Saturday, 31 March 2018

Easter Message for Sophie,Lottie, Lala,Max, Sebastian,Grace, Willa,Archie,Isla, Benji and baby Bea

3 and 4
1 and 2

Number 6
The reason I write a blog is to put words in the great space which doesn't need a book or a letter, to leave you a feeling for what Easter might really be about and why it is so important.   Looking for meaning  is a sort of Easter Egg hunt where you you have to look for the sweet reward. Imagine two centuries ago what it must have been like if you thought you had got rid of the nuisance threatening your belief system, you had persuaded all the people to vote and shout for Jesus, an innocent man to be crucified just because he threatened to expose the false idea of human beings  being separate from God.  Imagine how those who thought they had disposed of his influence at the point of his death panicked when the power of his dying caused the veil of the temple to tear smack down the middle.  Imagine how they had to try and mend the great hole which had torn into their very identity as a good religious persons, leaders of a community.  Imagine too the panic they must have felt when  after the tearing of the veil, although they had employed security guards to keep people away from the place Jesus body had been put, when they had blocked up the tomb where his body was laid, they heard that, in the night, the security services hadn't even noticed when the huge stone had been rolled away and the body had somehow escaped from its bindings and left a heap of white cloths behind.  I bet those security guards got the sack!  
8 and 9
You may not hear so much of the story of Jesus as we did because somehow, the story and all that goes with it has been largely left to grannies and grandpas to preserve as best they can until more people need to hear it.  It is usually when  lives are under threat, when there is a war or we are ill or things have gone wrong that we look for someone to make sense of what we are apparently going through.  Jesus' story is both what he taught and what happened to him.  People interpret it differently and some people don't even think about interpreting it at all especially if they haven't even heard it.  Some people think it is a bit of history and no longer relevant. 
But what is relevant about it is this....2018 years ago which is a drop in the ocean of time, a teacher who knew What really was Truth was born, lived and was then killed (but then wasn't really killed, that's the thing) because he had told everyone who could hear it that God was in them and they were in God and that they wouldn't actually die. That message was what threw the switches of everyone who had said that God was elsewhere not everywhere.  He, Jesus showed that he could pick up his body at will and he did so to come back and tell the people who would listen that they were more spirit than body and  that spirit lives on even when the body doesn't.  Now that is the real message in the Easter Egg and that is the message worth finding out about even if you are now 16,13,10,9,8,6,5,3 or only just one year old.  I think you only really find it out when you have exhausted everything else!  So, if that happens, you will find that words like mine are floating about in the great space and they will always come to help you. Actually you may not need the words, you may find it just by yourself by becoming still.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Every Donkey has its day

Lovely lady in blue
I had heard that long long ago we donkeys were very important players in the old stories.  We carried Mary, the mother of Jesus to Bethlehem and then carried Him into Jerusalem where he was to die.  My mother told me these stories just as all donkey mothers have always told their donkey children but I hadn't imagined in my wildest dreams that I might be playing a part in this story!  Today I found out that donkeys are still central to the story of the Man who came to wake people up to the Truth of who they are and whose story still does.

A basket full of crosses
My keeper with a shovel!
Singing to Nelson

This morning I woke up in Hackney in the city farm expecting a normal Sunday with children coming to visit and giving me a few more carrots than than I get on a week day when into my stall came my normal keeper with a brush and he set about smartening my tangled fur.  Next, into the City Farm transport and we set off.  I have no idea where I am going, none at all but at 10.00 am, we arrive and all of a rush, my keepers get me out and I find myself in the middle of London in Trafalgar Square.  A woman in a long cloak comes to greet us, she is a bit worried that we may be late.  Late for what I think.  In Trafalgar Square there are literally thousands (apparently 10,000) of people of every age and size and shape and colour with multi coloured tops and all of them have trainers on.  I am wearing my normal shoes and I wonder if I am to join them?  But no, my job is to accompany the other lot, the nice lady holding a cross, the lady in the black cloak and quite a number of people in red and white.  I have two baskets tied onto a strap round my middle which have small paper crosses in them.  We set off, right through the  multi coloured trainer wearing people who seem pleased to see me and we go right through the middle of them and right through the middle of Trafalgar Square, people kindly moving to let us pass.  We are joined by a band with trumpets and drums and we stop beside Admiralty Arch.  I notice that the red and white people are singers and out of their red and white long robes, they produce coffee cups for a quick swig before we set off back across the Square.  The runners stop, the red and white people who are the choir, sing hymns, the lovely lady in blue with the cross leads us across the Square where even the people waiting to run pause to let us pass.  The runners run onward, we stop and sing again before arriving at the huge Church which is at the top of the Square.  Before I get back into my special transport, I am invited into the Church where I walk steadily up towards the front.  The Church is called St Martin-in-the-Fields and is called after a Saint who gave his cloak to a man who needed it.  It is full of people who watch me for a bit before I have to leave.  It was a different sort of day for me but for this morning I was a most important donkey and donkeys for years to come will wish that they could do this too.
Following the red and white people across Trafalgar Square

