Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.
I fear I may be drowning us all in silence, so I will take a break until Monday. Until then
Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.
I fear I may be drowning us all in silence, so I will take a break until Monday. Until then
laughter in silence, silence in laughter
Daddy fell into the pond!
And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
‘Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.’
Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,
facing west, twilight on its way
‘The night is for stillness.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.’
from © A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa 1989 p.185
Silence is topical in my ecosystem*. I am reading about silence, thinking about it, seeking it, observing it, and, sometimes, dwelling in it.
Silence, as I know it, or as I desire it, is neither complete nor profound. It is simply stillness, calm, and quiet, dappled with distant bird song, the gentle ticking of a kitchen clock, and little sighs of pleasure from a resting dog. When I can rest fully in this silence, I am content. But those resting periods are rare and often elusive.
With Christmas hurtling towards me (or is it the other way round? :D), I feel a deep need to capture more silence ; to hold it tighter as a buffer against the maelstrom of noise and nonsense which swirls in with the silly season. Yet to capture the small, transitory silences dotted around me is hard.
What can I do to gather in the silence? Create a silence-catcher akin to a dream-catcher?
I read “Praying” by Mary Oliver.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Her words fill me with hope. There is a doorway into a wondrous silence. There is no need to catch or harvest or grasp silence. I need only open the door, slowly and gently.
This Advent I will do just that. Silence, plentiful and peaceful, will be my Advent quest.
Will you join me? Each day, as part of my quest, I hope to post a daily image from my place of silence. Please note the word “hope”. 🙂
As well as my images, you may also enjoy the blog posts linked below. They inspire me to think about silence.
Postscript: ecosystem* I am amused by the current/catchword overuse of this word. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with it.
I like to recycle calendars. My friend and photographer, David Dobbs, made the featured calendar in 2017. I have added a fresh December page to the December image. I keep this calendar in my bedroom. I will eventually make a few entries on it but mostly I will leave it bare to remind me that each day is a blank canvas to fill, or not, as I choose. I have David’s 2018 calendar in the kitchen. That calendar is cluttered with appointments and reminders!
This is a self-indulgent post in which I record my reading list ( read, reading, and to be read); consider how far I have travelled without leaving home; and note very briefly what knowledge, useful or otherwise, I have learned on my literary tour.
It is a post which is the equivalent of an entry I would have made in my version of a commonplace book, more than a decade ago, before the computer stole my soul.
READ (Where I have been; quite far it seems)
What I’ve learned:
Music will out even in the most dreadful of circumstances, hence the establishment of the amazing Afghanistan National Institute of Music
There is a rich tradition of poetry in Ethiopia, which is not well-known outside of Ethiopia. One particular type of scholarly poetry is called q’ene and plays with the double meanings of words. It often introduces words from Ge’ez, the ancient Semitic language from which Amharic derives, now only used in the Ethiopian Orthodox church. So a q’ene will have a surface (wax) interpretation but also a deeper and richer (gold) meaning, giving it the title semenna worq (wax and gold).
Some books choose you. After all what are the chances of reading your life, as it is unfolding, in the first sentence of the first chapter of a book which you selected randomly from a pile of donated books ~”My father is dead and it is raining.” Thus it was on both counts.
Reading about recent earthquakes on my home turf still makes my heart race.
I am a wimp. I would have been a useless pioneer. And it was interesting to realise that a lack of aeroplanes and fossil fuels was never a barrier to travel.
This book is available to us thanks to translation by Jean Anderson, founder of the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation. To understand each other we need to read each other.
Data collection is nothing new. We have just changed the way we collect it. Before Google and Facebook, there was the Mass Observation project. Mass Observation was founded 75 years ago in 1937 by the South African poet, communist and journalist Charles Madge and two English eccentrics: the filmmaker and polymath Humphrey Jennings and the anthropologist and self-publicist Tom Harrisson. Formed in the aftermath of the abdication crisis, Mass Observation sought to bridge the gap between how the media represented public opinion and what ordinary people actually felt and thought. The Mass Observation Archives are at the University of Sussex.
Cows love to live in family groups and have a rich emotional life, not unlike humans.
Was this the wisest choice of reading material for a Trans-Tasman flight? The book begins “Chapter 1 Dangerous Situation. Right now: imagine dying.” Turns out I can do that in mid-air though it did feel slightly uncomfortable.
