The other night I was sat on the boat getting a new perspective of Palma since we are up high on the dry dock, and I noticed a beautiful old city on the horizon. A horizon which is within walking distance and always has been. I finished my evening meal and decided that Sunday was going to be spent exploring.
As I walked through the narrow medieval old streets, seeing Palma in a new light, I realised that I was so busy not liking the city, that I didn’t even try to find something I liked. That was so unlike me. Normally I see new places with open eyes and find lots of little things I like. I spent two weeks here with the catamaran and I only went to the places that were around the marina we were in or wherever my crew mates wanted to go. I really enjoyed twisting and turning through the narrow streets, looking at the buildings, taking photos and imagining what life must’ve been like when this was first built. There were so many flowers, lots of bright purple which seems to be the flower colour of the Mediterranean. It’s beautiful and really stands out against the clay coloured buildings.
I came up to a really old Church tucked away in a corner of the old city. There was no one in that street. I could hear the TV of one of the flats echoing through the tunnel the narrow street created. As I entered the courtyard, I saw an old man quietly talking to someone in a car which was parked in front of the church. They were too involved in conversation to notice I was there so I quietly sneaked in to the Church. Ahhh….a deafening silence. I stood there for a moment breathing in the musty smell that old churches have and letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. It was a hot day, yet the Church was nice and cool. I tip toed to the nearest bench in the back and involuntarily took a deep breath. Then the tears just started flowing. I didn’t even know they were there.
Religion has always been very important to my family, so I went to a Catholic school, mass 1-2 times a week and religious education classes when I switched schools. I hated it. I didn’t understand why anyone could want to be a part of this. To me every second of being in a Church was pure torture. I had to sit and listen and just be quiet. Then I had to go to confession once a month and confess my sins – a list that never varied because I wasn’t ever going to tell the truth of what I really did!! Not only that, but it was full of rules. Those who are close to me know that any rules I’m given will be purposely broken as soon as I can manage it. Give me freedom and I flourish.
I don’t know how my Mom put up with it, but she was persistent. Years and years and years of fighting to get me up and going to Church every single Sunday. I would argue, say horrible things about her faith and make up excuses of why I couldn’t go. The only response I got was, “When you turn 17 and have your confirmation, you can make your own decision, but while you are still a child in God’s eyes, you will go to Church. ” I must’ve started the countdown when I was three years old!! Sure enough, I had my confirmation and that was the last time I went to Church on a weekly basis.
I haven’t found the Catholic faith, but I’ve found the yoga philosophy. I quite like it because it has general guidelines of how to live life that I can interpret and incorporate into my life in my own way. This suits me much better! Now I’m grateful that my Mom stuck with the fight, because I get it. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was saying in the teenage voice, “Do I have to go to Church with you on Christmas???” when my Mom said, “It’s my peaceful place and if you don’t want to be there, it won’t be peaceful. I’m not going to make anyone go who doesn’t want to be there.” It all the sudden made sense. She wasn’t trying to stick the religion down my throat, she was trying to teach me that we all need a peaceful place where we can go to when we need to breath, feel comfort, cry or just be. Sounds like something I believe in… What a beautiful gift she gave me. I’m sure she’s happy that her efforts were fruitful, even though it was years and many battles later.
For me, that place can be my yoga mat depending on where it is. I have had many a breakdown on my mat. I have spent lonely times sat in child’s pose for extended periods of time focusing on my breathing and feeling some comfort from my mat and the earth below it. However as yoga has no temple to speak of, I discovered that churches can give me that peace too.
When I went travelling, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me over email and I was devastated. I was sharing a room with three strangers and had nowhere to breakdown. I wandered around the city with my sunglasses on hiding the tears. Then I stumbled upon a church and thought that was a good place to cry. So I went in and just sobbed. That was the first time I went into a church without hating it and feeling as though I was going to instantaneously burst into flames due to my sinful ways. It was so quiet, calming and had a warm energy. It became my go to place when I was feeling lonely, sad or lost whilst on my travels.
Actually, recently, a good friend of mine reminded me of that fact when I was feeling down and lost. She suggested I go there to find some comfort. I was drawn to that church on Sunday. This lifestyle can be very lonely at times and I’m really feeling it at the moment. Stepping into that Church reminded me I’m not alone and that all I have to do is trust and keep going. It also gave me that space to have a moment to not be ok. Something I don’t always do when I’m in new situations because I “must be strong!” I thanked the space for giving me comfort and walked out feeling much lighter and dare I say, with a gentle smile on my newly relaxed face…