Saturday 30 December 2017

The Emasculate Conception

Yesterday, as I returned from a pleasant walk, I passed a church. No doubt it was a strait--forward church much like the one I go to; but I started musing about their name on their banner: "The Immaculate conception of Mary". This means (according to Wikipedia) that she was free from "Original Sin", an attribute set up by God, that that would enter Adam and Eve if the ate a certain nice-looking Fruit. (We know what happened). We have a long way from the Adam story to Jesus. Now an even greater step: understanding how to maintain and fructify our plaint, for us and for all creatures.

(-- written earlier --)
The festival of Yule (some times confused with the celebration of the birth of Jesus, which we also cherish) is upon us! By and large I enjoy it, and I'm looking forward to visiting our sons with their wives and offspring, one batch in London and the other in the Czech Republic.
 Fortunately most of life continues.

Thursday 28 December 2017

Post-Christmas is here, and the house is swarming with screaming kids (well ... 2 of them, but it feels like 100). We'll be getting  outside soon, with sighs of relief. I am an old curmudgeon at these times.

Back home: I had a beautiful walk, meeting up with all the rest at the play area of the common, where everyone was happy. 

Thursday 21 December 2017

On the 3rd December Isabel and I set out by buss and train from Southampton to the Czech Republic, to meet one of our sons and his wife, and to salute their second child: a girl called Milly. Hence the gap in my blogging. She's doing fine - very rigorous - and mum is in good shape. The travel required a hefty book to fill in the time: it was "The Coming of the Cosmic Christ" by Matthew Fox - 278 pages!  (See
There are many gems in this from past writers:, such as Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1280). She writes: "I saw ... a stone ... like a great mountain ... It replied: "I am Jesus". This, and many others, open a mysterious fusion between cosmos and Christ. But as the righter moved steadily to today it starts to seem thin. The best that I can get is the idea that Jesus is in some incomprehensible communion with God: the god of all the universe (or universes). 

Sunday 10 December 2017

The Cosmic Christ

While glancing over my book-shelf yesterday morning, I saw a thick book "The Coming of the Cosmic Christ" by Matthew Fox. Flicking through it, I was wondering "what does all this mean for me, now?"
I think of Fox's, "Cosmic Christ" as the giving to us of the universe, in all its dynamism, in so far as we humans can grasp it. Jesus, being in intimate contact with God, would presumably be in that category - but his aim was to teach those around him, not to do physics. That's for us!
From a practical point of view, we are offered the ability to understand the richness of this gift: and to treat it accordingly.

Christmas cake

Christmas in sight, so I'm making the cake. Hearse what mine has developed to:

Christmas cake 2017
500g butter    500g dark brown sugar   6 eggs     3 tbs black treacle    560g self-raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon   2/3 tsp nutmeg powder   1 tsp allspice   1/2 tsp salt  
 1kg of miscellaneous fruit (might include: 250g raisins, 90g glace cherries, 120g ground almonds)
100 ml brandy  A lemon
At an appropriate time: Coat a 23cm x 9cm round tin with butter, line the inside with grease proof paper and (depending on heating)  cartridge paper and / or newspaper outside.
Beat butter and sugar until light in colour, then beat in treacle. Beat in each egg, one at a time.
Mix and into another bowl:  self-raising flour, cinnamon, nutmeg powder, allspice, allspice & salt,        mix , sieve into the main bowl and mix.
Mix in the fruit.  If using glace cherries, cut them up (e.g. each one three time) and role them in flour to stop them sticking together. If also using ground almonds as well as Cherie, these are nice mixed with the almonds.
Add lemon juice with its zest and juice, plus brandy ad lib. Put in prepared tray.
Cook for about 4hrs (could have poke earlier Add lemon juice and zest.!)

Saturday 9 December 2017

The other day, on my usual walk in Southampton Common, I stopped to look at the rather splendid slab on the earth, celebrating the making of "an artisan well to provide water to the expanding town [of Southampton]"  Unfortunately no water ever came out, however deeply they went: the geology was quite unsuitable to it!
Study before you dig.

Monday 4 December 2017


When I was young I was terrified at the idea of death, I think learned from my mother's fear. It took a long time to shake it off. Now that I am starting to hear of death among people that I know, the topic is more relevant and, surprisingly, no longer fearful. What matters is the now, and this is so far joyful. In some ways, my Alzheimer's disease helps me to be "in the now" because I loose items from the past (but it's sometimes irritating for other people, such as me wife, who have to keep telling me what they said yesterday!)
On a more serious line: what about the Christian "everlasting life"? Treated literately, the idea seems terrible; but I see it as "being beyond time".   

