Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

I'm on my way back from Strep Throat, which has kept me bed-ridden since Monday afternoon. It's not often (thankfully) that I am ill. Hopefully I get enough fresh air and exercise and have a peaceful enough existence that illness doesn't often touch me, but on the rare occasions it does and I am forced to withdraw to bed I find the experience can have a metaphysical quality.

Perhaps this is because I am a follower of Eastern practices so tend to see illness as having an emotional or spiritual slant. You are more likely to get earache, for example, if you've heard something deeply upsetting that you have not been able to process and get rid of. Many people will raise a sceptical eyebrow at this, but to me it makes sense. Without it things are too arbitrary and I do have a need to try and make sense of the world and try and understand it and my place in it, the whys and wherefores if you like.

So what caused my throat, I hear you ask. Someone said some things to me a few weeks ago which were neither fair nor pleasant and upset me greatly at the time. I swallowed my reply because where the conversation led was ultimately more important to my long-term peace than the things that were said to me during it. The things I could have replied with have "stuck in my craw" though I can tell you, and I have found it hard to release my thoughts away from the conversation and the injustice of it. I didn't speak, the words have remained brewing angrily inside ever since, so it is no surprise to me that I've finally come down with a sore throat. This illness is my body's way of cleansing the hurt, and so it will pass.

Illness can offer an opportunity to step out of the normal rapid-fire pace of modern life into a period of quiet time suspended like a bubble where normal rules don't apply. I sometime wonder whether we don't get sick in order to simply rest and recoup strained energies. So there I have been, lying quietly in bed whilst the house bustled around me and when I haven't been sleeping the bug off I have been reading.

I could mark the passage of illness according to the books that have seen me through it. And this is where the metaphysical part comes in. I have found over recent years that on the two or three occasions I have been poorly enough to have had to retreat to bed a book has fallen into my hands and quietly suggested that I read it. And as I have made my way through its pages it has turned out to be exactly what I needed, offering an opportunity to make sense of things gently and simply that I've been struggling with. A balm for the mind and the heart, if you like.

I won't say more, other than if you enjoy reading my blog this book will probably reach out to you and click with something inside. It made me smile and weep at times, and at the end of it I felt cleansed and restored, reset. It's gentle and simple and profound. Go get yourselves a copy and see where it takes you.

On a separate note, the first of our baby birds has made an appearance in the garden. The blackbirds brought their child to the apple tree and stowed her beneath the bench that curls around the trunk while they went off on a worm-hunt (is this the bird alternative to a glass of wine and a curry on a Friday night I wonder?). And this was where Ted, fortunately in a loud, excited and scampery way that can only mean "I've found a small animal" delightedly discovered her yesterday afternoon. M shooed him away and bent to see if the baby was alright. She opened her beak wide and asked him to feed her so I don't think there was much wrong there! Let's hope she's the first of many. 
Last year we had lots of baby robins and blue tits coming to the garden throughout the summer. They were instantly recognisable as children because unlike their parents they didn't look drained, exhausted and bedraggled but instead were clean, spry and fluffy. It seems some things are no different, be it birds or people.



  1. I love your theories and imagine you are probably right in most cases. However, my chest thing is down to my son who kindly gave it to me and his dad!

    We saw a baby Nuthatch last year but the other birds know better than to let their children anywhere near Snippet.

    I will certainly try the book when I see it - thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I'll resist the temptation to say something about the Eastern explanation for problems with the lungs :-) Children are charming germ pits aren't they? Hope your chest infection clears up soon.

    I'm yet to see baby nuthatches, despite the fact we have a Mr and Mrs in the garden. I'll listen out for baby guinea pigs as a clue to their whereabouts!

  3. Hope you are now on the mend that does look like my type of book I will have to look out for it! How wonderful to welcome the first of many baby birds in your garden.
    Sarah x

    1. Ah Sarah it's been a very sad day here- a magpie has killed the little blackbird. The brutal ways of nature....


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