Between the Bricks

Meanderings of a grown up girl

Before you go a-wandering

This morning I woke up in the place I call home feeling well and strong, blessed and grateful, following a small operation and several nights stay in hospital. I gently disentangled myself from my cat who was snuggled up against me under the duvet, went out onto the verandah of my little wooden house and absorbed the misty mountain view. It was a very chilly morning. I fed my cat, lit a candle in my meditation room and made myself a cup of fresh coffee, as is my usual habit each morning. By this time it was just past 7.00am.

Mornings and evenings are cold at this time of year in the mountains of northern Thailand. Socks and thermal vest under pink pyjamas and a woolly jumper kept me warm as I sat on the verandah sipping my mug of fresh Lazy Man Coffee. And as I sat there breathing in the myriad tones of greens that appeared before me with the changing light and listened to the waking sounds of the farm, my mind wandered to all those who do not, who cannot and who will never see what I see. I found my heart expanding, especially to Aleppo. To her people, to the bloodshed, the destruction, the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the bewilderment, the devastation, the rubble, the cries, the grey – the mist of a different kind. My heart saw people across the globe – too many people – in a similar predicament. And my heart bled. Yet I did not feel sad. Not in that broken kind of way. The way you feel when you just can’t deal with the thought of any more suffering around you because it leaves you so numb and exhausted, feeling hopeless and impotent because you are not doing anything to help! Not because you don’t care but because you feel so helpless!  I don’t feel that any more. I used to, but not now. I’m not sure exactly why not. Yet I know instinctively it’s not a negative change. Is it foolish to believe that if I can feel something or even imagine something good hard enough, I can experience it on behalf of someone else? Can I see and experience joy and love and beauty for others? I believe I can.

I’ve seen so many posts on social media recently, read articles and watched soundbites about what a terrible year 2016 has been. The worst year! The pits! Annus horribilus! How glad people will be when it is over!

It has indeed been a horrible and shocking year on a global scale in so many ways. Undeniably individuals have suffered and continue to suffer horrors that we are all too slow to do something about! We have all had our personal challenges too and some still have their crosses to bear. But how can we decide upon resolutions to make things better, to turn towards the light instead of slipping into the abyss, if we do not, either individually, or globally, experience failure, loss and disappointment? We do not have to suffer (unless we choose to) but neither do we have to leave the world to suffer too, wallowing in helplessness and despair and the belief that we cannot make a difference. Each morning as I wake and feel my body, the blood pumping through my veins and the breath in my lungs, I know I have another day to experience and learn; I have another opportunity to change myself, and for that I am happy and grateful. I am grateful for every day. Has this year been any better or worse than any other? Or has it simply – been?

The words of Jana Stanfield often come to mind at times like this, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” I believe it is increasingly important that each and every one of us starts small. We don’t have to all climb mountains. It’s ok. There are lots of little hills to conquer first! Be the stone that creates ripples when you throw it in a pond. Be that spark of energy that affects another, that fuels the fire that spreads far and wide. Be the catalyst that ignites a chain reaction that can and will make a global difference. Frustration and despair, annoyance, grief and anger all have their place. It’s ok and positively healthy to express these emotions. They are not good they are not bad. Just don’t let them define you.

Be the change you want to see in others or the world around you. I know it sounds cliched but it is fundamentally the truth. You can affect change. Each and every one of us can affect change. Whether it’s that we want to improve a relationship with a family member, persuade our boss to another point of view, improve our own life in some way or convince our local community that every diverse and different human being has something positive to bring to the table. Just like the Hawaiian shamanistic practice of Ho’oponopono, if you want to heal the world – first heal yourself!

On that note, I’m currently rereading The Alchemist (Paulo Cohello). It feels like the right time to reread it. It’s a good reminder that the treasure we seek is within us. There it lies all the while we go a-wandering! Ironically however we must first embark on a journey to understand that. For it is the journey and the experience of it that teaches us all what we need to know.

Songs of the Lilly

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
a song of love and peace and golden times
when man held hands with man because he understood.
He understood that connection is stronger than separation
and acceptance of differences profoundly more rewarding than dismissing others,
because they are not other.
There is no other!

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me across the water
a mournful song of longing.
A longing for an end to hate-filled rhetoric, of cunning and unabashed ignorance,
of machinations designed to blind, divide and splinter all that was once whole,
was content with that wholeness.

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
songs that break my heart into tiny precious pieces.
Seven billion fragments of blood and tears,
of sweat and bone and pain and courage,
of perseverance, compassion and everything in-between.
Of good and bad and right and wrong,
of male and female and everything in-between.
Every fragment is part of me too,
but when there is division I am not whole –
and I want to be whole again!

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
a song of remembrance of who I am – and of you,
and who we are together.
You are not other.
I am not other.
There is no other.
Sing louder lily, I beg you sing louder!
Sing louder so that more may hear and pause and see and understand and then,                     only then, this bleeding heart can rest and bleed no more.

