Valerian of Abbenza

🙁 Oh, unfortunately nobody has helped us to tell Valerian’s story yet. Could that be you?

In the meantime, here’s a poem I wrote about my own experience of sensory disintegration following a trip to the supermarket a few years ago.

Violent sounds breaking stir
Ears; lights, dazzling, blur;
Scents nauseate;

Points of proprioception jangle.
As a method of defence:

Set adrift
From physical
Reality’s planes.

The heart’s drum
Beats as I become

Suddenly detached,
By anxiety,
From supermarket’s shared experience.

Each person
Passing slices into
The pulsating,

Disparate, snow of drenched
Senses, now stretched
Cuboid in the space around

Me. Aching muscles clenched,

Crushing my husband’s hand, seeking a point
Of real, entrenched

Daunted, stepping forward, I tense
Always expecting danger.

Retreating, I recoil
Into well etched
Spaces: castles in the midst

Of formless mind.
To the world unsigned

I spiral through membranes,
Away from words; away from shape; towards a coloured ground.

Whose patterns, depth and richness infer

By turns stabilising
My sense of existence within a world,
Newly coiffed

With people, who
Drift as mist’s ghostly furls
Around the petrified life-form, tracing

A route
Through these aisles. Guided, childlike,
By the firm hand of the one who,

With practised eye and bruised hand reviews

Her, recognising her need
For protection, as senses swirl

And temper frays. Fear rises and she who knew,
At the day’s beginning, how to be a deft
Part of society

Flounders; passing through
Darkened glass – keeping her separate
From others.

Humanity fumbles after definition;
Its nature cannot be communication,
Nor even relationship,

If she remains
Part of the species, in this condition.
Exhausted by pounding,

She relishes sharp,
Fresh air, as she ambles recklessly
Towards the safety

Of the car. Driving
Home, a passenger,
She is shaken, battered

By each lump and bump
Pock-marking the road. Eyes closed against
Sunlight, bright in the crisp, clear sky.

Once more, arms tensed
The swerving pull,

Provoked by corners, winding
Through the forest.

She waits, longing

After stillness;
Hoping home is waiting;

Her to make it
To the place where comforting
And restoration embrace.



On this day, lift before God:

  • all who are struggling with sensory overload or sensory disintegration.
  • all occupational therapists and carers working to regulate and reintegrate the sensory experiences of others.
  • all whose sensory processing allows them to bring new discoveries about our world to light.
  • all whose sensory processing lies at the heart of their artistic and musical gifts.


About Rev'd Lynsayhttps://revdlynsay.wordpress.comA priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .

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