At last I have the spoons to conclude my little series on three cities where I had some intense signposts on my spiritual path. If you need a recap, you can catch up with Part One https://thechronicelephant.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-tale-of-3-cities-part-one-brighton.html

and Part Two:https://thechronicelephant.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-tale-of-3-cities-part-two-la-paz.html

It is fair to say that, of all the things I was thinking about when I moved to Milan in 2005, God was pretty low on the list.
I would make some amazing friends during my time in Milan, but my health, finances and personal life, remained constantly in a state of flux.  The chronic pain I live with now, started in Milan. I struggled to work and pushed my body far beyond what it could do. I had to keep going. I also didn't love my work, and it was hard to be single in a place where family is so important.

Fast- forward to 2007, and I had (almost) achieved my childhood dream of being an artist working in an attic in Paris. It was not Paris, but my 5th floor apartment did have spectacular views...AND more importantly, I had begun drawing again!!

A creative block, can feel incredibly painful. It is something that is always in your line of vision- that you have to keep choosing to look away from. I had last drawn in my early 20's, and now I was nearly 40. It is mysterious to me why it suddenly felt worth trying again. These moments of the ' rightness' ( or indeed, the 'wrongness') of something, are blessings we don't earn or deserve- they are gifts. I am so grateful that art has returned to me- calmer, more certain, and less driven and self-critical than before.

The Forest of Healing- a painting I did when very sick. I wanted to create a safe place I could go into to receive healing.

I lived, and often worked alone, and had no telly or radio for most of my 6 years there, so had plenty of time for the reiki I had learnt, and for prayer. I begun to visit the churches in the city, enjoying them as places of peace, where I would stop for a pit stop during the day. Later, when I was struggling round the city I would drop in to pray and cry. Twice I KNEW that Christ was holding me, caring for me. It made no sense, but it was real.

I started seeing patients for reiki treatments, and eventually teaching reiki. This on top of commuting most of the day as a teacher left me drained, repeatedly sick, and physically weak...and emotionally, I was running on empty.

In 2007, a friend asked me out of the blue, if I wanted to accompany her to the Anglican Church, and I said: 'Why not?!'

Life changing moments never feel that significant at the time, and this was to be one of those.  'Why not?!'  was to lead me to being baptised and confirmed, and eventually staying in a Christian community...where I met Mr Elephant(!)

When I first entered All Saint's Church, Milan, I was carrying the prejudices of someone who had some woolly belief in God, but thought church,was a waste of time. My conversion was to be a gentle melting of my resistance, rather than a bolt of lightening moment. In getting to know the congregation, and seeing Christians just being themselves, I learnt to trust the church, to be open to learning, and to absorb the sense of stability I felt within this community.

The vicar there was a wonderfully gifted preacher. I had never read the Bible ( without being forced!), but when I studied, even a little, Jesus leapt off the page. I had become initially interested in church because of it helping me, now I wanted to work to make the world as Jesus imagined it could be.

As a creative person, my first impulse is usually to dispense with the rules, and do things 'my way.' This wonderfully diverse congregation, showed me that stability and commitment didn't limit possibilities or stifle creativity, but rather placed me into a fertile, nurturing soil to help me grow.

The faith I had prayed for fervently in Bolivia, has shown me that nothing is more important than Love and Kindness-to other people, to animals, to environments, and of course to yourself. One of my favourite maxims is: God loves a trier.' This is a comfort to me on a daily basis when I have screwed up, said or done the wrong thing, have misunderstood or created unnecessary problems. I am trying and that is all that God asks of any of us



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