Alan had packed his case and was walking to his car after a five-day retreat.
He was an anxious soul, who found a fresh worry for every minute, mainly in self-recrimination.
He could not allow a peaceful present moment – his past denied him that.
‘How can I be peaceful with the way I’ve behaved?’
And off went his anxious mind again.
Though a strange calm had overtaken him as the days went by, as if he had somehow arrived home at last, to a place of safety and – dare I say it? – love.
‘My life does feel held,’ he said towards the end. ‘Very strange! I mean, I don’t believe in God or anything!’
And his smile, which reached his eyes for the first time, echoed this.
But as he walks towards the car, on the final morning, he says to me, ‘Oh well, back to reality, Simon!’
I say, ‘No, Alan – this is reality. It’s your anxiety which is the phoney. Who was it who convinced you reality was bad?’
What if a sense of peace, or freedom, or safety, or stillness or wonder – what if they are the truest reality?
If we all went ‘back to reality’ today, I suspect we’d be one happy bunch of people.