"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wounded Healers in creativity

Arun Gandhi travels the world trying to keep alive his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, based on the principles of love and truth. A young teacher in one of Arun’s lectures raised the question of “the corrupting effect of violent movies, TV shows and obscene and violent music on the young people in America.” Should they avoid such things, she asked. This, he replied, placed the cart before the horse. Those who live a life of practicing “truthfulness” would not want to watch or listen to any such media in the first instance. But such a noble life is not so easy for many of us to achieve.

It is true we often have an almost ghoulish tendency to look at the evil that is around us. We are certainly not very good at protecting ourselves from harmful influences. We therefore have government and industry guidelines that protect us from ourselves! We have rules and regulations that prohibit or restrict certain creative material, such as those that may determine the content and timing of television and radio programs. Films are classified according to their perceived suitability for different audiences. Such rules are often although not exclusively designed to protect the young and vulnerable in our societies.

But it is our own behavior, not government intervention, which in the end will influence our future, the future of this planet and the future for our children and grandchildren. In his UK best seller Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning, environmental scientist, philosopher and best selling author George Monbiot admits to being driven to action by the birth of his own child. He is as keen to see her survive in “a liveable world” as any of us must surely be for our own children and grandchildren.

I belong to Authonomy, an on- line community of authors, publishers and agents where the written word can be showcased. We all have the opportunity to write critiques on the various books, and vote for them. The idea is that those that rise to the top of the league may be worth publishing. However I am dismayed by the popularity of the books in the crime/thriller genre, often displaying awful and graphic violence, and Arun Gandhi's words come back to me.

Creativity in all its forms can be used either to help our spiritual regeneration, or to destroy our sensitivities. With its power to hurt or heal, creativity is at the very heart of all our lives, in boardroom or kitchen, hospital or garden, at work or at leisure. We do not have to be an author or painter, musician or inventor, writer or poet. Just about all of us use our creative skills as we go about our daily lives. Creativity infuses our work and leisure activities.

And so we all have a personal choice. We can be responsible and spread healing and beauty; we can radiate a sense of the soul and the spiritual throughout our lives and our communities. Or we can nurture evil and hurt in a world that has too much of it already.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The snow has at last gone (although there are piles of very dirty snow remaining where it was piled up at the sides of roads and in carparks) and today I ventured out to make a start on tidying up the garden. It was mild for a while, then the temperature suddenly dropped and I came in for a hot chocolate!

Very soon nature came out to play! From my window seat I saw a squirrel, a green woodpecker, a pair of bluetits, a pair of blackbirds, a wood pigeon (Urgh), and a pair of robins. The robins have learnt to feed from the feeder strung up on the tree, the woodpecker loves the ant nests in the lawn, the bluetits are investigating the nesting box that is used by them every year, and the squirrel was bouncing all over the place probably looking for buried nuts as well as trying to work out how to get to the bird feeder!? All this is reward for my garden being totally organic - never do I use chemicals of any sort. All vegetable matter is composted - I have 5 bins in rotation- and when this is spread around the plants the birds go mad for all the worms, bugs and creepie crawlies in it.

The picture is what it was like a fortnight ago!

Roll on spring and summer!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The future of agriculture

The other night I watched a television programme about families who have chosen to live simple lives off the land. The first in the series follows a couple who want to swop an executive lifestyle for a "better life," farming sheep on a tiny scale on Dartmoor. This was sympathetically narrated by Monty Don, who has a wealth of farming experience behind him over 40 years. Mmmm. I wish them all the best but suspect it will be very tough for them. ("My Dream Farm, Channel 4 21 January 2010).

At the same time on BBC2 there was Jimmy's Global Harvest, where Jimmy Doherty followed a tomato "farmer" in California, and it scared me stiff! The sheer enormity of the scale of the operation, almost totally mechanised, no sign of a weed or a bird or animal, no hedgerow, no butterflies, and most importantly, no biodiversity, in fact all about profit and nothing else. Even the tomatoes are especially bred with thick skins and dense flesh to withstand the picking machines, great beasts that swallowed up and sorted everything in their path. But what frightened me most though was the dismissive way the "farmer" referred to the "dirt" that must not be allowed to contaminate the crop. That "dirt" is soil, the lifeblood of our very existence on this planet, from which all our food ultimately derives. We should show it great respect. Its structure, mineral content, humus content, water holding capacity, simply how available it is to plants for their needs, all this is so fundamentally important. And he called it "dirt!" Oh dear - is this really our future? I cannot see a future if this is what we will all depend upon for our food needs!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Lord Northbourne, compassion in farming and spirituality

This is day 2 after submission of my completed ,manuscript and I am feeling an immense sense of anticlimax, it has to be said! I suspect this will soon be drowned out by the necessary checking of proofs, cover designs etc etc. But in this lull I can take advantage of the time to read other hitherto neglected books.

