From 1994 to 1997 I recited compline every night while I was at school. Within compline is a part called the Nunc Dimittis, it’s canticle – a portion of scripture that is recited together. Perhaps it was the sheer number of times I repeated it. Possibly it was the fact that it was so often done in a group. Maybe it was all the years after I left boarding school that I still recited compline to myself before I fell asleep. The canticle became my mantra in hard times. If I needed to steady myself, calm myself, reassure myself, it was what I repeated.
When you become an atheist, that doesn’t work anymore. Slowly, haltingly I found a new canticle. I wrote the most current version myself in August of 2016, during my residency at Roads. The residency was a terrible time and I needed something to wash away the days.
I will do the best I can with what I have, making room for wonder. I will not do it all, but I can do something. I am enough.
It works, after a fashion. It does not have the history or heft of the Nunc Dimittis. I cannot hear the echos of voices I have loved reciting it with me. It is not nothing.
I have recited it to myself constantly over the last few days. J. abruptly, with no explaination stopped speaking to me. We are apparently, over.
If you had a childhood like mine, where your parents elevated the silent treatment to a sort of psychological torture, this is breathtakingly painful. I thought being dumped was bad. Being ghosted after 5 months, by someone who has introduced you to their family, said I love you, held you while you wept for your nephew?
I suppose that’s why I’ve walked around my house crying. Nothing seems to start it, I just notice that tears are falling down my face. Again.
I will do the best I can with what I have, making room for wonder. I will not do it all, but I can do something. I will laugh at the days to come, for I am enough.
I tell myself that when I heard the Nunc the first time in 1994, I could not have imagined the sorrow my life had in store for me. Neither could I have imagined the joy. You don’t get one without the other.
This hurts. It hurts with the sort of pain that I cannot describe. It will take some time, I thought he was something extraordinary.
And then, one day, the day will come and I will laugh.