After several stifling months, the heat has been turned off in my apartment, and indeed across most of the city. Naturally, it snowed the day they did it. The new chill in this bleak apartment invites loneliness, as do the grubby Soviet-era walls; when before it was present around the edges, now I am in a conscious confrontation with the spectre of loneliness. So there are three things that I do to defend myself:
1. I wrap myself in the warm blankets of friendship, which were sent to me by post. One is made of squares of old jumpers in cream and brown and grey, patched and sewn together. The other is Scottish wool. Together, they are as nearly heart-warming as the hug of the friends who sent them.
2. I make a cup of Whittard's tea in the small red teapot from my mother. There are psychological benefits in this that know no bounds.
3. I read/write/listen to the plethora of good music that I was sent on my birthday. Currently, I am reading a commentary on the book of Ruth, The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton, and Anthony Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds. (My tastes were ever eclectic, and more so now that the range to choose from is limited!) Among other things, I'm listening to the music of a group called Page CXVI. As for writing - well, it's like grinding teeth - in fact, it is literally grinding teeth - but I am trying to write in my journal most days; partly so the experiences and sensations of my days aren't lost in the fog of my grainy memory, and also in an effort to break through the mental and emotional writing block that I've been experiencing since I got here.
It's interesting - as the weeks have melted into months, I am beginning to pray more regularly, easily, and intimately; the rigours of loneliness and the challenges of everyday living cause me to throw myself more readily into conversation with God. Supplication, thanksgiving, repentance, expressions of joy; I lean more heavily on my Maker, and he gladly hears and supplies what I lack, and more besides. One day, when you have time and we are catching up over a good Melbourne coffee, I shall tell you of the abundance in which he has provided for me.