Sitting opposite me on the flight into Transylvania there was a young family who were obviously returning home. The daughter and the mother spent quite a lot of the flight teasing the dad, this both amused and delighted me as we passed over Europe. I had noticed that the little girl was wearing ruby slippers, like those worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. This amused me also, it put the broadest grin on my face.
On both the flight into Transylvania and the flight back we were, just by chance of course, sat with the same young woman. Interestingly she was also wearing red footwear, but of a more adult version. She was wearing red knee length boots. I was wearing red shoes too, trainers in my case. Now this may well mean nothing, but as I have reflected on the last week of my life meaning appears to have emerged.
As we came into land and looked down at the Transylvania countryside there was something very familiar looking about it. It reminded me of home, of some parts of the Yorkshire countryside. There is no place like home.
A sense of belonging is so important to a happy and stable life. I know this from painful personal experience. For much of my life I felt the ache of not belonging. Not that this was imposed from the outside, this really was an internal problem, people have always made me feel welcome where ever I have been. I know today that I did this to myself, the rest of the world and humanity always seemed a little alien to me. There was always a sense of distance, something I have to keep an eye on even today.
I got the sense that many of the Unitarians in Transylvania have this sense of not quite belonging. They are a minority within a minority, within a minority it would seem. First of all by being a religious community, however liberal, in an increasingly secular world; secondly by being Hungarian speakers in Romania; thirdly by their approach to religion and understanding of the bible, Unitarianism is a heresy after all. There may well be many Unitarians in Transylvania but they are still to some degree outside of the gate.
They are beautiful people and the most hospitable and loving you could ever wish to meet. They welcomed myself and Carolyn warmly into their lives. You could tell that it meant a lot to them that we had come to visit. I know that Carolyn was overwhelmed by the love shown to us throughout the trip. She was particularly touched by Mrs Abraham, the wife of the congregation’s Lay President. She held her hand during the service. Mrs Abraham could obviously sense that Carolyn was nervous as she had to deliver a speech. I have spent a few days with some of the world’s most beautiful people. They have permanently etched that love upon my soul.
Since I returned I have taken it very easy. I will not be returning to work until the morning (Yes I know I should not have written this or the other blog). I was at home yesterday visiting in Yorkshire. I love driving on the M62, through the Pennines, even if it is a little crazy at times. The weather was terrible yesterday. Wild! On the way back the rain was coming down harder than I have ever known. I was loving the drive though, I felt so free and alive. As I passed the farm that that sits as an island between the east and west bound lanes I was listening and singing along to a song I love “What a Wonderful Way to Go” by New Model Army. I was screaming it out loud with tears rolling down my cheeks, just grateful for being alive and being able to experience love. I have never felt so free in all my life. The last notes of the song ended as we passed a sign saying this was the highest motorway point in England, strangely the weather calmed down soon after.
The song "Wonderful Way to Go" is about a near death experience that Justin Sullivan, the bands singer song writer had on stage. He was electrocuted and seemingly died. After a few minutes he was revived. He says that he experienced all the classic symptoms of a near death experience and that people said that it changed him. This has often been the case for many folk who have had such experiences.
Now I have not experienced any quite as dramatic as a near death experience although there have been moments where I have felt touched by the presence of God, usually in my darkest hours and been changed as a result of them. I cannot offer a truly rational explanation for these expereinces but I know that they were real and each time have led me to a greater freedom and belonging.
Driving back in the pouring rain last night screaming out loud “what a wonderful way to go” I felt that once again something had shifted within me. Last night, in the middle of a deep sleep, I felt touched by the presence of God.
Yes there really is no place like home and home is anywhere where you no longer feel alone.