Ellen Bell Call Me © Stephen Lynch Photography 056

I didn’t go. I needed to have a day at home. Steady, still and to ground. Go to ground. I missed it. Though this faith is not a comfortable one. I missed the communion. The thinking, the giving over of time to other thoughts, to thoughts of others rather than just myself. It is not the Abbey. It has not it’s beauty, it rarefication. Yet, it is still sacred and indeed, ancient. It pleases him that I go. My church, he says. I am a creature of habit. Securing a pew and returning, week in week out, to the same one. I used to sit right at the front in the Abbey. Just before the pulpit. Hugh and Winifred sat next to me. Hugh had Parkinson’s and his hands would quiver as he handed round the collection plate. Winifred, his wife, was a nervous bird-like woman, who was terrified of snow. I liked them so much. They muttered about change, about Edward the Rector, but I liked them. It was just fear. Fear of something new. Hugh always wore a suit. Here we wear waterproofs and kneel at the Lady Chapel altar exposing our hardy shoes. There is always birdsong outside as he delivers his sermon. When I began to go the early morning Eucharist I no longer saw Winifred and Hugh. Tell them I’m alright, I asked the Church Secretary, they will worry otherwise.

So many deaths. Of course. Death comes daily to those of us who are unknown. He died yesterday. I loved to hear him. He made me smile. I listen to him on Desert Island Discs, so pragmatic and self-effacing. Chocolate, honey, those mellifluous tones. Gorgeous. He knew it wasn’t real. Not any of it. Woe betide those who believe it to be so. I thought once, that it may come to me. It was a whisper and then gone. So be it. It is for the best. Rest in peace and thank you.

You don’t have to do it, he says. I know. And sometimes the compunction to do so makes me want to cry. I drive myself hard. Not physically, necessarily, but mentally. I expect so much. It is never good enough. I am never good enough. Let it be. I read. Let it be, it says. Let it be exactly as it is. Let the mediocrity be. Let the mediocrity of my work, my writing be until it can be something else. I read of Charlotte Bronte, leaving aside her writing to cut away the black eyes on the potatoes. Keep the balance. Nothing really matters. Death will come. Just be kind. See it. See it in the eyes.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.