Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What did you do with yours today?

There's this thing about us humans.
No other species has it. Not like us.
This wonderful, awesome thing.

We don't use it very often
and we don't get to see it very often
but when we do...

When we do, and we recognise it,
we give each other goosebumps
and bring tears to each other's eyes.

When we do see it, we know it in every cell,
that this is what makes everything worthwhile,
this rare, precious, and yet so easily available thing.

If only we could remember to ask ourselves,
What did I do with my humanity today?
Anything? Nothing? And ask again tomorrow.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Building a bridge.

I am building a bridge. It might be a bridge across hell. But there is also a kind of hell behind me, and when I finish this bridge and find myself on the other side, there may be a hell waiting for me just because I built it.

I am building a bridge because it feels Asked of me, because it needs to be built, and it must be crossed, if only by me.

I do not know how to build a bridge.
I do not know the physics. I am bad at math and uncomfortable with engineering, and the earth is round enough that if I build a bridge long enough, I may just find myself back where I started.

But I will build it anyway. And I am told that it will not be a smooth and easy shortcut but will still be a glorious drive with a wonderful view and the air will be lovely to breathe.

And this bridge that I build shall have no toll. No burning of holes nor playing with souls. The blueprint has never been in my hand yet here, from the tips of my fingers, it will start to stand.

It will stand true, and it will be free, this bridge, and you, and me.

Oo-er. Bad omen?

Found this on Facebook just now, and simply HAD to share it! I hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws by doing this - so all credit to Ms Sue Fitzmaurice whose delightful blog informs me that she has been "trying God's patience since 1962"!


Saturday, 12 July 2014

A new pen.



In the dream, she is sure it is Him, for the awe and terror and joy that overwhelm her are like nothing she has known before. She falls to her knees and dares not seek His face out in the brightness.

There is a thud, and another, and another, and with a start she raises her eyes to see around the flare of light at His feet, books, fallen and falling.

These were My books, she hears Him say. These are what they have made of my books. Now, these are their books.

His voice sounds angry, yet also sad. Perhaps this is what betrayed sounds like. Perhaps it is the sound of heartbreak.

She can do nothing but watch as the pages separate and lift from their bindings. They flutter and swirl in a gentle tornado that her eyes see but her skin cannot sense. She glimpses lettering and language, ancient and modern. Some she understands. Some she can only recognise. Some she has never seen before.

They are all around her, these bits of paper with their words in all the voices of her world. They whizz past and she thinks, it is just like magic! But this is just a dream, she is reminding herself, when He cries,

Truth!

The papers stop where they are, in mid-air. Letters and words slide off easily, they float lightly off the pages, and they are transforming into a trellis of wings, delicate long-necked birds that circle and lift Him. She feels Him rise like a deep breath inhaled, He is lifting, and lifted by these birds of Truth.

But then He sighs and exhales another word.

Lies…

And she continues to watch, as on the hovering pages, the remaining letters and words congeal and clump together. They drop to the ground in clots, as quick and easy as mercury, but thick and dark like tar, and they ooze over to His feet and they hold Him, and they weigh Him down.

And though there is more Truth, it is the Lies that have more weight, and He is being pulled down. Like quicksand, she thinks, but pulled down into what? There is nothing beneath Him. And how can this be? Who can defeat Him? Of all that she has been taught, she has known one thing to be true:  He is undefeatable. And yet He sinks before her. 

She looks around frantically for something to save Him, but there is only page after page, every one empty, still fluttering. Hovering. Waiting? They are white and blank, and that is when she feels the pen between her fingers, and she can sense the smile in His voice as He whispers a word again, and she understands.

Truth.

She puts her pen to His paper. She closes her eyes. She opens her mind. She begins to write. She feels Him return to her. And then she wakes up.

Just a dream, she tells herself, that’s all it was. It means nothing. It is memories and wishes skipping their way into a little bedtime fairy tale. It is neurons playing in her brain:  painting pictures and faking feelings. This is all. She is sure.

She lays there in her bed and finds herself recalling a war that ended with oil spills. She thinks about the tar patches that clotted beach sand. The sand washed off easily. The tar stained and scarred her feet for days. She remembers white cormorants swooping down from a dusty grey sky only to suffocate in wet blackness. And she remembers the instructions, of how they needed to be held gently but firmly, held and cleansed and set free, pure once more, in safer waters if they were to be saved from man’s pollution and self interest.

She is no poet. She is no prophet. She is just a dreamer, awoken, with a new pen. She feels rising in her again terror, wonder and joy, but now she is awake, and and logic tells her she is alone. The terror takes over:  she places a pill under her tongue and closes her eyes.

But even as she melts away, she knows.

Tomorrow, she will write.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Midrash #1.



