February 28, 2009
I just need a little less information
Two young men swap notes on their childhoods:
'Did your dad cane you?'
'Never! He possessed a big hard back book on psychology.'
'Must have been great.'
'Not really. He used to smack me around the head with that instead.'
Enjoy the information highway of course. Exhilarating! Computers in schools? We have three for every child! But just remember that information never changed anyone; it's all about what we do with it.
February 26, 2009
A word from your doctor
I don't want to come over as the 'nanny state gone mad!' - but really, why don't people walk more?
Walking cures depression; it cures rage; it cures mad thinking - what's not to like?
Cabinet ministers go mad because they don't walk anywhere. They spend their life hopping from one limousine to another, taking in only a plane and three pronouncements in between.
But then no one else walks either. Instead, they'll wait at a bus stop for ten minutes, for a bus to take them 300 yards down the road. I mean, what's that about?
The body was meant to be used; instead, it just gets bored. It was designed to get tired, ache and breathless; instead, it has to make its own fun, inventing psychological problems. Ah! Attention at last!
I know this is a rant, but please don't walk away. No, on second thoughts, do. Walk away! In fact break into a jog for a while. You'll sleep better. And find yourself surprisingly happy.
February 21, 2009
I have had the honour - and terror! - of being asked to write 2 prayers over the last couple of weeks. One for Darwin's birthday which is too long to post here and the other that I had to speed write this week, for the economic crisis. Apart from writing for ceremonies, when it is an occupational hazard to gather the words for a group, I feel much happier writing from an "I" place than a "we" place. This is a throwback from years of sitting in church ducking the words that were meant to represent how I thought and spoke when a lot of the time they did neither. So, not my preferred way - even if the recession affects all of us, I tentatively post my offering.....
A Psalm of Lament in Times of Economic Crisis
Look O Merciful One, look on our land and hear our cry.
Work-clothes hang untouched in cupboards,
businesses boarded up, "For Sale" signs that never turn "Sold."
Worry like a fog settles over all, robbing our vision;
Loss damply seeps into every news report and every story told.
The rich have not been sent away empty but remain well fed
whilst little open mouths in scratchy nests wait
for job-seeking parents to return.
Our hunger for more lies hollow and wanting
masked by the shrill pursuit of placing blame.
Lead us O Faithful One, take us by the hand.
Lead us all the way down the stem to the quietness
where it all began, long before these times.
Help us to see before it grows over again
for we will never choose to be stripped back or look full face at our fear.
Expose our vanity but do not leave our need unclothed.
Cover us with your loving kindness
for your enough is abundance running over
and there is nothing new under the sun. This too will pass
like the leaf that turns and falls, baring the branch for replenishment.
And in the hiddenness, before the bud,
may we hear afresh the sheer silent invitation
to greet with compassion and gratitude all that meets us each new day
and to trust in the confidence that creates the universe.
February 18, 2009
Solving the mystery
Yesterday, I went to a leaving party for my sub-editor at the Daily Mail. And it was strange in a way, because I didn't know what he, or any of his colleagues, looked like. He's seen my copy; but not me.
So on arrival, I sat in the pub for a while, wondering: 'Which group here is a leaving party?' I couldn't decide; there were a number which fitted the bill. In the end, I had to go round tapping people on the shoulder, and asking: 'Excuse me, but are you the sub-editor's leaving party?'
They generally weren't, and I got a few funny looks along the way; but found my sub in the end, and had a good evening.
Which is all just a long-winded reminder that we don't need to know anything at the start. We will find out - just so long as we're prepared to tap on a few shoulders.
February 17, 2009
..and billows round me roll...
Since Candlemas the village has been snowed in and flooded out. Some folk declare they haven't seen nout like it since young Jack sold his cow for magic beans. We were so grateful for Mr Kipling, fighting off his seasonal attack of fiscal rectitude and using his four by four Shires to pull Dick Thresher over the bridge with supplies of flour and grain from Larkrise. At last I was able bake a ptarmigan croustade and a pigeon pie for Mrs Minchin who was run ragged with the Knights and their demands. It behoves them not well at all and they are as useful as corkscrews at a bone china tea party when they are cooped in by the weather. Their joints rust so easily.
However, brighter days are here and rat and mole are sniffing the air and the fuddling tent is but a dim and distant memory. Sadly Miss Sourdough was buried this Valentine's day. She'd celebrated her 90th birthday in the spring at the Plum and Punnet,and when Nanny Thresher had raised her ale and declared'here's to the next one', Miss Sourdough put her Tio Pepe on the bar and said'No, I don't think so'.
Totty Dribbett did her proud on the organ with a medley from Country Praise Vol 2.
As we feared, Palestine was never going to be an option for Sir P. Risingly-Gullible. He sat at Dover for a week but first it was the storms then the Crusader Lines went into liquidation.
So business is resumed. The schoolmaster and his dog are walking the byways. He had a fall on the ice and turned a peculiar shade of grey. The Grim Reaper and Drab Eileen are planning another of their jolly care days for the older folk. The ratcatcher's mother files toenails as a hobby and Mrs Spittle always comes with a last flagon of her apple juice.
The Rector is seeking a new Churchwarden. Looking round the community it is difficult to see who on earth could be considered suitable. There was to be a gathering this friday in the Mooting Tent. I'll be sharing a turnip dumpling with Feisty Gwen Crutten.
Why I never got further in life
Simon J's deeply painful story of lost love in the park reminded me of a similar canine catastrophe. As the local vicar, I was standing on the street corner, talking to one of our three local councillors - and perhaps the one most antagonistic towards the church.
