April 30, 2008
I enjoyed Sheliz description of a 5 year old tearing up a poster headed "the golden rule" because he didn't agree with it. This is a constant urge that I now have usually directed at Christian and business movitational posters, company mission statements and press releases from organisation which have patently failed to do their job but instead claim that "they are dedicated to providing the highest standard of service and are constantly striving...blaa blaa blaa".
Both the 5 year old and I appear to have reached Scott Peck's Stage III (individualist) of spiritual growth (See The Different Drum)at the same time. The only difference between us is that I took over half my life to get there, not just 5 years.
April 28, 2008
a working hypothesis
Shelliz' entry 'The Golden Rule', took me back in time.
She tells of a boy facing the following command on the school wall: 'We must work hard at all times'. And suddenly I was struggling for the similar German phrase, 'Arbeit macht frei', which roughly translated means 'Work shall make you free'. It was the encouragement famously placed at the entrance of Nazi concentration camps like Aushwitz, Dachau, Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen.
It's not that work is bad. Indeed, the discipline of work is entirely good for us. But it only has meaning in as much as there is something beneath it; in as much as we pratice the work beneath the work.
What is that? The work beneath the work, is the work towards self-awareness, and our true selves. This is both our truest work and our hardest work - but if present, gives all other work wonderful meaning. If it is not present, then the work we do is neither good nor bad - just robotic; just unexamined compulsion.
And in the meantime, we will remember GK Chesterton's wise reminder that 'if something is worth doing, it is worth not doing.' No particular work should ever become a god. If a work consumes us, it is only because we don't know who we are.
April 27, 2008
Breaking a 'Golden rule'
A five year old friend of mine came home from school and told his mum that he'd been told off for breaking a 'Golden rule', his mum found out later that he had taken the written form of this rule off the wall and torn it up, when asked why he did this his answer was simple it was because he didn't like it. What was the rule that caused his upset? It was 'We must work hard at all times' personally i admire his balls, how i wish that when i was his age i could have torn up the rules that adults made for me!
Of course children need boundaries, but they also need to understand why they are there and the 'rules' chosen need to be meaningful to the child.
Rules that are made up by adults for children in order to make their own lives easier just don't make any sense and deserve to end up in bits all over the floor!
April 24, 2008
An insane story
Here is a true and recent story from a psychiatric unit.
The eminent consultant was making his ward round. He sat before a patient consulting his notes.
'Now I see that when we met last time, you said you had a penis sticking out of the side of your face.'
'What??' said the mad patient, somewhat disturbed.
The consultant was calmness personified, and kindly repeated his observation:
'When we last met - you said you had a penis growing out of the side of your face.'
The patient then screamed, lost his temper, like mad people do, and ran out of the room.
The consultant sat, a little surprised. He checked his notes again.
'Oh no,' he said, quietly. 'That was someone else.'
He didn't stay to apologise, however.
And so joined the ranks of the insane.
April 20, 2008
Encouraging spring fervour.
The Knights returned a week hence. Mrs Minchin the cook was sprawled over a platter of Salmonella and that's the end of rich pickings for the villagers for a while. Is it me, or are Crusades much shorter than they used to be?
Probably due to the late March winds, the village postman has died. He was a good age, whatever that means, but increasingly frail inspite of Coco Pops and water for his breakfast. He managed to alienate all his family, and as that is one third of the village I wonder how many of us there will be at the graveside. He'll be buried near the primrose bank, a sunny site with a view over the valley to the castle. He owes me three guineas for his shopping, which always included apple pies and treacle tarts.
We have had our annual Parish Meeting. Mr.Scutsman spoke with eloquence on the new allotments and we were shown 'amusing' pictures of rear ends tending their turnips and tatties. I was glad to see that Mrs. Scutsman was not present to see her behind displayed at an unflattering angle for a considerable time.
The evenings are lighter and I have a mind for a little darning before I damp down the fire. There's some groat and roadkill soup on the hob for my neighbour Miss Betsy who has had a sorry few days on her goose feather quilt. I am sure the promised warmer days will do us all a power of good, and she is bound to be fit for the W.I. trip to Fingles Cave on Tuesday.
