Comfortable & @ Peace


 
 
Clean and unpolluted,
white is without pressure:
it does not exert
or seek to detract.

Rather,
it simply sits:
comfortable
and at peace.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
 


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This Little Light

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There is a way out of the forest;
I truly believe that.

And in the meantime,
I have my candle for light.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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In subtle ways

Standing in the shadows, I cannot see you.
Walking behind me, I miss the help you give.
Yet you are there; people attest to this.

When the sky is grey,
when the land is wet,
when the air is cold and crisp;

when my body aches,
when my heart is heavy,
when my mind is full of clutter:

a flash of colour,
a burst of song,
an unbidden smile,

a stranger’s kindness,
a shaft of light,
a falling feather…

In subtle ways on countless days
you light my journey
and I feel your love.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A villa with no neighbours

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August is disappearing, fast-slipping into September, and I can’t help being nostalgic about something I’ve never had: a summer like last year; days spent outside, cafés by the sea, bbq’s, a pool, a villa with no neighbours. I miss the peace. I miss the quiet. I miss the freedom… I know it’s not forever and it’s all still there, but my heart feels broken, weeping for something that has died. I can feel it now – raw, restless, enraged; rising and falling like a turbulent ocean intent on capsizing every ship.

I know it’s a test; or at least this is what I am telling myself, if only because it sits better that way. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Or maybe it does? By calling it a ‘spiritual’ journey; refusing the dis-ease and discomfort to be named – not properly, not ‘officially’ in a way I can’t later deny: I’m opening a window and in doing so discovering that in darkness there is also light.

And I know it might sound weird – it would do to me if I wasn’t who I am, if this hadn’t all happened exactly as it has – but I feel the presence of God more and more profoundly every day. There are subtle messages, unexpected gifts, encounters that introduce me to something new inside. A process of remembering, I am slowly returning to who I was before life (people, experiences and places) got in the way. And as I do, I am aware that I have company: an inner mother cat who stands in front of my heart, reaching out to hiss and scratch at anyone and everything that tries to intervene. I am getting to know her slowly and slowly I am making her my friend.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Things I would love to shake

There are feelings in my body that are new, that I haven’t previously experienced. And others that are overly familiar: things I would like to shake but haven’t been able to dislodge. The new ones bother me the most: their discomfort harder to shut off; I don’t have the reserves of experience that time permits.

I’m learning how to manage them – slowly, in parts. And in that process achieving both failure and success. Like so many other things: it’s a journey…

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, where I will be next year as a result, or if I will even still be here and who I will be if I am. I have changed so much in so little time. In a lot of time, I might not even recognise myself.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Growing from the centre

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Growing from the centre, spreading out; opening tired arms, reaching out… I begin to evolve; returning – slowly, surely, bit by timid bit – to my maker, to the one who conceived the thought and (albeit thousands of years ago), made my forebears who then lead lives that in a very protracted ‘meandering-around-the-fields kind of way’ (a bit like my writing) eventually led to me.

But who is that voice that’s calling? And why now? Why not before, when I first had need of it? 

Was it necessary to be so beaten, so tattered and torn, so tangled and tormented, bereft? Did I need to lose it all before I could from the ground, the grey grit of the tired bedraggled pavement, start crawling back?

~

Praying, meditating, practicing yoga; spending quiet time, alone time, time with me: I pick up the pieces, attempting to reassemble the puzzle that – whole, complete – amounts to an entirety of something I am only now coming to know.

I try to remember that God loves me and that Jesus died for my sins. I try to remember too that other people have suffered, suffer, are suffering still, and that we are all battling similar things.

Only it’s easy to forget and then feel miserable, or perhaps act out, speaking from the lonely part, the child that has since we began been neglected.

~

Reading self-help books; studying religion, spirituality, philosophy, metaphysics… I move, crossing a landscape of boulders that was ‘once upon a time long ago’ green and vibrant.

Planting seeds; tending to the garden, praying to the moon and dancing for the sun: colour arrives and I thrive, rising up from the ashes of pain and shame to walk with grace and confidence.

And I try to have fun and to remember how to play, taking advice from children and the tiny inside me, the ‘me’ that I am only now really learning to see and accept. Fimo unicorns dance across tabletops, origami doves gather around lamps, felttip rainbows remind me to be kind to myself when all around me I’m staring at clouds. Having allowed what has been forbidden to surface, it won’t now be shut back down.

I was afraid that perhaps I wasn’t being mature enough. 

I was also afraid that I had gone mad, losing my soul down a rabbit hole that, once entered, did not permit one to turn back. 

Now I see that the answer is simple, that I have instead been forced to rewind, returning to parts that never grew, reconnecting with parts that were rejected.

Listening to her, seeing her, for the first time; looking with complete awareness, judgement-free: I slowly heal what was allowed to self-destruct. It is painful and slow. Strange how this journey began as one thing, as a new career path, as an evolution of ego – albeit with a good heart – and then turned into something else entirely that has, in new and nefarious ways, challenged me.

