I do not remember exactly when it happened, but it did. There I was in the church, and suddenly I was attacked. Not with implements or fists or anything. No, but with words.
“You don’t wave and smile when we wave and smile at you.”
“You’re a snob.”
“You’re stand offish.”
“You’re full of pride. That’s the worst sin. You have to go to Confession.”
They knew I was blind. Their words were like knives piercing my heart. I never was a snob or stand offish. In fact I longed for them to come close to me, say my name, and start talking to me. But they ignored me. Or so it seemd.
The pain of those moments was greater than I could bear. My heart was like stone. I was paralysed inside. Nothing good could ever come to me again. I was dead. Absolutely dead.
“Take me to the little church,” I said to my husband. I knew he would not mind. He liked the little church.it was about an hour’s drive away and I had found it whilst driving around the countryside with my dogs one day. As I was driving, suddenly I saw a sign pointing down a narrow road that looked almost like a lane, saying, “Unspoilt Pre reformation Church.” This was something that I had to see. I loved old historical buildings especially churches. I drove down the lane that ended up in a farmyard and there, on the right hand side was a quintessential English church amongst the trees. It was tiny. Oh so tiny. Stone built, and oh so ancient.
I parked my car and walked up the long windy path to the door of the church. I pushed on the door, peered round it, and all that I saw was darkness. Or that was how it seemed. The windows were so tiny that they hardly let in any light and the whole place was overpowered by very very dark oak. The pews, and the ancient Rood Loft dominated the place. I went in and I felt as if there were souls in the very walls of the place. I wondered what the history of the place was and what the souls would say to me. I sat down in a pew and just enjoyed the silence, mediatiting on what I had found. The church had been built in the 10 hundreds and was over one thousand years old. Mind you, it would originally have been quite different to what it was now. But much of it was almost that ancient and I wanted to know its story. But it was the darkness that was so overpowering. As I left the building, I knew that I would return to that place over and over again. I felt a peace there that was almost electric.
And so, on that awful day, I asked my husband to take me there. When we arrived, dark had fallen. I made my way into the church and went and sat on the old wooden chest where I often sat. I knew it was pitch black in there and even though I was blind, the darkness was darker than ever. Inside me I felt like stone. Nothing and no one could or would ever reach me any more. The pain was too great. I had had cancer, nearly died, gone blind, and come to this. All I had ever done was try to accommodate what had happened to me and do the best with it that I could. It was hard. Very hard.
As I sat there I wondered what I was doing there. I felt nothing, except the darkness. I knew that nothing could happen, but I was just so used to going there. I sat for a few moments feeling such pain, when suddenly I felt what I can only say was the darkness putting its arms around me. It held me like a mother would, and it comforted me. It went where I thought no one could ever go again. It just happened. I did nothing. I did not invite it to happen. I felt myself melting. I relaxed. I allowed myself to be held by this divine darkness. I did not know at this time that it was the divine darkness, and I just thought of it as the darkness. I did not think of it as like a mother at that time either, but I realised later that that was what it was like, only deeper even than that.
I left the church that night a different person to the one who had gone in. I had no thoughts of anything like God at all. Just the darkness. It was the darkness. The wonderful darkness.