The other day, Jinkspots hit a black spot.
Sometimes the Light is all but obscured…
It was one of those moments – maybe you have had them yourself – when the outside came crashing down around me and the inside, already struggling with its own tumultuous forces, was unable to withstand the tumble. In moments such as these, lonely, dark, despairing, what can one do to find the light? I got down on my knees and I prayed, with all my might, to those who have gone before me – my father, grandmothers, beloved aunts, uncles, great aunts and those who returned unborn. I asked for their presence to be felt, for their love, guidance and support. I was desperate. In modern life, I suspect, one often is.
I don’t know how these things work, but two days later, I received a reply in a way so physically present it took my breath away.
Note the shadowy figure behind the Queen on the blue stamp…
Enclosed in a package of books sent from my mother in England was this letter, dated September 1990 and sent more than 23 years ago. I recognised the hand immediately. The fine copperplate script penned in ink, real ink from a fountain pen, spoke of an age that has almost all but gone. The letter was from my great-grandmother, the mother of my grandfather on my mother’s side.
It is hard to know what to do with family history sometimes, especially when at least one half of what one should know is missing. I have no information about my father’s side of the family as I was separated from them as a baby and the connection never had the chance to be reformed. What I know of my mother’s side is unsettling – stories of abuse, neglect, shameful deceit and wanton abandonment run rife – seams of lead coursing through what should have been gold. There have been times when the weight of this knowledge has borne down on me with a pressure that is hard to define. Knowing what to do with it – how to transmute all that darkness into something more positive and life-affirming – has slowly become an intrinsic part of my own journey.
It seems there may be others who want me to succeed.
Inside the envelope was a letter and three poems which my great-grandmother had copied onto note paper. I waited until I could secure a few quiet moments on my own to read them.
Messages from elsewhere
Edith Childs had been born at the tail end of the Victorian era, in 1898. I have no living memory of what she looked like – our relationship was founded purely on the correspondence we upheld with each other. Her letters often spoke of God and always had a strong spiritual slant. I was already amazed at how quickly my call for help had been answered; the feeling intensified when I read her words. It was as if she were writing back then for me now. She says:
“This is a troublous (sic) world in which we now live, bringing us all into its trials and troubles in some way or another, as you must know quite well. We are all carried along with all the changes, and it is easier for some than it is with others, and of course, others finding it harder to find an answer to their problems, queries or whatever. I am writing to you as if you were an older person…”
Elsewhere she writes:
“Please accept the enclosed writings, for I feel that one day in the future you will find comfort in them. They are sent with much love.”
The two references to a time in the future; her desire to offer comfort and upliftment, how can these be explained, especially in the context in which I received them? I have always been prepared to accept the Mystery in life but even I have had my breath taken away by the force of the answer to my initial call for help.
Because she is right, isn’t she? This is a ‘troublous’ world and there are days when I do find it hard to find the answers. I try to keep my attention on the present – on my immediate surroundings and the people and places I have direct contact with. These things I can influence for the better, if I am able. These may receive my love directly.
But what of the wider world? I don’t need to think about what is going on out there for too long before I feel that dark despair again. I try to ignore it but how? How do I prepare my children for the world that is coming to them? What do they need to know? Does the letter offer any advice to help me with this?
“Understand that all knowledge comes from within ‘oneself’. Ask God in your prayers for His Guidance and Help. All are answered, whether by thoughts or orally, for thoughts are living things and they all find a resting place.”
A younger me tussled for years with the question of whether or not to bring children into this world. When I finally met the man who made me feel safe enough to do it, I decided that having a chance at Life was maybe the greatest spiritual gift you could give to another soul. If someone wants to come through me, I thought, then I am ready.
I don’t know what to do about the problems of the wider world. I can’t fix them. But I do what I can which is to work on an energetic level. I go to the beach and draw labyrinths and messages in the sand. With the current levels of bloodshed, destruction and blatant disregard for the sanctity and sacredness of life I feel it important to send love to the Earth. To let her know that we are not all like that. I don’t know if it does anything, but it’s the strongest answer I’ve found inside myself that seems to offer some kind of practical solution.
Giving back to the Earth
I like to think that receiving a letter from the past containing contact from a soul since departed is confirmation that maybe, for me at this time at least, what I am doing may be enough. We have a duty to take comfort when it is offered, so while I may feel my response is never enough, I have to believe that it does at least do some good. It helps me to sense the sunshine behind the clouds which gives me strength to keep going, day by day.
So to Nanna Childs, wherever you may be, with all my heart, thank you x.