~

Walking in the light, I see that God had other plans and that, really, when it’s all peeled back, there is only ever one path, one way, and it is love. 

Love makes us happy. 

Love brings us peace. 

Love enables us to forgive and thereby to finally heal. 

Love enables us to reach out and touch and begin to restore, transforming hate and anger, cynicism and judgement, depression and pain. Little by little, the world begins to change. 

It is a journey of a thousand miles. And, like all of you, each day I take another step. 

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Lend your arms

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Lord,

My heart aches and feels hollow. Inside, there is such grief. Please lend me your arms to hide in in my hour of need. And after, you shoulders to hold my fears. And then your lap, like a basket, to cradle my tears.

Help me to let go of all that is trapped and broken, to fix it piece by piece. Help me to confront all that I am afraid of and in doing so find peace.

Open my eyes to beauty, my soul to sound. Awaken all my senses to the world that surrounds.

Guide me towards a better outlook and quality of life: one that is still and centred, and free from strife.

Show me how to release the past so that I might move on. Show me how to embrace the future so that I can belong.

Turn my attention inward, away from material things. Give me the strength to allow the feelings introspection brings.

Let me love myself as I love others. Let me myself forgive. Show me how to receive as well as how to live.

Love me like a father, guide me like a sage; stand by me as I walk into a future of knowledge and age.

Teach me to live freely. Permit me to yearn. And when the void beckons, help me to learn.

Give me roots to stand on and branches to stretch. Give me buds to nurture and seeds to collect.

Give me leaves to shed and flowers to release. Give me water to drink and air to breathe.

Give me birdsong to dance to and company to share. Give me shade in darkness and space in air.

Give me peace in body and comfort in mind. Give me strength in soul so that I might find the land that I dream of, the people I miss, the place that I belong to and the purpose of this.

Amen

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Quiet, small and full of grace

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My heart feels fragile and my emotions are like glass. I ache everywhere… from head to foot. Strange! I don’t know why.

Maybe I’m just tired? Every time I think I’m out of it: home free, laughing on the other side of what has been a long lonely eviction from all that’s warm and sweet; it comes crashing back, knocking until I fall to my feet. Not that I was ever arrogant about standing upright anyway: it has always been a challenge. 

Born into a mould that was different; teased about this and that; poked and prodded until my paper-thin broke: I have learned to hide rather than shout. Like the church mouse, I creep and sneak. Like her sister Cinderella, I pick up and dust. I often think I was born to serve. I do it so well. 

Perhaps my role is not to stand out, not to change in any overt external way, but, insteadto lend, lever and prop up? Maybe I am just the wingman: fixing what is broken in others; healing what hearts, bellies, minds cannot stomach, see or tolerate? Not a bad task. A task I actually rather like. After all: what comes easily and cleanly; what feels natural, an extension of self; what reaches out and into one’s own heart, bringing one into presence, demanding one turn up… is hard not to like. 

I’ve always had this desire to help others; this calling to protect, shield and heal. It’s something I’ve done ever since I grew up. Something I endeavoured to do even in childhood. I used to think: if I can’t fix me, if I can’t protect my own damaged and broken self: then at least I can apply the knowledge, the learning, the ‘advice too-hard-to-take’, to those around me.

And yet…

there’s this yearning now: to be whole, to be healed, to be Holy.

Tripping over my own misguided self; falling flat on my long-ago disowned face; finding myself alone with my mind and my body – things I hated, things I feared; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no anything to take me: the all that I had been avoiding, the everything that I had fled, the darkness and dirt disowned… caught up. And somehow – in the eye of that nightmare, in the vortex of that storm, in the deafening noise of that aloneness, that isolation from friends and family, world and self… I found myself a miracle: quiet, small and full of grace. 

Slowly, I learn. Slowly, I see. The road is long; the horizon unclear. It is often dark and it is often wet. But there are stars 🌟 and rainbows 🍭 too. And the sunsets 🌞, when I manage to see them, are incredible. 

I live according to a routine, keeping it simple. I don’t overly tax myself. I keep interaction to a minimum and travel to where I can get to outside of rush hour on foot. I don’t expect. I don’t demand. I listen to my body and do what she wants. We draw a lot. We make things out of paper, silk, clay and wool. We listen to the radio and we read, educating ourself, ourselves, in all things spiritual, metaphysical, holistic, helpful and healthy. We sing 🎤 and we dance 💃🏼. We do yoga. We meditate – with essential oils, with crystals – hands on heart, on abdomen, on head… addressing each injured part, each softly screaming object, each rejected bit of once-upon-a-time integrated ingredient, bit by painful bit.

I begin my day in front of the mirror, greeting myself with love 💋. It is hard work and it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to do it; I want to run away 🏃🏼 and pretend like everything’s ok, like everything’s usual. But I can see how it affects my life and I am encouraged by the results.