The sun shone, and we were talking about the environment, when my dog Sydney chose this moment to spoil it. She crouched and delivered in time honoured fashion, as the councillor looked disapprovingly on. I reached quickly for the plastic bag in my pocket, but today it wasn't there.
I always had bags, always. I usually had two or three. But not today.
Thank you dog! Thank you God! Thank you so fuckin' much! I mean, just when you need a break! And why? I'm still asking the question. My career never really recovered...
February 16, 2009
The moment is lost
Walking in the park this morning with my dog. A lovely morning, full of light and the much-missed warmth of the sun. The sun's flirting through the trees... maybe it is, maybe it isn't the first hint of spring. Walking towards me, about 100 yards away, are two attractive 30something women, talking comfortably as they walk. As the distance between us closes, I get ready to smile and maybe even say a friendly "hello" as we pass. At this potentially nice and positive moment, at precisely this moment, my dog squats in the grass at the side of the path, goes glazed and begins to take a dump. I reach for the little black bag in my coat pocket, avoid eye-contact and wade into the grass. Why do dogs have no sense of timing... or is it that they have an excellent sense of comic timing?
February 12, 2009
You are everything I am not
You see in a different way
You hold in a different way
You help in a different way
For that I am deeply grateful
We are separate and yet connected
It is a mystery
That I gladly surrender to
For the beloved once told me this secret
That the angels love to celebrate difference
For they know that a palette containing only one colour
Always limits and denies true possibilities
February 07, 2009
Various unsuccessful conversations
I said to the breeze, 'You should be harsh on the face, and lash it, like the bitter-cold North wind.'
But the breeze said, 'I will be gentle with the face, and make the people chuckle with hope.'
I said to the silk, 'You should be harsh on the skin, rubbing sore, like sand paper.'
But the silk said, I will be gentle with the skin, and make people go 'ooh!' and 'aah!'.
I said to the fire, 'You should roar and rage, like a terible inferno, and make people scream.'
But the fire said, 'I will be gentle with people; flickering light in the dark; orange embers friendly in the cold.'
I said to God, 'Get your fucking act together! Destroy the bad, knock them down, for you are more raging than the sun and smashing crashing waves.'
But God said, 'I will be gentle, always gentle, and bring people to life with a glimpse, a slip, a tug, a hug and a whisper. And I will start with you...
February 05, 2009
Anybody who knows me well, will know I am a fearful being, I scan my environment in order to keep myself safe, I am aware of peoples moods and how these in turn may affect me and I am very quick to remove myself from unsafe situations which you may agree all sounds very sensible, except because this way of being is way beyond any concious memory and has its roots in my little baby body it has a tendency to go into overdrive and prevents me steping out to do the things that I actually want to do.
Over the last few years I have been encouraged by various work supervisors to go to university to gain the academic qualifications for the job I am actually doing now. It has taken me at least three years to get to the stage of actually agreeing.
Anyway last saturday was my first day at uni, I woke with fear overtaking my body, my stomach was queasy, tears were rolling down my face, everything inside me was telling me to run.
I didn't, I went thinking that if I could get the first day over with, it would get better, I managed to survive the first day, (despite more tears on actually approaching the building) how much of me was actually present I really do not know, however the comment from my friend who met me afterwards in the pub as I held my double G&T was " You look shellshocked" Later that day I felt my body continue to stiffen until two days later my back went into spasm actually leaving me 'paralised with fear'
What am I to do? I want to do this course, I know I have the ability and knowledge needed to do this course, yet my body works against me.
At the moment I am parenting myself, My adult self speaks to the child in me
" My Beautiful girl
Come sit close to me
There is nothing for you to fear
Relax, breath deep, stay calm.
Take one step at a time
There are new opportunities ahead of you
And new things to learn
Do not be afraid
There is nothing to hold you back
Hold your head high
And bodly step forward
The journey of 1000 miles
Starts with a single step"
February 03, 2009
Foxed by the city
This bright, glittering snowy morning I watched a fiery-red urban fox grooming her fluffy coat in next door's back garden. She stood out clearly against the snow, completely unafraid. When she'd finished she leapt up onto the back wall and stepped daintily along from garden to garden then up onto the dilapidated snow-covered shed roofs a few houses along. It was like a gift: that rich red colour against the pure white snow, and that wild creature who had made her home in the city.
February 02, 2009
In praise of the Snowdrop
As I am under 75 can I just say "Yippee" for this "weather event". Sadly the South East never gets much snow but I'm grateful for all that we have.
This is my best bit of the year because
a) it is my birthday-time
b) it is Imbolc (festival of emerging)
c) it is feast of my favourite saint - Brigid who is also a goddess (so much to tell but google her. Giver of all good things, poetry, metalwork, fire, water, healing, prophesy, milk and cows, all creatures etc etc) Great stories of this feisty woman in sharp contrast to.....
d) the Judeo-Christian view of childbirth (so dirty, Mary had to be purified from such a nasty messy thing). So boo for Purification but hooray for Candlemas and this women's festival. A little plea to restore to Mary what the church robbed her of.
e) the snow - it should be here but normally isn't so thank you winter. Thank you. This is the best, most purifying winter we've had for years. The snowdrops arrived at the right time for years (the old time) and they mean to me - my birthday, Imbolc, Brigid and Candlemas.
Here is a prayer to celebrate:
Blessed be you Divine Presence
nurturing, generous and milky kind,
yet defiant as the snowdrop in a cold climate,
feisty, pure and natural
with your white singular unbroken focus,
little candles of hope emerging from the wintry dark
petals drawn open revealing the green heart of your renewing love
warming us as we greet all that rises to meet us
in the lengthening of our days.
By the way Mr B - As I'm not the intended recipient for your last mail, I just wanted to say you've forgotten the mother of them all: "With all due respect".........