I have discovered a real gem! Lord Northbourne lived from 1896 to 1982, and was a farmer, painter, Olympic rower, and widely respected author on both ecology and religion. So reads the publisher's note on the back cover for "Of the land and spirit - the Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology and Religion." This is an anthology drawn together from his books and articles. Long before Rachel Carson and her exposure of the dangers of chemicals in our food and our soil, in Silent Spring, Lord  Northbourne was recognising the need to respect the cycle of nature and the part we play in it, alongside his vision that the root of many of the world's problems was a loss of our spirituality and healthy relationship with the land. He first coined the term "organic farming" and supported Rudolf Steiner's similar principles in horti- and agri- culture. I shall come back to his work from time to time as I continue reading but his work is immensely interesting.

I think the pig was called Winston - he was very friendly and smelly!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Euphoria and disaster!

Today is the first day since submitting the final manuscript of Wounded Healers in a Fractured World, aka To heal the fractured Earth, aka Ripples of Hope! So I was feeling quite euphoric when I went down to church to set everything up for our mid week Holy Eucharist. I shared the good news about the book with our lovely priest Penny, made sure everything was done for her to start the service, and then went back into the vestry to ring the bell. All this is something I have been doing probably for 10 years or thereabouts!

So what happened? As I grabbed the rope and gave it the first hard pull to get the bell going, 20 feet of heavy rope ending in a large and very heavy metal hook crashed down from that great height smack into the middle of my head! I now have a gash stuck together with glue and my white mop of hair has pink highlights!!

But praise the Lord for our wonderful community that sprang into action, our super health service who patched me up and a wonderful circle of supportive friends. Bless you all.

What better photos to use today than of Cotswold churches I visited on a short holiday just before Christmas. Anyone know which ones they are?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A sign of hope in compassion - and the Haitian tragedy

I received an email from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation today from which I quote regarding the relief efforts in Haiti:

"At the forefront of this effort are the co-ordinated efforts of faith based organisations such as World Vision, Christian Aid, Tear Fund, CAFOD and Islamic Relief. It is heartening to see religious divides ignored as a dynamic Muslim organisation like Islamic Relief puts every effort into supporting a population that predominately practice Christianity and traditional Haitian Vodou. This is multi-faith action at its most powerful, compassion as the shared value of all."

Heartening indeed!

Final manuscript submitted to publisher

Wounded Healers in a Wounded World - Ripples of Hope - To Heal the Fractured Earth - so many title ideas - not decided which to use yet. Whatever the title, today is a momentous day in my life! I uploaded the final manuscript of my book onto the O Books database today! Publication due 12-15 months hence - watch this space. Soon I should appear with my own page on the O Books website. How exciting is that!!

The photo is on Bournemouth beach - taken when book was called Ripples of Hope!

Monday, 18 January 2010


Following on from my last post, I believe another reason for inertia is the “busyness” of so many of us – the inability to be able to sit back and reflect on individual responsibilities – how we can effect change from the bottom up – instead we look to management to make change– or Government to make laws – but that is not the right way forward.

Leo Tolstoy once said: “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” Most of us need to do just that once in a while, to reappraise where we are frantically hurrying, to consider the effect of our actions on those around us and on the future of the world. Perhaps we have Benjamin Franklin to blame when, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, he declared that “Time is Money” and our busyness has been fuelled by greed ever since.

I really liked this photo - was taken in the same area where I took the picture of the crooked house in the last post!! Any idea where this is?

The need for a Dunkerque spirit.

The planet is in a bad way - surely few can disagree with that statement. And there are lots of ideas around for the reason why, and for what can be done to help secure a better future for us all. My theme is that we need a return to spirituality - and that the vulnerability and compassion of the Wounded Healer can play a part. Meanwhile years tick by as we crawl inexorably towards a precipice - beyond the point of no return even. Gloomy prognosis? Yes, perhaps, but I am sure it reflects the truth!

But I have often wondered why it seems to take so long for obvious truths to be heeded, and for action to be taken when solutions to problems sometimes seem so clear. Our greed and mass consumerism is surely unsustainable. But what drives us to this? And why does behavioural change often seem so slow, even if we accept that such change is needed. Let's leave it to the next man, we say. why should we be the first to start change?

Some say that as humans we actually need a sense of urgency, a Dunkerque kind of mentality before we will all pull together as a race to save our fellow beings. This may well be so. We all know how easy it is to procrastinate around our less favourite activities, revising for exams for example, until the last possible moment. Sometimes good ideas for change can be buried in cumbersome and unwieldy bureaucracy. Sometimes effective leadership is missing.

Ignorance is often to blame. Obviously, busy individuals do not tend to read books and textbooks outside their own spheres, and specialists do not tend to look beyond their own fields to the wider significance of their knowledge and skill – often having quite enough to do in their own work! Too often it seems that wisdom is then lost within the pages of a book – good ideas do not always convert into positive action - and are never developed further. And even the most respected media will distort facts either by accident or design to grab headline attention.

Am I right? Is there hope?

please let me have some thoughts!

By the way I liked the photo and I guess it has some relevance to the topic!! Any one like to hazard a guess as to where I took it?!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Haitian Tragedy

As I am writing this at least 100,000 Haitians have been killed in a massive earthquake that will also have caused much more human misery and suffering, both mental and physical. Many of us in our privileged lives will find this suffering hard to really comprehend.

But these are our brothers and sisters in humanity. We have to do all we can to relieve such suffering. Our natural human compassion should require that.

