Walking with hope

I was so moved by this little boy’s kindness, courage, optimism and general awesomeness.

Joel’s a 9 year old who has been watching the news and seeing little kids his age and younger walking many miles to find safety.

He’s decided he wants to walk from his home to London (115 miles) to raise money for the refugee children.  He and his dad are going to do the walk in the next school holiday – late October.  They are taking clothes and a tent, but no food, water or money, because Joel wants to find out how kind strangers can be to those who have nothing.

He’s decided to give his much-loved Lego characters and Hot Wheels cars away as perks to people who contribute to his fundraising.

What an adventure he’s embarking on – one he will never forget.

The full details of his story, and ways to contribute using cards or PayPal can be found at the link below.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/walking-from-my-home-to-london-for-other-children/x/12208181#/story

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Back to Belief

More musings about ‘reality’ – whatever that is…

IMG_20150915_220735Sitting on the desk in front of me here as I write is a crystal.  I believe in it.  I can even post a photo of it, so that you will believe in it too.  There.

The thing is, I don’t know where it came from.  I’m not even sure what the possibilities are, because they range from the ridiculous outwards into that fuzzy place where nothing works the way we expect it to.

 

Monday morning:  A heating engineer was coming to measure up for my new wood burner, so I made sure to give the fireplace a thorough clean.  This fireplace has been used over the last year to light countless fires.  The brick surround has been rendered and painted.  The chimney was swept a couple of weeks ago and I had just vacuumed the whole fireplace with my very powerful little cordless cleaner.

The engineer duly arrived.  He was on his knees measuring the fireplace.  I was sitting on the sofa watching.  Then, quite suddenly, he reached down to the tiles in front of the hearth – the just-cleaned tiles that had been empty a moment before – picked something up and said, “Oh!  What’s this?  You’ve got a crystal or something here.”

He handed me the crystal that’s now sitting on my desk.

So let’s start with rational possibilities.

  • I own quite a few crystals, so it was one of mine that had fallen there.  –No.  I know all my crystals and this wasn’t one I recognised.  In any case, it would not have evaded my mega-powerful Dyson.  It’s sucked up quite a few crystals in its time, which I’ve had a messy time retrieving.

Chimney sweep in the 1850s

  • Someone who lived here before me had lodged it in the chimney and it had just fallen out.  –Highly unlikely.  It was so clear and clean – no soot, no tar, no cobwebs, no fingermarks even.  It was pristine.  In any case, surely the chimney sweep would have dislodged it.
  • The heating engineer had been carrying it in his pocket and it had fallen out.  –He really didn’t seem to be a crystal-carrying type.  Anyhow, he seemed as surprised by it as I was and assumed it was mine.
  • A passing magpie or jackdaw dropped it down the chimney at that precise moment.  –Believe it or not, that’s the closest I can get to a rational explanation.  Odd that the engineer didn’t see it fall and neither of us heard it clink as it hit the tile, but still.

Now let’s try the irrational.  That evening I consulted a few of my crystal books.  The first one I opened said something like this:

Crystals will reach their owners when they are needed.  Most commonly, people are drawn to buy a particular crystal in a shop.  However they can be received as gifts, found or they may just appear in the owner’s house.

IMG_20150915_220944Several of the other books and many internet articles spoke of crystals simply appearing and disappearing, as if this is really quite commonplace.  Certainly I’ve had crystals that have mysteriously disappeared, but then that happens with socks, books, notes…

I look again at my crystal.  Which is more unbelievable – the thieving magpie or the spontaneously quantum-type appearance from somewhere, um, non-local?

Whichever I choose to believe, this crystal has suddenly and strangely manifested in my life and I’ll treasure it, for as long as it chooses to stay around.

 

 

Morning Glory – Memento Mori

IMG_20150816_092603William Wordsworth may have famously wept to see daffodils ‘fade away so soon’.  Lucky he didn’t grow morning glory.

