Thursday, December 27, 2012

Generation Gap

Perhaps I'm slightly envious of you;
Perhaps I wish that I could be contained
Within that very private world that few
Can understand, or reach once they have gained
Their teens.  By some strange paradox, you live
Within my world whilst I am little more
Than shadow on the edge of yours.  I give
The food and care that you are asking for,
I help with homework, make-believe I'm wise,
But only now and then communicate
My own uncertainties, or recognise
The bogus image of the adult state.
Yet sometimes, off my guard, I catch your eye
And know that we're both children, you and I.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Towards a Birth Day

Can you feel it in the air . . . can you sense the angels gathering to tell us that we're moving towards a Birth Day?

I was thinking about this as I walked down the garden path yesterday.  Brilliant winter sunlight was shining through the trees, and it struck me that, in addition to moving towards a Birth Day, we're also moving towards the light.

The curious thing about moving towards the light is that you can't see where you're going, all you can see is the light . . . which dazzles your vision.
On the other hand, if you turn and walk away from the light you can see perfectly . . .  all the shadows, all the pot-holes.  
Moving towards the light, you need to trust . . . you've no idea where you're going.

As we grope our way towards the light, towards this Birth Day, I can't think of any passage that better sums up our present position than a speech from "A Sleep of Prisoners" by Christopher Fry.

If you would like the added pleasure of hearing the author read his own words, then just click HERE:

*           *          *          *          *          *          *

The human heart can go the lengths of God . . .

Dark and cold we may be, but this

Is no winter now.  The frozen misery

Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;

The thunder is the thunder of the floes,

The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong

Comes up to face us everywhere,

Never to leave us till we take

The longest stride of soul men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.

The enterprise is exploration into God.

Where are you making for?  It takes

So many thousand years to wake . . . 

But will you wake, for pity's sake?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First say, "Please . . . "

I hadn't expected to send you another letter on the subject of orbs.  But may we consider this fascinating subject once again?
Not only have I some incredible photos that I want to share, but, if it doesn't sound too far-fetched, I  would also like to explore the concept of a relationship with orbs.

What are orbs?
I don't know.  With every orb photograph I take, it's my sense of awe and wonder that expands, not my knowledge.  True, I can now identify three different types of orbs, and know that some move more swiftly than others.  But, when it comes to the nature of their being, their role in creation, for me they remain a powerful and intriguing mystery.

There is, however, one thing that I've learned during what I can only call our six-year relationship.

Let me explain.
Not long ago I was invited to a Beethoven concert at The Royal Albert Hall.
After a brilliant rendition of the Fifth Piano Concert, the pianist and orchestra left the stage.  As we've already discovered, orbs are attracted by music and strong emotion.  Surely, I thought, taking out my camera, there'll be plenty on display after such a moving performance?

I took three photos . . . not an orb in sight.
This was hard to accept, I was disappointed and puzzled.
"Please . . ." I pleaded under my breath . . . and took a fourth photo.

When this amazing orb appeared on my camera I was stunned.
A muttered, "Thank you . . . " seemed the only appropriate response.

I'm not suggesting that the orbs literally heard my mumbled request (although maybe they did). The change was brought about by my shift in attitude.

This message was endorsed last week when a friend invited me to a concert at The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, the historic chapel at The Tower of London.  It was years since I'd been to The Tower, I'd never been to the chapel.
"Don't forget your camera," said my friend, "there are bound to be throngs of orbs!"
Her certainty left me a little anxious . . . I  just hoped that my camera was listening and that the orbs would collaborate!

The chapel was beautiful and historic, the concert truly memorable.  Once it was over I took out my camera.

Maybe the occasion, and my friend's expectations, had left me over-confident.
The singing had been so beautiful . . . surely no orb could resist?

Was it also possible that I was seeking for the orbs through the mind, whereas I needed to be searching through the heart?

Whatever the reason, to  my shocked surprise, the first few photos produced absolutely nothing.

Recalling my recent experience at The Albert Hall, I belatedly muttered, "Please . . . ".
Then, once again, pressed the shutter.

In the resultant photo you can see a cluster of shadowy orbs circling above the heads of the departing concertgoers.

I was grateful . . . but, I must admit it, a little disappointed.
I had expected more of the orbs at The Tower of London

The concert over, we left the chapel and made our way slowly across the courtyard.  Faced with such a magnificent, iconic view, I reached once more for my camera.

I wasn't thinking of orbs, I was thinking of Tower Bridge in the moonlight, so I was totally unprepared for the shock that the orbs had prepared for me.
The sky was alive with them!
(Unfortunately, this reproduction doesn't do the photo justice.  In the print I've had made you can count well over twenty orbs - many of them way in the distance over the river.)

