Thank God for my iPhone camera.
Cameras which so often can’t capture what it is that the soul sees. You can just make out my rosary dangling from my rearview mirror, almost in line with the treasure I spied from my car. Me and Him in a moment captured in time.
In my last post I described the young Sisters in the new religious community of Our Lady of Walsingham as the Eve’s who are ‘transformed in Him’. I should have said transforming in Him. The process is ongoing, it’s a pilgrimage of moving closer toward Him as each moment in time passes. Even Christ (although Himself complete) had not completed for us the way of the pilgrimage until Him and His Father were fully re-united to each other, One in Heaven. The beauty of the community I imagine is that they have fewer distractions than most. Now that I have seen the setting of Abbotswick house of prayer I have a vision in my mind of a long wide green country lane with very few side turnings, leading directly into the perspective light.
The intensity of nature has blessed me ever since I was a young child. I Love it. Ever since I was a small child I have felt the wonder and peace and freedom of just being beside nature safely in her fold. As a child I was in friendship with two horses who lived in a field near the river Ching (the river was more like a babbling brook) and had sticklebacks and slippery shiny wet pebbles, and I would make little damn’s and watch the leaves and twigs work their way along the current, bobbing and twisting past all obstacles, and then for a while at least gently gliding, untill the bend in the Ching took them beyond the limits of my vision. The woods was where the freedom of the imagination filled my days.
I thought when I was about 10, that I would mount one of the horses bare back, jump the barrier and spend a day on the common with my equestrian soul mate in peaceful friendship, just me and him. In my imagination I did just that. I spent my childhood over Highams Park Lake and Chingford Common (which stretched from Chingford Hatch to Woodford) it was the magical land that connected my childhood home with the land where I first entered this world, Woodford Green. The woods were deeply beautiful and once were undivided from Epping Forest. I would spend what felt like hours hanging out with Rex my dog (who I was convinced would protect me from all danger) whilst I climbed trees and made dens in my gypsy head scarf. Only occasionally would I initiate others into my secret life, by anointing them with a pebble kept in a little cardboard jewelery box lined with grass.
When I was older (about 18) and lived in Islington, me and a dear friend (who is now a God parent to one of my children) spent a quiet evening walking around the rich leafy canopy of Canonbury with a bottle of wine. When all alcohol was consumed we stopped for what felt like forever on a little wall underneath a beautiful vast ancient lush green tree. We were sharing deeper than usual conversation whilst looking up inebriated through the leaves to the sky beyond. The night was closing in, and in the depths of our communion the blue jagged shapes of sky created by the thick canopy of leaves became instead the leaves on the tree, and the green leaves became the sky beyond, and I saw the metamorphosis of one transform into the other and I shared it with my dearest, and only then could she see it too. It was a magical liminal moment that seemed to have stepped outside the bounds of time.
She later sent me a beautiful card which I still have today somewhere, which said something along the lines of ‘don’t try too hard to make others see the beauty of what it is you see, else you might lessen the beauty of the vision within yourself.’ Her words had reflected her thoughts on a conversations we had shared that magical night. Even back then I had expressed my absolute frustration at the lack of like-minded people around to share the fulfilling intense wonder of a life which was lived liminal rather than practical. This renders a life so very much more intensely beautiful because it is felt and seen with the heart else the mind else the soul, which holds it all very real, rather than seeing with just the eyes or practical means alone. It also renders it a very alone place, which is different from lonely, although sometimes more often loneliness has featured. My other family members never had those eyes apart from my Dad, and I only realised this consciously as I grew older.
I always thought that one day I would live in a country cottage within a town, where there would be (else I would have) a world within a world. The country setting caught within the city. My Cannonbury experience led me to believe that one day it might be there, for there was a beautiful old country thatched cottage humble amongst the Georgian Towns wealth. A portal . . . . one way leading into and beyond another way. Which is I think why St Francis of Assisi’s church attracts my attention, you enter inside a church which takes you inside his church to take you outside, (if my mind understood the description correctly). Maybe my vision imagined is the better vision to cherish rather than the reality?
Ever since I were a little child I have ‘played a game’ just with myself. I felt that if I were to choose my way around a post or a tree, or take one path over another, or go one way around the pond as opposed to the other way around, that I (although ending up in the same apparent location) would actually end up in a different place, choosing quite a different mini destination over the destination which the other way around would have led to. I still do this frequently today, most noticeably whilst out on my 6 mile walk. You can almost feel yourself subliminally choosing one way over another, and not always necessarily the stronger current. One way generally feels more peaceful than the other, and yet with the human eye they look identical, all one world. It’s just a feeling of different paths, subtler than the movement between shadow and light, but very much there. Some days the choice between the two is so subtle and on other days the distinction is quite strong. Both ways look the same but are quite different, and the feeling is clear, though no path ever reveals its destination. The choosing is just like feeling our way in prayer. Lines which thread one way, then gently cross, then maybe all at once change, but forever drawing us in the inspired direction.
Funny ole world.
But one where (for me) which ever way we choose . . . Love is essential. . . because as John Paul II rightly understood
‘Love alone is the way of the human person’.