Quote of the Day

Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell. PHiLOSOPHY and LiFE blog

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thomas and Friends


Thomas the Tank Engine and the Fat Controller

I was listening to a patient (RIP 7 June) this morning talking about how useless she feels just lying in bed all day without anything to do, feeling guilty that everyone is looking after her, being so kind, and that she can't help anyone in return.

I was reminded of the stories of Thomas the Tank Engine originally by the Revd W Audry that my children like so much both in books and on the TV. The greatest (in fact, only) praise that the Fat Controller can give, and which makes an engine so happy, is "Very Useful Engine". Engines that are not useful are scrapped or sent away or, in one distressing story, bricked up in a tunnel.

This is a pernicious doctrine and it pains me as much to read the stories to my children as it does hearing it come out of the mouth of a dear, sick woman. There is nothing wrong with being useful, but it is not what human (or any other) beings are for. What all great spirituality teaches is that we are for love, and this is a trick that the Fat Controller, along with all whose highest good is Economic Growth and those who wish to provide our children schooling that will fit them for work, just do not get.

I barely get it myself


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to pray

The anonymous, 14th century author of the Cloud of Unknowing gives this advice in chapter 3 on how to pray:

This is what you are to do: lift your heart up to the Lord, with a gentle stirring of love desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts. Centre all you attention and desire on him and let this be the sole concern of your mind and heart. Do all in your power to forget everything else, keeping your thoughts and desires free from involvement with any of God's creatures or their affairs whether in general or in particular. Perhaps this will seem like an irresponsible attitude, but I tell you, let them all be; pay no attention to them. (tr. William Johnston)

How perfect is that!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood butterly

I saw another butterfly on the way to the hospital — a speckled wood. I prepared myself for the possibility by bringing my camera and snapped it myself.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Male Orange-tip Butterfly

Male Orange-tip butterfly

Three times a week I make the journey from home to the West Mid. I value the 1¼hr journey—the ½hr train journey and the walk either end. I am learning how to pray in this time. It is, notwithstanding, an unpleasant experience for me: I am surrounded by traffic, people and unremitting noise and it is difficult for me to “hear” God without silence. If “we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human,” then I am barely human on my way to work, when I am almost constantly surrounded only by people and the products of people.

CemeteryThis morning, as I walked past the local cemetery, I saw a male orange-tip butterfly (pictured) sunning himself in a patch of bluebells. He was a gift.

At lunch-time I often go for a ½hr walk in the cemetery. Each day there is something new. Suddenly, today, the grass is too long and there are wildflowers among the tufts. The men from the parks department will come with strimmers soon and cut it all back, but today it is irrepressible. I sit on a pink-granite gravestone, the sun and the breeze at my back, and look at the green and the trees, which also have arrived into leaf. Some bugs fly past seemingly aimlessless but, no doubt, with life-and-death purpose. It reminds me of all that I loved about being a child, alone on nearby common land or in the woods, wandering aimlessly or fishing for newts. It reminds me that these flowers, these bugs and butterflies, these trees—they are my sisters and brothers, my friends.