I am the real thing behind these eyes
These bright blue eyes
Widening in delight at this stellar world
Made new right now, and now, and now.
I will not name you, or place you in a box,
I will watch you slip and slide through every moment
Making no sense, just falling apart,
Weak with laughter.
NOTHING lasts. Everything comes
And goes, like weather, or tides.
What is there to do, but
Realise my debt to life and
Trade sorrow for joy?
When I preach the gospel to the crucified people I meet on the streets, I hold hands and say little beyond, “Know who you really are. Infinitely loved, infinitely precious.” Nothing else matters, truth be told.
I used to believe that to be “Saved” was to hand yourself over into the care of a deity, who would then make sure everything worked out for you, especially after you died. I am so glad that I never, as far as I know, convinced anyone. It simple didn't occur to me to realise that a cosmos in which the vast majority of conscious beings ( a much more satisfactory term than 'human' beings) were condemned to hell fire, made absolutely no sense at all. In fact, at no time, ever, did I actually believe this, much less pass it on. The mystery I still call God, simply wouldn't do such a thing, and I know this, or I know nothing.
I used to joke about that: knowing nothing, I mean, though I didn't really believe it. I was proud of my achievements: overcoming a set of fairly minor obstacles to become a reasonably successful professional became my identity. My story.
One day, I was telling my story, when I woke up. It was that sudden. Somehow, possibly out of sheer boredom, that who I really am flooded into Being, and I stopped.
I don't tell the old stories any more. I am just here, experiencing a raw, splendid and joyous existence,, so vivid, so different from the pedestrian me tied to the past, trying to make a future … The Kingdom of Heaven is how one teacher out it, is here, now and within.
Well, yes, I'm still grumpy, selfish and unreasonable, still capable of monumental foolishness. This too, is who I really am. Infinitely loved, infinitely precious. Not the stories I tell about myself. Just me.
This post was prompted nt Dr David Parrish's book: “Enlightenment Made East: Discovering The Obvious” It's free with Kindle! Which makes it amazing value
Dear Mark Harper,
There follows a statement put out by War On Want that crystallises my
concerns about the TTIP trade agreement.
I have been following the debate in the U.S. for well over a year, so
was alerted to the secrecy surrounding the agreement, the lack of any
kind of public scrutiny, and the power TTIP gives to American
Corporations, which is particularly scary, as they have an appalling
record with regard to issues such as workers’ rights, and the
protection of the environment. Bearing in mind that U.S. corporations
have the same rights under American law as individual citizens, I find
that giving them the right to sue the UK over any environmental, health
and safety , or employment legislation, enacted to protect UK citizens,
It does seem rather ironic that, when we are about to embark on a
referendum over sovereignty, that the loss of sovereignty that TTIP
will invoke is not under scrutiny. Frankly, if staying in the EU
involves signing up to this trade deal, I will vote for leaving, a
position I never thought to take.
What I am seeking reassurance about in particular is:Will the TTIP
agreement be able to be used by foreign nationals to challenge and
change operating practices within the UK, particularly those relating
to the NHS and workers’ conditions of employment? Is the loss of ‘one
million jobs’ a possibility, however remote?
What is your take on the secrecy surrounding the TTIP negotiations? Do
you believe this secrecy works to the advantage or disadvantage of
Will there be any opportunity at all for opposition to TTIP to be
effectively voiced and acted upon within and outside Parliament?
In conclusion, here’s the piece put out by “War On Want” that alerted
me to the fact that the grave concerns of those of us working with
vulnerable communities, have crossed the Atlantic:
“When cancer patient Paul Giles heard that the EU-US trade deal known
as TTIP might affect health services in the UK, he travelled to
Brussels to find out more. But Paul’s questions were met with silence.
That’s because the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP) is being negotiated behind closed doors. In fact, the EU has
confirmed that all key documents relating to the agreement will remain
closed to the public for 30 years. But why all the secrecy?
Governments and big business are relying on lack of public awareness in
order to rush through TTIP and seal the deal without too much
resistance. But what are they afraid of? They know there would be an
outcry if people knew what was in store.
