My life hasn’t been ideal of late, as you may have realised from my previous post. It’s brought me back to a point that I thought I’d never return to, a place I never wanted to see again.
If it’s not the eternal struggle to find work, not just good work but good work that I can get to easily whilst only being able to use public transport, then it’s something else, like the constant fighting at home, to a point where I no longer know where I should call home.
I have been aware for a while that it’s time to move on, but when you have limited financial means, it doesn’t make it that easy. Yes, I could go back to how I was before, and just run away from it all, but I know that that won’t solve the other problems that are still there.
Who am I? Who am I now? What have I really achieved in my life? Where am I going to? Questions, so many questions, all of which I need to be able to answer before I can truly move on.
At the suggestion of my psychologist, it was decided that some time away from it all, in a place of peace and rest, could be useful.
So here I am now, in an abbey. It’s not something I ever thought I would do, especially as I’m not particularly religious. But many people do it, just to get away from the world for some time, just to find that quiet place amongst all the chaos that is daily life.
When I got here I was unsure. Where do I begin? What am I going to do here? You have to pay to stay, for the basics, as it needs to be affordable. Yet I have never had silence in my life, have never been comfortable with it, so I am also nervous as to how I am going to cope with it.
After sitting still for twenty minutes, whilst pondering all of this, the bell rang to signal five minutes before vespers. I sat and listened to it for a while before deciding that I would get up and go to the church. It felt quite awkward, in a way, what with not being religious, yet at the same time there was still something there that felt otherworldly. I have never seen the like in my life. Such power in the words, the way they sing them with meaning, the sounds mingling and echoing eerily throughout the church. For the first time in a long time, I felt small and humble. Yet also strangely out of place.
At the evening meal, afterwards, I still felt out of place. Luckily I’d picked out some relatively neutral t-shirts, deciding to leave all the heavy metal ones at home. Yet I still have tattoos that show on occasion. I needn’t have worried; no one noticed. Yet I still felt a stranger in a world that belonged to others, not me.
There are some regulars here, people who know the father who is looking after the guests today. It gives me even more of a feeling of being out of place. Yet they are welcoming, non-judging, peaceful people.
As I sit here this evening, it being not long after 7pm, I’m not sure where tomorrow is going to take me. I know I should avoid the internet and social media as much as possible, because that is partly what I need to get away from. Yet, finding something else to do is not that easy. Tomorrow I plan to take a long walk, the start of a long journey into finding myself again once more. It will be like a physical metaphor, “a journey starts with a single step”. Yet tonight, I am alone in the world and my insides are struggling to find a peace with itself. My brain and stomach and heart are all fighting to take first place in the decision making, but they just come clashing together. Maybe that first step actually truly starts this evening, in starting to learn to find and make peace with myself.
Tomorrow morning I have been invited to their morning prayers, as they saw me tonight, which are an hour long instead of just half hour in the evening. The main problem is getting up to be there at 6:45, as I’m not usually a morning person. Yet the rhythm will no doubt do me good.
Tonight is still long, though. I sit here alone, with just my thoughts, and the silence echoes around them.