Riding the British Railway and Minding My Gaps
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015
The quiet, persistent strength of my English cousin
Personal power without apology
and so it should be.
Greater than the works of Blake
or any art that man can make.
She breathes on through storms
bigger than The Tempest born
with peaceful, treasured moments
after hurricanes and all the harms
oft this world has deemed the norm.
The Power of Care is an immeasurable thing and not one I would choose to drift by without mention. Before I left for the UK, I was a depleted soul - eroded by the tides of time and the "thousand natural (and unnatural) shocks that flesh is heir to".... I wrote to my cousin saying that I needed to come home, to be with my blood, to restore myself in a safe and peaceful place. She provided all of that for me and more. Some time had passed since I was able to simply be, to let go, to not have to take care of anything and to have the space created where someone took care of me.
The healing that can take place when someone is caring for your basic needs: clean clothes, food, transportation ....wine :-) - it's astounding. It really gives you time to be, to recover. I think a big part is being able to let go and feel safe in doing so. My cousin restored this art work that is my life, my being, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I don't think we HAVE to go away to allow ourselves this space for healing and restoration, though it is an asset and a privilege of which I am completely aware. For me, breaking with routine in time, place and people was essential to the shifting of thought and the remapping of a way forward. Additionally, it was mildly terrifying because flying half way around the world to be with someone I hadn't seen for three decades, others I had never met - and to completely break with routine - well, it takes a bit of letting go.
...and it was good.
I want to say too, that there were many others on this journey who aided in my healing - some of you may not even realize it. From Gabby and the team at the Contini Cannonball Restaurant in Edinburgh who made me feel so incredibly special on the evening of my dinner there, to the teams at The Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh and The Royal York Hotel in York who made my stays beyond comfortable and into the realm of epic, lifetime memories, to my friends in the Cotswolds who included me in their family reunion in order to give me the chance to learn about Richard, my mum's wartime fiance, to my dear friend, talented artist and best selling author, Sheila Jeffries who has an unfathomable healing capacity through her extraordinary ability to love and share her heart and mind. Thanks to Battels Arts Cafe for buying us our tea after hearing the story my cousin and I shared. Thanks to Marc for the use of his amazing condo in Canary Wharf. Thanks to the river boat captain on the Thames who shared the history of the river from his heart with such humour and passion. Thanks to Trish and Susannah for inviting me into their hearts and homes. Thanks to all the kind and friendly, hard-working folks on the Transport for London system who helped me find my way around and the fellow at the Canadian Embassy who took time, just to have a chat. Huge thanks to April and Trich who invited me to their homes in Ireland even though I didn't make it to see you this time. I am so deeply moved by your generosity. To everyone whose path I crossed on my own healing path, I am grateful and certain that you have healed me through your kindness.
When people ask me "What was the favourite part of your trip?," I've tried to pick a place, but all the places were amazing and incomparable. The truth of it is, it was the people and the interactions that stood out as much or more than the places. Even within the great cathedrals of St Paul and York Minster, my awe stands with those who put their life's work into the art and building of the places. It is inevitably the people that bring the places to life, from The Shambles in York to the River Thames, to the Tower of London, to Brighton Pier.
Hearts. Caring. Giving what we have to freely give of ourselves to one another in order to increase the light of the world - that's the stuff of healing. That is where I am doing my best to live now. It feels like a pretty good place to be and I hope to see you here.
With gratitude and love to all of you who hold up a light for me when my path grows dim and gratitude for all of you who have the courage to share your difficulties and truth with me. With every action and interaction we form our own future - let us do our best to do it with kindness and compassion.
With love to my cousin for her strength, candour and healing ways.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 1, 2015
The Armour of the Heart
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015