Tag Archives: birthdays

From my desk ~ Gandhi Jayanti

Today is a day for birthdays ~ my son’s; Anne-Christine’s; and Mahatma Gandhi’s. To celebrate, I am re-posting an article I wrote on this day four years ago. The original post and comments can be found here .  Enjoy.

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

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It’s me time

Just a quick post to let you know that I will be away quite a lot from my blog (and your blogs) for the next  6 weeks.

I will be preoccupied with family matters, visiting, and being visited.  It’s also my 60th birthday towards the end of March. I am not planning a big celebration, or even a small one, but I am planning some ‘me’ time.

This is not of me, but a painting made for me. I am very fond of it, and it somehow sits well with my upcoming birthday and my proposed time for myself.

Growing Younger Each Day

Growing Younger Each Day

Be back soonish.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Thoughts on Palm Sunday , or how I didn’t become a chaplain.

http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-les-fleurs-animes  The Pansy from J J Grandeville's The Flowers Personified 1847

The Pansy  from J J Grandville’s The Flowers Personified 1847

In my mid-forties, when I was brimming with confidence, and, yes, hubris, I contemplated a career as a chaplain; specifically a workplace/industrial chaplain. With this aim in my mind, I enrolled in a few courses to learn some basic counseling and communication skills.

The outcome of one such course, Basic Preaching Skills, was the opportunity to deliver a Reflection at our church at our first Palm Sunday service of the 21st Century.  I was very touched by the love and support of the congregation for my endeavours, but I am thankful that, later on,  the employers of chaplains were less supportive, and sensibly turned me away.

With Palm Sunday, tomorrow, I have been remembering my brief stand at the pulpit, so many years ago,  and thinking how my faith has changed. In my  own Palm Sunday terms, I suspect I have fallen off the untamed colt/donkey.

Here’s an extract from my Reflection, which, as some of you may surmise, is based on a poor understanding of theology and an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible.  The Reflection is titled Wild Rides.

“From babyhood in Bethlehem, onward to manhood in Jerusalem, God has given his people a leader, a healer, a companion in humanity, doubt and faith. This man has gathered, ON THE WAY, fame, friends and followers, and the requisite enemies, too. He is Jesus in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Elijah… he’s the Son of Man who could be King. But on Palm Sunday, there is a pause, a change of pace, between the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight and the whirlwind that follows the triumphal entry to Jerusalem; …….  Jesus, the man of humility, outspoken critic of pomp and ceremony, pauses, lifts his feet off the ground, and takes a ride. He IS the WAY.

In Mark’s description of Palm Sunday, we see a Jesus who momentarily stops directing and healing and preaching, who allows himself to be; to be adulated, to be carried forward, to be King. This creates a challenge….but the challenge is not so much to the owner of the colt, or to the Roman and religious authorities. It’s a challenge to us.

The challenge, I believe, is to be; to be like Jesus and accept God’s gracious offer of a ride into a faith that will move mountains. God loves us for the faith of our comfort zone, a faith that is scheduled and timetabled, that will take us through the week, through 40 days, or 40 years, if necessary; but on Palm Sunday we see God offering a deeper faith of infinite implications and dimensions, and unbounded journeys.

Jesus is the Way. Through him, through Palm Sunday, we know we can accept God’s offer of a faith that moves mountains. God doesn’t offer crowd control, or silent, unchurned stomachs, or freedom from screaming. But, if we accept what, undoubtedly, will be the wildest ride of our lives, God’s underpinning hand of steadfast love will not let us fall. …….”

Hmmm….well, as I said, I do seem to have come unseated from my ride in recent years  but I haven’t been trampled, yet. Which means that, despite my doubts,  I still find great comfort in prayers offered by friends, by our Minister, and members of our church. And, in various past crises related to hospitalization, I have valued, beyond measure, the support and calm guidance/prayer of hospital chaplains.

And I  value beyond measure all the loving thoughts and good wishes that have come my way in response to my previous post.  I am happy to report I am starting to feel almost as perky as these beautiful pansies, given to me on my birthday. 🙂 ( I am also happy my path led to blogging not chaplaincy, even though I have the utmost admiration for chaplains and the wonderful work they do . 😉 )

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

© silkannthreades

Radiating Kindness

My interest in decluttering was flagging.  Alys, at Gardening Nirvana, who is a professional organiser in RL,  offered some timely, kindly advice. “Set a timer, ” she said, “and go all out for 15 minutes or so, and see how much you can get done.”  So I did. Yesterday. Worked like a charm. I raced through a heap of files, containing documents dating back to the 1990s, some of which, ( oh irony of ironies ), related to a storage facility I once used in New York!

Sigh of bliss…. so satisfactory !  to achieve so much in so short a period. And not only did I declutter, but I also discovered, tucked away in a corner of a shelf, a small  Helen Exley giftbook , called Words on Kindness.

It’s the dearest wee book, full of wonderful quotes. Several of them I greeted like old friends. Others were as new, to me, because I had forgotten them completely. Many of them moved me deeply.  The quote I have open before me today is this:

Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all
living beings;
Radiating kindness
over the entire world.
The Buddha ( c 563 – c 483 B.C. )

A painting, Mother and Child, by Edgar Degas, illustrates the text. I cannot find a link to that painting.  Instead, I have selected this painting by Mary Cassatt who worked closely with, and was influenced by, Degas.

Mary Cassat "Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window" by Mary Cassatt - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

Mary Cassatt “Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window” by Mary Cassatt – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

As I read Words on Kindness, in another part of the world, far, far from me, a champion of mothers and children, a champion of kind words and deeds, was celebrating her 91st birthday. I am referring to the remarkable  Dr Catherine Hamlin, co-founder, with her husband Dr Reg Hamlin, of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  Dr Catherine, has spent more than half a century living in Ethiopia, serving some of the most marginalised women in the world.

” In the 1950s Catherine and her late husband Reg went to Ethiopia to train midwives, but their attention soon turned to the plight of the fistula sufferers.

Together the Hamlins perfected the modern technique for obstetric fistula surgery and
 have treated more than 40,000 women, more than 90% of them cured.”

– See more at: http://hamlin.org.au/#sthash.QyWleIWz.dpuf

An award winner documentary,  A Walk to Beautiful, was made about the fistula patients, and the life-changing care given at the Fistula Centres in Ethiopia.

 

More about the work of the Fistula Hospital and Dr Hamlin can be seen  here. It is a difficult, even harrowing, video to watch but it is ultimately a testament to the transformational nature of compassion and  radiating kindness.

If I can stop one heart
from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life
the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886)

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

© silkannthreades

Saturday Satisfaction

To end the week, as I began it:

Come sit awhile with me,

Come and sit at table

Come sit at table

and celebrate another birthday

Gift of Friendship

Gift of Friendship

for a special friend who lives nearby.

Let’s ” tak a cup o’ kindness yet”* and a tasty treat,

and feel satisfied that we have spent the week as best as we were able.

*Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

 With healing and love and many thanks for keeping me company during this week of daily posts,

Gallivanta

© silkannthreades

Sunday Sentiments

This week, I want to try something new on my blog;  daily posts in the style of my contemplative chap books.

So, beginning with the opening words of my favourite chap book,

Come sit awhile with me…….

 

Come sit awhile with me

Come sit awhile with me

as I send loving birthday wishes to a special friend in England,

 

'the compass round'

‘the compass round’

and remember these words by Robert Frost, “Connections and community – the basis of love – and the product.”*,

and these words, too.

“By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything the compass round….”
Robert Frost ~The Silken Tent

*from Poem for the Day Two edited by Nicholas Albery

~

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

 

© silkannthreades