You came as a friend in disguise
A sheep in wolf's clothing
I did not choose to let you in
But you forced open the door
you scared me
I didn't want to look into your face
I denied you
I struggled with you
I became a Woman of Sorrows
And cried for a very long time
But you did not leave me
Eventually I embraced you
And allowed you to lead me
Through the present sadness
To the dead and buried places of the past
You handed me keys of locked tombs
Where the rotting corpses still held sway
You showed me it was time to bury the dead
There was no haste in your manner
The clock stopped ticking
But safe in this 'no time land'
Somehow I did what I needed to do
And now when I breath deep
The air is clean and lifegiving
It came as quite a surprise when I realised that
I no longer feel you as separate from myself
I don't quite know when that change happened
But it enables me to respond and balance myself more quickly
Whenever your presence feels uncomfortable
You truely are my friend and I trust your judgement.
April 18, 2008
I recently told the story of concentration camp victims having to return to the scene of the crime after the war - for themselves. They needed to see the hell no longer existed - that it was over, finished, done. Then perhaps they could get on with their lives.
This prompted one woman to reflect back on her childhood as a concentration camp. Father was the commandant who had the pick of the children. Mother was the assistant who ensured orders were carried out. Yet his wasn't a concentration camp people were taken to. Rather, it was one they were born into, and told all the time it was 'Love'.
This is a hard camp to leave in later life, especially when the commandant and assistant deny everything. Holocaust denyers make recovery all the harder. We all need a witness sometimes - to say how things were. So let me be a witness for this brave and wonderful woman, as she steps out. Let me be a witness to what she endured day after day, year after year, in the concentration camp outsiders called her 'Family Life'.
It was so. But is no longer so.
April 17, 2008
The Happy Fly
What do you call a Fly with no wings?
It's one of my favourite jokes. It may appear to be a joke to slit your wrists to, but it isn't that at all. I'm just back from leading a retreat, and have been reminded that often people need to lose their imagined wings; need to be shocked back into walking - in order to learn happiness all over again.
They had been taught unhappiness at a young age, and called it 'flying' from then on. But of course this was always nonsense. It was just a mad buzzing.
My feeling is that if we so-called flies, can get back to walking, then the sky's the limit.
April 13, 2008
The Beautiful Life Retreat.
Having just come back from the 'The Beautiful Life Retreat'I would like to fully agree with Kate's comments on Mr P's Book and also take this opportunity to say thankyou to those of you who do comment on this blog, i always find it helpful to listen to others voices.
And so now, back to the retreat which for me was a truely wonderful gift and a place to listen to others as well as to sit with myself. I felt priviliged to observe the gradual break down of personalities and watched in awe as truth became stronger and bolder as the essence of people emerged.
The bravery and honesty of those who travelled alongside me was refreshing and exciting. The power within each being, the willingness to explore the painful places in our search for healing and wholeness was uplifting. The truth that we each have the abiltity and resources inside to find out what we need to know to be 'A Beautiful Life' in this world.
I salute each and everyone of the scrambling, searching, sacred seventeen. The journey continues............
April 11, 2008
More or less
I recognise the condition of being 'overwound' - certainly it is an inevitable consequence of our current lifestyles. Can anything be done? At the risk of sounding doom-laden, maybe the consequences of climate change will help solve this one for us, though I guess not comfortably.
I remember a winter's evening in the 80's, in my digs in Bethnal Green shared with two other similarly impecunious young men. There was some cooking going on, using the electric cooker, and then there was a power cut - no light, no heat, no telly, nothing. "What do we do now," one flatmate cried, "Zen meditation?"
I suppose since then the powers that be have been doing their utmost to prevent further power cuts. But for how much longer will this be feasible, I wonder? Today's front page quotes an eminent NASA climate scientist saying that current targets for reducing emissions need to be drastically revised "if humanity wishes the state of the planet to remain anywhere near what it was when civilisation first developed". Now I know I'm peculiarly thick when it comes to matters political and economic, but can someone tell me why on earth doesn't the government start rationing electricity use somehow? Or will survival depend on some kind of mass voluntary simplicity taking place on a global scale, which would seem about as likely as a reincarnation of St Francis of Assisi being elected as world president?
Is it our collective addiction to artificial energy that is at the root of the problem? If so, what's at the root of that? Certainly we're expected to kow-tow to the great gods Economic Growth and Consumer Confidence, by wanting more, more things, more experiences, by turning night into day, by all kinds of escape, geographical, virtual, chemical. Anything, it seems, rather than just inhabiting this little present moment, which would mean facing the poverty of our selves.
