...half-term week in February proved to be rather eventful, in an inwardly kind of way. Swithin, my husband, was away, so I had earmarked the week as precious silent retreat time for myself. I unplugged the landline, turned off my mobile and put an automated Out of Office message on my email. I was good to go. And why does it not surprise me that during that week our same little lane was being dug up and was closed to all traffic! New electricity cables apparently...
Well, it wasn’t long before I found myself in something of an altered state. So many people have been struggling in one way or another. Dental emergencies, despair at the current political climate and everything in between. I was just tuning in to the potent energies around, to what was in the ‘field’. Wakeful nights and material pouring through me onto the page ensued – I soon cottoned on to keeping pad and pen by the bed.
Gradually the pieces of the jig-saw fell into place. My first encounter with fascism at the age of ten when living in Trieste on the border with what was then Yugoslavia. My parents got friendly with a couple, he American, she German. A concentration camp survivor. Some thirty years later she still looked as if she’d only just walked out of there; emaciated, an emotional and psychological wreck.
Studying politics and international relations at university. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, you name them, we studied them. A quarter of my Masters in European Studies was devoted to the study of terrorism and how to counter it effectively. I went on to lecture full-time for five years at a different university, on the history and politics of European integration. I taught about the incredible vision of the founding fathers, after two World Wars, of how to make war between France and Germany unimaginable in the future. I taught about EU policy, about collaborative anti-terrorism across the Union, amongst other things.
And then I turned my back on all of that and walked away from academia. From being immersed in the outer world I turned inwards, to find myself, to heal myself. I’ve never regretted that and I’ve never looked back but I have sometimes wondered what that was all about, that first chunk of my life that seemed to have no bearing on the second half, that seems so removed from my life today.
During half-term I started to see the link, I started to see how it was an essential piece of the jig-saw, like one of the four corner pieces. The Brexit vote had left me first shocked to my core and then broken-hearted. Only a few months later came the American election. With the inauguration of the new president something started to stir in me. I watched bits of the Sister Giant event in Washington in awe at Marianne Williamson. I’ve admired the way she brings her deep faith and spirituality to the political and socio-economic arena for a while. This time something within me responded to her call that it’s time to show up.
During half-term I realised that so many of us in the Mind Body Spirit world don’t engage with the political or the socio-economic or the environmental, not in any meaningful way. For my part, I’ve buried my head in the sand all these years partly because it has felt too painful, too overwhelming to take in the tragedies that are all around us at any one time. I’ve deliberately practiced a decades-long news-fast in order to protect myself from the negativity and fear that mainstream media peddles. At the same time I've avidly read Positive News and been inspired by all the encouraging signs of the new consciousness, the new paradigm that is emerging.
In 2012 I went on retreat for the whole of December and took only two books with me, a Barbara Marx Hubbard text and Andrew Harvey’s Hope, about Sacred Activism. As I read it I wept several times. I wrote an Ode to Avalokiteshvara, Avalokiteshvara who has a thousand eyes to see all the suffering of the world and a thousand arms and hands to relieve it, Avalokiteshvara who pierced my being all those years ago in Egypt. In spiritual emergency then, I experienced what felt like the entire suffering of humanity going back to the very beginning of time. And I experienced, coursing through my body, the infinite compassion of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Now I’m turning back to Harvey’s work to find the inner peace and strength, the courage and the boldness to step up and step out. Again. In the run up to my interview with Katie Mottram for the Emerging Proud campaign, yes, I am coming out of the closet. And it’s not the spiritual one.