Thursday, 16 November 2017

Finding your way

The unstoppable growth of a baby amazes us
It seems to me that a life has a particular purpose for each person and the purpose is to get back home! A bit like a game of rounders or ludo or snakes and ladders, there is an end goal although we often don't see what it is but we are propelled forward by the tempo of the game.  That once teeny tiny  baby who started life in a space ship is propelled forwards by some unstoppable force to become the next stage.  And we are all complicit in the growth game, we hold her up to let her get the feel of her legs, we sing and chat to her, making noises which she begins to replicate.  We, the old grandparents are seen clapping our hands and blowing bubbles, Grandpa wiggles his eyebrows and can't resist just a little tickle.  Communication is life and she responds by smiling and chatting in her own way back at us.  We all feel good and if for any reason one of us doesn't feel so great, we all work hard to get back to good as quick as can be.  She has a sprouting of hair now and several teeth, can sit up on her own, stand and turn and wave spoons about.  Her first birthday is just over a month away and we are astounded at how the time has flown.
So, what do we want for her?  A good life, that is for sure but we also want to equip her with all that she needs to find her way over and round the pitfalls which are bound to come.  She, at the moment is like a little brook rising at the top of a mountain which will find a course down to the sea.  We are probably in sight of the sea and with our friends of the same age are beginning to wave goodbye to pride in our figures, pride in our small talents, pride in our achievements.  We are beginning to get the scent of the sea and funnily enough there is an excitement rather like the excitement you get as you round the last corner on the way to your seaside holiday, a sense that what lies ahead is going to be wonderful.   But just as going on holiday needs you to be equipped with your bathing things, your bucket and spade and maybe nowadays your wetsuit, you need to be equipped with knowledge from those who have taken our sort of journey before, to help you step fearlessly into that forgotten home.  So, we look to the wise who can explain what is needed and have already dipped their toe into that universal ocean.  It is the greatest of all luck to find someone who can shine a light on our questioning and answer our concerns.  
If you have questions too about leaving the limits of your life for something bigger, then come and hear from some marvellous people this Saturday, come to Global Cooperation House (which will surprise you by its hugeness and hospitality) or click on the link for the webcast.  It will be worth your while.  I hope that what I hear will be something I can pass on to our now not so small granddaughter.  Hope to see you there or hope that you will see us via the internet

Friday, 10 November 2017

What we do when you go home!

Even the egg tries a hat on!
Waiting for your return
Do you wonder what we do when you go home?  Of course we are sad to see you go or sad not to see you because you are so far away BUT there are a few things which cheer us up.  First we meditate madly to remind ourselves that we aren't just sad old grandparents.  Then we might go to the cinema to fill the other quieter evenings but apart from that we have a few other jolly ways of sort of reminding ourselves that you were here even though you are now there.  we pick up all the leftover bits, the hats and odd socks and put the hats in places where they can remind us of YOU or you or you or even those who haven't been here for a while.  And of course we talk about you and how well you are and how brilliant of course!  We do a sort of round of the family, a little worry here, a little smile here, a getting out of the diaries and deciding what we will do until you come again.  The one allowable bit of bliss for a pair of grandparents whose children and grandchildren have gone home is to find the odd socks and get them in pairs.  There are still a few odd ones hanging around but if nobody claims them, they will be tossed into the rubbish!