Saturday 2 December 2017

Once I wrote a blog that described how I was so impressed by a particular tree that I bent down on my knees before it (or "genuflected", in religious terminology). I knew about this practice through a tour that used to be held in Southampton, when we respectfully visiting all the sacred buildings there.  Anyway, it was then, in the Sikh temple where, I learned this very powerful movement.
I was reflecting on this today, and decided that these physical practices, while fully valid for those who are members of Sikhism, are a bit phony for me now: I am claiming a sacred commitment that I do not actually process.
I feel truly expanded as I reflect on this: now I am walking my path, not that of another, and I enjoy this tree for its own sake, not for my use.  

Friday 1 December 2017

I make the brown bread in our house: here's the recipe
50 gm yeast,  250gm strong white bread flour,  1kg strong whole-meal  flour,  sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseed, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, warm water, butter.
Usual measuring thing things and large bowl. Bread pans.
Cream yeast with some sugar and warm water. Add 150ml of the water, sprinkle over with strong white flour and set in a warm place to rise. Meanwhile put the remaining white flour in a pile in the bowl and the whole meal flour in two piles (for convenience).  Sprinkle in 1.3 tsp salt overall, and mix some oil (about 1 serving spoon) into one of the piles (or can be done later).  Roast the sunflower seeds and mix them in, and the same with the sesame seeds (put a cover over it if they start shooting out!). Put the linseed into a cup of water to soak.
Mix everything except the linseed together and mix, adding warm water as required: it needs to be wet enough too handle for kneading, but not sticky. This first kneading is mainly just to get it well mixed and in into a shape convent for handing (e.g. a sphere). 
While it’s rising, this is a good time to grease the pans with butter (not oil, because the high temperature of roasting makes it nasty!) This rising is not too critical – not larger than doubling the volume. Then divide it into the pans and let it rise until it fit the pans as required. Drain the liquid from the linseed and spread the seeds over the breads. Roast until done.

No need to copy this: be inspired to invent your own!

Thursday 30 November 2017

My relation with trees

During a long railway trip, I found myself thinking of the past events that have shaped me - most of all, maybe some 45 years ago. 

 I stood closely facing a small tree in our garden, and felt able to “ask” of it, as it were, “What is it like to be a tree?” This was my turning point. There was, in a sense, a shattering “answer”, though it is hard to explain it. For a short moment my perception had enlarged so as to include its own ‘is-ness’ as a tree. From then on, trees had an inner being, just as the birds and our selves.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Today, having left it for some time (shouldn't get in a rut), I walked to the nearby beach Grove. It was relaxing to bow again before the ancient central beach-tree, and sing the first line of "St.Frances' song"  (in English it would be: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace"). Yes, I know it was first written in Germany and had nothing at all to do with St. Frances, but it's a reminder of what I might occasionally try to do.

Friday 17 November 2017

Time and the universe

I'm intrigued by the "Beginning" of the universe. The word immediately promote questions: was there a beginning, in the scientific sense? what was it like? The problem is that "beginning" implies a moment that is the start of something: before it was not, and after it was. But in the case of the universe there was no beginning, only an after. In this sense, this 'beginning' is timeless: time comes after it. 
But could this be said of the universe as a whole? The universe is a four-dimensional extension, permeated by a kind of weft that sets a limit, namely the speed of light, on the shapes within it. Time is not an absolute, but a human convention. 

[Addition after finding an alternative]  
There's an alternative to this in the ideas of Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das ("Cosmology from quantum potential." Physics Letters B. Volume 741, 4 February 2015, Pages 276–279 - see

It rests on a non-standard approach to quantum theory due to Bohm - but I feel that we still have no fully consistent approach to applying quantum theory on a large scale.
At the core of this is the fact that we still have no universal approach to physics, encompassing the smallest particles and the entire universe. Our physics remains a patchwork.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

(This one's a bit heavy, I'm afraid!)
I've been thinking about God as "word" - as in "In the beginning was the word" in the Gospel of John. It's also implicitly there in the words "God said, 'let there be light' in The book of Genesis, the start of the bible.
There are echoes of this with the Greek writer Judaeus Philo of Alexandria (15 BC - 45 CE), who taught that the logos ('word' but in a general sense) was an intermediary between God and the cosmos. Then there is an echo of God as "word" in the Qur'an (Surah 96), where the presence of God to Muhammad, that started Islam, came as a word (namely the word "Iqra", meaning "Read", despite that Muhammad could not read). 
For a Christian (which I am, at least in the sense that I voluntarily asked to be christened, and I go to church quite a bit) God is both the ultimate creator of all universes, and a presence so close to Jesus that he called him "Father".
The best I can do is a fuzzy notion that pure being, in itself , is beyond words.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

It's surprising how the past, whether old or recent, creeps up. Today I was, as usual, on the Common and, since the ground was very whet, walking on an old strip of concrete. I recalled that this had been placed there in the second world war, to provide for the landing and departure of airoplanes - a humbling thought!
I think this carefulness of thought continued on me when, at home, I was improving a decoration on the kitchen wall! In retrospect, I recalled that I had made each step with careful thought!

