Tag Archives: connection

WELCOME TO WESTMINSTER ABBEY – PART ONE

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abbey-welcome

            The bells from Westminster Abbey summoned me with their promise of Christmas Magic. I was exploring sound vibrations as a healing tool and revisited earlier studies of tones to balance the body.   An Internet search produced links to songs, instruments and ancient methods of inspiring wellbeing through toning. The sound of a bell was frequently cited as the purest healing form.

Inspired I hunted for this sound to experience for myself its ability to stimulate.   Tinkling, ringing, dinging, jingling vibrations emitted from my speakers. The emotions they produced were not unpleasant but did not feel therapeutic.

Then I clicked on – chiming.   My being was filled with the sound of Westminster Abbey’s bells and I was enthralled.   The vibrations reach out and connected me to humanity.   It embraced my being with a deep knowledge of belonging and bliss.

            As I read about the bells, I learned they have been ringing from the Abbey for almost a thousand years announcing events and binding the community.   One event was consistent in its yearly celebration – Christmas Day.   I wondered how it would feel to stand in the Abbey surrounded by the sound of the bells. Would I be transported through time to experience the vibrations of the past?

My life was filled with a purpose – to hear the Bells of Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. I have been told that the preparation for a quest is as transformative as the actual journey.   Certainly mine exposed me to multiple decisions and required choices of the heart as well as awareness of my own fears.   Where would I stay, how would I get to the Abbey, what would I wear?

Finally my journey was set. My reservations made. I choose to fly first class through the night to arrive in London on the day before Christmas. A hotel for two nights within walking distance of Westminster Abbey and a reserved place at the hotel’s traditional English Christmas meal completed my preparations.

Some believe the journey is more important than the goal. I disagree. It is not an either/or situation but an and/both event much like a musical counterpoint.   I followed the melodies presented to me with each step and was filled with magic.

I savored the attention and ease of first class flight.   Beginning with my wait in the comfort of the First Class lounge with luxurious seating; continual supply of food and drink; lavish restrooms with real cloth towels and a consigner to remind me of my departure time.

I felt the thrill of boarding first and the personalized attention to my seating. Legroom for my 5’8” frame and being offered three course choices for dinner completed the introduction steps of my journey. I knew the increased fare had purchased this treatment and chose to appreciate and savor every moment of this gift to myself.

The sensation of flying always inspired a quickening of my heart. My favorite part is the take off with that little thump of exhilaration as the wheels leave the tarmac and the plane ascends on pure air.

I am seated next to the Pilot’s wife. We chat as if this is a common voyage and perhaps it is for her. I notice the other first class passengers also vibrate a relaxed ease and appreciate the inclusion into the group. We arrive at Heathrow Airport.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz8LvlNxxnw

My memories of a youthful sojourn to England burst unbidden as I recalled my attendance at Porlock Vale Riding Academy to attain a Horse Master’s certificate.   My three months of training were filled with indescribable adventures and an introduction to a different way of being. My instruction was intense and packed with praise that didn’t prepare me for the failure notice from the British Examiner at the end. Now I was back having been inoculated with the pain of failure and had created a fearless life of successes.

A modern train ride followed by an English style black cab brought me to the entrance of my hotel.   It had a cozy old fashion ambiance with all the amenities of a larger establishment.

Navigating to my room reminded me of passing through a rabbit warren turning left and right up two stairs and down three. There were no straight shot halls or elevators from the ground floor.   On the outside it was clear that several buildings had been joined together to assure equal accesses to the windows. Safety was assured since a stranger could not predict a guest room’s placement by its number.   Room 206 could be across the hall and one step down from 307.           

Blue Berry Tea

 

Hungry. I was enticed to the hotel bar for a small meal with tea. My waitperson noticed I was undecided on the type of tea and suggested Blueberry Tea, which I had never experienced.   Its base is a brandy glass 1/3 full of steaming black tea to which a slice of orange is added and stirred.   Another third of the glass is filled with Grand Marnier Liquor. My waitperson encouraged me to inhale the aroma first then slip slowly to allow the warm liquid to perform its magic.

