When you have a toothache, you call your dentist and ask for an emergency appointment to relieve your pain. You know deeply at that point that not having a toothache is happiness. Yet later, when you don’t have a toothache, you forget and do not treasure your non-toothache. Thich Naht Hahn from “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life”, co-written with Lilian Cheung I can’t really add anything to this other than to say when I worked at a school you could always get the children to laugh when their dental appointment was at 2:30!
This image is intended as a tribute to Sergio Larrain, one of my favourite photographers. I particularly like Larrain’s image Passage Bavestrello which he took in Chile in 1952 and reconstructed it in a simplified fashion using techniques (such as the use of photographs of textured surfaces) I have employed in my other digital compositions. To see the image I based this work on and a discussion on the merits of Larrain’s work in general please see my blog post ‘A State of Grace’.
The importance of the present moment is talked about so much these days that sometimes I fear it is simply becoming a buzz word - that some see it as an aspect of “new age” spirituality or a thing only recently thought of. In fact it can be found at the heart of every religious tradition. It is almost as though at the present moment time stops and eternity can be glimpsed.
The following is an old Celtic prayer for the start of each day. I like it for its sense of gratitude, the gentleness of its message and the way in which it includes the notions of warmth and sunshine This day is your gift to me, This dawn I take it from your hands. Make me busy in your service throughout its hours, Yet not so busy I cannot sing a happy song.
The man was shown into an old garden. It was overgrown with weeds and the plants had long since died away. The ground was hard and dry and as they moved through the tangled weeds his companion pointed out something practically hidden in the undergrowth. As they drew closer the man realised the ground around the structure was a little damp, and the grass around the base was greener than elsewhere.
How truly lovely it is, even when carrying out commonplace tasks, that the small birds are starting to be heard again - spring must be on its way! I realise how little I know of these small creatures that offer up their calls and songs so generously. I know they sing for each other rather than me yet I gladly take the gift they offer - a gift that brightens the day and focusses our attention on the present - an auditory version of a field of wild flowers.
I happened to find myself in church a couple of weeks ago and the speaker was talking about how she used to play hide and seek with her children. Rather than hiding completely she always made sure that she left a foot or piece of clothing visible or made a small sound so the children wouldn’t have too much difficulty finding her. Her point was that God does the same thing with us - he wants us to seek him out but won’t make it impossible for us to find him - he wants to share in our joy when we do.
Last night I had a dream. I must have been in a car and passed what I knew was an abattoir. A dark and deep foreboding possessed me and shortly after driving past I saw a livestock lorry up ahead. I didn’t want to look at the lorry in case I saw the animals but felt compelled to do so. I was relieved that even though I could see in the back of the lorry no animals were visible.
Every so often you come across some words that really pull you up short and make you think. The following, often attributed to the Lakota people made me do just that: Let everything you do be your religion and everything you say be your prayer. I don’t know if the saying actually originated with the Lakota (please let me know if you do) but I can think of no greater challenge for anyone trying to lead a good life and no stronger admonishment for those whose actions belie their beliefs.
We want to be taken by the hand, Held securely as we might remember as a child. We want to be told it will be alright. That we are loved. We want to come home, and be accepted. Feel an unconditional love hold us, That knows our failings but never mentions them. Make them of no account. We want to surrender privately, To someone who knows our secrets. To someone to whom we belong.