I love tramping and skipping through Google. It always leads to such interesting things. One such thing was the midrash, a term I had never heard of before. I shan't go into a long explanation (for you can Google it yourselves!) but simply say that seems to use inspired storytelling to interpret older stories. I could be wrong. 

Anyhoo, I found this one site that showed how to write a midrash yourself, and decided to give it a go. My piece is based on the following exercise I found at http://www.reformjudaismmag.net/1199ao.html

"Imagine that you are Eve. You have just had an interesting conversation with a talking serpent who insists that God doesn't want you to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because doing so would make you godlike. Observing the tree, you decide that the attractive fruit must be good to eat and capable of making a person wise. You reach forth your hand, take the fruit, and eat. What do you feel at that moment? What are you thinking?"

*

I have bitten into the apple, and the first thing I notice is how juicy it is. How intoxicatingly sweet. I have eaten many fruit in this garden, but none like this. This beautiful, irresistible fruit. Then I wonder:  is it really more delicious, more succulent? Or am I just attributing superior qualities to this fruit in particular, simply because it was more beautiful? Or was I merely influenced by the serpent’s opinion and so inclined to think that this fruit was somehow better than all the others. Or does the thrill of doing something forbidden add flavour to the experience?

Suddenly my head seems full and throbbing with all these thoughts.  Through their clutter, the simplicity and clarity and sheer joy that once filled my mind can no longer be found.
I drop the fruit with a sickening realisation. It was not the tree that was special. There was no magic in its fruit.  It was I. My act, my choice to reach out my hand, pluck the fruit and bite into it. It was just another tree until I did that.  

“What is this?” asks Adam, coming up behind me.

“It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” I answer, without turning around. I do not tell him that it was a tree like any other, until a few moments ago. My new knowledge weighs very heavily in my heart, and I suddenly know that I do not want to be alone in this.  I pick up the fallen fruit and brush the earth off it, against my bare belly.  The tingling, not-unpleasant sensation of wet, cool fruit against my skin makes me uncomfortable.   I turn around, feeling shame for the second time in my life, and hold the fruit out to him.

“Here,” I say. “Have a bite.”

Friday, 4 July 2014

Sunday afternoon.

I visited the National Gallery of Modern Art last Sunday. Getting there was interesting. Thanks to my niece's somewhat convoluted sense of direction, I got to see many roads and lanes that I'd never before had the opportunity to drive down. No complaints, though. When we arrived, this is what we saw:



 Most of the space here is given to this amazing garden, with wonderful spreading trees and lovely little landscaped niches. The gallery itself is spread out in what apparently used to be some very lucky bastard's house. A Viceroy or something. I'm not sure if this place can technically be termed a house. It was more an unassuming palace.

 Another lovely aspect of the place was the water. Tanks and fountains, and a soothing sound of water rippling. I can hardly explain how delightful, how exquisite, it was just to stand here.

In between all this beauty, I was intrigued to find some extraordinary lumpy pieces of stone. These turned out to be Modern Art. (That lump at the bottom right of the photo on your left? It's a bird.)

It did not bode well. But we were pleasantly surprised/relieved to find that we had arrived in time for what turned out to be quite a fascinating exhibit:  photographs from the 19th century. No photography allowed (but of course) so I made do with a photograph of a photograph on the exhibit banner:

Raja Deen Dayal was, according to a letter of reference that was part of the exhibit, a very nice and clever lad who went from being a studio photographer to being the court photographer for the Nizam of Hyderabad.

That's not him in the photo.

The exhibit was wonderful:  so many great photographs with stories just clamouring to get out. Lots of maharajahs, some of whom looked quite dissipated. Lots of brocade and carpet and curly-tipped shoes. Some breathtaking shots of historic architecture around India.

Like all good things, this too passed. In a half reverie, we walked on to other halls and to a rather rude awakening by the type of modern art that I always think of when I hear the term Modern Art.

I found two and a half paintings that I liked. (The two were by an Anupam Sood, and the half was the top half of a painting by I-forget-who, some lovely monochromatic ravens who fortunately would never have known that they shared a canvas with a line drawing of a rather grotesque woman, or perhaps it was a man.)

Oh. Perhaps that was the point of her (I-forget-who's) painting. The smooth flowing brush strokes of the raven contrasting with the Parkinson's diseasey quivering inked lines of the human. A Deeper Meaning, no doubt.

We ended with a stroll down to the gallery's horribly disappointing cafe. Another contrast! But perhaps without any deeper meaning. It could have been beautiful, but instead it looked like some little tea stand you'd find at the bus depot. And so we left. But not entirely disappointed. As we headed to the parking lot, I found Mr. M. Jayaram and convinced him to pose for me. I wouldn't let him stand at attention, so instead he sat at it. I love this picture!