I have been surprised sometimes, when looking at an old photo, to experience an extraordinary sense of happiness arising from it, even though I was not feeling happy at the time. Pondering over this, I decided that there must always be a ground of being which exists in us, even though it may be overlaid by our worries, thoughts, desires. This ground of being is a sense of our own existence, a fact to which many people do not pay much attention. It is this ground of being which comes over to us in those photos, when past worries and thoughts have long been forgotten.
These two photos show me with my mother, the first one when I was seven and my mother had just removed me from the convent and we had moved to Jersey. We certainly were happy there. The second one shows us in Brussels in our garden, my mother now in her eighties and I am in my forties. There seems to be a nimbus around my mother. She has an ethereal look about her. I did not know it then, but in under a year she was going to die. So much had happened to us in those intervening years. I know that I was not a happy person at the time and yet, looking at it now, I cherish it.
We hear so much these days about the simple words I AM, the Invictus Games highlight it and at another level the spiritual teachings tell us about it. Our true happiness lies in the realisation of those words, the invincible knowledge that we exist, that we have a right to exist and the right to develop to our full potential. But more than this, to recognise that ground of being as our source, to acknowledge it, and to reverence it in whatever way is appropriate to us.
I think I buried that knowledge deliberately for many years. That is what my book is about and how I came to unpack that knowledge, bit by bit. I also want to honour my mother, her courage and her unfailing love.