Note: This is NOT a religious post.

I planned to spend the whole weekend indoors learning about a particular EU insurance directive called Solvency II. Not from an accounting background, I knew it was going to be a struggle.

My jogging buddy texted and asked me, in the midst of all this, to go out to grab some Chinese food with him, seeing that it’s still officially Chinese New Year. “Come on, celebrate your roots,” he cajoled.

We stopped by at Westminster Abbey on the way to the Chinatown, arriving just as the 12 noon Mass started. The priest had just begun his sermon. He said he had just returned from Lourdes, where he was attending a meeting of Pilgrimage Directors. And whilst he was in Lourdes, he bumped into a nun who was window-shopping. He stopped and had a chat with her, and realised that she was Sister Bernadette Moriau.

Sister Bernadette has been recognised as the 70th miracle of Lourdes.

Sister Bernadette was a nun who had “nothing” in the eyes of the world. She was living in poverty. She was a poor nun, no family, no property and she didn’t have her health either. She was first diagnosed with her condition aged 27, had undergone four operations on her spinal column between 1968 and 1975 and was declared a full invalid in 1980. She had to take morphine everyday for a painful condition and needed a brace for her twisted foot and a wheelchair to get around.

But her faith and the richness of her spiritual life gave her courage to bear her life with hope. And one day, she just walked.

The priest said that when we talk about poverty, we often think of material poverty – people who cannot afford what they need to live. But there is also poverty of the emotions, couples in loveless relationships and children born into loveless homes, where on the outside, everything looked shiny and wonderful.

Living in the bustling capital, I see much of these internal poverty – successful people with empty eyes, seeking the connection, yearning for completion. And only last weekend, my mother told me to look for inner beauty.

Find it in music, for instance, she had said, and when Gloria In Excelsis Deo was sung today, I felt that beauty she spoke of deep in me.

Later, we went to Chinatown and there was much celebration in the streets, with laughter, chatter and street buskers filling the air. And then a Hare Krishna troupe walked by, chanting and singing, and my jogging buddy with beautiful voice joined them with a huge smile on his face, singing his heart out.

Afterwards, there was soulful music coming from the lone pianist in Canary Wharf’s underground station, where an old piano had been left.

So though poverty of the soul can be debilitating, leaving many broken relationships and hurting hearts in its wake, we can fill that gap with meaningful things and by allowing the abundance into our lives without fear. Love the world you live in. Ti si prekrasna x

Main photo: some unusual baby apples I plucked on my walks and cooked last autumn.