This is the Time to be Slow

This is Good Friday, the darkest day in the Christian calendar, but there are no services, no masses in commemoration. I am not religious but the cultural significance of this date is deeply rooted. Will organised religion survive the pandemic? Will communities flock to give thanks once it is over? We may not know when it is over. Uncertainty may become our default mode, never again taking for granted the freedoms we had before. The Prime Minister seems to be recovering, but I heard this week of three people in this area who are ill with the coronavirus. Although still waking early, I feel more relaxed, more able to watch a film, knit or read. This seems to be a common experience. We are adapting to a slower pace, although aware that for key workers life is more pressured than ever. Applauding all the medical and care workers on a Thursday night feels good. We connect with neighbours who are seldom visible through the week.

I’ve always been interested in Tarot. Not in a fortune-telling way, but as a tool for exploring unconscious ideas. During my psychotherapy training in the 1990’s I was drawn to the theories of Carl Jung, the psychiatrist who found the imagery of Tarot useful in analysis. From time to time I draw one card from the twenty Major Arcana. (I use the Scarpina deck) This was my random choice on 30th March, just after the clocks went forward. This image is about change and transition; to be fully alive is to accept the possibility of death. Among the chaos of the waves are green shoots of rebirth and hands seem to be reaching upwards.





On a lighter note, Cannyrob has treated us to some lovely Portuguese soaps by Claus Porto, which will make constant handwashing a more sybaritic experience. I will save the wrappers for collage.

On Radio 4 one morning last week, Fergal Keane, BBC foreign correspondent read this poem:

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until time passes
Try, as best you can, not to let 
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart 
All sense of yourself 
And your hesitant light
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
JOHN O'DONOHUE, Benedictus

Rainbows have been appearing in windows along our street, painted by the children who are at home instead of school just now. This is our neighbours’ window.

Here are some from our immediate neighbourhood. I was touched by them all but especially the one for Gran and Grandpa.

I’ve painted my own version which is darker in theme. The colour inversion was unintentional, but perhaps I can claim it as an unconscious response to the strangeness of the current situation.

The rainbow theme is everywhere. I find I’m wearing my rainbow earrings, made by my talented Younger Daughter who is a jeweller https://ellenkirkali.co.uk The coloured stones set in molten silver catch the light. Here is a matching ring. She is still fulfilling orders. I’m not the only one shopping online.

Rainbow ring

On hearing that the Edinburgh festival and Book Festival are to be cancelled, a friend with whom I usually go commented philosophically:

“We’ll just just take this as a gap year.”

CM

I quite like that idea. Like students taking time out, we can indulge in sloth, wine, video, chocolate and long chats with friends

I heard Brian Cox on Desert Island Discs mention a tip from a drama tutor ‘Always carry a picture of yourself as a child because that’s who you are.’ This is me aged 5, an extrovert, chatty wee girl, who liked to entertain, draw and paint. I loved reading and helping to care for my baby sister. I had a vivid imagination and was prone to nightmares. I was fiercely independent and loved to wander and explore bombsites and neglected allotments. I loved company and had lots of friends, mostly boys, but was also content on my own. I generally returned home hungry and dirty, often with skinned knees. No questions were asked as long as I turned up for dinner and tea.

“Unlike adults, children want to be happy”

Amor Towles. A gentleman in Moscow

This is a comforting thought during these difficult times. Wee Boy seems happy with the more relaxed regime of school at home, wearing his rainbow pyjamas (definitely a theme) for as long as possible, spelling out rude words on the fridge and writing his name in chalk on the path. I parcel up the contents of his treats box and send it, aware that the Haribo and Kinder Eggs may not be edible by the time he visits again. I send him more books: Charlie turns into a Chicken, The Incredible Book-Eating Boy, Funnybones. Cannyrob packs up Little Farmer seed boxes and sends him those.

I have almost finished reading The Mirror and the Light, slowing pace, not wanting my relationship with Thomas Cromwell to end. I have also heard (on Audible) the final chapters of Redemption Falls by Joseph O’Connor, a sprawling collage of a novel set after the American Civil War. I loved it, especially the ending, unexpected and satisfactory. I’ve been listening on my morning walks, now extended to almost two miles, with one stick for hills.

My week is taking shape: Zumba on Monday mornings, Pilates on Fridays, both with Zoom. I have a phone or video chat with friends scheduled for most days. I talk to family more than before the lockdown. Son emails; his freezer has broken down. He manages his life pretty well these days, but still turns to Mum in an emergency! I am relieved to find that AO can deliver and I manage to arrange for a replacement to arrive on Monday. Several food deliveries arrive and Cannyrob makes bread. One morning we watched the LSO perform Verdi’s Requiem, (2016 recording) which we should have been singing last month in Glasgow. My Younger Sister is in the back row of the Chorus.

On Saturdays I sing Beatles songs with my friend B. The time lag is odd but we are getting used to it. It’s a bit like the age gap between us but we enjoy sharing songs that had meaning for us when we were young.

I have stopped buying clothes online, but an exciting parcel arrived from Habitat the other day. Wine racks! We have been planning to buy some for years and Cannyrob has been acquiring some nice bottles. We are waiting for our SodaStream to turn up. How retro! Like the breadmaker, it’s a gadget Cannyrob has wanted for ages. There is something very nice about getting parcels just now. I so appreciate the efforts put in by our postmen/women/delivery drivers.

I met a friend today who said she really enjoyed reading my blog, so this one is dedicated to you, HM! We hovered at the zebra crossing, 2 metres apart, remembering our last chatty dinner at a local pub, glad we’d had that innocent time together. Keep well, stay in touch, wherever you are – Seattle, Australia, Glasgow or closer to home – and of course, stay safe! Subscribe by email if you’d like to get new posts sent direct to you and scroll down to leave a comment which can be anonymous if you prefer. You can also email me privately at timewithelinor@gmail.com

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