It was time to introduce myself to Westminster Abbey. I spied her towers a few block away but felt her presence as soon as I stepped from the hotel lobby. The doorman reminded me of the change in traffic flow and to look RIGHT before crossing.   This small change in pattern added to the exotic feeling surrounding me.   As I approached the structure I had an overwhelming desire to bow. A deep reverence for its symbolism and strength of character reminded me of the bond between nature and man.

I walked around the Abbey noting its brickwork and garden gates guarding the interior.  Finally, I completed the circle and was back at the main entrance with its worn brick walkway leading to the arched entry reminding me of hands folded in prayer.

Nothing had prepared me for the actual experience of stepping into the Abbey.   It felt like entering a sacred shrine constructed to provide sanctuary. The smell of candle wax and incense floated in the air among the wooden pews and prayer stalls. The stone walls lit by stain glass windows created a mood of protection. Here was a safe place to connect with one’s soul.

My feet moved slowly along the aisles stopping occasionally to read the placards covering the walls commemorating people for their achievements.   Several elaborately carved casket filled grottos along the way and alerted me to the possibility that the Abbey was also a burial chamber or crypt for generations of notables through the ages.   I recognized several novelists like Jane Austin and poets as well as musicians and politicians held in memory.

When I glanced down at my feet I became aware of another surface dedicated to memorializing people of the past. The first inscription I read on the floor was to a plumber at the Abbey in the 1700’s.   More names, dates, and achievements spread about me. Some had the inscription “Here lies…” reminding me that there may be bones beneath my feet.

I returned to my hotel filled with anticipation of the morning much like a child expecting St Nick.

 

 

WESTMINSTER ABBEY – PART TWO

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abbey-welcome

 

The Christmas morning service was scheduled for 10:30 AM followed by the Bell Ringing.   I arrived at the Abbey early to ensure seating. The flow of celebrants reflected multiple nationalities and covered the full spectrum of age groups from toddlers to the elderly. All appeared filled with Christmas cheer and smiling faces. A cherub-faced usher handed me a program and escorted me to my seat.

A middle-aged couple with two preteens filled the seats next to me and introduced themselves. They were from Belgium and attended the services yearly claiming that London was very close.  Shamefaced I realized I didn’t know where Belgium was located or where London was in relationship to other European nations.

I shared my inspiration to hear the Bells and felt their supportive understanding. Once again the emotion of inclusion embraced me and reminded me I was connected to a larger group. The Abbey satisfied its alternate title -“Parish of the World”.

The service was Anglican and very similar to the Catholic mass I was raised in. It felt familiar, yet contained elements I wished for in the Catholic practice. There were female priests and attendants. English was spoken. The sacraments were up close and personal.  The pageantry was celebratory and richly presented.

Again, remembering my earlier trip to England, I had attended an Anglican church with another student for several weeks before I realized it wasn’t Catholic. I even confessed my error believing I had sinned by missing Sunday services.   Fortunately, the priest I confessed to assured me I had not sinned since my intention was present.   Afterward, I found myself excusing my presence from mass offering my intention from my bedroom.   That was my first introduction to meditation.

The choir was uplifting and charismatic.   It filled the space with an unanticipated magical resonance.

WestminsterAbbeyChoir

            There was an inclusive non-punitive quality to the sermon I had not experienced in the Catholic rituals.

The emotional energy of joy mirrored that of the birth rooms I attend as a trained nurse midwife. This awareness produced a smile on my lips. The Christmas service was a celebration of Christ’s birth after all. The ritual drew all the connecting vibrations to heal mankind, as it should.

The sound proof quality of the Abbey’s walls became evident as I exited and was greeted by the urgent pealing of the bells. The sounds wrapped around me and lifted my spirit. I inhaled deeply eager to absorb every vibration into my pores. This was the moment I had been waiting for and I allowed my imagination to flow.

            The ringing had no agenda other than to link humanity in awareness of the moment.   It didn’t discriminate or profile its audience by sex, race, age or monetary worth. All were included in its offering. In my mind’s eye, I could see the expression on its recipients’ faces – a look of hope, of belonging to something greater than the self.

