The Answer

This morning.

Very early.

People, Girl, Woman, Sleep, DarkI’d been dreaming – a comfortable, satisfying dream featuring people I love doing useful, good things.  Each action, although there were separate little scenes, linked to the rest and I was feeling as if we were really getting somewhere.  It was a continuation of the dream I’d had the previous night.

And now I was no longer asleep.  Whether I was fully awake, I couldn’t say.

I was – waiting?

That was how it felt.

Waiting for pieces of a puzzle to drop into place.  There didn’t seem to be anything I needed to do other than lie there, in that extremely relaxed state and wait for something very wonderful to happen.

Slowly, a delicious glowing sensation began to flow through my mind.  It spilled over into my body.  I could actually feel those pieces dropping into position, and as each one joined the others, I began to feel better and better.

This was perfect.

This was the answer.

I was buzzing now with a gentle excitement.  I knew, with absolute certainty, that the puzzle was solved and I’d been left with the answer to the question that has been my obsession for so long.

“Is that it, then?”  I remember thinking, curiously.  “I’ve done it.  I’ve achieved my soul purpose for this lifetime.  Do I die now?”

I didn’t die.  I looked at the clock.

02:54

“No, of course I don’t die yet!” I chided myself.  “I have to write it down.  I have to get this down NOW before I fall asleep again.”

Realising how close to sleep I still was, I forced myself to sit up, switched on the bedside light and picked up the pen and journal that always wait patiently beside my bed, for just such a moment as this.

I jotted down everything that had entered my mind.  The writing was rough and jerky, but it would do for now.  A neater, fuller copy would follow later.

I turned the light off, rolled over, smiled and waited for sleep to return.  Instead, my whole body started to radiate the most intense heat.  A cold November night, but I flung off the bedclothes and sizzled.  It wasn’t unpleasant – just a rush of intense energy.

How long I stayed like that, I have no idea.  By 5am I was relaxing again.  The next time I checked the clock it was almost 9.

A teaching day, and the house to clear up for my family coming at the weekend.  I grinned to myself.

After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

All day I’ve worked.  Now it’s night time and I’m tired, red-eyed, needing to sleep.  Still there’s nothing to show for this morning’s adventure beyond the hasty scribblings in my journal…

…and this delicious feeling that this most precious of jewels now sits here inside me.

One day, my friends, I’ll find the right words to share it with you.  For now, this must suffice.

 

 

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Making Peace with the Enemy

Poppy, Flower, Red Poppy, Blossom, BloomNot sure what prompted this – maybe all the poppies and remembrance day events, standing in an entire city brought to silence on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour…

Anyway, this story is about another war – one that raged inside my father until almost the end of his life.

Tony was a young man in his twenties when the Second World War broke out.  He joined the RAF.  He serviced planes and was posted to some little island in the Far East – some little island that the Japanese army overran.  He became a prisoner of war.

I don’t know much about the details of his detainment.  He wouldn’t speak of the worst things to any of us.  I know he saw all his close friends die.  I know the camp staff would open sacks of mail, read out the names of the recipients, wave the envelopes before them, then toss them on the fire.  I know he grubbed in the ground for peanuts to add to the meagre rations of rice they had.  I know when he came home he looked more skeleton than man.  That was where his war began.

It raged throughout my whole childhood.  He was a sweet, kind, generous man as a rule, but if that button was pressed, heaven help anyone nearby.  The fury was astonishing.  Nothing made in Japan was allowed in our house.  Any passing reference to the country on TV or radio was instantly turned off, amidst angry mutterings.  When a neighbour mistakenly referred to my best friend (Chinese) as ‘that little Japanese girl she plays with’ they were shocked by the fury unleashed in Dad.

In my teens (oh, the foolhardiness of youth) I took him on one day.  I tried, calmly and reasonably, to point out that one couldn’t hold an entire nation responsible for the behaviour of a single group of sadistic prison guards.  I pointed out that a whole generation of Japanese had not even been alive during the war.  My mother and younger brother cowered in the corner as he lashed me verbally – and very nearly physically.  I came close to being disowned by him that day.  It took weeks to reestablish a relationship with him and I didn’t try to raise the subject again.

Many years passed.  Dad’s war continued unabated.  He reached retirement, moved to a new area – Glastonbury – and developed the closest friendship he’d had since I’d known him, with a man of similar age.  This man was sweet, wise and gentle.  He invited Dad to visit his home regularly and taught him all about his new area,  He told him legends.  He showed him the wonders of ley lines on maps and walked them with him.  He taught him about Bligh Bond and Wesley Tudor Pole and the heritage of Avalon.  Every time I visited, Dad couldn’t wait to share his new discoveries with me.  It was beautiful to see – like a flower, so long in the bud, finally unfurling.  He was happier and more peaceful than I’d ever known him.

This friend, though, had one further gift for Dad – the greatest of all.

“Tony,” he said one day, “There’s going to be a change in this house.  We’re going to be taking a young lodger.”

He went on to explain, very gently and patiently, that he and his wife had some dear friends abroad – people they’d known for many years.  This couple had a daughter who was very keen to visit England and work here.  Her English was good, but the culture would be very different to what she was used to.  Her parents were worried and had asked if their English friends would take her into their home.  Willingly, they had agreed.

“Well of course,” Dad said.  “I’d have done the same.  Good for you.”

“Yes,” his friend smiled, rather sadly, “But I don’t want this change to drive a wedge between our friendship, Tony.  I value your companionship very deeply and I very much want you to continue to visit our house and spend time with me as usual.”

“Well of course-” Dad spluttered, but his friend interrupted him.

“The young lady is Japanese, Tony.”

 

Girl, Asia, People, Happy, Young, SummerIt took more bravery than he had ever showed for Tony to make that choice.  He, too, valued this friendship and determined, despite all, to continue visiting his dear friend.

I wasn’t there to see how the visits went.  Perhaps he was cold and reserved towards the girl at first.  Perhaps he ignored her.  He was battling an entire lifetime of bitterness and hurt.  All I know it that on my next visit, he described the young lady to me in the most glowing terms.  He praised her gentle, sweet nature, her grace and charm, her kindness towards him, and he shook his head wonderingly.

I hugged him and felt such overwhelming gratitude towards the Universe – and his wise friend – for providing him with this wonderful opportunity to lay down his arms and finally experience peace.