Stasis – Unlimited

Glass, Heart, Window, Shot, Hole, BulletIt’s been ages since I last did a course.  I chose one of those science-meets-spirituality online ones.  It struck me it would be a good way to settle back into my life, after all the disruptions of last year – allowing someone else to lead me, gently, into my old ways of learning, musing and wondering.

So there I was, following the course leader’s instructions and working my way into an altered state.  All fine and good.  Next, we were to ask questions and allow the heart to provide an answer.  The yes/no queries worked perfectly, but then we were instructed to ask our hearts, “What do you need from me right now?”

Clear as a bell, the answer came back:  STASIS.

Sorry, what?

Space, Ship, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, ScienceAn image of those spacecraft pods you get in sci-fi films flashed into my mind, the ones with rows of people suspended somewhere between life and non-life waiting to be brought back to themselves before landing on some far-distant planet.

To be honest, I didn’t get much from the rest of the module I was studying.  I was too busy thinking about stasis – wondering if it had some other meaning I wasn’t aware of; wondering how and why it applied to me; wondering why my heart would wish me, or itself, to be in that state.

The next question we were supposed to ask was, “What do you want me to know right now?”  We were told that the answers would be brief – a short phrase or even a single word.  My heart is clearly less loquacious than its bearer.  Another single word answer: UNLIMITED.

Since then, I’ve pondered on these odd messages.  I checked ‘stasis’ for other meanings.  There are medical ones to do with veins and something about ancient Greek tyrants, but I settled on ‘a period of inactivity or equilibrium’.

(Yes, my heart is doing that glowy, expanding thing that means ‘yes’ as I type this.  I’m simply learning its way of communicating, the way I did with my pendulum, when I first started dowsing.)

Heart, Castle, Love, Symbol, RomanticMy heart has been through a great deal over the last year – all those dramas and emotional upheavals, anxieties and accomplishments, terrors and triumphs.  It needs, now, a period of stasis to recover, to rest, to relax.  It needs me to wrap up in a blanket, light the log burner and spend these winter days regaining my equilibrium.

After that, our potential together is – unlimited.

 

 

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Mama was a rolling stone

I just counted up.  I have moved home ten times in the last two months. Even when I have been at my own place, I’ve had four different people to stay during this time period.

Luggage, Packed, Travel, Trip, SuitcaseNow I know that, I don’t feel quite so stupid for waking at 2am, trying to figure out where I was and who my coughing fit might be disturbing in the next room.  (No one, luckily – I was having one of the rare nights alone in my own home.)

For a mildly sociable but relatively reclusive sole dweller such as myself, the varied company and changes of routines, diets and house rules has been bewildering and exhausting.  Seeing friends and family, visiting and checking on those I’ve been forced to ignore during the hardest parts of 2018 has been a pleasure, but one muted by the confusion and aching throat that is the lot of the soliatry being suddenly thrust into day-long chatter.

As well as covering a geographical area that stretches from London to Liverpool and Wessex to Essex, the family and friends I have visited espoused, between them, a political spectrum ranging between socialist and fundamentalist Conservative-with-a-big-C, with greens, centrist small-c-conservatives and rampant liberals scattered around.  I mention this because, within these past two months, there has not been a dinner table or sofa in Britain where politics has not been at the heart of almost every discussion.

Normally, such conversations can be difficult. Suddenly, though, I find them all of one voice.  From the most ardently politically correct Liberal Democrat to the high Tory, the words have been the same.  All of them despise and reject the politicians – every single one.  They are united in disgust and fury at the farce that is Brexit.  They are bemused and horrified at the prospect of a new election, since there is no one they can countenance voting for, despite wanting earnestly to exercise their right to do so.  They are stunned by the ludicrous, self-serving, power-hungry bunch of clowns who slump around Westminster, on huge salaries and expense-accounts, jeering and jibing at each other like a gang of school bullies, but without a single useful idea in their heads.

London, Uk, Westminster, EnglandI found myself wondering why we, as an entire nation, have so abruptly woken up to this.  We voted for these – our leaders – and heaped power, prestige and money upon them.  Now, quite suddenly, it has become glaringly obvious that they possess no skills,  no specialist knowledge, no creative thinking, no debating skills, no charisma, no wisdom beyond that of any Tom, Dick or Harriet in the street.  The message is clear:

They are no better than us.  They have lost all credibility with the people and they do not, in any meaningful way, represent us.