I work on releasing anger 💥: forgiving, accepting, letting go🎈of things I have too-long been holding onto. 

I am learning to say “no” and not to beat myself up for having done so. I am not a bad person and I deserve to be loved.

I am starting to listen to myself and act from the silence and in doing so I am learning peace .

I am shining my light and allowing others to shine with me. This is incredible: I had forgotten how much, when in alignment, when balanced and grounded, when in sync with authentic self, I glow.

I am welcoming abundance and paying attention to the guidance 🔮 that I receive. I am practicing accepting 🎂 along with giving 🎁, allowing an even exchange. This really has been difficult. 

Slowly, I am letting go and learning how to surrender.

I see the shadow that stands behind me, the pain on her face and the suitcase 👜 she holds in her hand. I sit with her on quiet mornings and together we go through the contents: sifting through old clothes 👗👘👚👕, forgotten garments 👙, things I have not seen or thought about for many years. 

My wardrobe grows, accommodating things I now wear instead of hiding deep inside me. I wear my shame with pride and slowly she glows 🏮. Life is richer, brighter, more intense. I don’t dance around the permimeter of the person I want to be. I step in fully and completely. 

It’s a long journey, but daily we are getting there. Happiness 😊 is a choice I make and I am making that choice upon rising ⛅️ every day

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Contemplating Jesus


Long day: early morning, late night; tired, always… Body struggling, mind malfunctioning; stomach empty and full. Baby crying, adult sighing; both unhappy still. Looking; searching. Finding: keeping. Sitting on and hiding away. Questions. Answers. Are there any? No! The future: heavy and dark. The past: burning and hot.

Talking of which: an enthusiastic oven, a metal dish, a bed of pitta, a tray of bread, a mind distracted by a labyrinth, a hand not paying enough, and suddenly a stigmata: rugged, red.

Contemplating Jesus, I sip tea, a coffee machine purring in the background; overlapping chatter and clatter, the room heady and thick. Regarding fresh toast, tomato, interchangeable eggs, jam, butter, avocados: I’m fighting the urge to steal. But it’s Sunday and God beckons; so it’s coat on and pen away, along with all bad thoughts and behaviour.

Moments later: a red priest, a white chaplain, a group of strangers; candles, incense, holly, baubles; collection packets, bibles, hymns books, service notes; a man playing the organ, another collecting stragglers, tea and cake around the corner – our reward. At the back, a play table – pens, pencils, colouring books… And yet there are no children, just me, longing to reach in and extract. Colour me purple, colour me pink; make me a mess in pen and ink.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Unto us a child is born

imageAching, breaking, feeling fragile; the pain in my side no weaker than it was four day ago: I’m contemplating the ‘walk-in’ on Wardour Street. But I’m scared. Sick people remind me of my own mortality, and it’s not so sturdy of late. Things hurt. Others don’t work anymore. And I’ve no idea whether the hurting and the not working are permanent or temporary. Each time we move, each time I suffer a trauma or am challenged and pushed: I slide, and the slope is dark and dangerous.

Looking up, I can still see the sky: a weak hollow of blue light, diluted and empty. No clouds. No planes. No sun. Just a thin strip stretching from left to right. Some days it’s brighter, more intense, and on days like these I draw comfort from it. Some days it’s dull and dead and on these days I sink to my knees and pray, for I have no energy, no motivation, no drive, and things as simple as walking and talking tire me.

Recently, it’s been up and down, bouncing me like a yo yo on thread. Nausea creeps into my belly to sit and sip, drinking tea and stretching out, acting (for all intents) as if it owns the place – which it doesn’t but which I could be convinced to believe it does, because it is such a frequent visitor I can’t now remember when it last went away.

Sitting in church yesterday – listening to the sermon but drifting, not really there… images of past lives, past people, past things… passing through: rewinding me, reminding me; picking at threads, fingering snarls, thumbing pulls, travelling bobbles; contemplating each and every one as if it were the most intimate, infinite thing: precious, priceless… I have an epiphany. And whether it makes any difference overall, or any sense in a day or a week: the warmth and the strength are a gift. Raising limp hands, separating joined wrists, pulling reluctant arms from lazy legs, I wrap myself around that feeling as tightly and securely as I can, hoping against hope, against experience, against knowledge and thought, that it won’t ever go away.

Only it will, and the only question that holds any importance is when? For if the answer disappoints, I will be devastated.

Today I am tired and the colour of the sky unnerves me. Yesterday there was reason to celebrate, to try to feel positive and upbeat. And I guess there was a break too, from the normal way of things. But now it’s back: the pressure, the expectation, the need… and I’m struggling. Feeling useless, uninspired; doubting my ability: I look at everything I’ve done – now and then, lately and a long time ago – and it all seems so shallow and incomplete.

Doubt descends and I sink: deeper and deeper. And the slope down which I was slipping is no longer just a slope; it’s also part of the sea, and I am drowning too.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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