RENAISSANCE

I took back my breath today!
I gasped, and air as sweet and pure as the first day, filled my lungs
and I looked.
Clouds wrote in the sky.
They told me dusk was drawing near. Soon, not yet but soon, I still had time.
So I stopped a while and looked – and when I looked I saw.
A Sun, as bold and bright and white as any light I’d seen,
Angelic rays encompassed valley wide.
And every minute blade of grass in every mound and trough surrendered, peaceful, content to bathe in early evening glory.
Gentle mountains, undulating hills of green,
Hues of emerald and olive, sage and lime – and more – rolled out in grainy texture.
Such comfort for my eyes! Respite for my soul – unencumbered.

I took back my breath today – and gasped again for you!
What do you see now? What do you feel now? Who hands you succour in this age of crisis, grief, violation and death?
I am so sorry. I am so sorry it cannot be you, too!
I long for you to view this same vista,
My sister. My sister. My sister!
I long for greens and blues and gentle browns to take the place of black shrouds and jagged grey of rubble and all that’s broken; and blood stained garments.

I stopped a while and looked – and when I looked I saw.
That every minute blade of grass, in every mound and trough, emblazoned in bright white light bore
your names…

Women of Syria, I bow down to you!
Women of Iraq, I bow down to you!
Women of Palestine, I bow down to you!
Women of Afghanistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Iran, I bow down to you!
Women of Israel, I bow down to you!
Women of Pakistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Kurdistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Burma, I bow down to you –
Women of Somalia, I bow down to you,
Women of Central African Republic, I bow down to you!
Women of the Congo, I bow down to you,
Women of Sierra Leone, I bow down to you!
Women of Mali, I bow down to you!
Women of Nigeria and your lost daughters, I bow down to you!
Women of Rwanda, I bow down to you!
Women of Thailand, I bow down to you!

Women
of every ethnicity, in every nation, of every age, every struggle,
Every displaced, abused, violated, murdered – grandmother, mother and child,

I see you, I see you, I see you!
I see for you,
I breathe for you!

(Chiang Mai, Thailand, 28th September, 2014)

Ghosts on Stilts

I hear you, ghosts on stilts. I know you’re out there, lingering in the paddy fields, digging the rich red earth with your bare hands and rudimentary tools. What are you digging for? Oh, you’re not digging for anything, I see, I’m sorry! I didn’t realise. I should have thought.

It will be over soon. It can’t go on forever. Only thing is, for many, for you, I suppose it will be too late. It was too late! Crickets and centipedes don’t really cut the mustard do they, not for men like you! Not for anyone. A rat if you’re lucky. What about the little fish and frogs? Do you fish? You’d better learn. Put away your stethoscope and learn to fish instead. Being clever won’t help you now. You have to be a different kind of clever. Pretending not to be clever is clever!

Bon Voyage to Self

The other lands are calling. I’ve packed my bag and left things as they should be. This is my life – and it’s ok – a bag and everything as it should be. Time has brought me to this moment and time will take me to another, and another and yet another after that. I am ready. Well, I‘m not struggling at least! The fact is I feel nothing. No excitement, no anticipation, no sadness, no fear – simply nothing. Except, there is a pain in my right ear. Throbbing throbbing throbbing. And, an acute stabbing sensation too. It came out of nowhere and has gradually increased over the past few hours. Like so many things that creep up on us unexpectedly – like ageing! I’m not immune. I’ve been discovering that recently. Did I ever think I was? Yes, ten years ago and more perhaps I did because I never thought about it – and now I do.

You left me. You went away. You took the breath from my body and the blood from my veins. You made a life with someone else. You made a life! And everything in my world stopped. Everything. Tick tock tick tock  – stop. Except the tears and the ageing of course.  They don’t stop. What I saw in the mirror wasn’t the same me and when I thought of you, it wasn’t the same you either. The You you would not have gone away . The You you never wanted to leave me, never could. How come it was so easy?

What fools we are for love!

My ear hurts but that pain will go away – and the other? The endless other? I’ll get used to it, I suppose…

I’m in!

I haven’t really got the hang of this blogging business! Just make it up as I go along! I’ve been shut out of my dashboard for months on end because I forgot my username and password – how stupid is that! Perhaps not quite as stupid as handing out the wrong blog address to people! It hardly matters that I couldn’t get into my blog since nobody could read it anyway!  Having just written my daily gratitude list, I thought I’d just give it a try and hey presto, here I am! So, one more item to add to my  gratitude list today –  Dear Universe, thank you SO much for helping me remember my WordPress user name and ID so I can actually post something on my blog!

Snapshots from Bhutan

How delicate the myriad purple faces that highlight a vast green blanket stretching as far as the eye can see!  A timid yet reverent bow from time to time, a gentle sway as mountain breezes quickly pass. And there, a little patch of orange, bobbles of brightness amidst companions more deeply painted. Outnumbered but never daunted; a meadow of cheerfulness that paves the way, the route, the journey to higher realms.

So tiny, so tiny yet so resilient, matching in courage even the tallest shadows that cast their profile in serrated formation between one terrain and the next, guiding us to look beyond the patchwork landscape of olive green, sage green, browns, grey and deep deep blues. A pretty purple prologue to what follows if we dare to venture.