I feel unqualified to broaden this to the political situation in other countries but my limited knowledge does suggest that the UK may not be altogether alone in this…

So why?  I kept pondering.  Why would all these politicians suddenly be engaging in such a public display of self-destruction?  Why are they metaphorically leaping, lemming-like, over the White Cliffs of Dover?

If we broaden our perspective and take a more metaphysical view of this situation it becomes clearer.  We have outgrown them.  We have, and this is quite a scary thought, reached a point where such a system of leaders and mute followers is no longer necessary.  We have learned a valuable lesson.

A few years ago, the politicians decided to let the people – all of us – make a choice.  They made it sound simple.  They told us they trusted us to vote on whether or not to leave Europe.  They’d done it to the Scots just before, in an independence referendum, and the people of Scotland had voted to stick with the status quo.  They assumed that, when we stopped and thought about it, we would do the same.

Flag, United Kingdom, England, LondonSome of the politicians, though, expertly exploited the racial prejudice and economic concerns of certain down-trodden and less-educated members of society.  Others created bogus claims of assumed huge financial benefits of leaving, painted these in catchy slogans on the sides of a bus and travelled around the nation lying to the populace in honeyed tones.  The rest of the politicians did very little.  They mumbled vaguely about uncertainty and hidden costs and trusted to the natural conservatism of the people to leave things as they were.

It all, of course, went horribly wrong.  No one knows what to do.  They have revealed themselves – what passes for both government and opposition parties – to be entirely unfit to govern and we the people have proved ourselves unfit to make such far-reaching choices without being fully and honestly informed of the implications of each option.

Perhaps we need and deserve a country run by a council of wise and experienced elders – the kind of people from industry, health care, diplomacy, education, the emergency and military services, banking, social work, conservation and the like who currently get given CBEs and OBEs for their services to the nation.  Perhaps we need to vote for such people to hold office, based on their record of expertise and success – in terms of wide benefit and happiness – in their specialist fields.  Perhaps we are ready to dispense with the bickering and taunting and arguing that plagues our political system and allow free debate amongst those who know what they are talking about.  Perhaps party politics has had its day.

In any case, I’m glad now to finally be settled at home, and looking ahead to a new year of musing on whatever comes my way.

I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, safe and joyous 2019.

 

 

Your point being…?

Another of those long, rambling conversations I tend to have with Life, usually around 3am.

I’m saying something along the lines of, “So you’ve thrown just about everything at me this year, turned me upside down, inside out and catapulted me from highs to lows and back again.  Could you just run me through the purpose for all that one more time?”

And Life sits there, smiling calmly and replies, “Do you need to have a purpose?”

That pulled me up sharp.

Do I?

It’s a huge, broad, sweeping question, isn’t it?  For me, it touched a raw nerve.  I’m a people pleaser – the sort who always feels happiest when I’m making things better for other people.  It’s what I’ve always done.  That’s been The Purpose.  This year more than most, I’ve been on a mission to do just that.

Oh yes, before anyone feels the need to throw in that ‘love yourself’ maxim, let me assure them that I’ve done the work on that one too.  Took me quite a few decades and the help of a very skilled life coach to get there, but I do now always add my needs into the equation.  Despite that, though, I’m at my best when I’m working flat out to sort out a difficult problem and make life better for someone dear to me.

Such work has totally consumed me since February.  And now – uh – my work is done.  Yesterday I found the vision board I’d drawn back in the spring.  It showed my little family safe in a new home, reunited with all their possessions, after having had to flee for their lives, settled and smiling and happy again most of the time with a comfortable house and tidy garden to enjoy and new friends calling round to visit.

Image may contain: plant and outdoorImage may contain: people sitting, plant, tree, outdoor and natureAlmost single-handedly, and while helping to heal some of the emotional pains and fears of three traumatised people, I’ve transformed their garden from this… to this.  Even finished it on my daughter’s birthday!

So now what?  Is Life about to hurl me headlong into some new drama, so that I can once more prove my own worth and stamina to myself?  I suspect not.  I suspect that I’ve brought myself to this point so that I can stop and wonder whether I need to have a purpose.

Is just being enough?

 

 

An Open Letter to The Universe

Dear Universe,

Here we are then – another morning, another day in the Life.  Let’s decide how this one is going to go.

I have to give you credit.  I opted into this particular Lifetime in order to expand and learn through experiences and requested from you that I should have some, er, interesting scenarios to work through in order to achieve that.  You, dear Universe, certainly delivered.