Thursday 9 November 2017

Where three roads meet

   Today's walk started off very basically: crossing the road to the Common, walking towards the underpass beneath the road, with it's layers of  (very competent) graffiti ... and I started to wonder where I would go. A thought came to me, something like a voice: "the common will tell you". And so I duly wandered: along the path close to the nearby road, turning at it's end to the next edge, and finally, with some relief, entering the far end of a wood. Initially it seemed a dump, with empty beer cans and discarded clothes scattered around: but soon was the real wood.
   It was a dark area with widely scattered yew trees. There was no undergrowth, apart from some large fallen branches, three of which were raised from the earth, like aerial roads. I was reminded of  Oedipus, who was told that a fateful event would happen where three roads meet. Everything was peaceful, however, where I was.
(A long time ago I was fascinated by Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex in which Oedipus' fate was unknowingly to kill his father and marry his mother)

Wednesday 8 November 2017


Walking home after my hair-cut (I rarely get round to it, but I enjoy the ambiance when I do)  I was, as usual, looking at things in my surroundings. After a while, I noticed that no one else was doing this - apart from those who clearly needed to keep their eye on the ball, like parents with children. The rest were reading or listening to something held in front of them.
Looking is a dying art!

Tuesday 7 November 2017

 Walking, as so often, to the beech grove yesterday, I encountered an interesting change. Four of the various large fallen branches that scatter around there had been arranged in a neat large square, suggesting a comfortable place for a few people to sit in. There were no empty cans near by (as there are sometimes) : it had been a gently civilized event, perhaps a pic-nick. But!!, this square was placed right in front of the central tree, the one on which, whenever I came there, I drew the essence of the grove, the tree against which I rested when ever I came!
 I paused, and then left happily. I took it as a useful reminder that symbols which you set up, such as the one that I assigned to this tree, should not be clung to.
 I'm tempted to continue this principal regarding what I do in church, but this is getting into deep water!  

Friday 3 November 2017

Cosmic intelect

Back home yesterday after a trip to Fowey! - and now musing on today's walk in Southampton Common. I was reflecting on the universe ("the universe" used to be my specialty before I left Southampton University!). My mind wandered to a remark out in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe: "You might think that going to shop is a long time, but the universe ... is  really big".
So, in that case, it's likely that there are other beings out there who might be similar to us; or, more likely, more development. What might they say about the universe? Posably their way of thinking would be so different from ours that there could be no such contact.
This difficulty occurs even within our own planet. I am attracted by dogs, though I never thought of having one (far to difficult to look after!). When I pass one, I still say "hello" (in human-doggyish, of course: I hold my hand down with the back of my palm to the dog, and the dog licks it).

Another frequent encounter, as noted in an earlier blog, is with trees - but here it is a different interaction: my opening to a tiny spark of the inner nature of the tree.

Friday 20 October 2017

Today, while walking to meet a friend, I found myself, for no conscious reason, silently singing the Gayatri mantra: "Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha. Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo, Devasya Dhimahi: Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat". The central part invokes all beings, below on and beyond the earth, and the end praises for their being and fulfillment. It comes from the Chandogya Upanishad, 1st millennium BCE. It recalled to me the spiritual richness that we met in India when Isabel and I stayed there for a while.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Dancing in the street

"Dancing in the street" is the title of a fascinating book by Barbara Ehrenreich. Its sweeps from neolithic cave dwellers to today, via every concealable (and sometimes scarcely
concealable) activities. The basic message is that communal living thrives on, or even requires, ritual common movement. Thus the term "dancing" in her scope includes things like a crowd of football enthusiasts leaping up and waving together when there is a goal.  
As a circle-dance enthusiast, all this really strikes a cord in me! Strongly recommended.   

Sunday 15 October 2017


Yesterday I noticed on my chaotic desk a copy of T.S Eliot's Collected Poems (how did it get there?). I flipped to the start of his most famous work, The Waste Land, that starts with the words of a classical: Greek, Petronius Arbiter. He described a female prophet called "The Sibyl" as follows:  
"I myself with my own eyes saw her hanging in a cage; and when the boys cried at her: 'Sibyl, Sibyl, what do you want?' she used to answer 'I would that I were dead'.
I was reminded of a "spiritual healer" with whom I once discussed, out of interest. He could,  it seemed, connect with another person so deeply that he could, without asking, take into himself their whole situation, in depth, and thereby help them. He was a sort of gentle humanized version of the Sibyl, and with her suffered: in his case, through the pain of taking his clients' difficulties into himself.   

