put it? “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.38-39) That said, I don’t think it’s just me that I’m concerned about, despite what you might surmise.

Hmm. What's the date today? A quick glance at my diary tells me that it’s already March the 2nd.  As I’m closing it again, I notice a piece of white card tucked inside the front cover. I found it a couple of months ago, in the side pocket of the suitcase that I bought for my father a few years before he died. It’s just his name and address, in black ink, in capital letters, obviously meant to go in the identity fob attached to the case.

I’m looking at it now. What a man he was! He always seemed so capable, knowing what he was doing, taking care of everything necessary for all of his family. I miss him, now that he’s gone.

But there is this: my Father in heaven still lives; He is, yesterday, and today, and forever; and He has everything in hand.

Time to close the door quietly on 2018.