Here I am in the middle of one of them.  It’s arguably the most complex, challenging and painful of the lot.  Am I learning from it?  Certainly.  Is it allowing me to expand my consciousness and understanding?  I suppose it must be.  Am I flailing about, totally out of my depth and panicking for much of the time?  Definitely.

So back to basics for a moment.  Life does not happen to me; I happen to Life.  It’s very easy to forget that when I’m in the middle of a Life drama.  It’s easy to sink into victimhood and wallow about there yelling, “This isn’t fair!  This isn’t my fault!  Someone else caused all these problems.  I didn’t choose them.”

Woman Desperate Sad Tears Cry Depression MWell no, in everyday terms I would never have chosen to have people I love suffer what they are going through.  It is all too easy to blame the perpetrators.  If those people hadn’t done those things, Life wouldn’t be this way.  If those people hadn’t done those things, I wouldn’t be here, having to deal with the fallout, day after day.  If those people hadn’t done those things… something else would have shown up in my Life to allow me to learn and expand and find ways of dealing with the issues here, because that’s what I asked for when I began this Lifetime, and that is true for everyone involved.

So let’s dispense with all the victimhood and blame and anger – the easy stuff – and move on to happening to my Life.

This is what I’m learning, you see, Universe.  You’ve given me some real humdingers to deal with in the past and I’ve often seen myself or – worse yet – people I care about, suffering, and been willing to blame others for that.  It is hugely difficult to see that every single individual concerned acted from what he or she considered to be a reasonable or practical perspective.  They each carried out what they considered to be the best or most expedient response to a difficult situation.  It’s not my task to question their actions or to blame them.  It’s my task to take steps forward and move myself and my loved ones into a safer, more secure and comfortable situation.

My little family – the woman, the child and the toddler – are in a safe, though temporary, home.  We are making plans to move them into a relatively safe and secure permanent home.  We are taking steps to make that permanent home safer and more secure, but that is still not reaching to the nub of it.  Security devices, high fences and locked gates may help to protect against physical intruders, may help to make people whose previous home has been violated, whose lives have been threatened, whose trust has been destroyed feel slightly better, but the real work is to build up inner protection.

Tunnel, LightEach of them is traumatised.
The smallest is terrified by loud noises, raised voices or passers by who remind her in some way of the ‘bad men’.
The child has just built himself a dreamcatcher – a wooden pop gun beside his bed that ‘shoots’ nightmares into a hoop, from which they are projected into a baked bean tin across the room.  For him this is serious work – serious self preservation.
For the mother, who seeks to protect and nurture the little ones while dealing with her own loss, grief and traumatic stress, there is a long, slow and painful journey.  I can see the glimmerings of a stronger, wiser, truer woman emerging.  I can see tiny steps towards the rebuilding of shattered self confidence.  I can see a brighter, clearer future that far surpasses the web of lies and deceit that were lurking and waiting to sabotage the past.

My task is to hold that image and project it to you, Universe, because then you will mirror it back to us.

Yours in love and gratitude,

Jan

 

 

Absence explained – a bit

This is a very short post, aimed at those dear people who visit this blog and follow my long, convoluted posts from time to time.

I haven’t been here much over the last month or so.  I have shared the reasons for this with a couple of very special people whom I speak to often on WordPress and in occasional emails, and their response has been heartwarming and so helpful.  Huge thanks to both of you for your care and kindness.

I’m not going into any details here and now.  Perhaps one day in the far future, when things have settled and life has moved on, I’ll share some of the growth from this massively challenging episode on the blog.  Now is not the time, though.  My family and myself are working through some extremely difficult life changes and that’s where I need to put my energy.

I was advised and empowered to use intuition and insight to take small steps towards a favourable outcome.  I’ve taken that very literally.  When faced with the next seemingly insurmountable problem, I make myself relax, tell the Universe, “OK, I now need this, this and this to happen, so that we can achieve the next step.”
Sure enough, the events occur in just the way I’ve requested.  Even the most mundane problems are solved that way as people and solutions are drawn to me, or I wake in the morning with a perfect idea fully formed and waiting to be acted upon.  No one could call our disaster miraculous, but the solutions and opportunities we receive certainly are.

The next step for me involves a move to a distant part of the country for several months.  I’ll be setting up a new, temporary home close to the people who need me most, so that we can work together to transform a difficult situation into something positive.  While that happens, the blog will be on hold, but once I’m established there, I know I will long to reconnect to my friends and acquaintances here.

