April 2009


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What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning

The end is where we start from

T S Eliot  Little Gidding

 

Now there is a story behind each of these words and the process that I have been deeply engaged with in recent weeks…..what an adventure!!

 

Endings                                     dis – engagement

                                                     dis – identification                           separation

                                                     dis – orientation                               dying

 

Neutral Zone                         outer distancing                               transition

                                                    inner re-orientation                        choas

 

New Beginnings                   mystery                                                 incorporation

                                                   surprise

                                                   movement                                            renewal

 

Dying, and behold we live     2 Corinthians 6: 9

 

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The Ashdown Diaries

Volume One 1988-1997

(Allen Lane 2000 £20 642pages)

I have been meaning to read this for some time and finally discovered a copy at the bargain price of £4 in a second hand bookshop in Oswestry covered market. Waiting can yield great results for the patient!

I confess that I did not read every word of the mammoth tome – but is was revealing and illuminating for a number of reasons. It begins with Ashdown’s election as leader of his party on the 28th of July 1988 which happened to coincide with the day when the men from the Inland Revenue came to party HQ to recover monies owed to them. Ashdown inherited a bankrupt organisation with little vision of self confidence. The volume ends with the triumph of the 2nd of May election 1997 when the Liberal Democrats won 46 seats. These pages are part of the story of the reshaping of the centre ground of British politics. What surprised this reader was the astonishing revival of the party given the internal chaos and wrangling that Ashdown had to manage over this decade. There are some very surprising allies and detractors!

Further – what humanises Ashdown is his constant confessions of nervousness and absence of confidence. These doubts make him more real in the world of spin and image.

I decide to pass by on the accounts of his visits to the Balkans. I may well return to these pages at a future date – and no doubt it will form a substantial part of his forthcoming autobiography (A Fortunate Life).

What is most significant in these pages is the account of the emergence of New Labour and Blair following John Smith’s death. Blair offers Ashdown a place in Government ‘even if there is a majority’ and so we are given a very multi dimensional portrait of Blair and his advisors without the varnish of spin! It is not edifying.

The other picture that we are given is of the impossible pressure that politicians live under in the modern age, constantly living under the glare of the media and battling for any balance between the private and the public. Short nights of sleep, hate mail, long journeys and endless difficult negotiations with colleagues who want their own way are a small part of an unenviable life.

A good bedtime read. But don’t buy it – look for it on the library shelf or in the bargain section of a second hand bookshop.

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tunnel ceaselessly

 

I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, “It’s hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
and there’s no one
to say what a good job you’re doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache.”
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.

There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.

 

From Alison Luterman, Invisible work.

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POWER OF SILENCE

In silence the flower buds gently bloom,
In silence they waft their sweet perfume.
In silence grows the blades of grass,
In silence I pen down my verse.
Speech is silver, silence gold,
Good deeds silently performed,
Is more eloquent than words!
In silence lovers cuddle and sleep,
True love communicates through
oceans deep!
Look at the mountains towering so high,
Clouds kiss their tops and silently
float by!

In silence the monks move their prayer
beads,
In silence they perform their charitable deeds.
In silence the sun rises and shine,
In silence the moon beams softly smiles.

In silence my God I invoke,
In silence rise my incense smoke.
In silence my inner-self unfolds,
In silent prayer my hands I fold.
In silence, with Him I communicate,
In silence I surrender to my fate.
In silence I beg Him to make me whole,
In silence to Him I surrender my soul!
In our noise polluted world, silence is
difficult to find,
But I know, one day, this Silence shall be
mine!

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Saint Mark the Evangelist, is the traditional name of the author of the Gospel of Mark. The tradition identifies him with the John Mark mentioned as a companion of Paul in Acts, who later is said to have become a disciple of Simon Peter. John Mark accompanied Paul of Tarsus and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey. After a sharp dispute, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-40). Later Paul called upon the services of Mark, the kinsman of Barnabas, and Mark was named as Paul’s fellow worker.

His feast day is celebrated on 25 April, the anniversary of his martyrdom. St Mark is also believed by various traditions to be the first bishop of Alexandria and the first Pope of Alexandria. He is considered the founder of the church in Alexandria, according to the Coptic church understanding, and thus the founder of Christianity in Africa. His evangelistic symbol is the lion.

 

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                           Yes is a world,

                               and in this world of yes lie

                                            skilfully curled,

                           all other worlds.

 

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Welshpool

 

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Consider the delights of this mid Wales market town. Friendly, interesting, well stocked, steady, slow and satisfying are some of the adjectives that come to mind.

Here is a typical trip. Drive down the high street and park near the library where the car can be safely stored for a couple of hours for the small price of £1! Friday is market day offering a tempting fare such as: welsh butter (very bad for you which is another way of meaning that it is very delicious!), freshly baked brown bread and (cooked up by the local WI and sold at an astonishing 75p) spiced lamb pasties. This is pastry to die for and eaten in large quantities you probably will….

 

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W H Smith’s stocks almost everything one might need including on this trip a laundry marker pen for £2.50. I drop off some excess junk at the local charity shop and then head for The Oak (a refurbished hotel with an up market bar and bistro) for a coffee (freshly brewed form a huge Italian machine) and a relaxing read of the papers.

The large  butcher delivers the best rack of lamb you could ever eat – though the very jolly butcher apologises for the price of Welsh lamb. ‘I don’t understand’ I exclaim,’ there seem to be plenty of them around’. This causes much laughter with the lads chopping and trimming meat.

A walk up the High Street to see what Mr Anderson has in the window of his family antiques shop. That dresser is still there and I wonder how much that drinks cabinet is?

Back to the car via the vegetable stall that delivers pots, an onion and some rhubarb for the price of the car park.

And this list could go on. Ignore the shopping malls, the cities, the crowds and all that noise. You can’t beat a small Welsh market town.

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