There are a few lines in the song that I find myself identifying more strongly with day by day: "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, 'Let it be'. And in my hours of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, 'Let it be.'"
Over the past two years, Sheila and I have become increasingly more involved in our allotment, and in particular, making our little plot of heaven work for us and fulfil our needs. We go up there whenever the fine weather allows and we are fast becoming astute nature watchers of the changing seasons. Apart from providing Sheila with enough fruit to provide jam for the entire Forde family all year round, last year I tasted on my daily dinner plate between August and late September, the best crop of new potatoes ever grown outside the land of Ireland by an Englander; my fair wife, Sheila.
While Sheila manages all our fruit and vegetables, the choosing of bushes and flowers that surround our allotment border and fence is my area of responsibility. When it comes to food and aesthetics, my wife has always been the cook and the chocolate person and me, the lover of flowers. Three-quarters of all floral choice our allotment are roses; half of which are varieties and shades of different reds. The red rose was always a favourite bloom of myself and late mother (known as Mary or Maureen).
Since the development of my cancers, our small piece of ground has, in effect. entered the process of becoming 'holy ground' for me and Sheila. It has become a nature refuge where perfect peace and seasonal pleasure, along with future promise is found. Regarding my own continued health (with having no effective immune system to fight off all manner of infections and bugs), I am infinitely safer around the bugs to be found in the colony of insects that inhabit any allotment area than those I invariably have passed on to me whenever I closely mix with humans. In short, our allotment has become my 'Health Refuge' and our 'Heaven in Haworth'. It is a place where peace and prayer, nature and nurture harmoniously blend.
Over the past years, as I have again come close to death, I have also come closer to God. Having practised and taught relaxation training for over sixty years, I know that no semblance of peace of mind can ever be found in a fearful body; neither can it be located in the silence of cemeteries. Hence, it naturally follows that peace cannot be found in the body that fears death, just as happiness will always be a stranger to the body that fears life and the living of it.
Peace is that generous, tranquil contribution of all that is good in the garden, and I have discovered my perfect peace is prayer at its most restful pose. I have long known that peace of mind can never be achieved by force of thought and that its only certain access to the body is through relaxation, prayer and understanding. In my 76th year of life, therefore, more than any previous year that I I have lived, I resolve, 'Let there be peace in my life and let it begin with me,' I remember a quotation from the Collected Poems of Alberto Caeiro, 'What comes, when it comes, will be what it is.'
Sheila and I share many things in life, but mostly our love of each other, our families and our God. We have also come to share a love of our allotment that is now a mere extension of our home that we love. Not only is it a garden to walk in and an immensity to dream; we also plan it to be a garden of prayer and remembrance for all those we have loved and lost. We have recently reserved a place for a grotto after having obtained a statue of 'The Blessed Mother Mary' (the Madonna) from our church, and for our Christmas present of 2018 to each other, we are having built a stone surround which will house 'Mother Mary' and whatever prayer petitions we also intend to house, attached to the image of the person being prayed for.
I cannot think of a better place for me to spend my last summer/summers; to have the fragrance of flower in close nostril reach, to feel the freshness of air surge through one's lungs, to be surrounded by budding nature at its liveliest, to hear the sweet song of the birds and to view above, the boundless sky. Also, be found in our allotment is 'Tree'; a Christmas Spruce that will live on when I am long gone to remind my Sheila how much I loved the season of Christ's birth. About two months ago, when I learned that I also had a malignant and invasive skin cancer, a robin started visiting our allotment where it would remain for most of the time we spent there. It is a fearless bird who comes right up to us chirping and shows no fear. It is as though it has claimed territorial rights to our ground. I would love to think it will return every year henceforth so that Sheila might always remember how we also claimed territorial rights on each other's love and endearing affection. Finally, our religious grotto will be a focal point of our allotment where perfect peace and prayer can always live and be found side-by-side.
This is why our 'Heaven in Haworth' is our 'Heaven on Earth', for this is where we can 'Let it be.'
Love and peace. Bill xxx