The only sound is the twang of a violin string being tuned. Otherwise it is a hushed silence and the silence even more muted by the ancient heavy tapestries adorning the wooden clad walls. Filtered subdued Scottish light makes it way through the ornate stained glass windows showing heraldic badges of Scottish Kings and Queens associated with Falkland Palace . I look up at the inlaid wooden ceiling making up the Royal coat or arms. I am at mass at the Chapel Royal which dates back to 1540. The place exudes mystery and intrigue.
But I am here for a different reason this morning – a personal one – I need to say goodbye somehow to my mom, herself a devout catholic. I am a fallen one who has not been inside a church to worship for many years. I feel a little hypocritical as I question the beliefs that I was indoctrinated with, but then why do I feel I can get close to mom by coming to a Sunday mass. The never ending conundrum? I know she is with dad, with my Nigel, who I talk to. Ironically the sermon today was about eternal life. “Whoever Eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood Has Eternal Life – John 6:51-59”
As the small congregation filter into the chapel, all masked and sitting 2 meters apart, I feel a tap on my shoulder. There is a roster and they need my name and contact details – I am a stranger to this little village. I can walk into any Tesco’s and mingle with people going about their daily grocery shopping, but cannot sit quietly in a church without being tracked and traced. The only time I got close enough anyone is when I was tapped on my shoulder. The world has gone crazy.
The lay minister is setting up a small camera – they film the mass for those not able to attend. I know that mom attended mass given by the pope during lockdown and wonder if she ever logged onto this particular location.
The service starts and I automatically by rote know the words and procedures and find myself reciting the well worn prayers. I am grateful for the mask, as I find myself stopping mid sentence and my questioning non believing mind kicks in to what I am actually saying. But then why am I here if I don’t believe in something that is being said. Mom was the epitome of a good person and believed without any doubt and I am here today for her. Not to question. I think today is the first time in all the thousands of times I have attended a catholic mass that I actually listened to every single word being said.
My mom would have loved the service – not too much pomp and ceremony – simple and succinct. Her beliefs got her through life, through many a hardship and she never came up wanting. Mom who told me that she often went to mass on a Wednesday to pray for me, her “fallen” daughter. I did not fall Mom, I only stopped and questioned. But the indoctrination is there and still lingers in the back of my mind when I find myself automatically silently sending up a prayer asking for help.
I did not come out of this historic little chapel feeling lighter of spirit. I just know that it would have made mom happy knowing that she got me to go back to church at least for one more time.
I cannot remember when I last just took the time out to lie flat on my back and watch the clouds scudding across the sky, forming and reforming and letting my imagination follow the ever evolving shapes. I can remember the first time, during a PE class at school- must be way back in the early 70’s, when we were waiting for our turn to be included in the team to play netball. A few of my classmates and I lay back on the grass and just watched the clouds, each seeing different objects – time somehow stood still.
And I now find myself 50 odd years later feeling the same sense of timelessness, just taking time out from the world, flat on my back, on the soft green lawn of someone else’s garden in the middle of Scotland, watching the clouds, seeing birds surf the thermals (wow they can soar fast when they catch them). The shapes move, disappear and then miraculously reappear again. Nothing constant – a bit like life. The outside elements effecting their journey but in their own time just reforming. Time stands still.
So if you find yourself with a moment to spare I would highly recommend you check out of the days stresses and lie back and just watch the sky – that moment of flying with the birds makes you feel grounded and once again at one with the world.
Currently there are lots of comments of how what we see on social media pages is not a true reflection of what peoples lives are actually like.
And a truer word cannot be said and I stand guilty as charged. It was a comment from a friend saying “Wow Cath, you are really living the life, I envy you”, that brought this fact home to me. None of my posts show the internal struggle I have with my own mind, my personal demons, the loneliness, the insecurity, the uncertainty. And covid doesn’t help. I just show the good, happy smiley emoji stuff and at times the good stuff is hard to find.
I started this blog 4 years ago almost as a sort of therapy, but have honestly found it really hard to mind the motivation lately to put pen to paper. I have even found myself googling symptoms of depression as at times I find myself in dark places. And then I dwell and worry and can feel myself spiraling downwards and can almost understand how my Nige couldn’t pull himself out of the abyss.
Yesterday I just sat and cried – it was one of those days. So have decided that as this is my “diary” to write about the good and the bad. If anyone reads it so be it – and if they don’t – so be it. My world is not all bright colours and at times it can be very grey. With social media my mantra has been – my life is an open book – I have nothing to hide. But that isn’t true as I hide the angst and turmoil that I have been going through. And when I get comments “Cath, you are so brave to do what you are doing”, if they only knew. At times I am so far out of my comfort zone and scared shitless and wish there was someone else who could make a decision for me.
I have however been blessed with a positive mind, and amazingly enough, just be putting this down to paper and “owning” it has lifted my mood today. I will continue posting all the happy stuff as just by looking for it, is good for the soul. Also thank you for indulging me as I share this with you.
So when scrolling through someone’s timeline, sometimes we just need to be able to read between the lines.