Thursday 12 October 2017

This morning, not accepting the clear fact that I was tired, I set up a ladder and began to dismember a lighting unit that was in need of improvement. There was a struggle, and the lights that I held smashed down, scattering shards of glass all over the floor - and leaving me miserably distraught. Fortunately, Isabel was present and she sorted out my mind, enabling me to sort out my mess!
After this I needed my regular walk on the Common; and in particular I needed, more than usually, the glen of trees. As I moved towards it, my walk seemed more like pilgrimage; and, as used to be the custom, I found myself first circulating the outer path of the ground; before, as usual, holding the central tree and finally prostrating before it.

Monday 9 October 2017

The universe and everything

At this moment I seem to be encountering  people who "Know all the answers",  perhaps including  "life, universe, everything", as it is put in "The Hitchiker's Guide to the universe"). If treated carefully, this quote can be helpful: we toy with the idea of investigating beyond our galaxy to the many other galaxies - or even other universes. The latter seems, at first glance, impossible to observe: but if we could somehow understand the "flaring forth" that initiated our own universe, we might at least get some inkling of other ones.  

Sunday 8 October 2017

I've just returned from 3 days in London, while Isabel was working there (yes, she is the bread-winner and I am the drone!), while a friend greeted us to stay with her.
On Sunday, while Isabel was still working, I went to St James Church, Piccadilly. I silently rejoiced as I sat down: this was the place where I needed to be. At the start a member gave a brief outline of what has been achieved the previous week, and and how this would be taken forward. Then the service itself carries this forward. This is a deeply christian church, fully committed to promoting justice: for the earth and for all that live on it, including we errant humans! (and what's more, it doesn't get wound up about sexuality). If you're in the southern sentre UK, do give it a try. Check

Thursday 5 October 2017

I'm gradually getting used to my Alzheimer's disease, with its frequent random scattering of the words with which I was about to speak. But some times the words they produce for a scattering are lead me to an unexpected place - as in this short poem by Goethe that I loved for many years. Here's my clumsy translation, with the beautiful German original below.

  If our sight could not reach to the Sun,
  Our knowing never could embrace it;
  And if God’s work moved not in us,
  Then how could we delight in it? 
   Wär' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Die Sonne könnt es nie erblicken;
Läg nicht in uns des Gottes eigne Kraft,
Wie könnt uns Göttliches entzücken?  )

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Walking with a friend today I pointed out a pare of buzzards in the distance. I recalled and described the time when I was often aware of connections with beings other than the human. Once, in a "Buzzard period", one of them landed in a tree about 4km from me.
We humans (including myself, most of the time) easily accept other beings as vital in sustaining the living web on which we depend. But only occasionally do we (including myself) engage in its depth consciously.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Two Ways

A few days ago I was with other Christians in a pleasant discussion group, based on a book by Symon Hill. After two thirds of the way through (including some pleasant sips of wine)  I started to grow feelings of "yes, but...". We were trapped in words and in the rational, even when we noted the paradoxes within Jesus' sayings. 
My mind wandered to those frequent moments when my thoughts were two-fold: echoes of my chuntering words, overlain by delight for the reality of all that Is

Monday 25 September 2017

A garden

Yesterday was for the garden. The day before we had bought a large bag of daffodil  bulbs, intending to plant them around the shrubs, and now came the work. Surprisingly, the work was great fun! I had imagined I would be daintily pushing holes, one by one, in the lawn and dropping in the bulbs - maybe 15 minutes.  ....  I discovered that our lawn rests on a dense mass of earth and stones!
But the activity steadily increased my enthusiasm, encountering each challenge as they appeared.

Today I stayed longer in bed recovering!

Sunday 24 September 2017

A private creed

Some times I wonder why I go to church and take Christianity seriously ... so I've tried to put down what it is that keeps me there: a sort of "Private Creed".

Here it is

I believe in the one ultimate being, “Pure Isness” bringing into existence all universes, including our own universe, and flowing to all forms of existence. By “God” I understand the presence of Pure Isness as it initiated the flaring forth of our universe, and its presence in all the physical and unknown processes that have eventually created us, and I believe that humans can think and act in ways beyond the physical.
I believe in Jesus Christ, born of Mary and Joseph, a man uniquely and fully open to God, who lived and died as described in the Gospels.
I believe that some or all of the openness to God of Jesus can also arise in us, and particularly in groups of people, where it called “The Holy Spirit”.