I took a walk to Yeldall Manor on Saturday. It was the open day for the Re-hab and I wanted to catch up with ex-residents and staff. So I did my usual and jumped on a train to the quiet little village of Twyford. Once there I grabbed a mocha and chilled outside the station watching the Hooray Henry’s gathering for the next train to the Henley regatta. It was an interesting distraction but not one that I wanted to dwell too long on so I didn’t loiter.
I walked through the village and stopped off to pick up a cold can of energy drink for the journey and then got going. It usually takes me just under an hour to walk from the station to the Manor and I’ve learnt to use some of that time to take stock, reflect on where I’m at and see the changes that have happened since I last took this walk. It’s turned into a special time for me and as much as possible I invite God into this time and ask Him to walk by my side.
As I walk I’m obviously reminded of the many other times I’ve walked this route in the last two years and so begins the growing appreciation of just how far I’ve come. I recall the frightened broken man that I was when I first ventured out from the re-hab on a four hour objective. I can almost feel the fear and the desperate need to know that I had at least some sort of control on how my afternoon was going to pan out. Obviously I didn’t have a smart phone then with it’s hours of music to soothe my panic and distract my mind.
I think about the times during that lovely hot summer when to get out of the Manor was to escape from the rigid structure of rules and regulations and just be free for a while. The fear was slowly giving way to a growing belief in myself although I was hyper aware of nearly every car that passed and I was still stuck in a mindset that had everyone else rating my every action. Those walks were becoming more and more enjoyable as my need to control my time out was lessening.
Then I consider the walks I’ve taken to the Manor since leaving the safe bubble of living on site. The times I’ve gone back to visit or have a quick session with my counsellor. With my earphones playing a range of music and my mind playing a range of scrambled thoughts. Each time feeling a little bit more space in my head, a little bit less concern about everyone else’s view of me and a little bit more peace. Still falling into old thought patterns and fears but recognising them quicker and stepping out of them with a growing ease.
It’s a walk that ends with a final long stretch through an avenue of redwoods that probably could tell their own story of the many men that have taken this particular path to freedom at Yeldall Manor. I am but one of hundreds given this opportunity. I am one of the fortunate men that have been able to grasp this elusive thing we call recovery and the gift of freedom and peace it offers. I have grasped it and continue to work to keep hold of it so that I can continue this pleasant walk.