Tag Archives: kindness

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

Advertisements

A Toast with Thanks

Brace yourselves for some surprising news.

Gallivanta is about to attempt something very difficult …for her….which is to write a simple, straightforward post. Will she succeed? You can be the judge.

Here we go.

My plan is twofold: to give thanks to a kindred blogger; and to propose a toast in her honour.

I want to acknowledge and thank Pauline, The Contented Crafter,  for a beautiful giveaway. Pauline is a multi-media artist, and a devoted companion to the irrepressibly joyful Siddy, and to the stately and  dignified Orlando.  She is a compatriot of mine and she lives in the south of New Zealand. The giveaway was in celebration of a very important birthday for Pauline and the beginning of her official ‘retirvivement.

The giveaway  package arrived,

just before my sudden departure to Cairns at the end of September, which meant I didn’t get to appreciate it fully until my return home at the beginning of this month. And, my goodness, when I opened the parcel, what a spread there was to appreciate. I was overwhelmed by Pauline’s generosity. There were cards, postcards, a bookmark, all lovingly created by her own contented hands and heart,

Contentment

Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

and sweetest of all were the Bunnies; a pair of handcrafted Hugging Bunnies, which Pauline had knitted in response to my   Happiness in a Bag post.

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

After my harrowing goodbye to aged loved ones, can you imagine the comfort and delight I found in coming home to the fruits of Pauline’s gentle, joyous crafting?

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Now for a toast.

To Pauline; to her continued contentment, the best possible health, and a long and fruitful retirevivement. I raise my cup of chocolate, in my best Bunnykins mug. Please join me with your favourite beverage/tipple. 🙂   Let us be upstanding.  To Pauline!

A Toast to Pauline; chocolate in a Bunnykins mug :)

A Toast to Pauline; hot chocolate in a Bunnykins mug 🙂

With love from Gallivanta and Jack to Pauline, Orlando and Siddy.

Ps. How did I do?  Only two links. That’s pretty good for me, don’t you think? 😉 But perhaps still not that straightforward. Sigh!

 

© silkannthreades

On a cake and a prayer

In the small hours of Tuesday morning, I settled into bed and into my 15 minutes of  dedicated, purposeful reading with my current book   Heaven on Earth by Stephanie Dowrick. My bookmark was placed, from the night before, at page 118, and, when I pressed open the pages, this is the prayer that greeted me:

Watch, dear Lord, with those
who wake or weep tonight.
Let your angels guard those who sleep.
Tend the sick.
Refresh the weary.
Comfort those who are dying.
Soothe the suffering.
Have mercy on those who are distressed.
We ask this for your love’s sake.

Augustine of Hippo

I know very little about Augustine of Hippo. I don’t know exactly when he wrote this prayer.  I don’t even know if I like him, or his ideas, or would have liked him way back when. But it moved me deeply  that someone, a hugely long time ago (somewhere, perhaps between 386 and 430 AD) wrote the words that I needed to hear, that I needed formulated for me, in 2014.  It moved me that, on the very day I needed them most, they appeared before me. But, in truth, it was more than being moved; it was more as if Augustine himself,  scroll in hand,  had reached through the ages and said, “Here, take this, I wrote it for you, right here, right now.” Was it a miracle ? (Unlikely)  Was it timely? (Certainly)  Did the prayer work? Possibly, but evidence suggests not for the bone-tired sister I had in mind. But, for me, it did bring some peace and rest and I have repeated this prayer every night since.

Last Sunday, the recent, particularly stressful weeks of  letting ‘nature’ take its heart-breaking course with my daughter’s mental health came to the inevitable conclusion; and she was hospitalized for the sake of her health and well-being. No fun for anyone: not for the daughter, crying uncontrollably; not for the mother listening, helplessly, on the other end of a phone thousands of kilometres away, across land and sea, and not for the on-the-spot aunt, trying to cope, in utter weariness, with the complex needs of elderly, frail parents and a troubled niece.

A few days on, a few prayers later, another phone call to my daughter and I hear words that cradle me: “Mum, they keep bringing us little cakes. They are so delicious. It’s so good to eat cake again. ”  Thank you, thank you, anyone who wants to be thanked. My daughter is delighting in cake once more.