Pascal wrote something to the effect that all our unhappiness stems from our inability to remain sitting quietly in our own room. What could any government do about that?
April 10, 2008
Glen and the News
In the office, there was the usual chat developing. Mortgages, the country going to the dogs and ways to make more money are the regular topics.
I find these conversations hard to be around as they are a flow of negativity coming from those who are frustrated and looking to blame someone. They start angry and end angry with no hope of resolution at any point.
I decided to move on out into the corridor to see what I could encounter there. I came across Glenn. He was looking for someone to make him some tea and was pleased to know that I could facilitate that.
He had watched the news that day and found out that a particular royal was unwell in hospital. This matter preoccupied him with suspicion.
'He's gone in there to change his identity with the FBI. The queen has never been seen pregnant. Just look at his eyes and the fishes will come'.
The thing with delusions is that it seems we keep the majority of them to ourselves. There are times though when an occasional one may slip out and be voiced. Exposure. Whether it be to yourself or others around you. Glen was impatient then to get his tea and move on.
I gave Glen his tea and went to sit down on one of the chairs with my toast.
'You shouldn't eat that, it will make your hair curly. Can I have a light?'
April 08, 2008
Why is it that when I am on my own I find it hard to stop and relax? "There is so much to be done" cries my conscience. When my other half is around there is the tempting prospect of a cuddle on the sofa, the pleasure of sharing a glass of wine, or simply the joy of laughing together at a rubbish TV show. Even then we sometimes have to prod the other. "Is it time to stop yet?".
It seems God overwound my clock. Any suggestions on how to have a bit less tick tock in my life?
April 07, 2008
The sun has brought the birds out this morning as the snow sidles off the roofs and ledges. I have been out with my birch broom and cleared a path to the gate, stopping only to heap a crystal pile of it on my Clematis grown from a seed plucked in the Dalai Lama's Tibetan garden, a longer walk than I am accustomed to. The W.I. are renowned for their tuesday trips.
I have a mind to venture up to the big house. Several of the Knights are away on a Crusade this week. Who knows what they'll bring back this time. The hankies, almonds and oranges were an immediate success but I'm not sure that algebra ever caught on. However, Mrs Minchin the cook may still be providing for the full table and there's a chance of a devilled kidney or two lurking beneath a silver salver, and maybe a random side of venison, scarcely touched, in the pantry. There are families here who can't remember the last time they had venison. Since a fancy young cook passed through and reminded folk that rabbit was just dandy, they've been flying off the shelves at the village store faster than you can say 'taste the difference'. Poachers can't keep up with the demand.
Trevor the slaughterer passed through last month. He's no more attractive now than when he used to pose in the nude for Miss Parvis' art class in the goat barn. I saw him at the bar in the Scaffolders' Arms. Sir Cum-Stantial had popped in for a sweet Sherry.
"Ah, what do you do, my man, pray?"he asked.
"I shoo's 'orses" replied Trevor, spitting into the sawdust.
"A farrier eh?"
"No", snapped Treveor, "I shoo's 'em".
Sir Cum-Stantial retired to the saloon bar with his schooner.
April 06, 2008
The Laughing Angel
I have a laughing Angel inside me
She watches out of my eyes
And finds people so funny.
She often notices their contradictions
And sometimes i get cross with her
When she points out mine,
But when i do
She laughs so much
That it is contagious
And i have to start laughing too.
April 04, 2008
I once had a friend who was a bit scared of computers so I helped her learn how to do one or two things for work using Word. She got really good at tables and stuff but had never really got to grips with the internet, not having access at home or work. Texting was her thing. A few months ago I got her internet connection set up at home. At first it was a bit of shock especially when the computer decided to hibernate. Isn't that something hedgehogs do? she exclaimed. When she finally got onto the computer having pushed her teenage daughters out the house, she bravely entered the world of the internet.
Well I can declare she is now a true digital convert. She googles things and wonders what life was like before the internet. And would you believe it she even blogs. You know who you are!
I on the other hand grew up writing basic programmes on the BBC computer. Apparently I am a digital native. That's probably why I am sitting here on a Friday evening with nothing better to do that log on.
April 01, 2008
April Fool - hah, hah, hah!
Could all amusing hoaxes, japes and wheezes please be done by Midday.
That's the rules, apparently.
After that, you are the fool, and they're just not funny.
So similar, in a way, to before midday.