I may never understand how different people/groups/races in a country can love their country more deeply and fiercely than they do their fellow man. It’s a strange love that tears a country apart. And Scribbling the Cat is not a good thing to do.
READING (Where I am; in China and New Zealand)
Rewi Alley’s interest in China was piqued by his encounters with the Chinese Labour Corps who worked tirelessly for the Allies during World War One.
To Read Maybe, One Day, Sometime…….. (Where I may go; New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the library)
Wherein I hope to read more excellent essays like ‘ Hours in a Library’ which is the source of this lovely quote about reading lists and notebooks.
If we wish to refresh our memories, let us take down one of those old notebooks which we have all, at one time or another, had a passion for beginning. Most of the pages are blank, it is true; but at the beginning we shall find a certain number very beautifully covered with a strikingly legible handwriting. Here we have written down the names of great writers in their order of merit; here we have copied out fine passages from the classics; here are lists of books to be read; and here, most interesting of all, lists of books that have actually been read, as the reader testifies with some youthful vanity by a dash of red ink. We will quote a list of the books that someone read in a past January at the age of twenty, most of them probably for the first time.
In conclusion: I want to thank my sister-in-law and her sister who keep my bookshelves stocked with a wonderful, eclectic collection of excellent reading material. Without them I wouldn’t have read or travelled very far this year.
“Deep in my heart I miss him so today” from the sentimental song ” O mein Papa” seems the perfect line to hum on this 8th day of May; this day which would have been my father’s 98th birthday.
On May 8th someone in the family would have made him his favourite roast chicken dinner, just as he did for us on so many special occasions. And we would have drunk to his health with cider and champagne. My siblings and I may still do the latter, via Skype, but the family meal will have to wait until we gather again.
Although, today, my thoughts are mainly focused on my father, I am also thinking of other important events associated with 8 May, such as VE Day and World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.
For my father’s birthday in 2014 I wrote about the Red Cross and its significance in our lives. Read on if you would like to know more of that story.
“Today, 8 May, is the birthday of Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.
Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂
Although the idea for the Red Cross arose in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1. So the IFRC was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.
In the Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand. In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives. Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.
I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.
Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.
That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉
Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross.
© silkannthreades "
If you link to the original post you will find comments from two bloggers who have since passed away. I miss them, too: Christine
and Catherine from Seeking Susan.
And for those of you who are interested in the military connections in this post, you may like to visit our wonderful New Zealand Online War Memorial Cenotaph where I have been putting together my father’s online memorial. My father served both in New Zealand and the Solomons. He was with radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, on Malaita, one of the most isolated RNZAF detachments in the Pacific.
Have I read you dry? Join me in a toast to mein Papa. Cheers!
Have you ever tried to sum up your blogging year
in a photo?
Like this ~
Or in a poem?
Like this ~where I play upon the titles from this year’s blog posts, plus the title from my first blog post in 2012.
at my desk ~ on the road,
into past and present:
chelonian tales with a difference;
from my desk
the great debate,
year out, year in,
gallivanting and roses,
on the road, at my desk,
Do any of the titles stand out for you? Or prompt you to remember a post of mine which you particularly enjoyed?
And, without researching, can you guess which title/words belong to 2012?
Would you like to have a go at a blog title poem? Feel free to add it in the comments. I would love to read it.
As this year ends, and as I prepare for the next, I want to thank you for your wonderful readership, support, and comments (and emails and visit ) in 2017. As usual, and as is the case for most of us, this year has had its share of the good and not so good times; you’ve been with me every step of the way, and I love you for it. Blessings and bon courage for whatever 2018 holds for you.
Amanda Anne aka Gallivanta.
Here it is ~ the great debate which is swirling round my head as I sit at my desk ~
‘A Stitch in Time saves Nine’ or ‘Mending be Darned’.
What say you?
