I sent an email to friends last night and mentioned that I’d met a friend of theirs who might have thought I was behaving a bit oddly. I had a reply from the husband, which said not-quite-comfortingly that she’s used to odd people – what? I wasn’t saying that I was odd, just that I’d been behaving a bit unlike myself. Really, people are peculiar.
You see, I was telling him about my visit to Norwich yesterday, and this walk around the churches. I did start by cycling, but it was foggy first thing so I only went to the five most local churches and didn’t bike more than about 3 miles. Then we dropped Wink off to visit the baby and parked in the city centre.
One of the first churches went to was the loveliest. A non-conformist chapel, built in the 1760s, it is octagonal in shape, inside and out, and is quite beautiful. It’s in Colegate if you ever visit. The children behaved beautifully, returned greetings politely and commenting on what they saw inside the churches. Pugsley was particularly taken with the stained glass, saying “goodbye, windows” as we left each building. We visited 16 churches altogether, including the cathedral, and one of the last was the Quaker meeting house. My friends, to whom I sent the letter, are Quakers and attend there. Having had our forms signed, and leaving Dilly outside with the children (not all the buildings are easy to take a pushchair into), I asked if I might look inside. As you might expect, it was very simple indeed, with a circle of chairs and a table and plain pale walls, undecorated by pictures or anything else. Two women were talking; one was expressing some disappointment. Apparently, she is interested in religion except that she can’t stomach the thought of a god, and she’d rather thought that Quakers didn’t believe in one. The other woman was explaining that they do believe in a deity.
When the disappointed woman left, the other one chatted to me, and I did hold a proper conversation, but I was a little less than normally fluent. It was the atmosphere of the room. I’m not sensitive to this sort of thing as a rule, but there was a powerful feeling of goodness there. I actually felt quite dizzy. It wasn’t a religious feeling, but simply one of strength and peace. I told her how it made me feel – she didn’t quite get it any more than my friend did when I tried to explain. I suppose they’re used to it.
Anyway, I’ve briefly emailed back, telling him that I AM NOT ODD.