This is only the beginning for my daughter’s recovery. It may even be a false start. Years of less than perfect mental hygiene do not vanish at the pop of a pill or two. Many of the bloggers I follow are affected by mental health issues; by health issues; many are weary; many are caring for family; many are grieving. There is nothing unusual about these situations. They are part of the human condition. As Stephanie Dowrick writes  on page 150 ” First Noble Truth: In life there is suffering.  We free ourselves whenever we ask:  “How can I help?”

And, I would add, by asking, “How can we help each other?”  By being “Angels” for each other? By prayer, by care?  By simply being there, and here, and taking time to listen, to read, to be compassionate and to lighten each other’s load? And by reminding ourselves, over and over, that in life we can also find joy and laughter and fun….and cake. 🙂

Helping  make the Christmas Cake; circa 1988, New York

Helping make the Christmas Cake; circa 1988, New York

© silkannthreades

 

Different birthdays, different flowers and a gladsome mind

It was the last week of March;  it was the 27th;  the Archbishop of York was in town;

The Archbishop of York came

The Archbishop of York came

and I was at home, celebrating my birthday…  in the good company of  wine

Grapes to eat, wine to drink

Grapes to eat, wine to drink

and song

Jack singing Happy Birthday

Jack singing Happy Birthday

and old friends, bearing beautiful gifts of fine paper

Purple and pink for a present

Purple and pink for a present

 

 

Books for the Garden

Books for the Garden

 

 

 

and cloth

New robes

New robes

and flowers of all sorts, on stems

Birthday beauty

Birthday beauty

and on cards, each carrying  messages of loving kindness and good will.

It was the loveliest of  days to be honouring the process of growing  and ageing.  I hope the Archbishop thought so, too, even though he wasn’t at my party  at all, except in the very vaguest  way, via my life lived within the framework of  my historical and ancestral  relationship with the Church of England. (You see, I wouldn’t be here in this 21st Century New Zealand, if my church-going  forebears hadn’t decided to take assisted passages, in the 19th century, to a new life in the Church of England settlement of Christchurch.)

The Archbishop of York was here  to  help the Anglican Church prepare for a much more senior birthday than mine; the bicentennial of the beginnings of the Christian Gospel  in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

And he was here to address a symposium entitled, ‘Poverty, Global and Local’.

Which made me think that, no matter how  differently we celebrate a birthday, or, how disparate our ages, to grow up and grow old is a privilege; for state and church and person alike.

and for that privilege, and every strand of grey hair on my head,  I must remember to be truly grateful and of a gladsome mind, always.

Update:

This post comes with a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped celebrate my birthday. I am looking forward to kicking up my heels and having a grand time with you all again in 2015. Put the date in your diaries now. 🙂

Celebrating

Celebrating Spanish Style

Footnote : This is an excellent article on the art of Mabel Royds http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk/2013/11/29/mabel-royds-printmaker/

© silkannthreades

the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf

 

the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf
the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf
the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf

 

Resting Places; Take Two

Resting Places; Take Two

At Tom’s,

Normans Road Post Centre

Normans Road Post Centre

I stop to browse the shelves; to see what’s new,

to post a letter,

and discuss the weather

The weather

The weather (remnants of Cyclone Lusi)

and the state of the nation,

and the state of the street, and the theme of the week.

Hairy Maclary and Friends http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_Maclary "hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops"

Hairy Maclary, from Donaldson’s Dairy, and  Friends “hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops”

And catch, if I can, the tales, that Mavis

must tell, of Mrs Carbuncle’s feet.

If I linger long, and lost, in Nancy’s  garden of notes,

I am bound to hear of Audrey’s Jim, who’s rowed ever so well  in the Maadi Cup,

and big brother Ben, who’s working in London and enjoying the slum of his OE* flat,

whilst Susan’s Prudence has had enough and is heading back home, come next June, to give little Johnny and Sam the chance of living close to Nan, and squelching their toes in the soil of the land.

