I wrote every day for a week, silence, for nearly two weeks.
Slowly but surely, I am returning.
We were on vacation, and while random thoughts of trying to blog would bubble up here and there, I decided to be on vacation.
And now I am trying very hard not to be on vacation!
Our trip was great for many reasons, not the least of which is because our family gets to be together in a different way. Oh, we have our moments, but we also love being together – and this trip was great for each of us individually and communally.
We went to London, with a quick side trip to Glasgow, Scotland. I used to go to London all the time; first as a tourist and Anglophile, and later because I had some close English friends. I went so frequently, and with such ease, that I never imagined that I would stop going, but life changed one day and I did. My last visit prior to this one was in June of 1996. Where did 17 years go?
It was great to be back, but I felt sharply aware of some losses. Of my close friends, one has died, and I felt her absence – as well as her presence – very sharply. Ironically, she was almost never in London during my frequent visits; she was living in Hong Kong at the time, but I met her during my first visit to the city in 1980, and our friendship spanned so many years. The last time I saw her was when she visited Massachusetts in September 2011; she knew that she was dying. She lived very purposefully until she died in late August 2012. The above photo was taken during that last visit.
My other friends were relatives by marriage of hers who became friends of mine in their own right. Slowly things changed over time, we drifted apart and lost touch. I had one other friend, and I lost her on my own. It is a long story, and it is a sad story, because it reminds me of how depression and ennui can bear down so very hard upon us, and we just let go. That is for another day. Maybe.
My husband and stepdaughter had never been to the UK before. What a gift it was to watch them experience the great city of London for the first time!
The trip happened because of some money that came to us via the death of my husband’s sister, Olga; another element of sadness. It is interesting to experience how these things can punctuate our lives. You must see the theme I am weaving, one of strands of sadness and loss that interweave with joy. This is the essence of life, and if one follows Christ, this is at the heart of the Cross and Resurrection. Life. Death. Life.
One of our journeys was to Abbey Road, the famous street crossing in front of Abbey Road Studios. Ten prior trips to London and it had never ONCE occurred to me to go to Abbey Road! What fun it was to do something new for all of us.
If you have never been there, the first thing you may feel is pity for anyone trying to drive down the reasonably busy road. It is full of people trying to cross the street and have their photo taken. There is even an Abbey Road webcam! See for yourself!
In front of the Abbey Road studios, the wall is whitewashed and full of graffiti. I imagine it is re-whitewashed often, and full of new graffiti just as often! We each added our own bits to the wall, but I also studied a lot of what had been written by others. I had a major earworm going because of one Beatles’ song that was referenced by many of the graffiti writers, and it should be obvious what song that is due to the title of this post.
That is why I gasped when I saw this particular piece of graffiti, on the stonework, where you are not supposed to be writing anything.
Olga. Mark’s sister’s name. Olga, whose death made our trip possible. Olga, whom we would rather have with us, than not, even if it meant not going to London, even though we were loving London. And thinking of Olga with every step.
Now I am not going all woooo-woooo magic superstitious on you, but I do think of these things as moments of grace. I suddenly felt as if I were in a thin place.
I’m going to try to retain the grace of that moment. You can’t “hold on to it,” such things can not be stored, perhaps retained is not even the right word. Whatever it is, as I make my way back to daily life, I hope that I can remember that love is all we need, because while I talk a good game about that, my inner churning would reveal otherwise.
This post feels so unwieldy, so in need of a lot of editing, so much reduction, and very much in need of a point… but none of this comes to me, and the clock keeps ticking. So that is how I will leave you, as I ponder the memories of a marvelous journey. All you need is love – love is all you need.
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Great words! Glad to have you back safe and sound!
Thank you Fran for telling us about the signifcance of your trip to London. I am always amazed at your great skill at interpersonal understanding. I struggle greatly with this most necessary skill. I most often prioritize abstract thoughts over persons. Akin to a certain helplessly ignorant Austrian princess, my “let them eat cake” is not an utter inability to understand the despair and physical privation of physical starvation, but rather the rejection of those of whom I consider vapid or beneath the capability of what I have deemed intelligent thought. Perhaps “the vapid” see human emotion and the virtue of charity in a vibrant technicolor, while I only see dim shadows.
And yet this post must be about you, Olga, your friends, and your filial love for them. My favorite track from the Abbey Road album is Something. Ostensibly, George Harrison’s lyrics speak to a superficial love between partners. Indeed, the acccompaning film suggests this. Something perhaps also betrays a great knowledge of how to be a lover of persons and not just a spouse or partner. I suppose that a person who is well attuned to the desire for friendship which all require also has an acute sense of the relationship between external action and internal disposition. Something in the way she moves / attracts me like no over lover might well only refer to physical attraction. I would hope that was not George’s intention when penning this song’s lyrics.
Fran, this is a beautiful reflection on the intricate web of life – so complex and yet so simple in many ways. Love, real love like that of Christ, is all that we do need. Thanks for sharing and it is good to have you back. Blessings.
I think it’s beautiful as it is. No editing needed. What a wonderful story!
Thin places. Yes, of course, Olga was with you, in union with you where you were from where she was.
This is a very moving post, Fran, so filled with your spirit 🙂
I have never been to Abbey Road… St Pierre de Montmartre comes first on my list 🙂 How one changes over one’s lifetime!
Lovely pictures, Fran. Your trip sounds wonderful. It’s a joy to show those you love places you love. I so understand about Olga’s presence, the thin place, and grace. Not superstitious at all. The sign was a sign of grace. Love is all we need.
“…a thin place.” Yes. Yes.
I often get the feeling that signs of God’s presence and grace are all around, just like love (whoops, different song!).
I am so happy you were able to make the trip to London. I would love to go there again (it has been almost 40 years since I was there last). We did travel to Ireland with some of my inheritance from my mom. She would have been so happy that we made the trip. She is very close by and I talk to her all the time (she never answers, but I know she hears me).
Lovely post, Fran, once again!
“In need of a point”? Really??? I think you made your point very well indeed: All you need is love, and the ability to pay attention to what is around you and to respond to it. Your post is a grace; thank you, dear!
Fran, what a beautiful heartfelt post. Made me teary and smiley all at once. (How do you like those words?) I am pretty sure your point was love….here, there, everywhere. Thank you for so freely giving love yourself.