Taliban pumpkin 

Sunday, 5 November 2017


Do you think you are free?  I thought I was free, after all I'm not a client of  HM Prison Service.  I seem to be free to get up when I like, to choose what I will eat, what I will watch, what I will wear and who I will see and what I will say.  Isn't that meant to be freedom?    
Father Laurence Freeman
 But is it real freedom?  After all, mostly what you do and eat and watch and wear and who you see are all part of the identity of YOU the chooser and being the chooser you stamp your own sentence on almost everything.  Of course there is a freedom of sorts in this ability to choose what you do but it is worth watching what happens in your own heart and mind when things cross your chosen identity.  That is when you begin to see if and how you might be trapped in the web of your own creation.  
Sister Jayanti
Take your sense of being right about something, how do you feel when a person disagrees with you?
Take  having completed a task to your own satisfaction or performed what you thought was a good and kind action and nobody notices!  Are you a bit miffed? 
Take someone doing you what you consider to be a wrong, do you understand their point of view?
Take the feeling you get when you have been rejected or rebuffed?  
Are you ever jealous? 
All these things and other feelings knock on the door of our identity and quite often we just shut the door more tightly and shut these things out.  
Do we like these feelings?        NO      But nor do we like to feel threatened in our sense of ourselves.
Jeremy Sinclair
So, how do we start to dissolve the barriers to real freedom?  I am as interested as you because although I am not stuck in a physical prison, I know when I am imprisoned by my idea of me.  
I do know some remarkable people who have the key to freedom and here is an invitation to you to come and hear them and discover more about getting free.  They  will be sharing the sense of freedom which comes from discovering your identity as a universal being.  Come and join me and others on November 18th at Global Cooperation House in Willesden and you may find your own key to freedom is only a little way away, in fact it may just be in your inside pocket!
If you can't actually be with us, you can listen to them on the Brahma Kumaris website 

Register for this event 
BK Mina Karawadra

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sea Changes, She changes, do you see changes?

Grandpa strides into the sea
The sea which is always the same is always changing. That man striding into the sea is always the same but apparently changing too; from a young man on the brink of marriage taking his fiancĂ©e to see the North Sea to a Grandpa of some fine grandchildren, from newly employed to retired. And there is photographic evidence that once upon a time, that Grandpa was a small child and even a baby!  In Suffolk by the sea we visit a young woman who we have known since she was a child.  She has returned again and again to the shingle beach with her own children, naturally instilling in them a love of the great sea and sky, of an uncomplicated life.  She gives me tea while managing the children who range from 16 down to 6, all with different needs.  One needs her artwork looked at, one needs a film put on, one has to move for the film to be screened, one just wants a chocolate biscuit because her new friend next door has preferred her older brother as a playmate!  It was always thus and faint memories of being that mother return and I wonder how I ever managed juggling cups of tea and all the movement which children bring!  I am in awe of motherhood as it takes shape in a young woman with all the qualities needed to bring up a family, some instilled in her own childhood by her own mother, some new ones which we older ones either admire or worry about!  The eyes which are watching this change in their physical way are changing, they need the help of lenses to see the beauty out there, but the inner eye which is always watching, doesn't change in that way.  It simply sees and more and more how very beautiful everything in its proper place is.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

It starts in the Heart

Ronnie attending funeral with friends!
We love our MUM, never mind
the rest of the people we didn't like!
It is the heart where it all starts; where all the feelings which bring about action and movement begin.  Everyone has a store of good heartedness and even a  criminal will probably love  their baby or their mother.  Think of the really bad  Kray twins, Reggie and Ronnie who, having killed, robbed and threatened more people than even they admitted to, adored their mother and used their hidden stash of cash to give her a  magnificent East End funeral  Their hearts were pretty over all black but even they had a little area in there reserved for their mother Violet.  That first love between child and mother, mother and child is a natural start point.  The mother loves the child unconditionally and as the child grows it can extend its area of love as far as it is able.  Some children may extend their natural love through loving friends and teachers, their pets, their dogs, cats and ponies and then they may start to see that there are people in the world in trouble and they may feel moved by this.   Love may, if it is looked after, extend from a particular friend or pet to lots of friends, and all animals.  The only trouble for the heart is when the love gets stopped, when the love for one thing means excluding others.  You can end up loving just the people like you, your own countrymen, your own family and your own friends and instead of love taking you out beyond the limit of the feeling, it closes right down and the heart can get hard patches which allow the one inside the heart to see things in a very partial light and to allow themselves to hate another person.  
love for a dear old dog
Love in old age