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Going backwards towards the future

Chester Station
We take the train up to Cheshire where both of us were born and were children and teenagers.  We lived there until we joined the stream of young drawn to London for training and trying out a touch of independent living.  Some stayed, we both did; some returned and continued their lives there, either bringing home new wives met in London or marrying local girls.  We girls, mostly met our future life partners in London and settled there or perhaps in Suffolk or Warwickshire, Oxford or Cambridgeshire, Scotland and Wales.  But looking out of the window of the train as we travel up for the funeral of a fine family friend, we feel the welcome familiarity of the lay out of fields, a rich landscape where Cheshire cows crop the thick grass precursors to what we will enjoy as thick rich  cream and Cheshire cheeses.  As we get off the train at Chester where we are met by an old and most dear friend, one who did return and marry and bring up her family there. We can almost feel or do we imagine what it was like when we were met there by our fathers who have been dead for over 20 years now,  they, still young or as young as we are now, are somehow palpable in our memories now tuned back in to our growing up place.  Of course, it isn't the exactly the same and the cars and the shops and the road layout have all evolved into what we recognise as 2018 but driving along the Chester Road, there are still those deep red sandstone houses and rolling fields which were there when we were driven along to ballet or horse riding or later on to parties at Mollington Banastre, Craxton Wood and the Devon Doorway, tentative teenagers suddenly waking up to romance and meeting boys!  
We are here for a funeral and there are familiar faces, familiar backs of heads in the Church in front of us.  The funeral is for a lady of 96, not so many left of that age so most of those attending are our age and above.  We are handed a card as we go in to record our attendance but we get the feeling that perhaps the undertaker is offering future services to all of us!  We search amongst those in the congregation in front of us for some of our old dance partners!   There are a few there and we have fun chatting to them afterwards about our children and theirs and our grandchildren and theirs.  There are daughters, grandchildren, cousins too, it is their mother and aunt who we are remembering affectionately.  We find that there are 4 of us who went to primary school together, one of them is daughter to the lady being remembered.  She lives in Scotland so returning to Cheshire is the same mixture of thoughts and emotions that it is for us.  We are so pleased to see one another.  It is a chance to remember, literally re form in our minds, that old life, the parents and their aspirations, their lives, shaped by war service and return from the war.  The life shaping what created them was the foundation of the way they brought up families, did charitable works and lived alongside one another, cousins, aunts, friends, all hoping that it would always be peaceful and that life would continue in a kindly trajectory for all of us.  Of course, there are changes in the way we go about things, and changes again in the way our families live, but there is a link which can't be denied and which is as palpable but invisible as the feeling of our fathers being there at Chester Station.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt! says who

None of these allowed
If you have ever had the thought that you wished this oh too too solid flesh would melt a bit, join me! For sure, once you reach the great and honourable age which I am about to reach, along with the years, the oh too too solid flesh also gets added on around the parts of you that used to slip into jeans and bathing costumes, not to mention bikinis.  And it takes more than an hour of meditation every day to take it off.  You wonder why I mention meditation as a way of taking off the pounds which have accrued to your person and you think I must be dotty to even mention meditation alongside weight loss but hey, in my newspaper today, it is claimed that meditation will vastly improve your sex life!  Now, in my very reasonable thinking, meditation is meant to lessen desires, to elevate you to the heights of almost bodiless bliss and not to add impetus to the parts of your life more concerned with sensual pleasure!  
So, here are Grandpa and I meditating away each day and also during Lent, going without crisps, chocolates and alcohol and we should be shedding both the too too solid flesh as well as the things which tie us to it.  But, let me tell you that it takes time to both reduce the body as well as its desires and having added 10,000 steps a day into the wine, chocolate and crisp free existence, the oh too too solid flesh is melting rather slowly.

None of this either

Monday, 12 March 2018

A little about Ruth and a good life

Her name was Ruth.  She died today and she was ready to go.  Let me try to paint a word picture of this woman who was Swiss by birth but found herself, a child, living in Germany at the outbreak of war.  Her older sister was sent home to Switzerland but she, her mother and a younger sister remained whilst her father, a master baker was conscripted into the German army to bake bread for the troops.  They were left living without him just on the border with Russia and that was not an easy place to be.  First Russian troops crossing and pushing lives around in front of them, no care for the women and children trying to find a way to live, trying to find where their father was and if they could just get out and go back to Switzerland, join back up as a family.  The Russian troops weren't kind especially to her mother and to her aunt and that pushed these women to flee them.  Pulling her mother who was weak and ill on a sledge, with her younger sister, Ruth found the way to a repatriation centre and miraculously their father found them there, he had followed their trail. 