My kindest regards to all of you until then.

Jan x

Trying to Re-Member

There’s a group I attend from time to time here in my town.  Each week they provide cups of every kind of herbal tea you can imagine, biscuits or cake, and a speaker.  The talks range over many areas and subjects, but they must always be positive.  That seems to be the only rule.

Abstract, Background, Pattern, ArtisticI’d never heard of that night’s speaker, but his subject was ‘The Eight Elements’ and partly because I’d been pondering on elements for quite a while and partly because he was speaking as a follower of Krishna – a Truth quite new to me – I decided to go along.

The gentleman stood calmly before us, looked around the room at the sea of faces and announced, with total certainty, “I’m not the only person in this room who has been to the breaking point.  I’m not alone in having reached a point in my life where everything I lived for, everything I believed, everything I cared about was swept away, leaving me lost, broken and utterly alone.”

All around the room, heads nodded slowly, solemnly, mine included.

The talk was excellent.  Krishna’s take on the elements was oddly familiar and linked in well with the Egyptian, Greek, Shamanic, Medieval and alchemical ideas I’d been reading and thinking about.  What I was left with above all, though, was that idea of the breaking point – the need to go through what feels at the time to be a crisis, a disaster, a destruction of all you’ve held dear.  It is the tower card in the tarot – the card I used to fear above all others, back in the days when my life was settled and sorted (although very far from perfect).

I thought of the many friends and family members I’ve seen hit that point, whether through a sudden incapacitating illness, a financial meltdown, a job loss, a relationship breakup or what’s commonly called a nervous breakdown.  Often – as in my own case – it’s a mixture of several of these.  Like the body of Osiris, we are broken up, hacked into pieces and scattered in the waters of Life.

Shell, Broken, Empty, Close, LeaveThere follows a time of the most awe-ful emptiness.  We shut down.  We exist from moment to moment, day to day, with no clear idea of how or why we are still functioning.  This is the time we need to hide away, to withdraw from everyone and everything, knowing at some instinctive level that we require peace, and that healing will eventually flow from this.

Despite the kindness and ministrations of others, there’s ultimately only one place that healing can come from.  It comes from within.  It comes from our soul-selves – the part of us that is, and has always been, whole and complete.  Slowly and painfully, we begin to re-member ourselves – to put ourselves back together.  This time, though, we will be different.  We will have shed the limiting beliefs that we are not complete without money/ health/ family/ possessions/ career/ home/ friends or whatever we relied upon for stability and identity in the past.  That’s not to say we won’t regain or rediscover some of these, but they will no longer take centre stage.

Now we will have re-membered who we truly are.  We will recognise that we are whole and complete in ourselves.  We are not – primarily – parent or employee, partner or owner.  We are infinite aspects of the great I AM and as such, we have no limits.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”

Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

 

The Blame Game

Sorry for another political rant.

It started with a phone call from my youngest, and the subject – as it inevitably does in the UK at the moment – drifted into politics.  It shouldn’t have been a problem.  We both, for the record, voted to remain in the EU; we were both dismayed at the result.  There, though, the similarities end.  For me, a slightly grim pragmatism has taken over – a kind of ‘Well, OK, we’re in this mess, so what can we do to make the best of it?’ attitude.  His disappointment, however, has taken him in a different direction.

“Not wanting to cause offence or anything,” he said, “but you know it was mainly the older people who voted for Brexit.”

I pointed out that two thirds of young people hadn’t even bothered to use their votes.

Old Man, Man, Face, Senior, Older, Weathered, Age“Well, yes, maybe,” he continued, “but it isn’t fair that these people, who won’t even be around to deal with the consequences, should have decided our future.  A group of us were saying, the other night, that – just as there’s a lower cut-off point for voting of 18 – there should maybe be a cut-off at the other end and people over 70…”

“When I reach 70,” I told him, icily, “I expect to last for approximately another 30 years.  That’s longer than you’ve been alive.”

“Well yes,” (he knows as well as I do the genetic predisposition of women in our family to last well into their nineties and often beyond) “perhaps 70 is a bit harsh.  Maybe it should be more like…”

He didn’t get to finish that sentence.

There was me thinking the ‘Remain’ camp had the higher moral ground.  We were the ones who had said, ‘Well admittedly all is not as we’d like it, but let’s stay in the Union and change things from within, rather than throwing babies out with the bathwater and putting the blame for all our ills on others – immigrants, economic migrants, European bureaucracy, Greece, Germany or whatever.’

