Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ghazal 1

Minor organisms are not aware
Of us, they live at an abstract remove.

A lesser consciousness animates them,
They are dependent on instinct to move.

Looking down on smaller creatures they seem
So fast, almost erratically, to move.

Yet gazing up at grander beasts,I feel
Them ponderous, emphatically they move.

Now if I look higher still when do I
Lose sight of those too fantastic to move?

Tim says: it's a first step to imagine
Unseen giants too ecstatic to move.

I was reading Rumi over the late autumn. I enjoyed the way that the author's self referencing voice appeared in certain poems - the form is the Ghazal. It works in various ways - I chose to use ten syllable lines in couplets. Each couplet ending with the same word and the preceeding words being half rhymes/alliteration/or sound sort of similar! The self referencing voice comes in the last couplet.

In Friendship,
Happy New Year,

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Well done

Well done Stanley and Rosie. I try to solve this problem by always having the same brand and colour of socks but here's a real problem how do you stop things creeping into duvet covers when you wash them? Even if washed alone there is always something in the duvet cover!
I know that God moves in mystrious(sic) ways but nothing like the manner of duvet covers and other washing.

I must confess that I have not read 'The Book of Discipline' about this matter but I am sure that other Friends have encountered it but daren't speak to the matter through fear, not of the state but the state of their washing.
I am perfectly willing to accept the maxim 'Never trust a man who, alone in a room with a tea cosy, does not try it on!' but are the strange machinations of washing machines not touching such a profound nature but go even deeper?After all when the light the machine we know that things are happening but do they always come out together in an ungathered Q way?
In Friendship

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lies, damned lies and

Tony Blair. What a waste of energy and so leather by so many. So 25+years in Afghanistan to come are probably based on similar veracity.
What damage to democracy Blair has done.
In disgust

Monday, 7 December 2009

Upcoming Book club dates in December and January

I've just realised that I haven't posted the "results" of our last book club meeting and what and when we're meeting next. Big oops and apologies for the delay.

December Meeting:
When: Saturday, December 12 at 4pm
Where: The Blue Moon Cafe (2 doors down from the central Quaker Meeting House beside the Cathedral)
Book: Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faiza Guene

For more about the book, click here. Quick summary: this was written by a 19 year old last year and tells about growing up poor in the Parisian ghettos as a Muslim girl with "no future" and depression. How do you find a way out?

We usually take about 1 one and a half to two hours to talk about the book, to each other and choose future books. It is very casual and you don't even have to have read the book as the process is to talk about themes. However, for December and January we chose especially "easy" quick-reads as these are usually busy months for everyone. Both books fro Dec and Jan are young adult novels that can probably be read in under 2 hours. So if you order it today from Amazon/buy it at your local bookstore, you could still come along having read the book!

January Meeting:
When: Saturday, January 9 at 4pm
Where: The Blue Moon Cafe (2 doors down from the central Quaker Meeting House beside the Cathedral)
Book: My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Some of you may have noticed that there was a Jewish issue recently (November 27) of The Friend and that My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok is reviewed in there. That's because this is widely regarded as one of the best books on "Jewishness". It actually is part of a trilogy but can be read as a stand-a-lone. Thanks to Beryl for her recommendation on this. I first read this book at 13 and it had such an impact on made me want to convert to Judaism (or at least celebrate Passover) for a significant portion of my teenage years. Enough said?

Perhaps not. This is about the tension between interpreting "God's Will" in Jewish orthodoxy and doing what you feel is right (in this case a boy's need to express his artistic talent). Click here for more info about the book.

I should point out again that you are welcome to come along even if you haven't read the books. Obviously you wouldn't contribute as much about the book, but we are doing a creative listening process and talking about spititual and activist/international themes as well that come up for us as part of the reading process.

At the December meeting we will be trying to choose a number of books so that we can let people know which books and when much more in advance. However, there is no expectation that people will come every month. Hope to see you there.


No Father Christmas for children in detention

The police were called on the patron saint of children and the imprisoned today, as he tried to deliver Christmas gifts to children at a detention centre.

The inspiration for the modern day Father Christmas, St Nicholas of Myra, was turned away at the gate of the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire when he tried to deliver presents to the children locked up inside for administrative purposes.

Jolly Old St Nick brought with him £300 worth of gifts donated by several London churches for the estimated 35 children currently detained.

Dressed in a red robe, long white beard, and a bishop’s mitre and crook, and accompanied by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey, they hoped to spread some St Nicholastide cheer among the children of migrants detained there.

The atmosphere became rather less jolly when the Home Office authorities who run Yarl’s Wood refused permission for St Nicholas to enter the Centre to distribute the gifts to the children.

Despite the authorities having agreed to accept the gifts, St Nicholas was met at the gates by a group of unidentified security guards who barred his entry and ordered him to leave the area.

They later called the police as St Nicholas blessed the gifts. The gifts were loaded into an unmarked van by staff who refused to provide a name, number or receipt for the gifts. St Nicholas asked one "guard" his name and the man said "write down 'Father Christmas'".

St Nick said, "If this is how visitors are treated, I just shudder to imagine what else transpires inside Yarl's Wood." While police questioned the St Nicholas team, taxis and delivery lorries made their way in and out of the place with many smiling and stopping to greet the Saint and his companions.

You can read the full story here

Britain locks up over 1000 children every year in immigration removal centres, with severe impacts on their mental and physical health. The Childrens Society are asking people to send a Christmas card to Phil Woolas (immigration minister) asking him to stop the detention of children - full details here.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Wineglass

A wineglass starts broad at the base, then slims right down to a narrow pinch for quite a way, then swells out again. I have thought of the wineglass as a model of someone’s personal CV, in this way.

From the day you are born, your parents may start to appraise you according to some norm they hold, such as developmental ‘milestones’ or what your siblings or cousins or neighbours’ children were thought to be like at that age. A child should be potty-trained by six months or walking by two years, or composing sonatas by four, or whatever it is. Fortunately, you have no idea whatsoever of what they’re thinking – it goes straight over your head. So as an infant you are still subjectively free (although you don’t know that either).

When you start school, it becomes explicit: tests, SATs, the curriculum. Your performance is measured and compared to that of other children in your age group. There are statistics. You may even have your IQ measured. You can ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. This is a closed system of thinking. It stays like that for many years, the narrowing of options and outlook, the stem of the wineglass. For some, this may last life long as a world view, and they may always want to know, ‘How am I doing?’ For others, there may be a blossoming of freedom in their 20s or 30s, when they realise that they themselves can decide what they are going to do with their lives – the widening out of the wineglass. I think that if you are out into the wider part of the wineglass, you can be curriculum-free, and you don’t have to compare yourself so much to other people.

I don’t believe that life is a closed system. If life is a jigsaw puzzle, not only are we not sure that we have got all the pieces; not only can we not always find the corners or many of the edges; not only has someone hidden the box lid, so we can’t see the picture, I also suspect that some of the pieces are two-sided, front and back; some are three-dimensional. And I suspect that some are quite squidgy or morphic, and change their shape over night.

Since the jigsaw puzzle is so incredibly complex, we owe it to our fellow human beings to be compassionate with everyone’s fumbling attempts to make sense of any of it, don’t we?