The previous night I had been sitting in my car, staring out to a sea whipped wild by the same wind that was rocking my car. I had let myself slip into a deep reverie – the first time I can remember this happening in a very long time. The trance was broken suddenly by my phone ringing and I was shocked to find myself back in the car; I had been so deeply immersed in this alternate reality .. and surprised to find where my mind had taken me when I had let it slip out of my conscious control for a while.
It left me with a mixture of feelings that I couldn’t process because the call had alerted me to commitments I had made and was late for, so I had to leave it where it was.
I woke the next morning, heavy hearted. I had some clarity, a few realizations .. and I didn’t like any of them.
I could see some places where I could have been more honest with myself at my deepest levels. Had I been able to.
I looked back and saw some places I wish I had been more honest, with others, in the moment.
Simple places. Missed moments.
Time On My Own
But I had a full and exciting day to look forward to, the last of my holiday, so I pushed the feelings and the realizations aside and slid into my day of visiting pirate coves and playing in rock pools and connecting with friends. But there was a little shadow over it all I just couldn’t shake.
My ex-husband was also on holiday in the area and so I dropped our children off with him for a few hours.
Everything felt weird though.
Where I normally feel joyful at the idea of refilling my cup and happy knowing my children are filling up their cup with the daddy energy they love and where I’d normally feel peaceful knowing he was able to share one of his favourite places with both of his families at the same time, this time I felt a pang as I drove away. A loneliness and an emptiness that I haven’t had in a long time.
I tried listening to my small still voice, but it was just too quiet. I felt a pull to go to the chapel at St Michael’s Mount as I drove through Marazion, but my brain rationalized that I couldn’t fit it in as well as a visit to St Ives and there were things I wanted to do in St Ives, had been looking forward to doing there, so I kept driving.
I found parking easily, exactly where I had envisioned it, and began down a little route, on foot, down quaintly named back alleyways and tiny streets like Salubrious Terrace, along paths that we had become familiar with when we stayed here last year and walked everywhere for a week.
I went past the Chocolatier that had always been closed and felt drawn in this time by the open door. I wandered through the sweet smells and brightly coloured cake decorations, but the experience was disappointing and I quickly left and wandered along to the little shop-lined streets that I had loved so much on our last visit. Shops that were hard to enjoy with young children who have a different set of interests to me, that I thought would be wonderful to visit on my own this time.
But, as I walked down the lanes, into galleries that had made my heart leap before, I was more and more aware of the sinking sensation in my stomach .. and the leadedness weighing me down. Beautiful, whimsical creations looked flimsy and overpriced and boring, the people on the pavement and spilling onto the cobbled lane annoyed me. I started to feel despair .. and panic.
Oh no! I began to think of the two weeks I had booked in St Ives the following month, with two young children, on my own .. it seemed overwhelming. I’d made a mistake. What was I thinking? I was trying to recreate something that was magical in its own moment and here I was with proof that that magic was over. Nothing appealed. It all seemed garish, not magical. Boring and hollow and suddenly, I was sure it was going to rain the whole two weeks, we’d have nothing to do, there was nothing I wanted to see.
Ah .. good old Law of Attraction at work with nothing to slow it’s downward spiral.
I took a breath. I had come to look for a seascape for my living room wall. I miss the sea so much when I am home and it doesn’t look like I can move closer to it for a while, so a dear friend suggested that I bring the colours and sights and energy of the sea into my home to enjoy and top up my sea-loving cup with. Even though I was feeling disconnected, I thought I may as well look out for a gallery that might have a seascape like the one in my mind. At that moment, I turned a corner and saw a photo gallery and I stopped in and found a small picture I enjoyed and chatted with the assistant about getting bigger prints done. It seemed to ease the despair a bit and I could hear myself Facebooking about the temporary comfort of buying things.
Still, I did feel a bit better and I decided to walk down to the harbour to find the front of a gallery I’d seen the back of in the lane I had just been in.