Returning to the present, I observed my fellow listeners outside. They were sprinkled like cookie crumbs beside the Abbey and across the street. I enjoyed watching the walkers moving briskly then suddenly slowing down to listen caught in the bells’ spell.

A young man with floppy hair approached me and asked what I was doing.   I pointed to the bell towers and explained about the Christmas Bells. He told me he’d lived in London for several years and had never listened to the Bells. He thanked me for sharing my story and moved on.

It was time to return to my hotel for Christmas Dinner. I was delighted to have my favorite Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Beef and green beans.

English Christmas Dinner

            When the meal was complete the poppers were pulled sending streamers to nearby tables. Some of my streamers landed at the adjacent table where two young women were seated. They immediately retaliated with giggles and a burst of confetti from their own Poppers.

Christmas-Crackers

The women asked if I was American and introduced themselves as also from the States. Soon we were deep in conversation. They invited me to join them on an evening walk about of the London sights.

The night lighting and presence of memorial structures like Parliament and Big Ben created a timeless setting which the women filled with details.   I was treated to a tour of Harry Potter sights and entrance to all the open lodgings offering Holiday parties.   The Royal Horse Guard’s housing was spectacularly decorated. Its elderly residents welcomed us to chat by the live fires without qualification.

The women were anxious to cross the Thames and ride the Eye.   I was ignorant of much of the changes in London’s scenery. When we walked on the bridge across the Thames, I thought it was London Bridge and was shocked to learn London Bridge had been dismantled and purchased by an American. The Eye looking like a giant Ferris Wheel was closed, as were all the sites along the Thames.

We focused on the sculptures and again the women introduced me to the art of bringing solid monuments alive and personal.

London birthing

Jubilee Oracle

   by Alexander 1980.

(inscription)

Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects.

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December 25, 2007 London

Midwife Dianne births new friend through the Jubilee Oracle sculpture.

The great EYE is waiting in the background to continue its circular voyage. Big Ben chimes the hour across the Thames River.

 

 

 

IT ONLY TAKES A FEW WORDS

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IT ONLY TAKES A FEW WORDS

isolation

            If you knew it would only take a few words, maybe a sentence, to relieve another person’s pain would you provide them?

Leadership-in-Communication

            Your words do not have to be in person. An email or voice message would suffice. A few simple words to signal awareness of another’s existence such as ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ are all that is necessary. Nothing very elaborate, just an acknowledgement.

abandonment

            Perhaps you are unaware of the pain caused by your abandonment. You did not direct a physical assault. There is no external indication of pain for you to verify with records.

Help-written-in-sand

            How could you know your lack of contact is perceived as non-caring and hurtful? There is no expiration date on how often to make a connection.

sad+alone

Are you mindful of your silence?

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERANCES OF CONNECTING WITH STRANGERS

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 CONNECTING WITH STRANGERS

National Airport, Washington, DC

eleanor_film_landing_1

A gray haired lady is escorted to the private receiving area where I wait with an armful of flowers.  Adults mingle nearby dressed in their Sunday clothes.  Several held cameras with large flashes and notebooks.

A hand on my back gently pushes me forward to face the smiling lady.  I hand her the flowers and recite the lines I have been given.

“Thank you for helping the children of the world.”

She leans forward and shakes my hand.  I feel the space around me fill with silence and then she is hurried out of sight.

I was 11 years old when I met Eleanor Roosevelt.

QUOTES

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Once I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: “No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. ”

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

Rectory, Catholic Church

rectory door

A fresh priest opens the rectory door to admit us.

I have disobeyed my parents and am being delivered for judgment.

My parents are told to wait in a separate room so the priest can interrogate me.

We discuss my decision to leave my parents house and continue with my education.

He asks my permission to act as my legal guardian.

I feel safe.

 

Austin, Texas

Staring at the deceased newborn, I feel the homicide detective grip my shoulders and turn me to face his chest.

“You look like you could use a hug,” he whispered with a Texas drawl.

comforting

Thank you for allowing me to share.