Category Archives: Spirituality

Wonder walking in Britain

Last week one of my favourite bloggers, Roughwighting, wrote about adding an eighth day to the week: Wonder Day.

Eight Days a Week

Her Wonder Day would not be for work, worry, doing or wanting. It would be for walking, dancing, holding hands, contemplating and enjoying the sweetness of life. 

This week I’m wonder walking in London, England. As I walk and bump up against history on every block, I wonder and learn. As I meet new people, fall into the magic of West End theatre productions and expand my knowledge of British ales, I appreciate how “wonder” full the city is.

If a full Wonder Day is out of reach, even a Wonder Moment pivots a day from ordinary to holy. 

What in your environment right now makes you wonder about it?

What in your environment right now make you think, How wonder-full?

Enjoy an ordinary, holy Wonder Moment. 

Street Sign for Amen Corner Leading to Amen Court

 

 

The gifted blind: Leading when others can’t see

In The Philosopher’s Kiss, a historical novel about the French philosophers who created the first encyclopedia, author Peter Prange describes an 18th Century Paris shrouded in impenetrable fog. The fog, mixed with the sooty smoke of that period, hung dense and unmoving between the buildings.

With the city sounds muted and their sight blinded, people bumped against each other in open squares or walked up to the door of the wrong house. Coach men felt for curbs with their hands. 

In those circumstances the magistrates called on the blind for assistance. The ones who usually passed their days huddled on the stones crying out for alms were paid to guide citizens safely through the city. In those circumstances Paris was a city that only the blind could see.

The passage in Prange’s book turns the old expression “the blind leading the blind” on its head. That phrase, based on a Bible passage:  “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39) portrays the blind as less able, less than others.

In fact, the blind can lead the blinded. In fact they are the best candidates to lead others who have become over-dependent on only one of their senses.

The passage prompted me to wonder, on what senses have I become over-dependent? What am I missing? 

What unexpected resource have I been overlooking? 

I thole, you thole, we all thole together: A thole word

Some days I barely manage to thole the Twitter experience. Other days, it sends wonderful gifts.

Last week, @RobGMacfarlane sent this gift:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


Fantastic word, that.

Quietly, toughly inspiring, as he says. The simple act of reading the definition fills my “thole” with a renewed vigour.

Sometimes we feel like this lone twig on a barren tree.

lone twig on barren tree

Other days nothing can hold us back, like these robust colourful blossoms.

Lonely twig or robust blossom, I thole, you thole, we all thole together.

 

 

Beauty breaking free

A brilliant red flower blossom grows through a crack in a fence

Beauty breaking free © 2018 Arlene Smith

This colourful flower bursting out from between its constricting fence border captured my eye. 

To me, the brilliant red blossom represents . . .

. . . beauty that wants to be shared and appreciated and not hidden away . . .

. . . natural gifts that should never be wasted . . .

. . . bright optimism in grey times . . .

What does the picture bring to your mind?

 

Three simple gifts of wings

I spent the weekend at a friend’s cottage. On Saturday morning as I read my book in the sun, an object helicoptered out of the sky and landed on my page.

A maple key wing

I took time to examine it closely. The maple key looked like a feathered wing.

After lunch I sat with our friends to enjoy a drink. A dark dragonfly landed on my arm and stood out in contrast to the white shirt I was wearing. I appreciated its presence and examined the wings closely until it flew away. I didn’t expect the visit, so I didn’t have a camera handy, but this photograph by Kirsten Pauli will give you the idea.

dragonfly © Kirsten Pauli 2008

The sky on Sunday morning looked like this.

Wing clouds

I took some time to appreciate three simple gifts of wings from nature. I felt rich.

The glass that had held my drink on Saturday afternoon read, “To be rich is no longer a sin; it’s a miracle.” I dislike the word sin and I don’t really believe in it, but I might be convinced to believe in the miracle of the gift of wings.

A miracle Negroni

Lawns, mothers, children and rough Mother’s Days

Two lawns: Which do you prefer?
It looks like one is in sun and the other in shadow, but they both lie in unobstructed sunlight.

It was Mother’s Day on Sunday in North America, and on my walk yesterday I ruminated over the dark side of the day that I kept bumping up against over the weekend.

  • The father of young children whose mother died too soon. Her young boys braced for a Mother’s Day where the empty space where her unconditional love used to be loomed large.
  • A mother estranged from her teenagers due to a difficult family break-up.
  • A note from an acquaintance on social media to “everyone, but especially to those who never got the mother they deserved. Today can be a rough day, but I’m here with you. I see you.”

As I walked ideas bounced around my brain, but when I arrived at those two very different side-by-side lawns, it led my thoughts to perfectionism and unconditional love (freely given, withheld or ripped away). 

Mothers

The lawn at the bottom of the picture is Perfect Mother as we all want to be: an unblemished Plato Ideal.

But the lawn at the top is the mother we really are: messy, rutted, and weed-filled.

I imagine that the carefree state of the lawn at the top drives the owner of the dark green manicured lawn crazy, its imperfections judged and remarked upon. Every mother knows what it is to be judged. Too lenient, too strict, too involved, too arm’s length, too busy working, too much at home, too preoccupied with appearance, too slovenly . . . too, too, too . . .

We are human beings that make mistakes. We lose our tempers. We’re tired. We can never live up to the many variations of Ideal Perfect Mother, and our children are the first to home in on our failings and foibles.

If we’re lucky, our children grow to understand and accept our imperfections and love us unconditionally, but that’s not always the case.

Children

The lawn at the bottom is Perfect Child: the unblemished Plato Ideal.

But the lawn at the top is children as they really are: messy, rutted, and weed-filled.

Parents usually come to the task of parenting with the misguided belief that their children will grow into miniature versions of themselves who will follow the paths laid out for them. Surprise! Children are singular and self-directed and not at all what we expect. 

They are human beings that make mistakes. They’re figuring out who they are and trying to find a way to love whatever that is. They can never live up to the many variations of Perfect Child, and parents are the first to home in on their failings and foibles.

The most important thing parents can do is love their children unconditionally as imperfect as they are, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it happens, but the parent is taken away too soon. 

A rough day

Messages all around us on Mother’s Day portray the Perfect Mother and Child ideal. One could easily be mislead into believing that every family situation is unblemished and shiny like that manicured lawn, instead of complicated, sometimes painful, and ever-evolving.

On my walk, the first lawn struck me as falsely green, drugged into submission and more concerned with appearances than authenticity. I preferred the messy lawn. No pretense, no trying too hard, and no plastering over imperfections.

I enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, I hope you did too. But if you had a rough day, it’s okay and ever-evolving. 

My own lawn: Cared for, a little clover mixed in, and no shortage of weeds.