And I will hear Tom say, with wisdom and care, ‘That’ll be twenty, today, Alastair, and Margaret’s magazine will be here next week. See you then. ”

A few blocks north and it’s time to sit,

The old barber's chair

The old barber’s chair

in an old barber’s chair, where a golden-haired maiden, elegant and thin,

washes and trims this gossip’s, (yours truly 🙂 ), grey mane ,

whilst we discuss the earthquakes, the state of repairs,

and her good young man who knows how to cook and take care of the kids.

And, as we engage in idle chatter, Hamish and Ryan wriggle and squirm on the bench by the door,

waiting their turn (no appointments necessary)  for a short back and sides, because Mum, flipping texts and pages, said that they must,

all oblivious to the fact that once, over there, Charlie stood,

and sold a half loaf of bread to Martha and Fred, and a scoop of sugar for Mother’s tea.

Only Mother said could they have it on tick, because baby Mabel is sick, and Pa’s got no work till next Tuesday week.

And kind Charlie nodded, and sighed,  with wisdom and care, and allowed them to add broken biscuits for free, because he knew Billy and Annie would pay when they could. Then he secured the safe in the floor,

and went to his home, out the back door,

where his Kathleen played and the dog kept watch.  And Charlie was content that, at least, for this day, he had food in the larder, stock in his shop and a place to stop, with his lovely Louisa and  daughters, two.

The shop,  which is now Madisons for Haircuts,  was operated (owned?) by my grandfather for a few years, from 1921. It is one of the few physical reminders of our family history that survived the earthquakes.

[This will be my last post for a few weeks. I will be taking a rest from writing my blog as I will be busy with house guests until early April. I will try, as best as I can, to read your blogs and comments but I may not be as active as usual.]

*OE means Overseas Experience, a little like a Gap Year.

She’s taking the world by storm…..

The wind changed; the storm roared in, from the deep, antarctic South and, undeterred, like Mary Poppins, she, the Grand Emissary of Sophia Stuart, came; sans umbrella, but rosy-cheeked and just what we were expecting

Only she didn’t land quite as tidily as Mary Poppins, because you can’t without an umbrella, and if you are being delivered by a postman, into a bucket that is posing as a mailbox.

Will this start a new trend?

Will this start a new trend?

Very undignified, especially when the bucket, inverted or not, is being true to form, by behaving as all buckets should during a once in a century  deluge.

Luckily my neighbour saw Sophia’s Emissary floundering; her brown coat, courtesy of Mr Amazon, slowly dragging her down as it soaked up the icy water collected in the depths of the bucket, and he brought her to my door.  She was a pitiful sight; utterly bedraggled. But I helped her out of her coat, gave her a warm hug, a fluffy towel, a cup of tea, and a change of clothes, (and pearls), and she soon revived. Emissaries and world travellers have to be resilient, like that 🙂

A quick chat, and a note dashed off to  teamgloria (*tg*) to let her know that the Envoy of Who-She-is-In-Real-Life had reached her destination, and it was time for the voyager to take to her bed, to recover from jet lag and the general ordeal of arriving on the crest of a storm.

"It's time to rest"

“It’s time to rest” How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World”

Isn’t she lovely?  Nestled next to my welcome sprig of  bay leaves, for sweet dreams and good health.

Sweet dreams and good health

Sweet dreams and good health and victory in all things

Ssshh; softly, softly, we won’t disturb her now, but, maybe, I will come back later when she is fully recovered and we can discuss the dispatches, the  laureate letters, she has brought to me, from Sophia.

What’s that? Someone is not being quiet. You heard a stifled giggle.  Oh dear; it can’t be helped.  It’s *tg*’s fault; for reminding me that being dunked in a bucket has boarding school overtones. We know a lot about boarding school, *tg* and Sophia and I. Sophia has even written a book about it, called  Emerald.  There was no Emerald at my school, (or was there?), but I seem to recall buckets, full of muck, that were used to terrorize the naughty third formers on initiation day, at the end of year. ( Yes, at end of the year, came the dreaded day of Rangi Tangi! ) We all got horribly wet, bucket-dunked or otherwise, and, after the seniors had done their worst, ( which sometimes wasn’t very bad), they got to feast and we got naught. It sounds more ghastly than it was..but I am still very glad we have all grown up to offer the world a kinder experience of life.

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World

© silkannthreades

Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

© silkannthreades