It is also a sad truth that it is the poorest countries, like Haiti, that suffer most from natural disaster - they simply do not have the resources to protect themselves - poverty is linked to lack of education, poor building standards etc.

What can we do - all of us - to make such news a rare event - to ensure that natural disasters have less distressing consequences in the future? What are our responsibilities? What will you do personally towards the relief effort today, and for the future? How can we allow such tragedy in the 21st century? How do we relieve such appalling poverty and help build a better, more just world for all of us?

Please let me have your thoughts.

Reverence for nature

Do you get upset when you watch a tractor and its machinery in tow going down the road hacking indiscriminately at the hedgerows along the side to cut them down to size – both in height and thickness? Do you silently weep for the poor little voles, mice, birds etc that must perish. Does any one else care as I do?

When I was young growing up on a farm we used the short cold winter days to do “hedging and ditching.” This involved tough manual labour, and skill, going around all the hedges and ditches on the farm, clearing the ditches out, making sure any water could drain away, and layering the hedges. Hedge layering is a vanishing country craft. It involves choosing good strong upright growths in the hedge, nicking them from underneath so they can be bent down and woven horizontally into and along the hedge. New shoots spring from those nicks. The result over time is a tough and thick hedge capable of keeping even the strongest livestock safely in the fields.

But of course such crafts take much more time, and time is money, and instead those monster machines hack their way along the hedge, weakening it, and blindly destroying anything, plant, animal and bird, that may get in the way. In fact nothing really stands a chance in the path of such massacre and I for one cry for these ravages of nature. Do I cry alone?

What is the alternative? The alternative is that we nurture a reverence, a love and respect for the natural world around us, listen to what it is telling us, be open to its healing powers.

Then we will no longer want to destroy it. We will no longer want to defile it with our gas guzzling cars, our litter and filth, our plastics, our bottles and our cans. We will regain our spirituality and seek a simpler life. We will discover humility and vulnerability and a compassion for all living beings. We may even walk barefoot upon the earth, because as Alastair McIntosh has observed, we “tread on the earth so much more gently barefoot.” Then we will experience a harmony of body, soil and soul and we may even become Wounded Healers for a fractured world.

I made the snowman in our front garden by the way!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

When icicles hang by the wall

In these freezing conditions I caught sight of these icicles and William Shakespeare came to mind - I learnt this at school! Do kids still learn poetry at school? I do hope so! Poetry can be very healing - it can touch our souls and speak to the spirit within us and help to heal our wounds.

WHEN icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all around the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl—
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

What does "keeling the pot" mean?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Utopian dream?

Unable to get my car out of the drive today because of the snow, I walked across the common to the local shop - a wonderful community venture by the way, but that is another story - and was totally struck by the sheer beauty of this white winter wonderland. I had time to stop and say hello and chat to other walkers, some with dogs, others just enjoying the views and the exercise like myself. And I thought, how can any one not be moved by such natural beauty?

But sadly many cannot or do not find time for such indulgence. And our profligate life styles threaten the natural world around us as we choose to ignore the fine balance of the ecosystem we are a part of.

And I thought as I walked, no amount of government legislation can help to save our planet unless we change our own behaviour, see things differently, respect nature with a reverence and awe, and that must begin within our own hearts and minds, it must reach out from our own souls. And nature itself can be a part of that healing process, if only we are prepared to listen to the natural world around us and let it speak to us through the silence of the snow or the anger of the blizzard. We can nurture a reverence, a love and respect for this world, and be open to its healing powers.

Then we will no longer want to destroy it. We will no longer want to defile it with our gas guzzling cars, our litter and filth, our plastics, our bottles and our cans. We will regain our spirituality and seek a simpler life. We will discover humility and vulnerability and a compassion for all living beings. We may even walk barefoot upon the earth, because, as Alastair McIntosh has said, we “tread on the earth so much more gently barefoot.” Then we will experience a harmony of body, soil and soul and we may even become Wounded Healers for a fractured world.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Oprah Winfrey and the Wounded Healer

Chiron the centaur and the Wounded Healer of Greek mythology, Jesus Christ the suffering servant as described in Isaiah, Henri Nouwen the wounded Roman Catholic priest and author of that lovely book The Wounded Healer, the shaman, all these and many more are generally understood to reflect the archetypal Wounded Healer. But Oprah Winfrey a Wounded Healer? Yes, says Dr Toni Galardi, author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon. She draws direct comparisons between Oprah's wounding upbringing and the Chiron story - and suggests that Oprah could use this side of her persona, as wounded healer, rather more in her media appearances. I have been exploring the part that the Wounded Healer can play in our lives, and in particular in the context of healing our fractured earth, whilst tapping into the new earth consciousness that some of us are experiencing all around us. But I confess I had not thought of including Oprah in my ramblings. I shall look at her now in a different light.

And is it true? And is it true
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained glass window's hue,
A baby in an ox's stall?
The maker of the stars and sea
Became a Child on earth for me?

John Betjeman

The photos were taken in our church this morning, showing the crib set up under the high altar, and a poster of Jesus as the Light of the World made by the children

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews