Monday, November 04, 2019


It is never hard to wish for peace - peace in your personal life and peace in the world - but it is certainly hard to write about it when both your life and your country are in turmoil. The turmoil in my country of origin, Britain, is nothing like that in war-torn countries around the world but there are worrying and upsetting events there - things I never imagined happening in Britain, of all places - and I am among an estimated 1.2 million British people in EU countries who feel, to say the least, unsettled and insecure.

I am not displaced; I am not a refugee; I have faced no danger but I do know that it is hard to begin a life in a new country, even when you are there, as I am, from choice, let alone when you have endured a perilous sea crossing and have been tortured, threatened and physically assaulted along the way, only to find that you are less than welcome when you reach your longed-for destination. My heart goes out, as it always has, to all who experience such trauma.

As I have said, I have experienced none of those things but events in my own country have led me to reflect on how quickly things can change, how events which you can influence little, if at all, can destroy your sense of security and take away your sense of control over what happens to you, simply because of where you find yourself geographically at the time. There is, in my case, also a feeling of guilt. I have no way of knowing if this is shared by others in my position but sometimes I wonder whether, I were in Britain, I would be able to help change things by adding my voice physically instead of, or as well as, through posts like this or through social media. But even if the answer to that were "Yes", it would not be possible so I have to ask myself what else I can do:

When Mimi wrote that her climate change theme this year could include our inner climate, I thought about that a lot and I began to ask myself what inner peace actually is. Millions of dollars have been made by gurus who believe that they can tell you, and perhaps some of them can. I can only say what it is for me and I think I find it in appreciating and remembering moments of love because these are the moments that enable us, sometimes fleetingly, to feel safe. So I would like to share with you some of my moments of love, and therefore of safety and peace, of this year: I found inner peace in February, sitting on a park bench in Norfolk, England, with the sister I never thought I'd meet; I found it in lighting a candle for my wonderful (adoptive) parents and another for the birth mother I never knew in Norwich Cathedral's Peace Globe; making Welshcakes for people is always a pleasure and for me, their aroma is that of home and, therefore, of safety and it was a joy to be able to make them in my sister's kitchen for St David's Day this March; and I have many precious moments of love every day with my dog Bertie, who loves me when I'm happy, grumpy, distracted, focused, tearful, energetic or tired and in the latter case she nuzzles me. She's a rescue dog but I always say it was she who saved me.

I am also lucky in being able to love where I am and my spirits were lifted recently on an autumn evening walk in Noto when I witnessed again the beauty of the sunlight on the stone of the Cathedral. I always go to the Noto Infiorata (carpet of flowers) in May and this year, as part of the "Italians in North America" theme, this flower portrait of Gaetana Midolo, who emigrated from her home town of Noto, Sicily to America, only to lose her life at the age of 15 in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, made a lasting impression on me. Gaetana had had a dream of another country too, and I know what it is like to arrive somewhere full of hope and to have your dream shattered. I recovered but poor Gaetana had no chance, in old age, to cherish her moments of love.

To Gaetana, to all who dream of a better life, to all who are struggling to change their inner climate and to all who dream of peace, I dedicate this post. To the big dreamers who are out there protesting to change our world, I send my thanks and I would like to say to them that sometimes, when you are deeply in turmoil or despair, you can only do small things, such as remembering love. But sometimes that is enough.

Dona Nobis Pacem


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