I have moved.
I have moved out of my flatshare in the east end, where the entire upstairs was covered in ugly green carpeting just a shade lighter than mould, where the shower alternately burned you or froze you, where dishes from four people inevitably formed a pile that overflowed out of the sink and onto the drying rack because our dishwasher didn’t work. I have moved out of that flat to live in the downstairs room of a house in south London, in the diocese of my new church. The only person that I share with is the landlady. I have full run of the kitchen, which is stocked with every gadget imaginable because my landlady is also a keen cook. I have an entire downstairs bathroom to myself. My room opens onto the garden, in which I’m already scheming to begin a herb garden. I have done a preliminary neighbourhood scout, have found the cheap indie cinema, the Persian deli, the myriad of one pound shops.
I have noticed that other things have also been easier. My commute into work no longer involves elbowing my way onto a cramped, sweaty tube, but a bus ride before I get onto the tube at the terminus, which ensures a blissfully empty train. My commute into church isn’t spent wandering the stuffy, dusty tunnels that is Bank station, but a bus ride that takes me straight to its door.
And we are closing in on the end of Eastertide. The sun rises earlier and sets later, and the sky has been blue with spring more often than not in the past two weeks. New green leaves and pink blossoms decorate the trees, and you remember that London can be gorgeous.
I am learning to be happy in this easiness.
I had a long conversation with one of the clergy at the cathedral. I did not realize how much I needed that conversation. Needed a conversation where I could speak freely about my spiritual journey to a man of the cloth, as it were. I told him about how I came to know God, about why, exactly, I am so frustrated with conservative, borderline fundamentalist evangelism that I came to know when I first went back to church, that I thought was the only way of doing church. I told him that I didn’t realize how I couldn’t breathe until I started coming to this cathedral, with all the incense and liturgy and rituals. I told him that coming to the cathedral was like learning God anew, and now I am completely waiting for this honeymoon period to be over and the wall to set it. Only then would I know that this faith I have is real.
He listened. He spoke. And there were many. many good things he said, one of which was, if you are happy, and you feel free, then this is what you are right now.
(or something along those lines. I remember the essence of what he said, not the exact words.)
He was telling me something that I suspected was something that I had to come to terms with sooner or later - I do not have to be suspicious of a good season. I do not have to hold my breath for it to implode, so that I can be confirmed that it isn’t real. I don’t have to be afraid of being happy.
He said another thing during that conversation, when I was talking about how bad I was at daily disciplines, and how I still force myself to do it because it is better to do it hurriedly.
It’s not primarily about going through the motions. It is about ringfencing time in your day for God. It is about stillness.
And in the proceeding week or so, I’ve realized that being suspicious of this good season makes it harder to be still. To hold my breath and to hold myself at arm’s length of what is happening will stop me from delighting in the moment. To be still is to be open to God.
So I am trying. On the bus to work, during a breather from lunch break, I am trying to be still, to have that space where I let God love me. (I stole that from a poem)
And I find that it is new, and it is comfortable, and it is easy. For now. But for now, I am delighting in this easiness.