I could see Jubilee Tower in the distance, high up on the Darwen Moors, and I intuitively felt drawn to asking Ell if she wanted to go for a mini-adventure with me "up tha Tower".
So, we put on our walking gear and off we went in search of the tower, turkey sandwiches and tea and a marriage proposal tucked into a rucksack.
The walk was very much like a pilgrimage for me at times. It was a winter wonderland, beautiful icicles hung from rock faces. I imagined Mum walking with Dad on the mountains; he always said that it gave him a sense of freedom, and in those moments, everything was okay.
I kept looking for the opportune moment. Do I ask her while we're eating lunch? Is that the most romantic thing to do? What about as we look out from the top of the Tower (in gale force winds? Nah). Or how about while we're slip-sliding down the path back towards the town? Each time I thought I'd found The Moment, I became paralyzed with fear, the voice inside my head telling me I'd messed up.
I prayed for guidance.
Doing this was important to me - after all, I only have a certain number of days left to live life fully - and this was an area where the ego still had a hold over me. This experiment means taking steps in every area of my life, and especially those areas that frighten me.
So, I made a conscious decision to face my fear, no matter how dark or scary. I have been afraid at different times in my life to let love in, and this stems from a childhood history which was littered with abuse - mental, physical and emotional - some of which involved women. I grew up feeling unsafe and unloved, and preferred to keep women at arm's length.
In the egos world this makes perfect sense, and it has done a terrific job in protecting me ever since. According to the ego's interpretation, I have every reason to want to get away and claim my space. But the truth is that although this may have worked back then, today calls for something different, something radical.
I had always believed that if I could overcome the fear of asking Ell to marry me then everything would be okay.
I would no longer have to live with the fear of being trapped, believing that I am inadequate, half a man, fear of committing to a long-term relationship, worrying that I will become a violent monster and lose myself; that I would become an empty shell - fear of fear itself.
So there I was, standing in an empty playground will Ell in front of me, paralyzed with fear. In my experience, it's better to expose these things so that they can be seen for what they are - nothing. So that's exactly what I did. I shared with Ell that I believe I am a coward, and asked for help in correcting that belief. Then, I took a deep breath, and in that exact moment, I felt Dad's presence standing behind me saying the words "you can do it lad".
That's when I cupped her face in my hands and asked her to marry me. Unfortunately my hands were covering her ears because of the size of the gloves I was wearing. I had spent all these years avoiding this moment, and finally when I plucked up the courage, she couldn't even hear me say it and had to lip read!
Fortunately, she must have heard something because she said YES.
' Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not that your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship.' ACIM
Now I'm really shitting myself, but that's for another blog...