Friends: the beauty of them

What a lovely post, beg you all to take time to think of your own friends, maybe give the distant ones a call, just to say hi.

lurchersontheedge

I have been back to Cumbria recently. I was successively Team Vicar and Team Rector there for a while. There were good times and not so good times. To be honest, when I was good, I was very very good, and when I was not…. I was unbearable. I learnt a lot about mainly myself.

Cumbria beauty Cumbria beauty

What was brilliant about being there was allowing the present to engage with the memories of the past.

The distance between 2009 and now brings a sense of perspective, but friends can help you remember that it was not always as bad as you think, and are a healthy reminder that no matter how difficult something sometimes seems to have been there is usually positive impact.

I am not a person who makes friends easily. I can do acquaintances well, if there is a mutual acceptance that I will try my best to…

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Patience

“Patience is a virtue, Virtue is a grace, Grace is a little girl with dirt upon her face”

The quotes I have read so far from the bible (isn’t Google great?) have so far told me that patience is a steadfast endurance, a suffrage. If one struggles for good and endure that suffering they are patient. A recent philosophy article tells us that patience is not only tolerance but encouragement for another person to take their time. It is a way for us to communicate that we appreciate the other person’s struggle and are willing to spend our time with them until they reach their goal. It is a form of self restraint. Which is right? Do we endure our own suffering or other’s suffering to be deemed patient? Are both right, are we enduring the suffering of our impulses while enduring the suffering of others’ agency?

Today I am very tired, my 3 yr old had a long nap yesterday and wouldn’t allow me to settle her in with her father (she had an accident in our bed so only one of us could sleep in our bed) until 2:30 in the morning. She didn’t settle immediately as I could hear her banging away in our room as I lay on the sofa with our 6 month old next to me, peacefully asleep, in her Moses basket. Then my baby wakes for a feed and I promptly fall asleep, with breast in easy reach she suckled on and off through the night, periodically waking me. By 10 o’clock this morning I gave up on any hope of meaningful sleep and got up. My 3 yr old, now awake again, is showing she has not had enough sleep by whining, screaming and stamping her feet with irrational demands to be completed immediately. I am not in the state of mind to be my usual gentle self and my thoughts turn aggressive very quickly. But endure I must, my children are too young to understand that tiredness is no excuse for difficult behaviour. “This too shall pass”. So I began thinking about patience.

The only place I can find meaningful insight into patience is in Buddhism. It’s all about letting go, contemplating your impatience, being respectful of other people’s life journeys and grounding yourself in the moment. Patience is a journey and an exercise in mindfulness. I read something along the lines of ‘find the time to meditate and if you can’t find the time then meditate longer’. This is patience. An appreciation of what is going on around you as you take the small steps to your destination. The less haste bit of ‘more speed less haste’, you will get there in the end, so will they. It’s the deep breath of resignation that now is just now and a second from now is a second from now, and really, it doesn’t matter, because time is just time. Patience is a trust that what you are aiming for is attainable if given the respect to be attained in the correct amount of time.

A lot of people in organised religion are made to feel that patience is suffering while waiting for judgement from God. To me this is propaganda to make people fearful that if they do not endure then they will not achieve. I think the real message, and I am sure many religious people within and outside of organised religion also agree, that patience is faith that good will come regardless. There is no need to endure hardship and suffer, just slow down and appreciate the journey. Patience is a happy thing not to be feared. Patience is love in one of its many forms.

Today my 12 year old needed to hear something three times in order to process it, he got distracted on my first repetition. I lost my patience with him by the second repetition and totally missed that he’d deemed what I said important enough to make sure he’d heard it right. I missed his appreciation of having me speak to him, of me being able to appreciate his attempt to engage with me. I’ve had a trying day and he has auditory processing disorder. I failed to recognise and appreciate these things because I wasn’t patient. I didn’t trust time to unfold at the rate that was needed to reach our mutual goal of communication.

