OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
There are stories that prevail for millennia, like myths and legends. Like religious stories, which have shaped the lives of billions of people across time and continents. We are storytelling creatures. I grew up without religion, but found my own way into the Catholic Church when I was around eight. I was baptised, confirmed. I attended mass every Sunday and loved the ritual, the signing. I sinned mostly when confessing; I always felt a need to invent sins and lied about them. The storyteller breaking free. I lost my faith because some stories ceased to make sense. When I reflected for myself, the only world I could imagine was one of Everything Always. No beginning, just continuous transformations and manifestations of everything, always. I stopped believing in other stories and stopped going to church. It hurt me to realise that it wasn’t a place where I would ever hear the words, “In the name of the Mother, the Daughter and the Holy Muse.” But I feel that this is not a time to focus on the hurts of the past. We all know that we need to do better. We exist in a time of chaos, and many institutions, religious and secular, are stepping up to the challenge, are being the best that they can be, guiding us towards hope and light and togetherness. Even if only for a moment. Wrongdoings are not, and should not, be forgotten, but there is a time for justice and a time for overcoming. And I feel that we need to get to the other side of this by galvanising all the positive forces out there first, to overcome. And be the best that we can be. And then do even better.
Churches as architectural structures continue to fascinate me. As spaces, they bring me comfort and peace. I still occasionally enter churches and weep in corners until the world feels like a more bearable place. I dream of spending a night all alone in the middle of an empty church, in a warm bed and with silence all around me. I find comfort in rituals and traditions, especially around times like Easter, especially when the core of these traditions – the people I love – cannot be present.
Today, I had the need to be in this space, to listen to Italian, Latin and Greek words being spoken and sung in a place of beauty and worship, to fall back into a rhythm still encoded in my bones, to be part of a ritual, even if I no longer believe in its intended meaning. To listen to someone preach hope and togetherness and to guide us in confronting uncomfortable truths about the violence, inequality and intolerance that we allow to continue as part of our reality.
It’s nearly impossible to believe in men in power and in institutions of power – right now, ever – but unless we manage to reimagine the world and begin dreaming beyond the structures of power, we will have to proceed from within them and hope that they can be the best that they can be, right now, and after. We know all to well that if they don’t – if we don’t – we begin digging mass graves.
I found kindness and hope in the Pope’s words today, in the ritual and the blessings.
Who would have thought the human emptiness of such a space possible? And yet, listening and watching I did not feel alone. And it was easy to believe in miracles because nobody would have ever dared to predict such empty spaces, the calm, the light, the togetherness of hope. If I have faith, it is the one of believing in people. In our capacity for kindness.
The day began at 4am with rain pounding on my roof and me trying to imagine where the next leak would break through the ceiling. I slept again after a while. I refused to watch the news this morning. Maybe it was because my head was heavy. I checked the bottle of Pinot Noir, half of the wine was still in it, so I don’t know why the wine last night got to me so badly. With my heavy head, I watched the Wild Earth live safari and followed the morning rituals of this majestic creature:
My Mom phoned early and we had a long chat, promising to meet on Skype with Krystian later in the afternoon. I read in bed, made myself scrambled eggs for breakfast, had lots of coffee, eventually took a painkiller for the headache and then listened to the Holy Father.
My own father phoned in the early afternoon to wish me Happy Easter. His business is non-essential, so he is gardening and staying at home. It reassured me that he is taking the situation very seriously.
I decided to put on a pretty dress and my witch’s hat today and do the garden loop walk, with Smarties as rewards again.
Are there always seventeen Smarties in one of these small packets? What about colour distribution pro packet? Today, like last time, I left the two yellow ones for last.
I worked for a little while after the walk and then my friend Michela phoned from a bench in a small park outside her home in Vienna. She was basking in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of the European spring. Work continued until it was time to chat to my Mom again and Krystian connected us through a conference call. The lovely Verena was with him. We spoke mostly in German, but Verena is picking up many Polish words and it is wonderful to hear her use them in conversation.
When I told them about streaming the mass from the Vatican earlier in the day, Krystian commented: “As long as you were wearing your witch’s hat, that’s fine.” My brother, he knows me well.
My love and I also skyped tonight. And there were Easter greetings going back and forth between me and my family and friends across the globe all day long.
Karavan Press had a manuscript submission today that I have been anticipating for many months. There is hope in all of us.
An Easter Sunday filled with the voices of loved ones and with the cadences of ancient longings. The stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.