57. Into the Darkness, part one.

Pretty much every night since November, I've taken Dessy, our younger beagle, for a half-hour walk before bed.

I do it because the lymphoma survivors' website says that's one of the important things to do—half an hour's exercise morning and before bed to ensure that what you eat is turned into fats for your body to use rather than sugars for the dis-ease to chomp. That's the case whatever you eat, even if it's mostly just salad and vegetables because pretty much everything except lettuce and sardines has carbohydrates in it.

A wet November is probably not the best time to start such an enterprise but, at least, the lanes around here are very quiet and in the first month we only had to deal with three cars. Both Dessy and I are attired each night in luminous jackets, I carry a powerful torch so we can be seen. Those first nights,  we set of manfully (or womanfully or beaglefully) on a bit of a route-march.

We walked in howling gales and sweeping wet and in grief, despair and hopelessness and hope and anger and resentment and gratitude. Well, I did. Dessy just ran about and jumped up hedges and vanished and then raced past me again and did it all over again.

Except, that is, for the nights that she just sat by the front door with one paw up (which is her pathetic mode) and said, 'you're bonkers. Even I am not going out in this!' Given that she came from Warwickshire Beagles and was used to running fifteen miles a day whatever the weather, you can tell how bad it was out there.

N.B. The winter of 2013-14 in the UK was the wettest and windiest on record and here on Dartmoor we get every gale that's going.

Going into the darkness was awful and awe-full. Sometimes there was starlight and sometimes there was a moon but mostly there was weather. For the first two months even if there was a beautiful sky, I couldn't lift my head to see it without pain or dizziness, but that has passed, thank God. Now I can lift my head and gaze as much as I want and nothing is so very, very awful if you can lift your head and be one with the stars.

We got into a routine ... down past Razzle's Corner, past Three Fields Corner, past the Bog of Eternal Stench (where the farmers store the muck for spring muck-spreading) and down to The Far Gate Before Gooseford and then back. On nights when it wasn't too windy, we'd walk in fields where there weren't any sheep—Mike the farmer is fine with that. One night, lost in my thoughts I didn't realise we were in the wrong field and one sweep of the torch met with sixty green eyes shining at me in perplexed curiosity.

I went with the intention of finding God in the darkness and, on the nights when I wasn't too self-obsessed, I looked and listened and did walking meditations and prayed and asked and begged and pleaded and wept and hoped and asked again. 

There is something about night in the country which is the epitome of the truth that you are both everything and nothing simultaneously. Some nights I felt I was carrying all the world's grief but that if I just kept walking, kept walking, kept walking, it would be lifted from my shoulders by a greater, kinder Beingness. I kept walking. Plod, plod, plod. And it was.

To read more of the story, please click on 'newer post' in black below.
If you are new to this blog and want to start at the beginning, please go to the side bar and click on 'January' to find post no. 1. Thank you.


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