If TTIP goes ahead it will cost at least one million jobs. It will pave
the way for the introduction of genetically modified food into Europe.
It will irreversibly extend the privatisation of key public services
such as the NHS. And it will give US corporations the power to sue the
UK and other states for loss of profits when these governments
introduce public policies designed to protect their citizens. ”
I can think of a million reasons to be sad,
And I honour them all:
The suffering of innocents
The agony of the guilty
The death throes of this poisoned world.
(Yes! You HAVE to face it!)
There doesn't seem a lot of point to it all, to be frank.
I could stop. Right there, except …
Something rises up in me
Something light, and infectious
Like laughter, only, without sound.
Like joy, but somehow deeper,
If you know what I mean.
I shall, therefore, gallop through this day
With a smile.
A pointless, foolish,
Summer rain in thick, sharp bursts,
Punctuates an uneventful afternoon –
For me that is –
Because, as this world turns, the place where I was a moment ago
Is desert, and weeping.
Do not you think, that even on this ordinary day,
My heart forbears to swell with gratitude: You see,
I am content, and my life
Is a merry dance …
I am SO glad it’s over! Fortunately British politics is always about pink or pale blue shades of centralism, so I am hopeful that there won’t be too much to worry about over the next five years, I suppose you could say I got neither what I wanted, nor what I feared, and that’s a result.
I do wonder though, if there might be a better way of doing things. If our nation is in such dire financial trouble, why can’t we have a government of national unity? Or at least a government that leaves polemic and division to one side for a bit, and works to draw idealogical opponents together to work for the interests of everyone?
Last Wednesday, I went to the cinema in Gloucester with Carol. As I walked down Southgate Street towards the Cross I heard shouting. It was Samantha having a very public row with Vince over – something – that she clearly felt was unfair. Later I met Robbie, who was drunk, and Robin who was sore from a beating, and I stopped – to hug Sam and calm her and remind her of her worth, to commiserate with Robin, to make sure Robbie knew where he was …
To me this work, as a Missioner, is a joy and a privilege. It’s me doing what I love with people I love.
Yesterday I went to a BBQ with friends and family from Church. These are people I love too, whose life experiences are so different from my street friends. Something in me wants to battle with them, to force them to understand the impact of austerity on the vulnerable who are beyond being able to cope. I could feel the old class war begin to break out, but something different happened. I listened, I got off my high- horse and I let these friends tell their stories too.
No great conclusions here, but for me, a bit of a change of heart. I’m not going to metaphoricalky shout slogans over a class wall. I’m going to carry on bringing the two sides together in myself and reconcile in me whar I want reconciled in politics.
Don’t know when I first realised that mathematics is a foreign country to me – but I suspect it was around the time I gave up on Long Division. If there ever was an answer to prayer, and concrete evidence of the existence of God, it is the invention of the calculator and the death of Long Division. True.
I remember getting a Detention in school way back in 1966, for not knowing my nine times table. (I know it NOW … ) Fair cop, Mr Robinson, I WAS fifteen.
I had to do serious maths to pursue my interest in science, and the night I measured, correctly, the distance between the Earth and the Moon with two pieces of stick and a set of log tables, I decided that I would never say I was no good at maths ever again. Nevertheless, my relationship with numbers leaves me at ease with mystery, which serves my spiritual life very well indeed.
It's a few years since I completed The Open University 'Creative Writing ' course, amd I only mention it now because I learned one or two useful tips that I am happy to pass on:
1. Writing is seriously hard work, and I'm too idle to make a career of it.
2. Poets NEVER make any money unless they're REALLY good.
This looks on the surface like bad news, but, curiously enough, it wasn't. Having learned that writing is never going to make me rich or famous, I relaxed and began writing just for the fun of it. I DO enjoy reaching into my cerebral cortex, having a bit of a rummage, and popping down on the screen what I find there.
