Life is filled with trials and tests, but somehow we never recognise half of them in the mundane encounters of daily life. ‘Do you think you will be left to say, “We believe”, and will not be tested?’ we remind ourselves as calamities unfold on our television screens.
Tornados rip a town to pieces, and we remember. Cruise missiles rain down on a city, and we remember. An earthquake flattens a province, and we remember.
But in the disputes between friends, the argument between a husband and his wife, in the pay cut, the job loss, the crashing computer, the rain on a day out, the broken down car, the bill for repairs, the ungrateful response to a favour done, the guest out-staying his welcome and the slugs eating the seedlings in the garden; in all things that demand us to choose between flying into an unholy rage and resigning contentedly to the good in the bad, we forget, repeatedly.
We expect the kind of trials we would never be able to bear, wandering on, oblivious to the perpetual assessment that is our life. How easy to decry from afar the desperate residents of a permanent refugee camp picking up the bomb and a gun in rage; how hard to sit down, lie down, repeat one’s wudu, to bite one’s tongue, to go for a walk, to simply say sorry, or never-mind, when dinner wasn’t ready or the tea was cold, when the children raised their voices and scattered toys across the floor, when she had a migraine and forgot your special appointment.
How hard it is to face the tests of our lives. How hard. How hard to face the mundane.