This photo shows the coffin of our late Queen Elizabeth 11 in Westminster Hall, London in September 2022. The guards around her coffin are about to be changed & members of the public, here to pay their respects are being held until the guard change is complete. The picture is from a Live Stream provided by the B.B.C inside the great hall, which is running 24/7 while the public who want to see this scene are also queuing around the city beyond these doors. It feels to me as if we are all waiting. In these times when our lives are busy & full, the whole nation seems to have been holding its collective breath while we wait. We wait,with her, & for her.
Since the Queen’s death was announced, the waiting began, & it continues.
As someone has said: “We live under the cultural misapprehension that waiting means doing nothing”
There is far from nothing happening while we wait in these days Some of us stand in line for days, sharing stories, memories, hopes, fears and camaraderie, because we want to serve as witnesses to history, to memory, to those same stories, to watch over the person who has felt (to me) as the mother figure,
the one who has so faithfully watched over us for longer than my lifetime. She has simply been a presence in my awareness for literally as long as I can remember.
The mother/maternal figure roots us, holding the space for us to grow; providing nurture & a sense of safety. We depend on this mythical & actual role & to some extent we can take it & her for granted, Whether it is the Queen of our country, or the earth.. Until now.
She is going or gone.And we wake up & start missing her. I did anyway. I began missing her when the news made it clear she was leaving soon. And I have carried on watching, waiting, mesmerised by the journey of her coffin ( somehow the visible remaining actuality of her) thinking about her & waiting to miss her permanently when there is no more coffin. No sign of her left.
My life has felt like it slowed this past week…..I can’t get started on anything else. I have to wait. I don’t even fully know why. I want to wait. I want to be a witness to this parting; to stand with her & with the thousands of others I see. Also waiting. i have been wondering how i’ll actually get going again.
When she’s fully ‘gone’ what will this world be like/ Who will hold us then?
I’m also realising that in missing & beginning to mourn the Queen, I’m being drawn into a tender but fierce recogntion of the missing of my own parents.
The anniversary of my Father's death is 18/09, just 2 days from now, & the day before our Queen is committed to her final resiting place on earth.
So, his leaving is very present to me at this time.
He was deeply respectful to the Queen; embarrassing me as a child by standing for the National Anthem, in places like cinemas, when no-on else did! But I remember, deeper than my shyness, being fascinated & wondering~ what did this loyalty to someone he’d never met, mean?
When the security around her was more relaxed, decades ago,my father was in uniform when the Queen & the Duke of Beaufort visited a display he was responsible for at Badminton Horse Trials. He was always immensely proud of this photo taken as she passed him. She didn’t acknowledge him, but that didn’t matter to my Dad.
He was there.
I miss his example as I miss him. And so I serve now by waiting, and watching for her journey & her leaving
I promised my father. as he died, that it was safe for him to go.I would watch for him.
And I Feel that same vow strangely insistent in me now. I will watch & i will wait, until the very last moment of her journey.
The poet William Stafford wrote;
"A quality of attention is given to you. When you turn your head, the whole world leans forward"
I love being constantly challenged to notice & get curious about the aspects of life I am turning my head toward.
I love to notice, & to wonder & to journal on the things I wonder about: as the poet David Whyte says ~to "overhear myself saying things I didn't know I knew"