Behind me, I have a pile of darning, occupying an armchair. The pile is many inches high. It stares at me accusingly no matter where I place it. I try to avoid its gaze but, like Mona Lisa’s eyes, it follows me everywhere. It’s been like this for months. I hear it mocking me, in multiples of 9; “Not stitched in time, 9×9; not stitched in time, 9×10…”
I am not a natural mender. Darning doesn’t come easy, although it should, because I come from a line of excellent darners. My mother was a diligent darner, and could always be relied upon to mend anything. My aunt was a skilled darner. It was a pleasure to watch her work. Her needle and thread wove magical, near invisible, lines through the runs in my school stockings. ( Yes, stockings, with a suspender belt…..I am of the pre-pantyhose generation)
Did they enjoy darning? Well, there is a certain satisfaction in making something whole and complete again, but I suspect it was necessity and frugality, not pleasure, which drove their darning needles.
Frugality and necessity should drive me, too, but, in front of me, there’s a computer which begs me to use my fingers and my mind outside the domestic realm. It makes me want to say, “Mending be Darned” and “Go create something new”.
So I do, make something new; a phone photo, for my friends, for myself, of the clematis growing vigorously near the garden gate.
That makes me happy.
But, truthfully, so would a stack of neatly mended clothing. If only I could bring myself to do it.
(Oh, shush, you there behind me. I can hear your sotto voce recitations, “Stitch! stitch! stitch!…. A stitch in time saves 9, a stitch in time saves 9…”,
and don’t you dare start on the 9 times table again. Remember, I know where the nearest recycle bin is! It’s temptingly close by.)
Sigh, the debate is not over yet.
I am on the road again.
Not in a literal sense but in an imaginative one.
I am exploring new territory in my creative journey by attempting poetry and prose readings.
Would you like to listen in? My first two readings have a New Zealand theme.
Reading out loud to myself or to an audience is something I haven’t done in a long while. It brings back warm memories of bed time stories, evenings by the radio, school plays, Bible readings, and some not so pleasant memories of terrifying speech giving.
I would like to thank Clanmother
and my daughter for the inspiration which they have given me to pursue the spoken word again.
Now, on any journey, it’s handy to travel as lightly as possible. So, this week, I have not only been shedding the weight of my voice from its inner sanctum, but I have also been setting free some of my precious history.
I like to farewell treasures with love and appreciation, when I list them for sale. I do this by recording them in little tableaux. Here are two of my favourites. Together they speak to me of long journeys, strength, and the courage to adventure, in the company of family and friends, and even strangers.
ps I would be grateful for feedback on my voice recordings. Is my voice clear to you? Do I speak too quickly? Is it easy to understand the meaning of the poems and the prose?
Last week, I told a friend I would add joy to my next Advent post because it has been noticeably absent from my journey towards Christmas. Well, I searched for joy ~ I really did ~ but the closest I could get to it, for this fourth Sunday in Advent, was:
‘ Let there be light, let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.
Open our lips, open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord opening into grace.’
The quote comes from a hymn for peace, written and composed in 1968 by two Canadians, Frances Wheeler Davis and Robert Fleming https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-light It is one of my favourite hymns to sing at any time of the year but it seems particularly appropriate for this Christmas season.
May you all be blessed with some measure of peace, hope, and joy, now and always.
And, in closing……
I would like to dedicate this post to Baquer Namazi and his family. Baquer Namazi was my husband’s colleague for many years. He was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran. As he is 80 years old, and in poor health, this sentence is tantamount to life imprisonment. Bacquer’s former employer, UNICEF, has issued several statements about his plight, all of which I endorse.
Here is one of them.
NEW YORK, 6 September 2016 – “It has now been over six months since Baquer Namazi, a respected former employee of UNICEF, was detained in Iran. His colleagues at UNICEF, and especially those who once worked with him, are deeply concerned about his health and well-being – as we stated on 3 March. Our concern has grown ever since.
“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement.
“UNICEF does not engage in politics. We hope that Mr. Namazi will be treated as the humanitarian that he is, and that a humane perspective can be brought to his plight.
“Our thoughts remain with him and all his many friends and loved ones.”
The US State Department has also issued statements, one of which can be read here. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263245.htm
And President-in-waiting, Donald Trump, has, of course, issued a tweet: “Well, Iran has done it again. Taken two of our people and asking for a fortune for their release. This doesn’t happen if I’m president!” (Note: I don’t know what fortune, Donald Trump, is talking about.)
Our family’s thoughts and love are with Baquer Namazi and his family. We hope that humanity and justice will prevail, and that a good man will be released.
“Let there be light, let there be understanding.”