This is where you have to work on your heart  to make it cleaner. Just by seeing where and why it closes down and what in your being triggers off the negative reactions you get a chance to clean it up and make it as it was when you started off.  Sometimes it takes something painful to kick start feeling for others.  If you are ill or in pain, you begin to feel for others in pain.  If you lose someone you love, you start to realise what loss is for another person, if something goes wrong, you receive a blow to your own heart, you begin to know what another person might feel.  Thus, it is worth the pain if the end result means your love goes further than the Krays did.  It starts in the heart and ends there too

Monday, 16 October 2017

A magical waking up

Rembrandt painted this
She, my friend,  paints pictures which transport you to the place she painted them, pictures of sky and its changing colours, pictures of places, familiar and loved.  Portraits of people she has met and painted, a few children but mostly people who have caught her artist's eye.  On the wall, they catch our eye and we begin to see the world as she has seen it.  When we look at those pictures we don't feel apart from the painter or the place.  
I wonder to myself if painting and writing are selfish pleasures because in a way so much delight comes from capturing the essence of a thing or a feeling or a person. But selfish or otherwise, capturing a moment for oneself or for another is compelling and as I wake up for the last of our mornings in Amsterdam I feel as if I am in a picture and want to capture it and send it to whoever wants to catch it.

A plaque over a door which
reminded us of our dogs! 
Dawn is later here so when I wake up in our room at the top of the house which has been converted into an hotel, it is still dark.  We sleep with all the curtains open and the windows too because the days have been uncommonly warm for early autumn.  It is like waking up inside an advent calendar, lights in gabled houses across the canal come on here and there and the lights show up the shapes of the houses.  Looking across the very large room which has been a welcome retreat during our days here, the pieces of furniture, the lamps and books on the table and the flowers too are all shapes emerging slowly in the dawn light.  The curtain is going up on the new day's drama for each person waking up.  Some to go to work, some to simply stretch and turn over and dream a little more, some may be happy, some less so but all wake up to this new day.  Waking happens in the heart of each person, we wake up first clear and empty and then moving to the mind and memory and thoughts of who and where we are, we start to imagine what is likely to come next.  

The wise, we have heard, wake up each morning and say: May all be happy, May all be without disease, May all creatures enjoy well-being and none be in misery of any sort.  Wise or not, we join that prayer knowing that everywhere people are waking up and facing whatever lies ahead and there may not be many who have had the chance of 5 days and 4 nights away in a small hotel on the edge of a canal in the heart of old Amsterdam where everything seems magic.

Flowers are nature's painting but irresistible to the painter and this writer in all forms

Getting to grips with what mother means

A medieval Mary with her infant son

Van Gogh paints Mary giving us her son. 

Spending time in Amsterdam with Grandpa, walking round the streets and the galleries, we notice recurrent themes which  play out again and again  and which can be seen in so many paintings and in writings and of course in everyday life. The galleries are often laid out following  the history of a country which could be all countries and shows that there are some things which never change and  which
recur again and again.  Landscapes and seascapes show a constantly changing world. Warships and victories show the ambitions of  nations to have and to hold their position against others, to explore and collect riches from what would become an extension through empire.  Then there are marine paintings of fishermen and their catches, of farmers and their tools and of the rich merchant classes in their magnificent furs and jewels, often the product of the exploration and trade which they pursued. 
A very modern Mary becomes a mother
Faces from the past in their own costumes and settings tell us about their world but also about our own world where if you look carefully, you see the faces repeating only now the clothes may have changed from velvet into denim and wool!  There are mothers in domestic settings, some posing for portraits, some working with their hands in ancient interiors and many depictions of the Mother of God, Mary.  I have picked out two from different centuries because of something universal they share with each other and with all mothers.  It isn't exactly personal and yet it becomes personal when you become a mother.  It pre-exists your mothering in a way although you had a mother and it is the great universal mother love which gets each mother through each day of nursing babies, teaching toddlers, taming teenagers, watching each child become whatever it is going to become, good or bad and then never giving up on them.  It is the energy which compels the mother who goes to work to provide for her child, which compels the mother who has to stay behind when the child is ill, it is that which means that every mother wants the best for her child even if it takes that child miles away.