A village school in rural Yorkshire:
a classroom in September 1961.
Chalk dust on the wooden floor beneath a blackboard.
Copper-gold sycamore leaves
falling past high - set window panes like giant
discoloured snowflakes...and the sounds
of morning assembly echoing around the empty room:
young voices singing hymns and chanting prayers.
A bell rings.
In silence, the children file in behind their teacher.
Then boring constants. All those
questions to be answered, that try as she might,
Jane simply cannot grasp:
the word for door in French;
the formula for sodium chloride in chemistry;
the date of the Roman invasion of Britain in history...
oh such bland dullness!
Bored eyes wandering
to that high window and the wind-tossed
leaves beyond. A young heart dearly wishing
to catch one as it passes, like a bus,
and ride away to freedom.
All those questions she really wants the answers to:
Who am I?
How did I get here?
Why am I here?
Why do I feel so different?
What is love - what does it look like?
The mental image of something warm and golden,
glowing brightly, protective and indestructible
that links everything in perfect harmony rises up
before her inner eye.
But no one knows for sure.
The only certainty is the smell of new paint
and milk warming on the radiators;
the deafening voices of other children, overexcited
at the prospect of another day's lessons...
so why does she feel as if she is serving
a never-ending prison sentence?
Peculiarities of home: Alsatian hairs everywhere,
and biscuit crumbs trapped between carpet edge
and skirting board that must have been
lucky escapees from mother's vacuum cleaner.
The smells of beef stew cooking and warm
leather sofa and chairs.
After dinner, family still at the table, sharing anecdotes:
attempted bullying at 'big' school - but her brother's
confident, firm resistance winning the day:
a valuable lesson for her, no doubt.
all this chit chat - who really cares?
Yet this is their family story.
Doesn't it bind them together?
Perhaps this togetherness is an aspect of love.
So, how come there is still such a powerful sense of isolation
deep inside her?
Her bedroom: her sanctuary.
Pebbles and delicate bird skulls
collected from Balnakiel beach,
all carefully wrapped in tissue paper
and kept in a cardboard shoe box.
A photograph of the grandparents she never knew,
smiling for the lens (anticipating
the arrival of their future granddaughter perhaps?).
They are trapped forever in their time
of austerity, of the Great War...whereas
she lives now, when the massive guns are silent
and each evening the quiet village fades:
church steeple and grey slate roofs slipping
gently into the deepening shadows of nightfall, oaks
and weeping willows merging into dusk.
Hours spent just gazing from bedroom window,
watching this fascinating transformation.
By morning there is a different world outside,
the colours much richer now in the low-lying morning sun.
Dew rises from garden fences like smoke
in this beautiful golden landscape, and the hedges
are adorned with water-diamonds and rainbow birds.
A sudden realisation that she has lived forever:
there was nothing before her...
so why, oh why does she have to go to school?
That miserable daily hike to school: a
procession of laughing children.
Painfully shy and introverted, she does not fit in.
The drone of a car engine passing by.
Awareness narrows to a single point
that follows the sound, and her body is desperate to follow.
A footpath beside the parish church:
small feet running for freedom,
crossing the bridge over the stream,
now traversing the wooded hollow of Beck's Hole -
such a delightful place, like heaven
in comparison to the confinement of school.
Soon, the station comes into view.
Sitting on the hill, she watches the trains below
billowing steam into the open windows
of the platform cafe.
Life appears so laid back down there.
Oh to be an adult and have the choice
of how to spend her days!
There is such peace and tranquillity here -
a stark difference to the world she daily inhabits.
Clouds seem to kiss the earth, like Gods, in a pure love
no longer just golden, but now also white, green and brown
with flashes of azure blue.
Oh the bliss of discovering that love and life
are a multi-coloured interconnectedness - so beautiful
And it keeps getting bigger, this feeling inside her,
with the realisation that everything
as far as the eye can see and beyond, is her -
just as she is it.
She had always believed herself lost,
but now Truth has finally found her.
A knowing way beyond the scope
of those dusty dry books lies here
beneath her in this leaf mould.
She instinctively plunges a hand
deep into it's damp earthiness...
and she keeps coming up with silvery threads
of a slime that dissolves back into Nature's cycle
as soon as it is exposed to the air.
It appears to be composed of the
same material as the faint tracery of pale blue
she can see on the inside of her wrists.
A sudden impulse prompts her to dig deeper and deeper.
Then she stops to closely examine the rich brown mass.
The entire Universe is there in that one small handful...
and she is in there somewhere too...
or perhaps a higher version of herself, one who is connected
to all those who have lived before
and all those who have yet to be born.
She is a single molecule of pure Spirit
who came here to breathe Love and Light
into the darkness of matter
through these delicate fern-like fronds
of the Creator's DNA.
Jane has no more questions now...
only infinite answers.