A TALE OF 3 CITIES. PART ONE: BRIGHTON, ENGLAND.

There is a regular occurrence in the 'Peanuts' strip cartoon, when the tiny tyrant Lucy, takes the ball away, from an ever hopeful Charlie Brown.

Charlie is left feeling bruised, disappointed, and betrayed by life. He also feels like an idiot for not having anticipated a bad outcome. Experiencing several of those 'Lucy' events in succession, can steal your judgement and optimism and leave you feeling as if life has just thrown you into a black pit.

At that point, almost everyone prays, even if it is to a God that they don't believe in. It is what we do. For most of my life, that was me- I didn't believe in God until I was desperate, and then it was only to get what I wanted. I thought of God as a tyrant to punish me, or a Santa Claus able to grant my wishes. Over time, to my great surprise, this gradually changed...and I found Faith. 


I would like to celebrate my journey from Church-hating atheist, to card-carrying Christian, in a series of three Blogs I'm calling A TALE OF THREE CITIES: Brighton, England, La Paz, Bolivia, and Milan, Italy.
 Each of these cities were instrumental in showing God to me in many small and beautiful ways,and bringing me closer to him...and like most things in my life, the spiritual journey was intimately linked with my creativity...and pain and illness.
As I have often taken spiritual or religious themes, I will illustrate these with my work...and the occasional cartoon!


PART ONE: BRIGHTON, ENGLAND


Depression

 
In my early twenties I moved to Brighton, with my then partner, I thought I was suffering from short-term illness... In reality I was to be mainly housebound for the next decade.
 
I was told by my GP to: 'Go home and rest until you get better'. I prayed to be cured, but I just got sicker. Hope went out of the window and I hated God for not making me better.  As the years went by, drawing ceased completely, and it felt as if the lights had gone out. I was 23 and it seemed as if life was over.

Spoiler alert: it wasn't!!

As a student, I had dabbled ( well, let's be honest I did it once!), in meditation...so when I learnt that 'Clinically Standardised (aka, non- religious) Meditation,' was supposed to help anxiety, I did it twice daily. It was pretty much the only routine in an empty day. No Internet, no forums- just me  my 'daytime' pyjamas...and audiobooks.

Improvement didn't even begin to happen for about 8 years. ME had broken every part of my life. I was low, not just a temporary low, but low for years. I felt grey inside...and I was inside a lot!


I sometimes 'overdid it',  by walking very slowly to the end of the road, and past a couple of shops- just to see something new pass in front of my retinas. It was on one such trip out that an elderly gentleman said 'good morning' to me and we walked in slow step for a few minutes. As we parted he looked into my eyes and said very solemnly: 'God Loves you' and said my name.
 
I don't have words to describe how this felt and still feels...but I felt as if for those seconds it seemed as if the sun had come out, and I never forgot his message of HOPE.
Reaching Out

When I started to improve one of the first things I did was to go to a 'drop-in' meditation at the local Buddhist Centre. I was fully prepared to hate it ( life with ME conditions you for disappointment), but in fact I loved it!! Later when my domestic life was turned upside down, it became my first experience of a supportive spiritual community. I did a beginners Buddhist course, and the people I met, and the conversations I had, stay with me today. I met all kinds of people, and blossomed from years of passivity to being curious about the World...but I still stopped short of wholeheartedly adopting Buddhist beliefs.

Ananias Healing Saul.

Then a friend got me interested in hands- on- healing, and I tried, then learnt to do, Reiki. Emotionally, and ( always) physically, there was,( and is!), always so much I need to be healed. I met more esoteric friends, and started collecting crystals, and ultimately would train as a Reiki master...but...

Life was about to go in a completely different direction as I set off for a spiritual pilgrimage to South America....




NEXT TIME:  A TALE OF 3 CITIES PART TWO: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA.

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