Seems I was wrong.

As soon as the Remainers have reason to feel miffed, what do they do?  They begin flailing around looking for someone to blame.  The Scots blame the English.  The educated blame the ignorant.  My son and his mates would happily disenfranchise their parents and grandparents, just as surely as the Brexiteers would gleefully repatriate the European workers who are propping up our health service.

Why?

Index, Finger, Pointing, You, Hand, MeBecause BLAME is endemic in our culture.  We have grown up believing that everything we dislike is someone else’s fault.  All we need to do is find that someone, punish or denounce or harass them and things will start to get better.

Such an attitude is the stuff of life to our media; they thrive on fuelling the ‘righteous’ indignation of the many against the few.

It is the modus vivendi of politics.  We look on miserably while the two sides slug it out in parliament, endlessly blaming each other for whatever mess we’re in.

The trouble is, there are no winners in the Blame Game – just losers.

So how would it look, I’m wondering, if we stopped blaming?

Just simply stopped.

How would it look if each one of us took responsibility for the way things are now?

What if we calmly considered what we’re happy with and what could do with changing?

What if we then set about entering into a blame-free dialogue with others to find ways of improving matters?

What if the media observed and reported on what is happening in the country and beyond, without apportioning blame or inciting revenge?

What if politicians didn’t square up to each other across a divided room and hurl insults and recrimination?  What if they formed into all-party special interest groups – individuals with particular levels of experience and expertise in particular areas of government – and became groups of ‘elders’ who sat around a table and worked together to forge a way forward for the benefit of all?

It couldn’t be a lot worse, could it?  Maybe it could be a great deal better…

It all starts with us, though – us not blaming anyone.

Dear Self…

I have a friend who is experiencing the most terrible of times.  She is heartbroken, flat, without hope, overwhelmed and filled with grief.  Her pain and suffering are not illusory (despite my continuing belief that life is a game – it’s real enough while we are playing it) and the problems seem insurmountable.

I considered writing a letter to this friend, suggesting how she might help herself emerge from these black times, but that feels wrong.  I haven’t walked in her shoes.  I can’t tell her what steps she should take.

So instead, I’ll write my letter to my Self – the Self I was in 2008: the year I had left my teaching career, my painful, trustless, crumbling marriage, my beloved grown-up children, my home and friends, and moved to London to care for my mother.  Woman, Old, Face, Portrait, White

She couldn’t acknowledge her dementia, couldn’t see why life was becoming uncomfortable and confusing, so directed all her anger, fear and spite towards me.

I’ll write to the Self who lay shaking and crying on the spare room bed, after dodging most of the vicious blows and scratches for barring the front door at 3am and not allowing Mum to ‘go to the hairdressers’.  The Self who had turned the gas tap off on the hob again, after finding it hissing, and was wondering how long before the house would explode.  The self who knew that – one way or another, even if she didn’t blow us up – we both had to be out of that house within the next three months because there was no money left.  The Self who had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.  Those are shoes I’ve walked in.

Dear Self,

I know how black it feels.  I know how heavy all those fears and injustices are.  I know it’s 3.30 in the morning and you’re at the darkest hour – in every way.

You’re asking yourself what you have done to deserve this.  The answer is: you have grown strong.  This isn’t retribution; it’s a rite of passage.  You have given yourself the opportunity to be tested as never before – and to overcome each and every difficulty, to emerge stronger and more confident.

You’re protesting that you didn’t want this ‘test’ – you want to go back to when things were easier: not great, perhaps, but easier than this.

It doesn’t work that way.  Your life has been moving towards this point for quite a time now.  It’s here, and I’m here to help you through it.

Me?  Yes, I’m yourself – one of the millions of Selves you create with your every thought and emotion.  The me who is writing this lives eight years in your future.  She’s happy, comfortable and lives a full and independent life, surrounded by like-minded friends, with a pretty home of her own, inspiring children to teach and learn from and a garden to tend.  She has all you now dream of and more.  I don’t expect you to be able to imagine that life yet, but it’s waiting for you, dear Self, once you get through this time.

