The page begins with an excerpt from Jeanette’s memoir: Finding Treasure Eyeland.

finding treasure eyelid coverThe stories I tell have no deep significance. They are gossamer tales, as light as wisps of clouds drifting in the breeze on a summer’s day. They are like life – totally unimportant and yet full of juice for those whose Heart knows how to drink. Fairy tales were never intended to improve your mind or help you in any way at all. The best you can do for a human child or a little nut tree is never to help, or try to improve, but simply to enjoy the pleasure of their company. For of what use is a silver nutmeg or a child but for the sake of the joy they bring? My stories are therefore simply for my own entertainment.

I have always lived in two worlds: the busy prosaic life lived by adults, which they mostly didn’t appear to enjoy, to which it seemed I was expected to conform, and in which I was often miserable. And then there was my secret life, the truly magical golden life of my childhood, the thread of which somehow still remains unbroken to this day. Amazingly so, for it seems that the process of growing up places us relentlessly and inevitably under a spell behind prison bars of defining mind, erasing the secret child life of innocence and the experience of being immersed in nature and being at one with all things.

I loved, amongst other things, stories, fields of tall grass in which I could hide, waterfalls, flowers and fairy tales, and the swirling coloured lights which appeared by magic on my bedroom ceiling at night. Especially I loved the stars and the vast expanse of the sky. My mother said it was infinite; that meant it went on for ever. I tried to imagine what infinite was like. One day I borrowed the grooved copper stair rods from the staircase to make a continuous track for rolling marbles along. I wanted to make them go up and down hill without stopping. I didn’t believe my mother when she came back from shopping and said that it was impossible, for I knew that for ever was real.

I was brought up in the Catholic faith. By fourteen I was a devout, untidy, somewhat distracted schoolgirl, living with my grandmother in the midlands of England. My parents had recently moved from Leicester to live in my father’s childhood city of Edinburgh. I had had a few difficulties in adjusting to the harsher regime of Scottish schools and had been sent back to live in Leicester.

Above all things I loved to read. Stories were magical, more akin to my inner knowing and they filled my Heart. I could not get enough of this real world of the imagination. I would read under the desk at school, under the blankets with a torch in bed at night, on top of the bus and often missing my bus stop, anywhere I could escape from the constant need of grownups to be busy. My love of stories was on a par with my love of Jesus, and I was often drawn to sit dreaming in the quiet of an empty church, where I was allowed to be still.

incident in treasure eyeland
Photo: K Ellis Model Bus Zone

I was on my way home one day from one of these occasions. I had attended benediction at the old Dominican church in the town. It had remained unfinished from the war, the back wall bricked up with ugly red bricks, yet to me it was beautiful. I loved the chanting, the heavy odour of the incense, the swirl of the white and black robes, the cool grey stones of the walls, the mystical feeling. I was full of loving reverence for the sacred body of Jesus, this little round white wafer exposed on the altar, the embroidered altar cloths, the glittering gold frame of the monstrance, the delicate spring flowers, all shining in the glow from row after row of lighted wax candles.

Afterwards I sat upstairs in my favourite place, on the left-hand side of the familiar Leicester bus, going home to my grandmother’s for tea and to do my homework. In a split second, without any warning, without any process, a veil fell away and my world was different, and the knowledge was irrevocable. I knew absolutely without any doubt that everything was the same. The distinction between sacred and secular did not exist, was an invention of the mind. There was no difference between the bread on the altar that became the body of Jesus, and the red Rexene of the bus seat in front of my eyes. Everything was precious, everything was loved. I reached out and traced the red plastic with my fingers, wonderingly. I spent the next days exploring everything in the same gentle, curious way; the yellow and green leaves on the tidy privet hedges that lined my grandmother’s street, my feet on the solid pavement, the soft fabric of my clothes, the food I tasted. And at night I went out flying over the rooftops, exploring this luminous world. Nobody else seemed to know this open secret about everything, yet it was unquestionably true. The axis of my world had shifted forever and the fabric of conditioned life had begun to dissolve.

As well as Finding Treasure Eyeland, Jeanette has written The Song of Rahu.


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