A bright-eyed, beaming Brigit asks the group who would like to go on a hike in the Surrey Hills to connect with nature and meditate? I would. I do not hesitate to ask who else is going nor do I stop to think what might be required, the next thing I know it’s 08:30am and I’m in Waterloo with five strangers about to board a train out of London. Thirty minutes in and our phones are switched off and we are discussing psychological techniques to understand our thoughts, the positive benefits of affirmations and wondering if we have enough food.
We arrive in Chilsworth and set off for Ranmore Common. It’s crazy from the get go. I am ridiculously unfit and struggle up the steep hill. It’s embarrassing as I’m lagging behind, holding the group up but who gives a fudge covered hot dog anyway as I’m there, I’m doing it and I’m feeling good. At the incredibly beautiful summit we sit, refresh and do some breathing exercises before discussing our thoughts on self-awareness.
Brigit guides the group effortly and it is clear that she is here to help. We are each on different paths, at differing points of our journey and conversation is never egotistical but always real and honest.
We have an exercise to do, we must forgive someone for a deed that has harmed us and is holding us back. We must write a letter to that person and let go. At first I am not sure what this means or why I should forgive anyone I harbour resentment to when I am not ready but Brigit explains that we must let go of what no longer served us. I’m pretty pissed, the very thought of someone angers me and I’m sitting crossed legged on a beautiful hill thinking of them … I tell Brigit I’m not sure I can. The group listen to my story and it is just that, a story, words I tell myself, an excuse. I sit quietly and I guess it really is time to let something go.
As I write I start to cry. Normally I’d want to be alone but there is something special happening up here with these strangers that makes me feel oddly secure. I finish my letter and something shifts. It’s all a story really, one moved along by emotions. I choose not to react negatively, I choose not to harbour resentment and pain; I choose to live a more positive and fulfilling life and the people around me at the top of a hill do too.
Feeling lighter we walk on toward the River Wey and rest again some several miles later. We wade across a shallow stream barefoot and find a picnic spot in a field full of cows. It is calm and peaceful. I am happy. I look out across the rolling hills, the same view Alfred the Great once admired and I simply be me. Out of the group I am the only one British born and I am glad to offer any historical information I may hold about the creation of England. Our conversation deepens as we discuss angels. Together we are: orthodox Christian, lapsed Catholic, deity worshipping Indian, two Muslims and Spiritual Being. All our respective religions talk of the presence of Angels yet us young professionals find it difficult to accept the existence of them. As we are talking a small white feather falls from the birdless sunny sky down and we watch and laugh at the absence of coincidence.
It is time to go home. Enriched, inspired and ready for more learning, we hug each other goodbye with heartfelt love and gratitude.