Let us rest a while. Let us take a moment to catch our breath and with our hearts to witness this panorama. And when ready…speak to me…

Speak to me of mountains, of peaks and troughs and valleys far and wide, of snow clad summits that rise, pristine white into clear blue skies and puffy white clouds heavy with the songs of gods. Speak to me of far-away vistas.

Speak to me of white-washed temples that squarely stand on high held planes, solid and sturdy, simple, homely exteriors, embellished wooden door and window frames their only superficial indulgence.  Enter and that’s another story, of dusky interiors and gilded figurines, and rituals – the happenings of incantations, chants and meditation, of hypnotic smells from burning incense and votive offerings, as butter melts and drips away and with it thoughts and fears and pain – and perhaps a futile dream or two.

Speak to me of men in robes, of saffron clad figures who stand and gaze beyond, who see what is to be seen on far horizons yet smile knowingly as inwardly, there is nothing to be seen. Years of solitude and vibrant prayer have taught them the tranquility of inner wisdom, the silent strength of man’s true nature.

Speak to me of light, the radiance that feeds row upon row of flickering flames that burn to heal the souls of the dead – and the living.

Speak to me of happy lands, of smiles and laughter and children’s cheery faces. Of babes, with dirt smeared cheeks, tear stained, until the sun gently dries them and a mother’s tender touch soothes their cries that quickly change to giggles of delight. Speak to me of weather beaten skin, rugged and deeply wrinkled with age and eyes that glisten brightly.  Elders, calmly waiting their time, contented, warmed by memories and the knowledge that life is love and laughter, pain and sorrow, joy and disappointment and every anxious or ecstatic moment in between. And with that certainty they know that only all complete us, when life’s long journey is complete itself.

Speak to me of this.

Buzzard buzzard soaring high,                                                                                                                 Take me with you in the sky.                                                                                                                             Help me lose myself and I.

Whispers of a Tree

There is always a tree.

Outside my window, on a hill, in a copse, along a far east street. An aged mango, a lone Hawthorne, a mighty beech, a giant Rainforest, that speaks to me of blood and tears and pain when being pruned. An errant branch that stretches just a little bit too far, and so, to bring it in line, along they come, with crane and chainsaw to chop it off. They think it looks more tidy. They do not understand the hurt they cause. They do not hear the screams. They do not care. It is not their fault. They do not know.

And you my friend, so much prettier than just one month before.  Forgive me, I did not notice how you have blossomed! How far you’ve come since you were injured –  a wayward car that crashed into your trunk and cut you! You wobbled for a while, dazed by such an insult, unexpected and unjust. And for a few anxious days I feared it would mean your fall, if not by your own desire then theirs. They do not care. It is not their fault. They do not know.

Happily you stood your ground and here you are, embellished with a pretty pink of floating petals. You may be grand my friend but nothing can deny your tenderness and love. For as I peer beyond the grills of my life here within, I thank the gods who gifted me this heart to hear you whisper your sweet words of wisdom. You teach me well and I am grateful for your counsel:

“Every single gossamer of pink rests delicately upon my myriad finger tips, tethered lightly but with a strength beyond compare. Yet all it takes is one sweet breath of air for one or two, then three and four and more to fly!  And when they do, I watch them go with half a heart and nurturing glance in knowledge of my role. Now, they are unhindered, each free to seek a fresh abode.  Some near, some far, I cannot say, they are no longer my journey but their own. Soon, I stand naked again, disrobed, revealed, my branches light and bare. But I do not fear a lack of dignity as I am still whole. The essence of myself remains.  The change around me is not always of my making but I too must change as seasons pass. As sun and wind and tempest set their course around me I have learned to bend with the rhythm of time. The blossom of one age comes and goes but patiently I wait, as one day more will bloom again. It is the way. Rooted to the spot and standing still are not the same my friend.  Remember, for every beginning there must be an end.”

That word again!

I love the word ‘amazing’. I love to attach it to people – those who truly mean something to me, who inspire me, who make me smile, who humble me and who push me to be better by their own actions and outlook. I like to tell people, “You are amazing!” It’s important – important to remember…

But don’t get me wrong – it’s not a word that trips lightly off my tongue. I say it because I mean it and I mean it because I see it and I see it because I feel it. And I can feel it even if I don’t know a person, for those who are truly amazing, known or unknown, emanate a light and a power that engulfs every sentient being within their proximity; they resonate a spirit for life that is undeniable, a spirit that enhances, empowers and enables us to breathe that little bit deeper, for our hearts to beat that little bit stronger; a spirit that inspires us to to want to live amazingly ourselves.

When we desire to live amazingly then we understand what an amazing thing is this journey called life! And how much more amazing when we live it authentically! But what exactly is life? Is it really as simple as a beginning and an end? Or is it all about the living in between? A jigsaw of choices, experiences, people and places; a global school for children of all ages. One big soupy mess. Thorns and roses. A tangle of emotions we spend a lifetime untangling. A dream. One big fat illusion. All of this and nothing. Perhaps simply anything anyone wants it to be. Mundane and ordinary –  or everything but.