I found it in the rain. My red canvas coat and wool scarf smelled wet, and I was tired. I took myself through the graveyard, headstones with the dates worn away, and entered the Edinburgh church through a side door. A choir in front, all of them impossibly old, white haired and stooped. The church white and gold with a pipe organ.
The week before, I’d walked over Shakespeare’s grave in another church. Paid for the privilege of it.
I’d finished college, and gone away to Europe. My bag too heavy, and a worry inside me that the money would not quite last for all six weeks. Why had I come? The loneliness had become too much. Work and school and my self. Day after day. I’d stopped nursing heartbreak, but it went on now, strong enough to nurse itself.
Where was god? Was god here? In this church? Out there in the graveyard? Somewhere within me? Where?
I sat there and refused to believe anything.
What would I do now? What would become of me? What was the point of journals and poems and these tours of museums and cathedrals? Where wasn’t I a tourist? What the fuck was I doing?
The choir’s songs tapered at the ends from weariness. The voices reduced to scratches.
I touched the books in my pew, took off my backpack, and scribbled in one of my journals. My handwriting looked foreign to me.
And then I feel it. A warmth coming up through my sneakers, the damp of my pants, up my soaked collar and into my head. A lightning of nerves. I feel it. The choir has somehow banded together to sing something beautiful. Their voices more powerful than the pipe organ. Than the rain. Than all my anxiety.
I grip the pen my grandmother gave me, and this odd blue journal and I forget that I’m soaked through, and hungry. I forget that the rest of my way back to the hostel is uphill. Light through the stained glass windows reddens the pews.
What if I am allowed to be aimless? What if the miracle is having little to do but walk toward beautiful things? What if that is the fucking task? Walk toward beauty.
I went back outside through the graveyard, the hunched trees wringing the wet onto my hair. Crowned with it. Crowned with rain and tiredness and this fiery secret.
That it’s all a poem. A girl in the street with god spilling out of her.