You think you’re alone.  You’re not.  All your past and future Selves are there with you.  They send you exFace, Soul, Head, Smoke, Light, Sadperience, wisdom and inspiration.  They are as real as the Self you are, lying on that bed.  You are – how can I explain ideas you haven’t yet encountered? – ‘entangled’ with more other Selves than you can imagine.  Everyone you have cared for and loved, shared with and learned from is there with you.  Just like those little sub-atomic quantum whatsits you’ve read of in science books, you and those people – the ones you see as ‘living’ and the ones you think of as ‘dead’ – become forever entangled.  That means you only have to lie there in the night asking for support and comfort, and they will come flocking to you.  You know, already, that we are more than our bodies.  You know we are also spirit.  That is how they reach you, care for you and hold you up, if you can just allow them in.

Dad’s there – of course he is.  He knows exactly what you’re enduring.  Grandma, too.  She’s barely left your side.  Trust that they are with you.

Now I want you to look into your life.  Yes, I know, the one that totally sucks.  Only it doesn’t – not TOTALLY.  I want you to find something in there – and it can be a tiny, seemingly insignificant something – that is better-than-awful.

Park, Hirsch, Enclosure, Animals, AntlerYour body, for example – it’s working pretty well, isn’t it?  Certainly the sleepless, interrupted nights aren’t helping and the IBS has flared again, but your senses work, your legs, your arms…  Take that body tomorrow – once Mum’s gone to the daycare centre – and give it a treat.  Take it to the park.  Leave the sack of worries at the gates.  Stroll in the sunshine and watch the squirrels and deer, the movement of the trees and grass, the ripples in the river.  Listen and smell and immerse yourself in nature and don’t allow yourself to give a single thought to the worries or fears.  This is your healing time.

When you get back to the gates – yes – the problems will still be waiting for you.  There will be a difference, though.  You’ll have created a piece of your Self they can’t get to.  Nurture that ‘safe’ fragment of you; spoil her rotten!  She deserves it – YOU deserve it.

You don’t need others advising you about what to do, or telling you how much you matter to them or protecting you.  You’re very slowly and wonderfully growing into the Self you can be – that strong, independent woman you were born to become.

It will keep hurting for a while, and there will be problems to overcome, but trust.  You’re going to come out of all this just fine – and it will be you (with a million Selves to back you up) who does it.

Love

Your Self   (please…)

Listening to Llull

IMG_20150417_161121This wasn’t the post I was intending to write this week, but the Friday 13th events in Paris, and the Western governments’ entirely predictable responses have prompted me to insert a few thoughts on someone who for me is a new-found hero: a man who lived many centuries ago, but perhaps has something to teach us all today.

Ramon Llull was born to courtiers of Jaume the Conqueror – a mediaeval Spanish king responsible for taking Mallorca, among other places, from the Arabs.  Ramon became a page at court and later tutor to Jaume’s son.

Bear in mind that this was the time of the crusades.  Bitter wars between Christians and Muslims had been raging for well over a century when Ramon was born.  The divisions between the two cultures could not have been greater.  Hatred and distrust of all things Arab would have been endemic in his world.

IMG_20150415_113040

gardens of Arab baths, Palma

IMG_20150415_111927

Arab baths, Palma

Perhaps, as a young man, he wandered amongst the beautiful Arab buildings in his home city of Palma.  He certainly thought deeply and studied hard.

Leaving his family, Llull went to live on a mountain in the centre of the island, taking with him an Arab servant, from whom he learned to speak Arabic.

Certainly, like every Christian of his day (and many in our own) he believed that his religion was the one true way and that Jews, Muslims and anyone who didn’t share these beliefs should convert.  Unlike his contemporaries, though, he did not believe this should happen at the point of a sword.  He proposed the use of logic – philosophical argument – to convince others.

IMG_20151104_143724He produced intricate diagrams and many books which he was sure would convince anyone of the veracity of his beliefs.

He travelled tirelessly to visit heads of state across Europe and the Middle East, offering them his works and begging them to engage in dialogue rather than warfare.

Miramar, the site of one of Llull's universities, on Mallorca's north coast

Miramar, the site of one of Llull’s universities, on Mallorca’s north coast

He set up a series of universities, where young monks could learn Arabic and other less-studied languages, the better to engage in discourse with those of other faiths.

Ramon Llull had discovered a great truth.  He had realised, centuries before Einstein would turn it into a sound-bite, that the definition of insanity is

doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

He was blazing a new trail and trying to move humanity on from endless, pointless bloodshed; he was proposing respectful, open dialogue and discussion at a time when the divisions were apparently intractable.

We have to start somewhere – why not with ourselves?  Might it be time to listen to his ideas?

 

 

 

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.