When a man (sic) has once broken through the paper walls of everyday circumstance, those unsubstantial walls that hold so many of us securely imprisoned from the cradle to the grave, he has made a discovery. If the world does not please you, you can change it. You may change it to something more sinister and angry, to something more appalling, but it may be you will change it to something brighter, something more agreeable, and at the worst something much more interesting.'
I have quoted this passage from HG Wells, 'The History of Mr Polly' before, because it raises a delightful prospect.
On the first Thursday of the month, I have a rendezvous with my soul. I have to drive to South Wales to make the date, and when it's wet and dark, it IS a bit of a trek, but It's worth the effort.
There are ten of us in our Contemplative Prayer group. We eat supper together, then we sit in silence for twenty minutes. We stop. Doing, thinking, striving, worrying, planning, hoping, praying, believing... Stopped.
It's not easy, not always possible, but something emerges - the simple knowledge that it IS possible to stop.
So what? For twenty, often very long minutes, I put myself on hold. Everything I think I am, I lay down to rest in liminal space - a particular place, on the edge of being, that is pure life without the wearisome effort of having to live it.
What Mr Polly, in his ponderous way, invites me to do, twenty-one minutes after the singing-bowl rings, is to consider very carefully what I take up again.
My life, like yours, is great, and terrible, is pleasure and pain, is truth and make-believe... . Would I like to change some things? I would, yes I would... Will I? Not necessarily. But when I emerge from the silence of my deepest self, I know I have taken up, even the hardest things, voluntarily.