Tonight I am patient again, I can look back and forgive myself for my impatient outburst, I can see it for what it was, a culmination of circumstances. This is what it is to be human and that’s okay. If I can forgive myself I’m sure the followers of the Other will place its/her/his forgiveness on me too. After all patience is faith for everyone.

Loving Life

Why life? As an atheist I would say, just because, a happy accident borne of organic compounds. Those of faith will tell you, because life is love. Today I have been exploring this, looking at what philosophers have to say about love and what is written in the Bible. I really could do with some more holy books!

“God’s Love and Ours

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

New International Version of The Holy Bible. 1 John 4:7-21

I have put it all in because I think context is important, rather than just taking the odd fragments and making them into something they are not.

My idea of love is that it is all prevalent, all pervasive, a thought, a feeling an emotion that one reflects on one’s self and on others with a degree of compulsion. We look at another human being and we feel love, that love comes in the form of familiarity, we love that human form because it is recognisable. We look at a flower and feel love because of its beauty. We are in the presence of our children and we not only feel love through our bond with them but feel loved in return. We are compelled to love in one way or another. To this end love is life even in an atheist’s world.

Imagine a world without love. There would be no responsibility either given or taken, no respect, no duty or obligation, nothing really. Without love there cannot be a zest that makes life living, or even worth living. No motivation to go from the beginning of the day to the end of the day. The flower must ‘love’ the sun for the life it brings. The baby loves the breast for the nourishment and comfort it needs to live. We love one another for the cooperation we need to live, if the farmer isn’t loved he doesn’t produce food, if the shop keeper isn’t loved, she doesn’t sell the food the farmer produces, if the consumer isn’t loved they do not consume. I can see how loved and paid can be interchanged here and that brings me on to politics.

How can love be linked with politics? Kierkegaard says that the lover is indebted because god puts love in everyone and so to love is to cover the debt of being loved. Kant says that the loved is indebted to the lover for giving the respect of love thereby obliging the loved to love. Hume ties it all up in benevolence and has done with it. The principles of Communism tells us that if we do a good deed for someone then someone will do a good deed to us, not necessarily the same person. I think this is the same with love, no one is indebted because everyone repays each other’s debt.

So to my question, why life? Well why not? Life is love and love is life, purpose and meaning all in one nice tidy place, just because it is that way, whether you believe in a higher presence or not. You give love, you receive love, you are love!

Here’s a newer translation of the passages I have quoted above. I don’t know about you but it reads better to me. This has been written by James David Audlin in his “The Writings of John”. You can find his fiction and non-fiction works at these websites:

http://audlinbooks.com

http://audlinbooks.com/about-james-david-audlin/nonfiction-james-david-audlin/

4:7 Beloved ones, we should love each other because love is from God and everyone who loves has been engendered by God and knows God. 4:8 Anyone who does not passionately love has not known God, because God is love. 4:9 The love of God has been revealed thus among us: that he has sent his son ÷ into the world so we might live through him. ÷ 4:11 Beloved ones, if God so loved us we ought likewise to love each other. 4:12 No one has ever seen God, (but) if we love each other God abides in us, and his love fully develops in us. 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because he has given to us from his spirit. 4:14 And we have seen and bear witness that the father GREEK: has sent the son [as] savior/deliverer (of) the cosmos. ARAMAIC: sent the son as deliverer from the cosmos / into the Æon. 4:15 Those who agree that Jesus is son of God, God abides in them and they in God. 4:16 And we have come to know and to trust in the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 4:17 In this way love has fully developed among us, so we may be candid in the day of judgement, because just as he exists so also do we (exist) in this GREEK: cosmos. ARAMAIC: Æon. 4:18 There is no fear in love, for fully developed love pushes fear out, because fear brings on its own torment, because anyone who fears has not come to fully developed love. 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 4:20 If anyone says “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar; if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen, he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 4:21 For this is the law that we have from him, that one who loves God should also love his brother.

