Is it possible to find any spiritual peace in lockdown London when one lives in a block of flats five floors up? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is yes. As a writer, I am used to being on my own at home most of the day. But it is now two months since I have ventured out even on to the roads surrounding us. The streets and nearby parks are too crowded, the pavements too narrow.
My roof garden has always been a place of sanctuary but in lockdown, it is even more appreciated. High up, the clean, clear air has given our already distant views across London landmarks a new clarity. The cacophony of city living, the hooting horns, the car alarms, and high-speed trains has been dampened. Now the sounds I mostly hear are from the other local residents, the birds and bees, since many of our human neighbours seem to have vanished – off to their second homes presumably.
I have no religious faith but I can now more fully understand the spiritual value that enclosed monks and nuns place on gardening. This year, for obvious reasons, I am growing far more fruit and vegetables than I usually do – or attempting to. I find the routine of tending and watering, morning and evening, enormously soothing. I am loving the company of small birds who never visited me previously. Which is just one of the reasons, dare I say it, I am rather dreading a return to ‘normality’.