At four this morning, I had a religious experience. I felt suffused with Love. All of me was love and beauty.
I have been at the Yearly Meeting of Quakers in London. I stayed in the house of a couple I had never met before, Quakers who had volunteered to put up someone attending. It is Georgian terraced, within walking distance of the National Theatre, and its walls have beautiful things on them. On Friday night they met me at Friends House, and he escorted me home on the bus, telling me where was the best art gallery in London- the Courtauld Institute- and of international travel pursuing his career. She cycled. We sat in their tasteful, well-appointed kitchen drinking tea, and my inner critic said,
–other people can make something of their lives.
It’s a bitch that way, but you know that. I felt sharp hot shame, not just that none of my anecdotes match. I did not like him. I don’t think he thought much of me, though I could be mistaken.
Last night I got back first, after we finished early, and could not open the door. I had to phone for instructions- pull it towards you, the yale lock will turn then. Oh right. When they returned, we drank tea. I can’t remember what I said, but she said,
-You’re very kind. (These words can be a brush-off or a put-down, but were a simple observation.)
-It gives me pleasure.
Later, we watched a drama about cancer, and when the character complained about the horrid wigs available on the NHS, I showed off mine. She saw that the hairline on the lace-front looks natural. I took it off which elicited a gasp, as I like to shock, and she felt the hair. Possibly I might show more self-respect.
In the night I woke.
After 48 hours, I could answer the inner critic. I have had certain difficulties. I would not minimise others’ difficulties, but mine have been hard for me. The anger I have carried is justified. (Round and round the circle I go; this is new, and not new; I see more clearly-)
Then- this animal, this creature, this thing, process, object-
is beautiful, and wonderful.
This is new. This is not my old arrogance, but softer and heart-felt. I have known “I am a human being”- wonderful, and one of seven billion- but that was intellectual acceptance, this is emotional acquiescence.
I am completely happy. I feel intense love, undirected, or for myself, or for the world, or God’s for me. This- this- this-
is utterly beautiful, perfect in itself. Not what a man might call perfect. Not needing to be other to be perfect. Perfect.
Our discernment was on “Living out our faith in the World. What can Quakers do? Be our beautiful, wonderful selves. One of us might visit the Grand Turk. One might return to the Massachusetts colony, and worship there, though she be hanged for it. One might found a chocolate factory, or a shoe factory, or a bank. We are not alone. There is that of God in every one.
Over breakfast, I thought of telling my hostess, but did not need to.