Sunday, 15 April 2018

On the One Lost Lamb


How did your one lost lamb come to go missing? Lambs are lost due to causes and conditions. While the other animals are comfortably controlled, bearing wool in a way to make you proud, the one lost lamb, through fright or frisk, has left the pasture for otherwhere.
            It might be one thoughtless word when under pressure, or one act parlous in consequence. Looking back, was the intention always clear? Is fear, greed, anger, an intention at all? Where is your lost lamb, loose somewhere in the world, to cause you so much regret?
            Forgiveness is foregoing of compensation or punishment by one who could rightly claim such. Who lost your lamb? Was it you? (Neglect.) Fate? (Ineffable.) Outside forces? (Incalculable.) Inside forces? (Inscrutable.)
            Try to find your one lost lamb in order to forgive its wayward progress. Blame is never useful. No lost lamb is ever retrieved that way. Find it first: what’s found is reprieved.
            Yes, this one lost lamb belongs to me. See the earmarks? I’m afraid so. How troublesome! The god in the pasture will have something to say to me. Come here, my darling. What a fine fleece you’ve grown.

Monday, 12 March 2018

On the Invisibility Problem


Are you really invisible? When, and where? And what was not seen? Many of us are invisible after the age of 50, but in our 20s and 30s, even earlier, more than one may feel unseen. Does being unseen mean I can get away with more? Am I undetected? Am I undervalued? Opaque? Unidentified? Invisibility happens still in the midst of active careers and accomplishments.
            A friend confessed surprise, finding old letters that showed people missing her, for herself, that is, personally, because of who she is. She’d thought she was invisible all those years, so full of achievement and event. That the closest people saw only her deeds.
            The slave Hagar fled into the wilderness from her master’s abusive household and met an angel she named: Thou God seest me. Seeing is everywhere in this mysterious story: looks of contempt, envy, triumph, suspicion, and grief. Hagar was astonished: Have I also here looked at him that seeth me? When her eyes were opened, she saw a well of water in the desert.
            I often feel invisible. It’s a gift to a photographer, seeing rather than seen. But in truth you are seen both by the known and the unknown.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

On Who Am I?


What do you say to someone you meet at party? How do you identify yourself? Probably from the outside in.
            Not by your religious condition. I’m a ‘miserable sinner’ (prayer book); I’m a ‘child of God’ (catechism); I’m an interrelationship with everything in the universe (Buddhist); I’m a compendium of chemicals strung together with electrical impulses (atheism): I am dust, and will return to dust.
            Nor with family: a good parent (I feed my children), or bad (I beat them); a filial child (heeding my parents), or neglectful (ignoring them). The wise avoid politics: gripping hard to the right or spinning out with the left. More approvable your football team or favourite band. No strong emotions: I’m in love, I’m pregnant; I’m gay; I’m inspired. Or I loathe, I hate, I despise.
            Even work shuns the personal. Who says: I’m a trustworthy employee (honest), or slipshod and lazy?  a sincere CEO (devoted to the good), or corrupt (follow the money)? Do the arts save us? I’m a pianist, an actor, a watercolourist? Am I first an artist or a teacher? Am I a ball of skills, personalities, impressions? All these? Or only dust, gold dust, maybe?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

On False News

Disinformation aka false news appears historically in 1939. Note the date. As a branch of intelligence, false news was deliberately spun to confuse, disconcert and disorientate the enemy. When practiced as an arm of government policy, in every aspect of statecraft or politics, across the civic realm, it’s fair to ask: who is the enemy? Answer: the entire population.
            If no news is good news, and false news is no news, who has ears to hear any kind of news at all? It comes down to Pilate’s question: what is truth?
            News is not rumour, conspiracy theory, or urban myth. Not propaganda, relations public, or celebrity puff.  Generally there’s an event involved. News isn’t opinion, reflection, ideological comment or indeed suppression.
            Can we cast away the works of darkness, like the baptismal child rejecting Satan through its sponsor’s voice? How much do we have to know? How much can we know? How much do we dare to know, and through whom?
            A little knowledge, in St. Paul’s view, is not only dangerous, but beside the point. ‘Repent, and believe the good news’ not the false news, says Mark’s Gospel. Verify the event. Without love, we are nothing.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

On Keys

Keys with mysteries. Ones that don’t engage, need coaxing or slip to the bottom of the bag. Passwords that don’t connect. Streets that won’t turn right, or left. Secret solutions defying permissions. Ianuarius, like all months, was entered invoking Janus, god of beginnings and endings, standing at the year’s turn governing doorways, transitions, passages, past and future tenses. Protector of keys.
            I wonder if it’s better to focus on beginnings rather than endings. Everything falls away from its first glory, and the past is filled, as Milarepa warns, with events concluded in sorrow. All worldly enterprises fail at last. Better to remember the beginning, appearing in hope and joy?
            Peter held the keys to heaven: are they future keys? Like Janus, Peter could open the way to the divine: Christ’s door-ward. The ancients believed the future lurked behind, ready to overtake you unawares. Surely the future is a key: will it turn in the lock?
           The two-faced god, acknowledged at the start of any action, also represents a present continuous, a point in time engaged with change: it travels with you. Other times fall away. Be attentive to beauty. The only valid key is the key to my heart.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

On Fatigue

Christmas is coming, season of goodwill. I know I sleep well, many hours, many times, yet here at year’s end I know I’m deeply tired, a level below. A low or depressed energy or mood is natural at the end of any great enterprise, even when we succeed. We’ve called on all resources, needing replenishment now. Celebration, and fatigue.
            A word of many guises. In the military, a punishment detail. For architecture, the state of materials worn to their last. Of action, to subject to stress, often repeatedly, to the point of exhaustion. Then we add Christmas, formerly Saturnalia, when the slaves took over the shop. Wearing in its own little way. What is called consuming.
            Competition is fatiguing. So is campaigning. Conditional love is exhausting: a lot of this around. Passion (especially passionate about) fatigues by definition: suffering. When intelligence appears, Lao Tzu says, a tiresome hypocrisy accompanies; when disorder is orders, we see loyal ministers with words to wear us out.
            Whatever has come to be has already been named, says Ecclesiastes: the more words, the more vanity. Fulfil your purpose, says Lao Tzu: sometimes push forward, sometimes rest behind. Breathe. Become as a little child. 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

On Having It All

Shame is so popular. Ashamed of having hair, or having no hair; of having too much height, or weight; of certain jobs, or no job; of not being straight, or having no kids, or having kids, and how they behave. Of not being fair enough, strong enough, smart enough, cool enough; of living in the wrong district. Of race, disability, style.
            There’s a deficit of enoughness, it seems. We’re not tall, powerful, healthy or magic enough. Not male enough, even when we’re girls. We never have enough money. We need more space, more attention, more love and more fame. We lack enough more.
            If we should happen to be that ideal, sex specific, family blessed, wellness crowned, truly employed, successful bright and beautiful example to the world about us, we still sleep badly knowing that one trip in the dark, one car crash, one mutating cell or rogue gene stands between us and humankind.
            Jesus said, ‘I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ He noted, ‘They that are whole have no need of the physician’. Then why shame? I wish you this Christmastide enough repentance, healing, and goodwill. There is enough: you can have it all.