Well there's a thought. As soon as I became aware of my thinking, it stopped happening. No, hang on, here comes a walk in an Alpine meadow in Romania and the discovery of a grass crown. That was something I can tell you, a grass crown being the highest award to a Roman general. Who made it? Weaving and plaiting an intricate and beautiful artifact with such enormous historical significance then just leaving it there – a gift to an English woman who knew it's significance. I left it too: some objects are too sacred to own,
And here I go again, hanging upside down on a fairground ride convinced I'm about to fall out of it and die. I'm sixteen and beside me is William The First, who later became known as The Bastard, but it was oh so long ago, and I did so much more with my life than he did, so we'll call it quits.
Finally, because I can go on like this all day, here I am drinking a glass of Three Choirs 'May Hill' white wine and eating a fish pie we made together. My daughter Kate and I, last Thursday, enjoying a few special hours together, just because they were there.
Fairgrouds, meadows and fish pie: some inconsequential things out of this one beautiful life, the living of which is such a glorious adventure.
Lucky eh? I should say so.
Don't you be sorry for me though, all I have is a lingering cold, which has kept me confined to quarters for a few days.
I am extraordinarily fortunate to be able to do this. Midday, sitting up in bed, a virtual pile of books to devour, some great music to listen to, a few games to play … All on my iPad, which I came close to giving a name to, once. I shall muse on it. '”Boswell” might fit the bill …
Well, Bos, do your duty. This Blog was started for my friends (such as are interested, I thank you) and my family as a true-ish record of my life which I fondly imagine my descendents scouring with interest when I am gone.
No, really, I only have a COLD. My interest in my own mortality is prompted by my recent study of Buddhist practice, where the reality of impermanence is much to the fore. And a good thing too.
I shall remain a Catholic, if they'll have me, because I rather like ritual, and I love the people. I would almost certainly love Buddhists too, but there aren't any around here.
I was listening to a Dharma talk by Jack Kornfield the other day, and he, a GREAT story-teller recalled being contacted by Cosmopolitan (or Time, I forget) for hints on, “How to make New Year's Resolutions More Permanent”. To which he replied, gently, “Buddhists aren't really into permanence.”
Besides, and I am thinking of my former denomination-skipping activities here, the real truth lies within you. Jesus and The Buddah both taught this. Sit still, hold the silence, quieten your mind, open your heart and you will find your own truth, descendants, that's what I say.
I have been listening to the debate over chilhood vaccination prompted in the US by the re-emergence of measles in Disneyland, of all places.
I'm four years old. I'm in a isolation hospital, which is now, thank God, a superior housing development, and I am in a coma.
My parents are desperate. My mother climbed onto the old bridge over the River Severn. She wanted to jump.
I recovered. Recovery was so rare, the doctors called it a miracle. I had a cerebral heamorrhage precipitated by whooping cough. I remember it. My earlist memories were of coughing fit to burst until something did burst, a vessel in my brain. I recovered, but with a limp, and I had seizures for years afterwards. I remember waking up from them, ravenous, and my father and mother, so relieved, so glad to have me back, willing to go out in the middle of the night to get me anything I wanted.
My best friend and constant playmate, in those earliest years, was Gary, the boy next door. One bright summer's day we fished for tiddlers and plashed unheedingly in the stream behind the shops at Matson. I remember the sun on the water, our laughter …
Three days later, Gary couldn't come out to play. Three weeks later he was dead. I know where he is buried, in the churchyard at St Katherine's, Matson. For years afterwards I would go and sit beside his grave and chat to him. His tiny memorial, ' From Friends and Neighbours' has long since vanished, as has the bent yew tree under which he was buried.
“Polio” My parents whispered, so glad it wasn't me, so sad for Agnes and Brian, going through the agony of losing a child.
Thirty years ago I had to think about having my daughters vaccinated. It was a tough decision, really it was, but because I remembered, I hardly hesitated.
I feel for parents of babies today who have to weigh the possibilities and choose for their own children.
Talk to people who remember the terrible days when babies and young children:- their friends, brothers, class-mates, cousins – died of vaccine-preventable deseases. And listen. We're better than the internet, because we were there.