You’ve written so many letters to your dear Cygnus members, I thought I’d write one to you.
I’m sitting here,surrounded by your presence. The nasturtiums sway and dance with the cornflowers and I imagine you singing away to yourself, and to them. Every chirp of the young sparrows in the garden reminds me of you. Every gust of the breeze through the slender silver birch trees, every waft of lavender and roses, every buzz of a bumblebee, flutter of a butterfly, scurry of an ant – today they all remind me of you.
I will always cherish our deep, shared love of nature, our joy at observing life in minute detail. It warms my heart that you called me ‘the bug lady’ and I remember how we’d delight at taking a break from work to stroll around the garden, or simply gaze for a while out of the window to the trees at Garreg Fawr. So much happening, so much life to see, so long as we allow ourselves to see it.
Indeed, one of the strongest lessons I learned from you was to stay connected to what’s real. I now see that it’s all very well striving to live a better, more spiritually aware life, attuning with higher realms, other levels of existence and so on, but what use is that if we cannot connect fully with the real world around us? This is what we’re here to experience, alongside and on our journey to ‘something else’.
Just the day after your passing, I was struggling while out on my run, wondering if I could keep going, letting my inner grumbler get the better of me as it nagged me to give up. A little voice told me, ‘Lift up your head and look up: see the honeysuckle.’ Well, that instruction was all I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with the task at foot. The run transformed from a chore into a blissful sequence of sensory delight, as I imagined chatting with you about all the things I could see, hear and smell.
Thank you for your continued faith in me, and the encouragement to keep at it, whatever ‘it’ is. So often you have brought out latent gifts in people, seeing their potential and giving reassurance when the going gets tough. It should be set in stone somewhere, ‘If Ann asks you to do it, it’s because she knows you can.’
Now I find myself smiling, remembering the happy times we spent working together on our beloved Cygnus Review. I feel truly blessed to have worked so closely with you, nurturing the magazine that has meant such a great deal to so many.
Each month, surrounded by hundreds of newly published books, we’d search for those that really touched us, those that had a certain essence, with true power to guide people into being able to change their lives for the better, or simply appreciate the life they have. Gradually the list would gel to form the framework of the next magazine. We’d get so excited when we found the right books: the books that we knew were connecting deep with our soul.
That’s another of your precious gifts: to distil down to the essence, shedding away the fog of ego, the demands of both head and heart if needed, so as to speak from the fundamental truth of your soul. Your words have always come from your deepest self, from your inner truth, helping others in finding their own inner truth. I now know that my words may prove to be the same words as others, but I don’t just take others’ words without consideration. You have taught me to ask myself if they are the words, thoughts, feelings or beliefs that are held within my soul, and that is your continuing gift to me, and to all whose lives you touch.
Dearest Ann, thank you for journeying part of your way with me. Oh, and thank you for your delicious tofu and toasted almonds spaghetti dish, too. We must feed our bodies as well as our souls.
Would you like to come and explore the hedgerows with me again this evening?
Sarah Portsmouth, from Order Processor to Editor, 2002-2012