This comes from a friend in Great Britain. She has given me permission to share the following letter she had printed in her parish magazine. She lives in Hay on Wye in Wales and we’ll be visiting there in September.
A parishioner approached me last Sunday and quipped, “The spring has sprung,” which was no more than the truth, it was a lovely day.
Not to be outdone, I responded eagerly with the rest of the rhyme, taught me at my father’s knee: “De grass has riz! I wonder where de boidie is? De boid is on da wing. Why dat’s absoid, I always toit de wing was on de boid.”
Clearly, the parishioner does not know this anonymous poem, as he looked alarmed and asked if I was all right. This brings me neatly to my theme for this month’s missive, which also happens to be the cry of the Pygmy nation when lost in the long grass: ‘Wetha-hellah-wee,’ roughly translated as “Where the hell are we?”
Apologies for the insensitivity of this joke to those readers who are vertically challenged, but it’s a serious question. Where are we, and what is going on?
Most of the time we can answer it, but there are areas of unknowingness with which we must come to terms. That’s where faith comes in. I have faith in God and in the idea that man is essentially good. Hmm. Certainly, the people in Hay are largely pleasant and some are pleasantly large.
There are lots of things we don’t know and must choose whether to believe. In the May issue, Anne Hitchcox posited the question of whether a ghost had opened adjoining doors on a family holiday. We can’t know the answer to that. Could one of the family have been sleepwalking, for instance?
We can’t know for sure whether ghosts exist, and if they do, why? My personal theory is that they are mirages, without intent or personality, perhaps energetic impressions on the atmosphere, but people have other experiences of them. There are some apparitions that do more than just appear. When I was thirteen, I too saw a door mysteriously open by itself.
I was very upset with my brother at the time, a common occurrence, since he knew exactly how to wind me up. I ran up to my room in a fury, slammed the door and shrieked into a pillow. (I’m still doing that, by the way, so don’t be alarmed if you hear terrible screams in Bridge Street.)
After a few minutes I calmed down and was brushing my long, ginger hair in the mirror when I noticed the doorknob turning slowly behind me. Suspecting my brother of sneaking in with malicious intent, I crept over and peered into the widening gap, ready to thwack him on the head with my hairbrush. He wasn’t there. Nobody was.
Puzzled, I looked at the doorknob. It had turned to open the door and hadn’t turned back. What sort of breeze could do that? Or if it was him, how could he have opened the door and disappeared so quickly with the doorknob still turned?
Imagine my alarm, as I was standing very close to the door and still looking through the gap onto the empty landing, when it slowly closed, and the doorknob turned carefully back into place.
Was that a hallucination? I don’t think so. I think it was evidence that there are phenomena at work in the universe that we can’t yet explain; just as I take a lifetime’s experience of countless small miracles to be evidence of the existence of God.
And if that’s a hallucination, it’s one I choose, because it gives me joy.