On the 31st of March 1855, 157 years ago from this year of 2012, the sombre, resilient and wondrous soul of Charlotte Bronte left this earth and parted forth into 'the silent country'. I think of every one who made up the Bronte family and wonder at their strength of courage after each slow torturous death of another that made up their dear and loving home. It was a harrowing time in history when disease was as expected and as well-known as 'long life' and health is for us today. But through all the grief and despair, it is the bonding of a compelling passion that tied the three remaining Bronte sisters together, whose lives never fail to give me hope, move me or inspire me.
In late summer two years ago, I travelled with my family up to Yorkshire. I had never been there before and was intrigued to see the country for myself. Although York was breath-taking I could not prepare myself for the change that I would undertake in my self after I had been to Haworth.
It took us a long while to find the hidden secretive town which was like some forlorn jaded jewel left, unwonted in the bleaching twigs of a nest made hurriedly and then forgotten.
When we finally found it, we arrived at the bottom of the main cobbled street that led up to the peak of the town and then onto the abysmal moor. Scattered along the sides were quaint old shops selling fascinating things. When I reached the top, I found a small alley way leading up again. I took it and beside me loomed up out of the dust the impressive Gothic church. And there in front of me, was the Bronte's home. Their front windows looking directly out onto the graveyard stippled with yellowing-green graves, some bent, some erect, but all honouring the lives of bones past lived.
When I came out of the Bronte's home after more than an hour inside, I was silent and pensive. There was a light drizzle hanging in the air, and the afternoon had become dusky and was almost tinged with a light yellowness as the sun moved mysteriously behind the padded clouds. My head was full of heavy facts and truths, my eyes dumbed to the scene before me, only alive in my head, and in my chest there was a phantom twinging. I thirsted for more, I wanted something more of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte Emily and Anne, that no other tourist had ever had. I told myself that I was never a tourist but a sister, if ever I could be one.
Then we walked on the moor, the bells of bright startling heather moved in the wind. I remember a lonely man walking up by the heaths and that his chivalrous Jack Russell had seemed to want to quarrel with my sister and I. I looked out to a distant lake down in the low lands and breathed in the cool chilling Yorkshire air. I told my sister of the ache within me, she said she felt the same but then she was only a child and truth would have prevailed a few more years.
I broke off a sprig of heather to treasure and preserve for as long as I could.
We had to leave, everyone else was waiting. I ran down the hillside and climbed into the back of the land-rover then we drove on through the moor, back out.
There, looking out of the window I clutched the brown paper bag on the floor and began writing. I had to let something out of me else I was afraid I would suffocate in my own wonder. I kept my eyes fixed on the Howarth church steeple as we drove further and further away. It stood out amongst the dismal scene like a beacon of hope, marking that special place in all the country and the world that once 'insignificant' Parson's daughters had lived, breathed and felt the earth of sweet childhood and fathoming love within their souls, there, home.
As life's clock ticks by here and I find myself growing older with each passing day, I can't help but see the differences in who I am and have become and those closest to me. Perhaps I have flown on further or perhaps have been left behind in the swell of life.
One thing I have realised is that we 'go along' despite anything, and I see now before my very eyes that the pure innocence of sisterhood intertwined in childhood has almost been out-grown. I wish that for every loud and rash remark or judgement, a gentle and quiet assurance was known.
People pass through and over my own pathway. They may stay at my side for a while and then turn left, or perhaps turn back or race ahead and I am left alone once again. Some may judge, some accuse, but some also may be kind and while not everyone can understand me, at least some can love.
I still have the sprig of heather from the moor, and it is still as beautiful and vibrant as it was on that day. I still have poems and scripts of them. But the most significant of all, is not the material objects that we poor humans try to clasp onto, but instead the mind to understand and the hope of meeting them in glory one day. Where we all shall be one, none more important than the other.
A lasting Beauty that will endure forever, in a signet of fellowship.
And you shall know and understand, finally, with us.
'And it is because they were true humans with true honest feelings, with true hearts and true minds, and yet they were angels, mortal characters with immortal eyes; for they saw and loved and gave, all in the name of sister-hood.'- Joanna Grace 'Lasting Beauty' 24/8/2010