It’s the Quiet Ones

Yesterday was an absolute nightmare of a day for me as a mum. I decided to take my three youngest children, 12, 3.5 and 6 months, out shopping alone. None of them were bad, just hard work. My 12 year old is currently undergoing assessment for learning/behavioural issues, my 3.5 yr old is strong willed and curious and my 6 month old is teething. 2 hours of pacifying and chasing children around our local Tesco Extra and I have decided I am not doing that alone again!

Luckily a cup of coffee with a dear friend visiting with her two girls calmed me down enough to finish off the day with a smile and a nice new house plant.

Today started off groggy, a lie-in was granted by my other half and it took a good couple of hours for me to be sane enough to accept guests. A friend came over with her daughter to drop off some clothes for my youngest and stayed for a cup of tea. I mooched around a while longer while my son had a bath and my 3 yr old went out with daddy. I finally dressed in time to receive my second guest of the day, the Reverend Kevin Ellis, hereafter referred to as Rev Kev.

Rev Kev is a different sort of person to your ‘normal’ average Joe. He is softly spoken, doesn’t particularly dally with pleasantries and is certainly not a people pleaser, he is not afraid to speak his mind and be blunt about it. This type of person pleases me as one knows exactly where one stands with honest people. When talking he is a prone as I am to wander off on tangents, but unlike me is particularly good at remembering his original thread.

We spoke of a few things and had coffee, occasionally interrupted by my youngest being unsettled, a couple of phone calls and my son joined us at one point and conversed in Welsh to our learner guest. We spoke of the difference between true believers in faith and those who do it as a token gesture because it is ‘the done thing’. We spoke briefly about different denominations of Christianity, especially how different from the mainstream Jehova’s Witnesses seem to be. I did most of the talking, I am sure this comes as no surprise to those who know me. We spoke of a mutual friend, her strength and her kindness, her tolerance and acceptance.

I talked about our right to judge and that without all necessary information one should not judge. We discussed it not being people’s place to judge from our differing view points and how those who call themselves Christians should leave it to their god (or a judge of law) to pass judgement of another person. We all have biology and experiences that shape us into the people we are and judgement should morally not be made with ignorance of these things. Many token Christians are of the believe that God will judge and forgive all their discretion an so act as if they can do no wrong, many token Christians think of themselves as close enough to God to pass judgement on others without first understanding them.

When it came time for Rev Kev to leave and walk the dogs I was left with a sense of peace that I always find I have after talking to true believers of faith. The message I receive from these people is that they have eternal hope through their faith. It echos one of my favourite sayings ‘It will be okay in the end, if it isn’t okay, then it isn’t the end’. I live my life in hope of a better future too, I just don’t use faith as my means of hope. I just can’t see the human race making it so bad that there is no coming back from it, even dystopia can be unhinged toward a more equal world and a better future to all, even post apocalypse. Perhaps it is faith, faith that all humans have good in them somewhere.

I Don’t Know the Word for it, But it isn’t Lost

I am swimming in a sea of confusion of what is and what isn’t. I can visualise many abstract concepts but those of faith dumbfound me. Why is that so? It’s like my dyscalculia, and dyspraxia, I have no issue with mathematics as long as I don’t need to visualise numbers or coordinates. I can count in units perfectly well, it’s multiples of the singular that confound me, if the problem requires large numbers I get all tangled up in groups of ones that nothing makes sense any more. I am useless with side to side, backwards and forwards, left and right, east and west, but have no problem with up and down or more or fewer dimensions.

I think this maybe why I am so drawn to theology, I cannot let go of logic and reasoning and so faith, religion and all that goes with it fascinates me. I was fool enough this morning to think that a deeper understanding of belief and truth would help me to learn what I do in fact believe. Unfortunately I cannot withdraw myself from the possibility that everything and nothing may exist or not. I have over generalised variability, everything is blurry and fuzzy. Someone mentioned Schroedinger’s Cat, the poor thing will forever be a zombie in my world! That radioisotope both has and hasn’t decayed continuously and both will and won’t forever.