But the final surprise was still to come, and it came when I returned home.  I'd never thought to check the photo I'd taken on arrival at The Tower.  Only when downloaded onto the computer did I discover that the earlier photo revealed a welcoming committee of orbs gathered to greet us!

Let's enjoy this amazing sight . . . brilliant orbs, spinning in the night sky, outshining the distant lights over The Thames.

We don't need to ask why, or how . . . we do need to be grateful.

So, under what conditions have I found that orbs reveal themselves in a photograph?
It would seem that orbs cannot be summoned to order (you can't bully an orb!), but they do respond to a polite request.  And, whilst they are clearly attracted by music and powerful human emotions, they retain an infinite capacity to surprise.

Perhaps, in our relationship with the infinite wonders and mysteries of creation, we ought to say, "Please . . . " and "Thank you . . . " more often!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The yellow brick road

I wonder, have you been watching 'Supersized Earth', Dallas Campbell's documentary series on television?  In the course of three programmes, billed as an exploration of how we've engineered a man-made world, Dallas Campbell has been laying out the changes that have revolutionised our planet over the past forty years . . . the expanding cities . . . high-speed travel . . . agricultural innovation.

Whilst I gazed incredulously at the towering buildings, and at the density and acreage of intensive farming,  it was the programme on contemporary travel that left the strongest impression.

I wonder, have you ever paused to think that, at any given moment, a million of the world's population is airborne?
As you read this, a changing swathe of mankind is eating, drinking, and working on laptops high above us in the skies.
It's quite a thought that the equivalent of a large, bustling city is constantly carrying out an active, productive life out of sight above our heads.

We travel . . . we certainly travel!  In the twenty-first century we acknowledge no boundaries, no limits.  Suspension bridges sway between mountain peaks . . . railways cling to ravines . . . rockets propel us into space.  The world is ours to conquer.

I should be impressed . . . I am.  I'm awestruck.  But I can't help wondering whether we've become obsessed with travel.  Not only do we refuse to recognise limits to our exploration, but we are equally adamant that speed should be the prime factor.  Travel has evolved into a competition . . . a competition to get us to any and every destination faster than ever before.

Long ago, at a time when man's speed of movement was literally limited by horse-power, Puck vowed to put  'a girdle round the earth in forty minutes'.
Is this our aim?  But what if the girdle we've created is turning into a strait-jacket?
The more we tighten the girdle, the more we shrink our planet.  Is it our aim to reduce our magnificent world to  a theme park . . . and then, like over-indulged children, go in search of other planets to conquer?

Is this what travel is all about?  To rush from A to B, trip over each other, and then rush back again?
It may sound a fanciful question, but could all this effortless, high-speed travel distort our concept of life's journey?  Are we tempted to believe that we can tunnel beneath our obstacles, hover above our problems and, given the wherewithal, always opt for first-class service?
You couldn't get away from the reality of a rutted road in a stage-coach.

When I think of representations of life's journey, do you know what comes to mind?  It's a favourite film of my childhood.
Do you remember 'The Wizard of Oz'?  Do you remember Dorothy, Toto, and her trio of companions stepping out bravely along the winding, yellow brick road?

For all its fantasy, surely this is a far more down-to-earth analogy of our progress through life than a trip to Paris by Eurostar?  It's a journey of individual steps.

Secure in the support of her ruby red slippers, Dorothy follows the twists and turns of the yellow brick road.  In fact, such is its winding nature that the final destination is far from certain . . . unlike our prime requirement for contemporary travel.

Of particular importance is the fact that the road is made of bricks, not tarmac.  It is full of features and incidents, progress is made one brick at a time.

Is your life more like a brick road than a seat in a supersonic jet?  Mine certainly is!  And have  you noticed that no two bricks are identical . . . the road can be well laid and smooth, or, alternatively, it can be poorly constructed and bumpy.  But when we are making our way along a brick road, as distinct from cocooned in an aircraft, our feet are in contact with reality, each step is different, our speed is our own.

As an additional bonus, we even have time to notice and appreciate any wild flowers that might find a foothold in the cracks between the bricks.

So . . . could it be time to abandon high-speed travel in favour of the civilities and courtesies of the yellow brick road?  Time, perhaps, to step aside every now and then, smile at our fellow travellers and even say, "After you . . . "?

As Dorothy discovered, you don't need modern technology to transport you over the rainbow!

As for those ruby red slippers . . . you know when you're wearing them . . . I know when I'm wearing them . . . and surely nothing else matters?