Here, there and everywhere. Now, then, and always.

Gig-branded from a fun and folky evening in Camden with friends, I’m on the bus home having one of those moments when the world seems really big and everyone seems really far away. Joyfully confident in the contented rightness of my here and now, I nevertheless feel downright sad that so many people who I’d love to just be in the same room as are too far away to call in on for a cuppa.

Pragmatically, I recognise that a choice to be here is a choice to not be elsewhere; that a calling to one place is a calling away from another; and that proximity to some precludes the concurrent presence of others. But pragmatism loses its power at 11pm, on the bus, in the rain, in autumn, in England, when you’re all by yourself. Buffeted by the familiar niggles of homesickness which objectively make no sense at all, I feel the onset of enemy incursions through that same old chink in my armour, seeking a way in to rob and to steal.

On nights like these I find solace in looking up at the stars, seeking out Orion as the stabilising focal point, and remembering that I exist in the same world as those friends who are many miles away. Bizarrely enough, it’s the far-off stars which keep me grounded while simultaneously transporting me to forgotten memories of moments which contributed to making me the person I am. Continuous over time and space, stars help me visualise the paradoxical realities of here and there, of then and now, which run throughout this in-between and at-the-same-time-as life of mine.

But – alas! – tonight there are no stars to be seen. Instead, the thick and low clouds simply reflect back the man-made orangey city glow of streetlights and traffic and housing solutions. A gloomy Baudelaire moment, if ever there was one, for those of you who’d appreciate the allusion: Quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle…  With no glimpses of transcendence, I am clearly very much here, but living with urban disconnection. It’s hard to feel rooted when all the ground is paved over, or to work out how to be nourished for fruitfulness when there’s no soil in sight.

With nostalgic self-indulgence, I listen to ‘Mystery’, an ancient Brooke Fraser song, which takes me back to that happy era Downunder. I miss my ‘then’, and I miss Gill and Simon, Reubs and Sarah, and Bec, right now. And I miss everyone who isn’t here. I wish I could be in more than one place at once. Humph. I scowl tantrumly at the clouds that hide the stars and childishly kick the soggy leaves on the pavement.

In the face of failed pragmatism, the song morphs into prayer. I think of their faces when you said that it was for their good you were going away, and I’m with them in their pain and bewilderment. But now, more than ever, I kind of get it, and I’m grateful. Grateful that, in you, incarnation – with its temporal and geographical constraints – and eternity somehow hang together. And, at moments like these when the clouds block the stars and I see through a glass darkly, I am grateful that your love, nevertheless, endures.


Mystery, by Brooke Fraser:

I want to get your words stuck in my head
I want to touch your soul with mine
I want to always be, be by you led

I want to know that you hung the stars in the sky
So on lonely nights I would know your presence
I want to feel your love under my skin, down through my bones

Your love endures forever
Your love changes me
Your love makes me whole, makes me better
Your love endures

I want to feel the wind and know that you’re near me
And see in the seasons your mystery
I want to feel your love flow through my veins
Pound through my heart

I want to know how this could be
Yet your love remains a mystery
That’s woven all the way
That’s woven all the way through me

Your love endures forever
Your love changes me
Your love makes me whole, makes me better
Your love endures


2 thoughts on “Here, there and everywhere. Now, then, and always.

  1. Love your blog, Emileeeee! My favourite gig-branded moment was a couple of years ago somewhere near Notting Hill (West London) where I had ‘practice safe sex’ imprinted on my hand, for day or two. You can never have too much good advice I suppose…

  2. Pingback: Longing for local. Questioning community. Celebrating Streetbank. « emilyintheworld

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