I have been productive enough to add some more titles to my ‘must read’ list, for I feel so woefully under educated in things that can’t be explained by quantum decay and dynamics alone. Although that said, I am rather under educated there too! A lack of arithmetical ability is rather an arse when you’re trying to research subatomic physics.

I sit here typing while my youngest sleeps in her bouncy chair, her tiny little, sponge-like brain now processing the myriad experiences she has had today. Her first time in the shop across the road when I had to dash there with two smalls both with nappies that needed changing because I couldn’t find the wipes and I didn’t think to wash their bottoms with a flannel. Funny how mild panic can make you act. There she is, just a bundle of instincts and impulses, her curiosity is the most intense it will ever be because everything is so new to her. Not yet corrupted, still wide eyed and innocent, an almost blank slate, her story yet to be written.

Wriggles and Giggles

Today I will be mainly being mum, no one is giving me a minute to do anything I want to do. 5 month old is either giggling away while my 3 yr old wants something, or moaning at me for another feed. Teething and growth spurts are a tiring mix!

Last night I managed to listen to 3 hours of Aldous Huxley’s ‘A Brave New World’ and got a fair distance through the 9 point star blanket I am crocheting. What a wonderful story teller Huxley is, and what a disquieting novel! Between Huxley and Orwell such dystopian futures are more than just scary. Looking at the world we currently live in I can see the mixture of both dystopia in our future. Time to get the children watching Metropolis and playing Manic Street Preachers to them.

I have so much reading to do! 11 Umberto Eco, at least 5 political works, the Witness’ version of the Christian Bible. I need other religious texts and their various translations. My hunt is for the Vedas that became the written version of Hinduism, the oldest known religion on Earth. Obviously it wasn’t known as Hinduism until the Vedas were written in 1500 BCE, but the stories were handed down the generations for millennia before then apparently. I haven’t yet done a massive search, but I know that Ancient Egyptian and Western Pagan religious history goes back to at least 3000 BCE. I’m still a little sceptical of the claim of Hinduism, perhaps it is the oldest religion still practised today? Definitely more research needed.

Oh, the baby is asleep! I wonder what the toddler will demand of me if I put the baby down?

I

Beginning My Journey

A bit about myself. I am a 36 year old mother of 5, my eldest is 17 and my youngest is 6 months. I live with numerous mental ill health conditions, but I refuse to suffer them, although work outside of the home is an impossibility for me. Thankfully I find motherhood an easy challenge, and I cannot work for more than a few hours of volunteering as my middle child needs constant supervision and I am his full time carer. I have a wonderful fiancé who spends far too much time on his PC, but that suits me quite well because of my need for peace and quiet.

I have always had an interest in how things work and why things are, why things work and how they are. I flit between obsessions and am currently juggling three; politics, semiotics and theology, I am sure they will soon be joined by philosophy. A previous couple of obsessions have been psychiatry and psychology, so I can see myself drawing on what I have learned from them also in my new journey.

My starting point is of an atheist anarchist. My passion has been kindled from speaking with a couple of theologists and some Jehova Witnesses, while in the grip of trying to help the United Kingdom free herself from the grip of austerity through left wing thinking, and trying to understand the semiotics of propaganda. I think theology fits in with this very well in terms of organisation and propaganda.

I am going to try and start things from the beginning, working my way through Christianity from the book of Genesis, acquire religious texts of other beliefs, read Plato and other people on the origins of the state, research the greats of semiotics. Politics and religion have their roots firmly planted in the connections between signs and symbols and so semiotics is the obvious way to unravel the truth behind the writings, art works and theatrics of both. Both have a beginning, and I am sure both will have an end, be it the Wall Street apocalypse or the great tribulation. I want to talk with as many people as possible who know these subjects, and many more that connect in some way. But I can’t hold decent debates without at least a basic understanding of that which I am debating. So onward with my journey of discovery in a fascinating world of symbols and signs, words and hidden meanings. Dan Brown watch out, I may end up writing a blockbuster to rival The Da Vinci Code!