A photo per day for July (Part II)

Closer to Heaven.

A couple of things to note about today’s post. Firstly, this was the image I was initially going to run with for yesterday’s collaboration with Richard Guest, but restrictions applied to Lost & Found, and this image just didn’t work in monochrome.

Secondly, this is the first in a week of Pet Shop Boys-themed photos (thanks again to Richard, following his Prince and Bowie themes), hence the title. (Actually, it could just as easily have been Somewhere, but Closer to Heaven – a track from their Noghtlife album, and the title of their 2001 musical production – suited the image better.)

There is more to the image and title, if I am honest. Before I continue, I should stress that I am in no way religious, and I want to take that out of the equation. I guess I have always been spiritual, but, for me at least, there is a big difference between religion, the church and spirituality. I think there are too many coincidences in the world for there to be nothing whatsoever guiding us, but I do not believe that the guiding hand is owned by some omnipotent being or beings, a god or gods from the multitude of religious persuasions from around the world.

I have been to see two tarot readers in my life and, while the majority of the things they came up with did not register with me, there were always one or two things that struck home. When I last went around seven or eight years ago, I was told that, while I was not a firm believer in that kind of thing, by the time I reached 42, I would see more, and become more spiritual. Eighteen months away from that deadline and, while I am not throwing my keys into the pot, I have found more and more that I need there to be something, I don’t know, just something more.

As you may have read in my Glastonbury blog a few weeks ago, there is something unerringly calming and centering about the town (or, to be more specific, the Well, Abbey, Tor and Wearyall Hill). These are places of quiet, still and solitude, and allow you to thing about the rights and wrongs in the world, and your own life, and I genuinely believe that Glastonbury is a place where you can start again, – not necessarily become reborn, but at least clear the slate slightly.

The first place I ever actually ‘felt’ religion was during my time in Italy back in 2001. During the month I spent there, I visited a number of places. I did the touristy sites – Florence, Pisa, Venice – but the place that moved me the most was Assisi. The Basilica there, where Saint Francis is purported to be buried, truly oozes religion. When you descend into the crypt, for your silent walk around the tomb, the air is almost palpable with spirituality, and you can sense it all around you. Glastonbury for me has the same sense, although on a much lesser scale.

In recent weeks, I have found a third place where the sense of calm and belief takes over. The small churchyard that sits alongside Athlumney Castle in Navan is peaceful and quiet and, what adds to the air of solitude is the fact the that church is a ruin in its own graveyard. It is a haven for peace, and when I visited the town for work a few weeks ago and happened across the church, I spent a good 40mins or so there, just sitting and contemplating. (The image above, by the way, is the main gate into the graveyard.)

I’m currently trying my hand with Spirit Guide cards – picking out a positive affirmation at random on a daily basis, to set you up for the hours ahead. I’m not sure if it’s something that will work long-term, but I’m at the stage where I need to try something, and I’m pretty open minded as to what that might be. I’m tried meditating – my other half is very into his spiritual side (he reads tarot himself, and has been meditation for years) – but I only started giving it a go a few weeks ago. We’ve got a couple of guided meditations, but the chap who ‘narrates’ them is from the south west of England, and the Cornish accent can be a little off-putting. Having said that, I tried a different one the other day and that worked really well (I say really well – I went off to sleep pretty quickly, lying on the thick carpet in the back room, but that might have had as much to do with the fact the the head cold I’ve been harbouring for the last month has finally come to fruition, and my body’s making up for lost time!), so it is definitely one I will try again.

Coming back to the photo, then, and Lost & Found would have been perfectly apt for it. I feel that I am lost somewhat at the moment. There is something that I need to find, but I am not totally sure what it is that I am actually searching for. Having said that, Closer to Heaven is just as apt, it’s just that the heaven is not your traditional vision with white fluffy clouds and plump cherubs with golden bows. There is a ‘heaven’ there for me, there is a place of calm and solitude, there is something that I need to draw my focus on, but I just need some sort of help to find it.



  1. the ‘calm’ in glastonbury may be just the haze of marajhuana floating over the town but i felt proper ‘lifted’ when we went there. much love

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