Today my body betrayed me. Like a bad worker blaming her tools, I hold it responsible for my loss of peace and descent into frantic, darting confusion. Let me tell you about it.
Sigoth and I went to Quaker meeting. We hadn’t been for a very long time, but part of our decluttering project is to do, or do not, and not just waste energy talking about it. So off we went. I felt a bit stressed at the thought of giving up so much of my precious time when there are so many busy things to do, and then I thought “Get your priorities straight, old girl!” and calmed down.
The Met Office had promised us snow, but it was sunny, although a bit frosty and icy. Yesterday’s sleety deposits had otherwise disappeared and the sky was blue. We rattled along the road to town and I was thinking about Kozo’s post about the need to surrender ourselves to life instead of fighting all the time. It seemed a good starting point for an hour’s contemplation.
The meeting room where we sat was cold; Quakers believe in layers and being Green (while also turning blue). I had expected this, so was wrapped up like supermarket packaging. The room had seats and a few old benches, and very high windows which let torrents of light in but only allowed you to see the sky and tips of trees. Today even that was obscured by condensation. It’s an old meeting house, from 1793, when the Georgians had inexplicably not heard of central heating.
I waddled in and found a seat and looked around at my fellow sittees. We were in a circle, and there was the obligatory bowl of hyacinths on a low table in the centre. All around me were about 20 people, mostly grey haired, it must be said, while outside a couple of children were being taken noisily for a walk.
We settled in and started to centre down. This kind of quiet reflection is very different from meditation; it’s a collective exercise. In Britain, Quakers hold silent meetings for worship at which anyone moved to do so can speak. We waited together for the meeting to gather and for someone to be so moved.
That was when it happened. Like a woolly mammoth thundering across the frozen, pre-historic tundra, my belly began to roar. There’s always one in every meeting and today it was mine. I snuffled a little and shifted, hoping to coax the beast back to sleep, but it persisted. The mammoth was replaced by humpback whale noises; long yowling, mournful moans, rapidly changing in pitch and intensity. My guts groaned and whinged and shrieked, and everyone definitely didn’t let it bother them in that very definite way of sitting and not moving or tutting at all.
The whale frolicked alone, producing a lengthy and melancholy solo. I thought of Pink Floyd. Then it found a friend. Across the room there was a response and the twin voices joined in ecstatic harmony. My musical score moved to Wagner.
Inwardly I ran through a broad and thorough range of emotion: irritation, embarrassment, a terrible urge to giggle, boredom and frustration at my powerlessness to impose order on the processes in my innards. I had lost my inner peace and gained only a buzzing, blooming internal cacophony which completely distracted me from any meaningful contemplation. I thought of the joke at the original LiveAid concert: “There’s been a complaint about the noise. From a woman in Belgium.”
I wondered briefly about Belgium. Well, you do, and I say that having visited only last summer. I remembered the carillon concert in Bruges and felt better.
Meanwhile the chemical carnival cavorted with abandon, and those around me certainly didn’t hear anything at all. So much so that there was not a single piece of ministry for the entire hour.
My body surrendered completely to the demands of catabolism. My mind, on the other hand, was torn between right-brain incredulity at the sonic range it witnessed and left-brain attempts to solve the “problem”. My dears, it was almost rent asunder. I was exhausted by the end, but fortunately another tradition decreed tea and biscuits, to which in turn the rest of me surrendered utterly and so I was saved.
Other bloggers for peace include:
- Bloggers for Peace
- Kozo’s far more meaningful reflection here.
- Heartflow 2013 reflects on the human face of the universe (or vice versa) with this quote here.
- And finally, a beautiful image and haiku to end my rambling.