UNMASKED

The familiar things I once knew are gone, obliterated by the pandemic’s holocaust of destruction and, as other things have emerged to take their place in a different way, it feels like the time of mourning for what I once loved being part of (pre-pandemic) is over. It’s time for me to let go and embrace a new beginning.

As if it could ever make up for the loss of being cut off from belonging in a community of real conversations with friends and the togetherness of family, the gap year (plus!) has encompassed many facetime chats with family and friends, discussions in online meetings and social groups clinging together for dear life – virtually.

Whilst these things have been welcome necessities to our survival during this strange time, I am looking forward to attending ‘live’ sessions again. Although the online resourcefulness of others at keeping the momentum of creative communication alive throughout the pandemic has been interesting and much needed, there’s really no substitute for the physical sensations that can be experienced when using our senses to their full extent in an offline natural environment with other people.

I admit I became somewhat accustomed to being along, even enjoying it some days and, with having no-one to please but myself in my choice of activities, I was quite prolific in regard to my writing projects. It felt safe wearing a mask to hide who I was from the world. But the time has come to be ‘out there’ again and to adjust to my new self in my new world.

Snowdrops in Scarborough

I did not expect to survive
the raw wind of the new world
when the shutters sprang open
and I stepped outside.
It was strange yet refreshing
that, at last, I could choose
where to go – who to see.
Even choose to be alone
if the need arose.
And, after so long locked away,
that thought surprised me most.
Maybe it was having the choice
that surprised me – and not having
it imposed upon me by another
who had suppressed my needs
for so long. Or was it that
I had forgotten what freedom felt like?
With patient belief I had waited,
like the snowdrops buried
in their own space underground,
until the time was right to push
through the damp earth,
slowly open myself up
and have a look around
at our brave new world.

© Julie Fairweather

My poem was inspired as a participant on an online therapeutic workshop led by Scarborough author and therapist Kate Evans, entitled ‘Nourishing the Creative Self: The Awakening’.

(phrase ‘the raw wind of the new world’ is borrowed from Louise Glück, Snowdrops)

Things will never be the same again in this war against a virus we cannot see or predict in order to control its many mutations. In the safety net of the miracle vaccine provision against the disease we have a good chance of survival. It feels like a good time to dispose of unwanted shackles that tie us to our old life in order to enjoy the new life that’s on the horizon for us… but not yet, not yet.

We need to rid ourselves of our old ways, our behaviours, our prejudices and put into practice the lessons we have learned about appreciating others, showing kindness and compassion, helping one another as we embark on this new life – as though we have been born again. We are all travellers on this road. Together.

On the Road

(C) Julie Fairweather

Please, slow down
and walk with me.
Be my companion
for a mile or two
and tell me your story,
for I have much to learn
and every pilgrim’s story
enhances my own.
Speak to me of yearnings
beyond people and things
and show me the leaning
of your heart like a compass
towards true north.
It does not matter
that we borrow
from different books
or use different words
to describe the journey.
We are on the same path
whatever shoes we wear.

© Joy Cowley, Psalms for the Road, Pleroma Press NZ

In my previous post, Heavy Light, I ‘came out’ as being in life-long recovery of an ongoing mental illness which, with hindsight, was both a brave and foolish thing to do. Brave because I thought it may help others to come out and seek the help they needed at the same time as setting me free to be ‘me’; foolish because, for all the talk of us being in this together, there is still so much stigma around the subject. Some people do tend to treat me as if I’m this fragile thing that will break if they don’t try and fix me by fussing around me as though I am unable to think or do anything for myself. The thing is. The thing is. What is the thing? The thing is that it’s a tough call knowing how to ‘be’ for both parties.

In public I have decided to keep wearing my mask to protect myself from this awkwardness and, in private, I spend time contemplating the comfort the following poem offers me.

Let Your God Love You

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be Silent.
Be Still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.
Let your God –
Love you.

© Edwina Gately

Whilst I may have come out as a poet, a Christian and a sufferer of mental illness, I am not ‘out and proud’ of the latter… yet.

With love for the journey,

Julie

Skimming the surface of life with poetic journaling

Published by Julie Fairweather

After being warned never to speak of secrets, the noise of them clattered and crashed inside my head. I wandered through a wilderness of solitude for years, sifting through my silence, seeking a way to release the sickness within. I listened in that place many times and heard my unspoken thoughts groaning; deeper, deeper, deep into a world of unwritten words. Then, in an unexpected moment, I found You there, waiting to welcome me with love, without condition. You bled out the sins of the world and gave my silence a voice so I could tell others that it’s okay to share your secrets sometimes.

4 thoughts on “UNMASKED

  1. Hi Julie

    I thought what you wrote was beautiful and Nola’s captured it all so well in her comments.
    Your poem Snowdrops in Scarborough is outstanding. I hope you’re going to enter it into the competition?

    You are a brave, strong lady and have achieved so much. Thank you for sending this to me.

    Liz xx

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it Liz. I appreciate your encouraging comments. Unfortunately, I can’t enter it into a competition as it is classed as previously published because it is on my website, as well as on The Great Get Together 2021 Facebook page.

      Like

  2. Beautifully written leaves you with the strangest feeling of hope that you can sort your own life out in one way or another, that you can cry and it’s ok and most of all you can love.

    Nola York

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it and make such a heartfelt comment. I feel encouraged that my post has touched you in this way.

      Like

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