She told me all this story some years ago, we had become friends, we shared the same birth date.  This was only the start of her story because she came to England, found work and found a School for adults interested in what were the causes of the fortunes of men and what was behind it all.  She took up meditation and practiced it regularly.  Did she think she was good at it?  Probably not but she was a woman of discipline and she believed it was a good thing.  I think it must have served her well because in the last years of her life she was always bright and cheerful even when unable to do much.

She had a nice home, she had a car, she had friends and everyday she called her two sisters in Switzerland.  First one sister died, then the other developed dementia.  Ruth became disorientated, her sight and hearing began to let her down.  She could no longer drive, no longer study or read and eventually moved from her flat with a few favourite pictures and books to a residential home.  Her friends began to dwindle away for the same reasons, losing independence and some of them dying but there was the good man Bart with a gentle voice and utterly kind who visited her each week, saw to it that the staff looked after her, saw to it that she was supplied with what she needed and read to her from books which meant a lot to her, books of Wisdom and Comfort.  I visited her some months ago and found her resigned and calm, always polite to the nurses and still so nice to me who she probably no longer recognised.  There were plans to move her to a nursing home, she wasn't keen so when we heard that her heart had stopped, we felt that she had made her way to her own home and how well deserved that home is.

There are probably more unsung heroines who braved out times of difficulty and forged a life to be proud of.  It is worth finding out as much as you can about them while they are still around. Their legacy is their steadfastness and courage and kindness.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

A long line of mothers going backwards and forwards.

My grandmother and my father (left)
my grandparents
We hear people arriving for early Church from the Church Cottage bedroom and we zoom out of our pyjamas and brush our hair and whizz out just in time!  The Church is where Grandpa's mother married his father in 1938, so 80 years ago.  We have the photographs; photographs of that time, with the male guests dressed in top hats and their ladies in flowery hats and furs.  The bride is so young, 21 which seems so young today and the bridegroom, with his own aeroplane, so dashing and the one gazing at the other.  The poor bride was taken on honeymoon in the small aeroplane by her dashing husband and was promptly sick into his boots.  She was a mother within a year and then it wasn't long until the war broke out and time together was limited by his postings.  Another baby, Grandpa arrives, the war ends and life goes on.  
Your great grandfather. the dashing groom
The Bride
On Mother's day we think of all mothers, especially the ones who mothered us and who aren't around any longer.  We think of new mothers as well and are amazed at how extraordinary all mothering is.  Mother is the word which arrives with the child and we get to pin that word to our heart for all the years of mothering and with it we get the package which contains all the love and patience needed until the child grows up and grows beyond us and then we pass the word on to the next generation of mothers.  We have just been one in a line of mothers and we honour all those, behind and in front of us and wish them all well.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Taking small steps!

walking with babies and children

Thanks to those kind people who have sponsored me already to walk the 10,000 steps.  March is the beginning of the challenge and March is tomorrow.  I need sponsors to shame me into making sure that I do those steps.  You can be one if you follow THIS LINK.

Rising from my accustomed idleness towards the goal of 10,000 steps, I find (thanks Rachel) that there is an app with a heart which tells me how many footsteps I have taken each day.  About 4000 does the dog walk once, 2000 is round the house and up and down the stairs and then there are the very teeny tiny small steps I take attached to the once teeny tiny now nearly walking baby who is back for a short stay because her mother has the flu.  I realise that meditation is not physical exercise and nor is tapping away on the computer and that both those non-activity activities haven't prepared me for doubling my daily walk.  Even if I take very small steps on the dog walk, it doesn't add much so I realise I just have to double the effort.
Walking round and round the kitchen with the about to be walking baby gets easier as she gets taller because I don't have to lean over so far.  It is a most interesting thing watching a baby grow up.  We are excited by each new step, thrilled when she pulls herself up but then realise that shortly all the kitchen cupboards will need to be made Bea proof.  I am thinking as I walk round the kitchen and up and down the hall with those small fingers tightly gripping mine that before long, she will be off, she will be walking around by herself.  And then she will be walking out of the front door attached to a hand and eventually she will be out of that door, will have passed her driving test and be waving us all goodbye as she takes 
off to University and then into life and perhaps off to foreign lands.  When you are in the midst of rice cakes and broken nights you can't imagine the day when that baby who seemed to actually belong to you, has taken her or himself off into his or her own life.  It is partly a triumph and partly a rather sad part of being a mother or grandmother.