On February 28th, 2017, this was our travel pile at JFK airport. I count eight cases plus two backpacks in this image, but the four of us had a couple of bags even in addition to this, I think. That was a rough day, especially for my poor husband who likes to travel without any suitcases AT ALL. But, it was his idea to “try out England for a year or two”, and so he couldn’t complain too much, right? He was just so delighted that we all agreed to return to his motherland.
Since the flight was overnight, we arrived in the UK early on March 1st – this very day, two years ago. I mentioned that amazing fact whilst speaking with my sort-of-sister-in-law today and without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, it’s your Angloversary!” – and so, I’m using that fabulous coinage as this blog entry’s title. It is indeed a big anniversary, especially as we said we would only be here for two years. But we ain’t going back to the US any time soon. What ARE we doing? It’s still too early to tell, but it’s safe to say we have a good bit of England-time in our futures.
There is SO much to tell, so much to review, but I’m nearly off to sleep and shan’t do it justice. Here’s just a bit of an analysis… I still don’t feel like I’m HERE, that I have a life here. I’m living quite peripherally, or have been. But that could be because I’ve held myself back, not knowing if I’m to remain? Perhaps. ‘Tis also true that I’ve just been back and forth to too many places (US three times, Paris twice, Edinburgh twice, Florence, Sicily, several jaunts to London, and trips around North, East and West Yorkshire) to feel settled. Yet all that travel doesn’t mean it’s felt like a vacation, since I’ve been trying to juggle so many family obligations and mini-crises at the same time. I miss my NY home and family. I miss my network of friends and fabulous food sources. I miss the sense of SPACE and breathing room in America (things really are small here, but that can be good). AND I have so much here to be so very grateful for – and I am!
Last week my girls were actually back in America for the half-term break. A dear friend gave them the present of one return ticket if they would both come for the week. They had so many adventures with close friends, and were quite sad to return back here last Sunday, but are adjusting. Whilst they were away, Nicholas and I went to Holy Island in Northumbria (a post to follow, hopefully) for a couple of days. It was a magical weekend away. We stayed at a spiritual retreat center that Nicholas had previously visited, and I was glad to take advantage of their lending library bookshelves. I picked out a slender tome to peruse that first night, about Saint Hilda of Whitby, from the twelfth century, I think. I was tired and didn’t get very far, perhaps only a couple of pages before I closed the book. But my first random opening to a paragraph on page 13 was what I was really meant to read. Poor Hilda was in exile from somewhere, for some reason, and the author was speaking about that subject. He wrote, in part,
“There is value as well as sadness in exile. Exile strips us of our dependency upon familiar things that can become a substitute for God. Exile can lend us to embrace God in the here and now, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances.”
That SO spoke to me, especially as two people had said similar things to me in recent months, about the need for jolting oneself out of the complacency that comes from being comfortable in Life. I’ve sure not been comfortable lately! But am I making use of this exile for my best evolution, to really get close to the inner Divine? If I could, that would be most worthwhile. Something to ponder.
But for now, good night. And Happy Spring to all of you. I’ll leave you with two not-terribly good but still evocative images from last week – nettles and other green things springing up on the Westwood, and trees and daffodils blossoming in the chaos of my allotment. This week is already much more lush…