Europe Day 3: Bath, Jane Austen, & Poetry in Motion
Wednesday, September 27
I'm someone who has always had a strong intuition, someone who has learned, over the years, to appreciate and trust that gift. Especially with the work I do here with Susan Dawn Spiritual Connections, following my intuition even when it doesn't make logical sense and cultivating that deep level of trust within myself has led me to some magical places both on my inner journey and in my life experiences.
This afternoon, I spent some time at the Jane Austen Centre in the city of Bath, where I'm staying with my friend and soul sister for the week before we head to France. I grew up with a love of writing and literature, majored in literature in college, and am an author and novelist in my other business. Writing and books have always been part of the very fabric of who I am, and I've long been a fan of Jane Austen's works (and the movie adaptations that stem from them) as part of that. More than that, I'm in love with the time period. The Regency Era had a softness about it--an elegance, a romanticism that has always drawn my own romantic heart towards it. I've always been pulled towards the emotion and passion and artistic expression of the Romantics (Wordsworth, Blake, Byron), and when I was in high school I discovered and related to Emerson and his Transcendentalism movement. (Remembering this, I'm blown away at how spirituality has always been rooted in as an intrinsic part of my life!) Regency literature was a natural offshoot of that, and I fell in love with it all. From 2016 to early 2017, I even wrote some regency fiction that won't ever see the light of day, but--reflecting on the timeline and interconnectedness of all things--know it somehow contributed to opening my heart to believing in the expression of romantic love again.
So, literature-loving heart that I am, I was thrilled to learn there was a Jane Austen museum in Bath (I don't know why that didn't click for me sooner!), and it became a must-see on my journey.
I listened to a short lecture about Jane Austen's life (fun fact: she stayed in Bath for only a few years but it informed her writing of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and her actual home was a few doors down from the centre itself), explored the museum, and wrote a love note to the world with a quill pen in one of their many interactive exhibits. In the gift shop, I picked out some Christmas presents for my literature-loving best friends...and maybe a few trinkets and a journal for myself.
In conversation with the lovely girl behind the counter--all dressed in Regency costume and bearing Austen's character names--I mentioned that I had just celebrated my 40th birthday and was buying a few belated presents for myself as well (yep, that canvas tote bag pictured below is for me!). The girl immediately reached over and grabbed a Jane Austen silhouette pin as a gift!
I decided to have a late lunch in the upstairs Regency Tea Room and chose the Mrs. Dashwood Special: English Breakfast Tea, finger sandwiches, and a fresh scone with butter and raspberry jam. I'm convinced that scones are not scones in the US--these were warm, soft, and delicious! I had a nice exchange of conversation with the waitress, feeling grateful for all of these pleasant interactions I was having.
I didn't know the magic that was still in store...
It had drizzled a bit while I was in the museum. The cobblestone and pavement were freshly wet, though the sun was trying to peek out from beneath some still-grey clouds. I considered calling my friend for a ride, as we had discussed earlier that she could pick me up at the nearby park ("I'm not coming to the museum with you, you nerd," she affectionately teased), especially as I'd had a bit of a hard time with the morning walk to the museum--a reminder that my body is still healing. But I felt like I needed to walk, like I was meant to. So I called upon my angels to give me strength and enjoyed a slow and leisurely stroll through the winding streets to the center of town as I did some more exploring.
I should know by now not to question the soul nudge...
It's these little moments, the quiet pull of the heart, that can change your life--or at least add to it in beautiful ways.
I almost didn't notice him, as the street was fairly busy with shoppers and tourists. But handwritten pieces of paper taped to a vacant shop window caught my eye, and when I stepped closer, I saw that they were poems--"poems about being happy, saving the earth, and falling in love." A young man was sitting in the building's alcove, earphones in and head bent over a notebook. I scanned the poetry and almost kept walking, but something inside me told me to stay, told me to say something...
So I said hello.
I told him that I was a writer, too, and that I really liked his poems and how he's sharing them with the world like this. He introduced himself as Tom and divulged that he had lost his job as a chef when the pandemic hit and had been homeless for a few years. He's getting on his feet again, but poetry is his way of trying to make sense of it all--it's what feeds his hope and belief in better things to come. I understood this down to my core.
We talked for a bit about the beauty of writing. I shared with him that when I was sick and struggling, writing was my outlet, my catharsis, my way of getting what was held inside of me out. He said that, through his poetry, he lets himself imagine, and I nodded, knowing that sentiment. I told him that he was already creating something from it, that what he was doing mattered. I was speaking from my own experience--from everything I've built and created within my own life after so much struggle and challenge and loss and how I could never let it keep me down, how I always believed in something more.
Tom felt like a kindred spirit in this shared time and space, and he left an impact on me. There's so much I appreciated about meeting and having this conversation with him--like we were having a beautiful energy exchange around the saving grace of creativity. He mentioned that he has so many thoughts in his head, writing is when it grows quiet, how he can sort it all out. For me, writing is all about the emotion--it allows me to express the complexity of feeling within me. We smiled and nodded knowingly at each other, both of us understanding.
It was then that I noticed his sign. "Happy Notes £3, Personal Poem £10."
I'm usually cautious about these types of things--especially in heavily touristed areas--because while I lead with my heart, I also have a healthy dose of rationality. But everything about my interaction with Tom felt genuine, and I knew Spirit had guided me here--maybe for both of us, but meeting him was certainly a gift for my soul, a reminder of the connecting force between us all. I've never pulled out a £10 note so fast.
I asked him for a personal poem. His eyes lit up, and he asked me to tell him a little more about myself. I shared with him that I was on a bit of a spiritual journey that had brought me to Bath, that I'd just turned 40, and that I felt like I was going through a rebirth. I said, "Whatever comes to you, whatever's from the heart--no pressure..."
"Give me ten minutes," he responded and started scribbling some notes before turning to a fresh page and beginning.
A few minutes later, he handed me the finished poem in a protective sleeve, and within the first few lines I felt tears prick at the corners of my eyes. The poem was everything. Simple, but pure in intention, it was the story of my life, the story of me. It was a message of hope and encouragement. It was a message for the soul from the soul.
I told him that it meant more to me than he could know, that it was spot on and true, and I thanked him profusely. After some more heart-to-heart conversation, with this little moment's treasure in my hands and memory ingrained in my heart, I wished him all the luck in the world and we said goodbye.
Sometimes strangers aren't strangers at all. Sometimes they are the hope and healing and soul connections we need passing through a life that will change that life. Sometimes we only have to pause, take a moment, and say hello to recognize it.
This is what lights me up--the everyday magic of connection and life. I will always cherish this poem. I will always appreciate the way this stranger seemed to somehow see me. I will always be grateful for this simple, yet profound passing moment.
Current Dog Count: Too Many To Count! 🐾