This is the first time I’ve grown them – nursing the tiny seedlings, transplanting to pots and finally planting them outside.  All that messing around for plants that will vanish at the first frosts, never to return.  I don’t normally bother with annual plants, but that perfect blue drew me, and there was a bare archway in the garden in need of some cover.

The flowers, when they finally appeared, were certainly worth the effort.  They are perfect, stunning, beautiful, and very brief.

IMG_20150913_090045All through August, and still now in September I’ve opened the bedroom curtains each morning, eager to see how many flowers have appeared.  Sometimes only one or two, sometimes ten or more.  After breakfast I’m outside peering into the flowers, drinking in their incredible colour and feeling such gratitude for their presence.  By lunchtime, though, they are fading fast.  Visitors who arrive at two or three in the afternoon are told, “Oh if only you’d come an hour or two earlier, you would have seen them.”

Unidentified Morning Glory Wilted 2000px

All that remains is a crumpled stump of a flower, the petals turned in on themselves, as if ashamed of the toll time has taken on their beauty.

It’s an absurdly short life, isn’t it?  Half a day of glory and they’re gone.  Certainly there are more blooms to replace them the following morning, but still there’s something curiously poignant in the energy and perfection crammed into those short lives.

A bit like us, really…

I always rather liked the idea of adding memento mori  to portraits – the skulls, fading flowers, clocks or hour glasses placed on a side table or held in a hand, to remind the wealthy sitter that ‘this, too, shall pass’, that the fine body and sumptuous clothes are a temporary casing with a limited future.

Gloomy?  Perhaps you’ll see it that way.  To me it seems just fine.  I’m here, in this particular body and life for a few brief decades before moving on.  I don’t measure my value in quantity of years, but in quality of life.

So my morning meditation with my morning glory flowers is a mixture of gratitude for the beauty and perfection of this short life, of determination to make the most of every day – every half day, even – and a calm assurance that there will be countless more flowerings of consciousness to come.

Will a hat make a difference?

I think I first heard the story of the boy and the starfish from Wayne Dyer.  He, of course, has been in my thoughts a great deal this week, as he gracefully withdrew his consciousness from that earthly body and moved on to other great adventures.

Dr Dyer made a difference, a huge one, while he was here.

Then there are the rest of us.  This week our lives have been touched by the sight, not of starfish, but of small children washed up on the beach.  We, too, feel the futility of any gesture amidst the mass of suffering as countless displaced people – mums, dads, sons and daughters – make desperate bids to find refuge and rebuild their lives somewhere safe.

What an opportunity it gives us – the chance to decide how we want to react; what we want to do.  If we can step back for a moment from the wringing of hands and the economic and cultural challenges, each of us has the chance to make a difference, even in the smallest way, and that is a great gift.

Please don’t think I lack empathy with the refugees by saying that.  Certainly I believe that every single person on the planet chose, as some level, the life they’re currently living, so that they could play this massively complex and often agonising game called Life and experience all it can throw at them.  We can’t come close to imagining how painful that is for some.  We can decide, though, how we will respond.

So I decided I wanted to make a difference and the idea that came into my head was – bizarrely enough – ‘make hats for the children’.

Hats?

Well, autumn is coming on, and many of the families are moving into colder places.  Hats are great for keeping the body temperature up.  I have an ancient and basic but functional knitting machine and shelves of yarn in all colours of the rainbow…

How was I to get these hats to the children?  That was the next challenge.  No sooner had the thought entered my head than I received two emails, detailing local drop-off points for supplies which would be taken to the refugee camp in Calais.  Once synchronicity starts to kick in like that, I stop asking questions and get going.

IMG_20150906_091802Here are the first two.  Each took about an hour to make.  The little crocheted starfish take another 20 minutes.  It struck me that I could make more hats if I left the decoration off, but intention is everything.  As I create my rather lumpy little starfish (I’m not great at crochet) I’m pouring into them all the love and hope I can for the child who will wear that hat, and the starfish is a powerful symbol for me of how, even in this absurdly small way, each of us can make a difference.