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The Cyrus moment

Newsletter: December 2016

Dear Web friends

I write on the cusp of a new year, with its attendant fears and excitement; and at the end of an old one, with its mess, confusion… and glory.

I don’t want to forget the glory. I’ve heard many saying ‘I won’t be sad to see the back of 2016’... and they each have their reasons. But I don’t find it helpful to demonise the years. They tend to be speckled in my experience, light and dark, cruel and kind, difficult and delightful… very like me in fact.

And to dismiss them, in disdain, weariness or frustration, is a dismissal of our selves and our lived experience. So instead, whether in my looking back or looking forward, I’ll ponder the ‘Cyrus moment’.

I first heard the phrase from Professor Mark Williams, who has written so well about mindfulness. And it describes a moment when something outside our tradition or set of assumptions becomes an important new truth.

Why Cyrus?

The reference is from Isaiah 45, when the prophet announces to the Israelites that freedom will be achieved through ‘the anointed Cyrus’.


It was the Jewish kings who were the anointed ones; while Cyrus was a Persian monarch. So what could he possibly bring to the party?

His was neither a voice they’d consider listening to nor an authority they believed valid. He was the enemy.

But the message of Isaiah was simple: someone outside your cherished circle of beliefs and assumptions (yes, even a Persian) will lead you to freedom.

So here’s to staying open to the Cyrus moments, lest I become stupid in my certainties and small interpretations.

At times, we all hunker down behind our barricades of likes and dislikes, with our oft-repeated litanies of how the world should be, with our feted goodies and dark-painted baddies in tow.

But sometimes freedom lies beyond the barricades… with a Persian, no less.

And I think that’s enough. Come the New Year, I’ll be writing more about my new historical novel, The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and Her Lover. Its launch date is 20 February at Sarum bookshop in Salisbury. I’m speaking at 6.30pm in the evening. It would be lovely to see you.

But that’s not for now.

For now, there is only you and the magnificent mess and glory that is your life, as one year tiptoes towards the door… and another stands knocking outside.

May unbidden angels appear through the mist and surprise you.

With very best wishes


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