I turned to walk past the church we’d passed many times before on our way to the harbour, but it was as if something else took control of my body in that moment. In the same flash that I became aware of the small “Church Open” A-board out front (that seemed lit up with an inner light in classic Hollywood style), my body had been spun from the direction it had been going in and turned towards the church. I found my hands pressing against the cold metal of the bar on the glass doors and the rest of me being propelled into the quiet musty interior of the church.
For an irreligious person, brought up in synagogues, I do seem to be visiting a lot of churches this year!
The church was empty inside, except for a man reading a newspaper at the entrance. It was small and very beautiful and old-feeling inside, and it seemed dark with dark wood and red fabric though the stone pillars lightened it. I walked past the signs about taking photos and felt into where I was being pulled forward to and took my seat in the front pew, dropping my bag and my coat as I did.
All of a sudden, I was aware of the sensation I know to be my guides/angels/lovely non-physical beings embracing me .. the tingle along the back of my right arm, the warm feeling of arms or wings holding my back, the presence behind me to my right.
And unexpectedly, the floodgates opened and opened and opened. Tears flooded down my cheeks. Sobs rose up. I tried swallowing them down, shy about their sound in this open space, but they needed release .. and so I let them.
I didn’t know why I was crying.
“grief” is all I heard
I felt the grief of letting go.
Of realizing where I was compared to where I want to be, or even, where I had thought I was.
Of letting go of my story.
Not Like In The Movies!
As I began to surface, I couldn’t help laughing in a small way at this picture of me crying and praying in this church as tourists tried to quietly move past me to look at the artefacts or take pictures of whatever they were taking pictures of. In the movies, you just see the person quietly talking to God in the empty church .. you don’t see the tourists!
And I closed my eyes and cried until I was done .. quietly. I could feel my hands wanting to come together in a prayer position in front of my forehead, fighting with my embarrassment to be doing so. That it felt more silly to be openly praying in a church, than taking photos and reading description plates seems odd, but that’s the way it was.
And then I prayed.
And afterwards, I looked around.
At the statues of a very sad Jesus and sad people people beneath his cross.
At the beautiful ceiling and stone pillars and carved pews.
And I wondered at all the people who had cried and prayed there before me.
I felt empty.
And then I noticed the votive candles over to my right beginning to flicker wildly and as I watched them, they seemed to call me.
Bringing In The Light
So I gathered my belongings and wandered over to them. I stood looking at them for a long while, thinking of my dear friend Victoria and how she told me a story of lighting a candle when she goes into a church.
I wondered what people pray for when they light them.
From within my emptiness, I simply wanted to bring more light into the world and with that intention, I lit one.
And I stood quietly for a moment, wondering why I didn’t feel I was done there yet.
And I felt a small tug from my right and looked over .. amazed I hadn’t seen it before!
There was a beautiful little chapel. A sign “Lady Chapel” made me smile as I thought of my favourite place to meditate and feel the love of the Divine Feminine in Glastonbury Abbey in the Lady Chapel there and I went in and sat down.
I breathed in the beauty in deep slow breaths.
The tall white walls a contrast to the deep dark wood and red of the church.
The light streaming in through the stained glass windows creating splashes of colour over the wall behind the altar.
The images of Mary and her baby: in stone, in cloth and in paint.
And I could feel the shift.
A smile began to curl the corners of my mouth and lift the edges of my heart.
The emptiness was slowly filling.
I was filled with light.
Entirely held by the Mother.
I was the mother.
Everything was perfect.
I was perfect.
My process was perfect.
I can’t really articulate what the grief that left was, nor the light that came in.
They just were.
And I was done.
I gathered my belongings for the last time, smiling, and slowly walked through the church to leave.
Just as I did, I heard a baby crying out and by the time I got to the door, I met his dad had who had just slipped back out through the doors, beaming baby in his arms.
The concerned dad looked at me and said “it’s a bit of a risk taking him in there” and, as I smiled at him, I responded that I thought that “the sound of a baby in a church couldn’t be more right”. The young dad visibly relaxed and thanked me as he opened the door and went in again .. and I left.
Really, it couldn’t have been more right!