Saturday, 31 December 2016

May The Universe Treat You Kindly

Once more The Two Faced God Janus is imposing his implacable will upon us, pointing his cosmic finger forward, propelling us through the doors of time whether we are ready or not.   there's no avoiding his imperative, his command is non elective, 2017 is upon us and he will prevail.   

After sixty five new year's eves the speed with which a year passes still leaves me breathless and unprepared, unsettled that another year of a finite life is slipping into history never to be retrieved.   what happened in 2016 stays in 2016, the salutory and the injurious.  not a single regretted instance or word can be revoked, it's all there preserved as if in amber, as are the more noble moments though if i were to be honest the former probably outweigh the latter.

2016 has been a year of losses and gains just like every year experienced by us mortals.   only the gods can declare a door opens onto joy without pain, only Janus controls beginnings without endings, and Janus is a concept not a representation of reality.   humanity has to accept that we have short lives into which sun will shine, rain must fall, and in between will be rainbows promising hope for a better tomorrow.

Would you indulge me as i wish all my family and  friends a Blessed New Year.   may those who believe feel God more closely through the next 365 days, during the good times and the bad.  for the secular i hope the universe treats you kindly and balances the fates.   for you all....   THANK YOU for your love and care, your support and kindness, above all for your friendship as these rare treasures are the only things we carry with us from one year to the next.

A thousand ages in thy sight 
are like an evening gone; 
short as the watch that ends the night 
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, 
bears all its sons away; 
they fly, forgotten, as a dream 
dies at the opening day.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Two Thousand Years Of Wrong

It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heav’n’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

  1. Yet with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
    Beneath the angel strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
    And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love-song which they bring;
    Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife
    And hear the angels sing.

Many misconceptions, endless assumptions, too many cultural misrepresentations, masses of historical ambiguities peppered with nebulous presumptions.... that's one definition of the origins of Christmas.   it's also a description of the reign of the dinosaurs.   when we are uncertain of the past we have a tendency to fill it with our own experiences and expectations (whoever knew dinosaurs had feathers not scales?  we were taught they were simply giant lizards.)  it's this tendency that makes us human not raptor..... and that we prefer our turkey cooked not raw.

Does it matter that this Christ-mas we celebrate is full of uncertainty and ambivalence?  that the few facts we do know have been as fancifully embellished as King Arthur and Camelot?   deconstruct a traditional Christmas card and you will find very little that doesn't owe it's genesis to a large dollop of imagination and early European art.

Does it matter that the rare historical certainties we do have are brushed aside because of their darkness?   a child born homeless in an enemy occupied territory, the mass killing of baby boys by a paranoid tyrant afraid of losing his power, a family fleeing for their lives to a strange country and culture doesn't make for a pretty scene on the mantelpiece does it?  a little too close to our world's current reality perhaps?   so yes.... it does matter because in prettifying the nativity we strip it of it's humanity and create a myth that challenges nothing and nobody.   but.... if in the boy Jesus we see the face of a displaced refugee, the desolate chill of a slum child, the stigma of illegitimacy, the precarity of homelessness then maybe we would be compelled to act and that's not comfortable when compared with a snowy scene of baby barnyard  animals and an infant who "no crying makes".

So no matter how, or if, you celebrate.  whether you are alone or surrounded by merriment, honour God Incarnate  or Santa, are blessed with plenty or struggling with deficit, perhaps it would be worthwhile taking time to remember that not much has changed in two thousand years and the only hope of transforming our world lies with each one of us embarking on revolution in our homes, work places, friendships, a revolution of forgiveness and love.   we can't undo two thousand years of wrong but we can commit to a year of doing better.   then perhaps we would find the true meaning of a Season Of Goodwill To All Men.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lion or Lamb?

There she sat, a tiny lady snugged in a shawl with her silky, silver hair neatly permed, paper fine skin  creased at the corner of her eyes, a humbug sucking, Catherine Cookson reading, sweet as cherry pie great, great grandmother.   i had been visiting regularly for quite some time when i realised she never spoke of friends past or present.   assuming it was because  advanced age had stolen company away by attrition i was hesitant to say anything.... until Christmas came around. apart from immediate family there were no cards, no phone calls, no visits, no gifts, nothing from the families of old friends, her universe was empty.

Intrigued i began asking gentle questions about her life when younger and knowing she had lived in the same small village all her life dropped in the names of people i was meeting as a newcomer.   the mystery was solved in one enlightening conversation that went something like this;
"I met Wilhelmina for the first time today."

"Don't speak to me about that woman, don't ever mention her name in this house again.  she doesn't exist to me, if i pass her in the street i turn my face to the wall."

"I'm sorry i didn't know.  what happened ?".... looong pause

".......i don't remember."

"When did you fall out?"


This conversation was repeated when i mentioned Gladys, Gertrude, George, Henrietta, Henry and on and on and on......

The irony was that Wilhelmina and Henrietta et al weren't concerned in the slightest as they were too busy enjoying life with friends, going for coffees, days out, chatting on street corners, being involved, being sociable, being happy.   that's the thing with grudge keeping, eventually it doesn't hurt the grudgee who moves on,  it hurts the grudger who can end up alone and embittered.   forgiveness benefits both as it bestows freedom to form new friendships and sometimes even reconciliation.

Of course, forgiveness has it's limits.   if a lion bites off your right hand the animal doesn't deserve to be euthanised as it's simply doing what lions do, but you aren't obliged to offer it your left hand for dessert, if you are sensible you will make sure your appendages are safely tucked out of sight until the lion is tamed.   as my mother, who was the epitome of grace, used to say  "i can overlook one much, i can forgive two much, but three much is too much."

I'm not saying all who decline company at this time of year are malcontents,  those of us who are gregarious of nature need to be accepting of our more introverted brethren and not exert pressure to conform to our idea of fun.  if  Christmas by the fire with a book or movie for company rocks your boat then that's a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate. solitude needn't equal isolation, aloneness isn't the same as loneliness, privacy isn't necessarily privation, some simply prefer a simpler, quieter existence. it's absolutely fine to to batten down the hatches and seek the safety of a celebration free season if that's what a soul needs and wants, but it's sad to be alone as a result of alienating the universe and it's inhabitants by our attitudes and intolerance.   

Sometimes all it takes to mend a rift, especially where both parties aren't even sure what sundered the relationship in the first place,  is a reason to make the initial approach and this supposed Season of Goodwill is the perfect excuse.   if there's somebody out there who you would like to try again with, send a card, make a "friend" request on Facebook, contrive to bump into each other near a coffee shop, take the risk.   BUT if that person is a lion and you are still missing your right arm think twice before extending the left in friendship.