Many research clients have wandered into my life the last seven years. Some create more of a connection than others due to the type of project we work on together. There are clients who want the facts and only the facts. Then there are others who seek to heal things within themselves and their family, often without realizing that is one reason they hired me. When those clients show up, often, a vulnerable exchange takes place between us both. When that happens, we are both affected and both healed, whether we are conscious of it or not.
Those exchanges can take us on powerful journeys we might not otherwise have taken. If we choose the journey.
I had one client this year who truly touched my heart. He had a family member who fought in the 30th Infantry Division during World War II. Together we discovered his story and throughout the process, I found piece of myself that I was waiting to be healed. I also found I was more capable of some things than I thought. We all have those moments when we doubt our capacities and capabilities right? Isn’t it great when someone helps us see we are able to do more than we think we can? Those people show up when we least expect them.
On 2 June, Johan and I were in England. We had driven from Amsterdam to Calais and took the ferry to the White Cliffs of Dover. We arrived the day before in Dover and had a marvelous day exploring. This was my first trip to England and there was a lot to take in. On the 2nd, the plan was for me to drop Johan at a golf course about 30 minutes north of Brighton and then I would drive to Chichester and then to Brighton by the evening.
Let me be honest – at first, the thought of driving on the wrong side of the road in a place I’d never been, was a bit scary. It has been a couple years since I traveled solo in Europe and there was a moment I wondered – can I really do this……by myself!? Well of course I could! I was not about to spend the entire day sitting in a golf clubhouse and told my client I would visit Chichester since the 30th Division had been there.
After breakfast Johan drove us to the golf course and I left him there and was off on my way. We heard there was a RAF museum at Tangmere, which turned out to be on the road to Chichester. I chose to stop there and see what that museum was all about and if it contained anything on the Americans in the area. That will be another article as there was a lot to take in there. I arrived in Chichester after 1:30. It took me quite a while to get there as roads in England are not the same as the Netherlands or the U.S. there are many small country roads and it takes a while to get most places. The drive was incredibly beautiful and relaxing and I had no problems driving on the wrong side of the road. I asked my guides and angels to help me drive and keep me focused. They did a great job.
After Tangmere, I drove to Chichester. My first stop there was the cathedral. The client and I had no idea if his family member had visited the cathedral, but he had been in the area. I also never turn down an opportunity to visit a cathedral.
Chichester Cathedral is large. Not as large as Canterbury Cathedral, but still large. It is a place where you can find serenity and a bit of yourself around each corner or hidden within a sunlit prayer room. Like any cathedral, everywhere you look there is something intricate and beautiful to see. There are paintings, tombs, stained glass, arches, floors, signs, candles, flags and banners for military regiments, and people wandering through it all. Of course there were places to light candles, which I always do. Often to Mother Mary as she guides me, but also to Archangel Michael when possible, or military shrines. I was able to light candles for the 30th Division soldiers, who were definitely there with me in the cathedral. I guess I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was.
I’ve always found these sacred places excellent places to write, pray, and release all those things that no longer serve me. The prayer room pictured to the right was one area of the cathedral I could have sat for hours writing, looking at the light play with the colors in the stained glass, and just BE. How often do we stop and just BE? Not often enough.
One part of the cathedral that felt connected to me was the Arundel Tomb. There is a poem by Philip Larkin, An Arundel Tomb, written about the Earl and his Countess with joined hands in death (uncommon for this to be on a tomb at that time.) Made me think of my knight and our past life together. That could have been us.
The last line of that poem is, “What will survive of us is love.” Beautiful.
As is the case with most places I visit, time was limited and I had not eaten lunch yet. FYI – in England at most museums, cathedrals, or places like these, if you do not get into their cafes for lunch prior to 2:00 p.m. you will probably be out of luck and get the bottom of the pan of what’s left or coffee. I was able to get a little lunch just before they put the pots away. Then I took a walk through the town center before discovering there are gardens on the cathedral grounds!
After lunch I visited the Bishop’s Garden. Words cannot accurately describe how beautiful and peaceful it was. One cannot walk into the garden without smiling, feeling joyful, smelling numerous flower scents, and finding some peace in the sunshine. The garden seemed to go on forever, though I did not have the time to explore every inch. Perhaps another trip. The photo I took with the flowers and cathedral behind me almost looks as if I was imposed into a painting. The whole area has a magical fairy tale feel to it.
So what did I learn this day? How did I heal?
I remembered I was fully capable of traveling on my own and driving in a foreign land on the wrong side of the road. Patience, the willingness to ask the universe for help, a good GPS system, and plenty of time to get where I needed to go was important.
I was able to just BE in the cathedral and gardens. There was no one asking me to move on to the next place or see the next thing. There was just time. We all need that time alone no matter how much we love our [fill in the blank….husband, kids, wife, parents….] That time helps us grow, heal, resolve things within our hearts and souls, and discover pieces of ourselves we thought were missing or never discovered.
I learned I love nature more than I thought! I’m not a woman who likes to go play in the dirt and get her hands all dirty. That’s never been me. A few months ago I learned I had the capacity to communicate with trees, plants, and the earth. Sitting in the Bishop’s Garden felt so joyful. I even wrote about it in my journal.
I’m sitting in the Bishop’s Garden at Chichester Cathedral. Bids are singing, and the sun shining with wispy clouds. Behind me is the cathedral and so many beautiful flowers. Heaven. I wish I didn’t have to leave soon. Probably take an hour to get to Brighton and need to check in before Johan arrives.
When I walked into the garden, my heart sang! It felt so good to be here. One can’t help but smile here. There are roses everywhere you look and peonies and other flowers I can’t name.
The gardens go on forever but I don’t have time to walk them all. I’m content now sitting here. I walked part of the garden earlier and then walked up to part of the old city wall. Left the gardens to photograph more of the exterior of the cathedral and walk to the gate. Then I came back.
Finally, visiting the cathedral and gardens showed me again how much I love my job and that I would like to do more of this. Visiting places client’s family members have been when they cannot. Walking where my client’s family member was, I took photos and videos for him, which allowed him to almost be there. Though he was there in spirit.
Thank you to the client who inspired this trip to Chichester. You touched my heart and helped me grow.
Would you like to know how we can help you research your family’s soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine and walk in their footsteps? Contact us to learn more.
© 2017 World War II Research and Writing Center