Sitting here listening to the wind whistling, rustling, grumbling and the rain splatter as if someone is scooping up and throwing handfuls of water at the windows. Inside it is quiet, candlelit, soft, home. My batik is on the wall opposite where I sit. It has been hung in every home I’ve had since Maya gave it to me twenty eight years ago. It is all I need to make any room my home. But even as I arrived and this sweet little space was all sad and forlorn, I felt the welcome of the Brigid’s Cross over the door and the beautiful elephant bookends that now enclose the books I brought with me.
And this room has proved a kind home. It is completely free from accusation – it never says “The dishes aren’t washed. The place is a mess. What are you doing now? Why haven’t you finished that? What’s that doing on the table? What time do you think this is? What’s that racket?”
It’s not perfect. It’s not, truthfully, madly comfortable. I’ve given up on the chairs, other than as somewhere to deposit bits. And I live entirely in this little room as the space upstairs is uninsulated and therefore freezing. I’ve made up a nest, with a bit of foam and cushions that is where I sleep at night and work in the day. Why do I love it so much?
Because it’s like the hug of a true friend who knows you’re hurting and that there ain’t a damd thing they can do to make it better beyond that holding but they’ll go on hugging you for as long you need it. I am deeply grateful for this kindness. I am afraid of what will happen me when I leave it. It took me two weeks to get from weeping to words and now that I’ve found flow, I want to keep going. I don’t know if I can keep going once I am no longer held in the gentle undemanding caress I’ve found here.
In terms of what I imagined I’d have achieved in my time here, I thought I’d do a 100 yard dash and discovered that the starting line is a 5 mile hike away. But now that I’ve found my stride I wish, oh how I wish, I could live here, just like this, and spend my days reading, thinking, writing, revising. The rate at which I produce work is slow, painfully slow it feels sometimes. But it’s all I want to do. I don’t want to go from here and lose the gifts I’ve been given here.
I have worked on this paper for the Bardic Council seminar like I used to write papers to present at academic conferences. Only then I was spinning a dozen other plates, teaching, counselling, supervising, parenting. How I love this process! I am in my element, pinning down the ideas and opinions of others on a map so I can then locate myself and say here, this is where I stand. And what I love about the “bardic path” is the way it demands the integration of emotion and intellect, passion and scholarship, the heart and the mind. I have far more to say about the awen than I could possible cover in the limited time I have available on the 13th December but I am happy with what I’ve written. I know that what I have put together is as good as you’d get on a post-graduate academic course, because I used to teach on them.
I should be an academic. One of the things that reduced me to tears was finding the PhD proposal I was working on 1992 when I was teaching at Durham. “Counselling and the Planetary Crisis” I called it and what I wanted to consider were the implications of our emotional responses to the various global threats for counselling theory and practice. So far off the map then, I couldn’t find a supervisor. Now it’s called eco-psychology and I read books by other people covering ideas I thought about twenty years ago.
And now it is the glooming, time to close the curtains. The wind has died down so that now it is all whisper and hush, but the rain is louder, no longer intermittent, a quiet backbeat. I have been indulging my insatiable appetite for books on CD, borrowing from two libraries here. Fionnuala sent me a box of books on CD when I’d the operation on my eyes. I spent those early weeks, when my eyes were recovering, listening to stories and developed an addiction to listening rather than reading. One of life’s greatest pleasures is listening to a good book well read.
Here I’ve listened to Stephen Rea reading Seamus Deane’s “Reading in the Dark”. It’s a book I’ve already read three times but to hear it read like this has been heavenly. What a powerful story and such exquisite language. He’s a poet, Seamus Deane, yet another wonderful writer from Derry. The precision and lyricism of his language are pure delight. I swear there is not a word, not a word, out of place. There’s one scene where there’s a bunch of men talking at a funeral. It’s like a Greek chorus, a sort of chant, every phrase is perfect; this is exactly how men here talk at funerals. Stephen Rea’s Derry accent is faultless as he brings out every nuance of meaning in the words. Brilliant, just brilliant. I’m talking Jane Austin good here. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and I will never for the life of me understand how it failed to win. I now know what I want, what I really, really want is a man with a dark chocolate voice who loves to read aloud to me, as Mark did, lifetimes ago.
And now it is Sunday morning. The symphony of rain and wind that has lasted three days and nights is over. It’s cold, bright, sunny. I’ll finish my coffee and walk the lanes before heading into Galway city to post this blog. It has been wonderful here, a perfect retreat. How blessed I am.
Love and light to you all,