Thursday, 30 March 2017

I've just come back from "my walk" - the regular friend of a walk that both brings me down into the security of its pattern, and also fires me with the newness of the details that change from each day. Its culmination is an old yew tree, its wide canopy sweeping out a large open stage around it: a place of peace and wonder. I found myself also widening: on the bus on the way home I was entering into a gentle conversation with the person next to me  (very "un-english"!).

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

For several days I seem to have been wandering incoherently between the Quran, the Bible and the world. The first has been prominent recently - for all the wrong reasons, arising from those twisted people who use Scripture into an excuse for expressing their inner pain through violence. Rising up as an antidote to this, I receive the arrival of an occasional inner waking dream: that the cosmos is perforated by countless healing golden sparks, unseen by all except the most pure.
(I though it came from something I'd read - but google is silent).

Monday, 27 March 2017

On these days around the equinox, watching the rising sun in the clear sky,  I recall the Latin Plainsong "A Solis Ortu Usque Ad Occasum" (From the rising of the sun until its setting): When, some forty years ago, accompanied by Isabel, I  spent a year's sabbatical in Germany we joined with another couple in the evenings to sing classical and early music; and this was one of our favorites.

Friday, 24 March 2017

It is said "You cannot step into the same river twice".  I would say "You cannot encounter the same Being twice" (whether that being is inanimate or animate). The tiny copse of thin bare trees two days ago was not the stiffly repelling thicket encountered today: these "things" are, each in their times, parts of a grater "me", and that constantly shifts.
Today I washed the window that faced out onto the cul-de-sac where we live. Great! there appeared the first clear transparent view from indoors for many years. But now the scene was glaringly marred by the dirt on the sill below the window; which, when carefully cleaned, drew one's eyes to the smeared black and white tiles leading up to it; which then ... NO! Enough!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

This morning I got up early to send off my wife, who was going to run a psychology session. As I returned home the rising sun reminded me of the time, many years ago, when we were spending a year in German, and we practiced singing, along with another English couple - including the song "ab ortu solis usque et occidua ..." (at the the rising of the sun and its going down [I will praise your name]).  The song was wafting through me as I was preparing to refurbish a grotty corner of the kitchen! And right now I am rejoicing in the blue sky of the morning.

(later today) On Southampton Common (as usual!): feeling majestically one with the trees in the secluded beech-grove; and then, recognizing that hubris was sliding in, reflecting that majesty belonged to the trees, while ingenuity (often used for destruction) belonged to us humans.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A friend commented on a recent program:

Of Islam/Koran one I said,
"A continual conundrum Chris. All religions - to a greater or lesser extent, bearing in mind that all religions are fractures and disparate in themselves anyway - have at the heard of them a love of 'the Creator' however they conceive that to be realised. That relationship is usually founded on a concept of peace and justice in the name of that God... and a requirement for people to be the best they can, in that Name. The 'veering towards evil' is indeed the human endeavour as is the abuse of the power that 'religion' endows upon the 'hierarchy'. Hence my withdrawal form formal religion. None are worthy of my time, in my view. I prefer the sacrament of nature you also speak of. The cathedrals of the trees, the fonts of pond and lake; the pneuma of the fresh breeze. If any philosophy attracts me, it is that of Taoism. What is, is. Best, Dave”

I very much sympathise with this.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Trump-ists and the Quran

I've been noting the action in the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders had promised to "close all mosques, pull out of the EU and ban the Quran". He was, to everyone's relief, defeated.
I am always puzzled when these Trump-ists want to ban the Quran. What do they think is in it - assuming, of course, that they have never read any part of it? How about banning all books, just to be on the safe side?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Reflections on Alzheimer's syindrome

I've been living with Alzheimer's syndrome for some time now, with considerable frustration, but also curiosity as to the way my brain is being chopped up. I realised today that what I lose is not so much memories but their connections. The occasion for this was when I was assessing what sort of a walk I should take, while being able to get back for a specified time at home. As I often do in such exercises now, I contemplated the clock on our wall, whose face is marked out by a ring of Roman numerals from 1 to 12, and an outer ring of 60 short lines. It was a straight forward, though slightly tedious matter to work out where the corresponding symbols on my watch needed to be in order for me get back in time. And so I set out.

Half way though the walk, the word "minutes" floated into my mind. "Hours" and "Minutes"! These were the concepts that could have swiftly and efficiently solved the earlier problem; but at that time they were not immediately available.

Brains are remarkable things, but you only realise it when they are malfunctioning.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Hearing the news over the past few weeks (and before) brings out the irony of people like Trump, who use the word "Muslim" to designate members of some evil sect. I need not ask "have they looked at the Quran?": they probably haven't heard of it.
Every human endeavor can veer towards evil (recall the Christian Inquisition in the 12th century). Indeed, it seems as if the greater the power of a religion, the greater the evil that it can fall into. There may be no hot line to righteousness; and yet, surely we can always discern love and beauty?  

Friday, 10 March 2017

Such a long gap - but much gleaned in the mean time: the beauty of the ripples on Southampton Water as I walked along side it towards Netley; spreading myself towards others as we linked within our drum session.
Today I found myself needing to come back to Islam, and recalling the many ways in which I have approached it. On this occasion I first dipped again into Kabir Helminski's collection of Rumi's aphorisms: passionate reflections of the darts of transcendent reality that he received (which were the elements of Muhammad's experiences) Then I came down to earth: I'm no mystic, but I can read bits of the Quran and reflect on the different ways in which The Ultimate comes to us.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Trump has moved the the depths of depravity by blocking some people from entering the USA purely on the basis of their religion (Islam).  I am absolutely appalled by this boycott directed explicitly against adherents to religion - this goes back to the dark ages, it destroys everything that humanity has sought for through the centuries.

Thursday, 2 March 2017


I belong to the Anglican Church because its ritual and its activities express and strengthens the relationship I have between myself and other people, and my relationship with the World (big "W"). Within its liturgy is our reciting of a version of the Nicene Creed which, fortunately for me, now starts with "We believe in ... ", as distinct from "I believe in ...". I am willing to belong to and to recognise the variety of interpretations held by those around me and those who fashioned it in 381 AD, even if I, as an individual, cannot tick off every single clause. Possibly "serious Christians" are happy with the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is of the same nature as an entity that initiated the flaring forth that eventually created the countless galaxies and all that developed within them, but this is meaningless to me. What I can say is that, beyond the mechanisms revealed through physics, the shining "isness" of the trees, the birds and the sky is a perpetual miracle.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

I scrapped my last blog, which had fallen into a morass of ecology, cosmology, Islam, Christianity,  ... So I'll start again (er... with a different morass!)

In our attempts at understanding the whole world in which we find ourselves we might try to categorize it into themes like the following:

   Cosmos: earth, sky, seas, stars ...
       Humans: our loves and hates, combining, hating, berthing ..
       Other-than-humans: creatures of land, sea and sky; plants ...
       Our individual being: thoughts, passions, desires
   ... and so on

Then we try the idea that the whole lot arise from one single root. It might be God, or Life, or Physics or...
Isn't it preposterous: humans, a small seed of awareness within the vast cosmos, striving to grasp the universe?

For some reason this idea reminds me of  a 1968 Cambridge wall poster, truly joining into reality the most basic and the most ineffable:

        SEE IT RISE

  (incidentally, I reckon I make pretty good bread!)