It’s been a rough year, and it’s only May. I won’t go into the gory details of why, except to say that an elderly mother is part of the equation. For those of you caring for an elderly parent, enough said. So I have needed to regroup. Part of what I have done in the last few months was to take a sabbatical from writing anything other than my Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.) It has been a time of paring down commitments in order to give myself time to recover. One of the great things that has supported me is the Tai Chi class I started going to last October. I love it. It requires total attention to detail so the thinking mind has to go on holiday. It’s also very graceful and flowing, like a slow dance. We do the form, or practice of the 108 moves, in total silence. I find it incredibly peaceful. Mobile phone off, quietness, and moving meditation. It teaches you patience, because you practice and practice and then one day, you find that you know a bit of it, and gradually add a little more to what you know. It can’t be rushed. I know about the first eight moves and the two snake movements, that’s all. I bought a bamboo plant and put it in a pot in the back garden. The bamboo is on one side of me and the shed is on the other in a very small space as I try to practice the little I know out of sight of the neighbours, so that they won’t call for a strait jacket for me. The second string of my regaining my equilibrium has been my daily meditation practice, a godsend in tough times. It’s a lovely rest for the mind and helps me focus on all my blessings, of which there are many. Of course the cats are a great help too. Felicity leaped on a sheet hanging over the stairs last week, and slid down the bannister with claws stuck in the fabric, a look of total shock on her face. It was the funniest thing I have seen all year and gave me a much-needed belly laugh. So I am grateful for all mercies, large and small, and especially the way the Universe responded when I asked for help in regaining my joie de vivre. Try it. Sure what have you got to lose?! 🙂
I’m not much of a gardener, to be honest. More of a pottering-around person than someone who actually knows what they are doing. Sometimes I celebrate having cut the grass by having a beer while wandering around my quite small garden looking at things with my head to one side. So I was quite surprised when I finally got the raspberries right this year, definitely more by accident than design. I am confused as to what I am supposed to cut back in the autumn. Two years ago I cut all the raspberry canes back, thinking it would cause them to grow stronger. It didn’t, and there were a paltry few raspberries to be seen last summer. So last year I went to the other extreme, and I cut nothing back. I inadvertently threw some vegetable fertiliser on them in May and I must have got the timing right for once. The raspberry harvest has been abundant. While I have been out picking them, I find that I am completely absorbed in what I am doing, which of course is so relaxing. I seem to have a muscle memory of exactly how much pressure to put on a raspberry to persuade it to be picked, and if it resists, I leave it be. I also unknowingly remembered that a great way to find extra ones is to kind of hang upside down and look up at the bushes. I am amazed at how many gorgeous, plump, ripe berries I have missed until I do this. Probably because of the weather (the usual “soft” Irish summer i.e. lashing rain all the time) the berries are huge. They are so huge they are impressive. I began to realise that in the past, when something was flowering nicely or producing fruit I took it for granted and just ignored the plant, expecting that it would continue to do so without any input from me. I guess it’s my age, but now I am more inclined to reward good effort with fertiliser or whatever might be needed. Taking less things for granted. It can only be good. I also use the biodynamic principles of leaving 10% of the harvest for the slugs, snails and birds. Of course, where I grew up, they would say that I am for the birds but hey, not my problem. All I know is that I have an abundant harvest, and if my fellow creatures want their share, that’s okay with me. I also whisper “thank you” to the plants each time I collect the raspberries. I have had great enjoyment out of sharing the bumper yield with my neighbours. One of them slowed down his car yesterday and shouted “The raspberries were lovely!” which made me laugh. Imagine, such pleasure to be had from such simple things. So that’s why I think raspberries are intelligent. They respond to kindness like all the rest of us, hide their berries under the leaves so you have to go looking for them, which makes you spend more time in the garden, which lets your soul be peaceful. Clever fruit.
Cats are God’s best invention. They are warm, furry and funny. Is there anything better than putting a purring cat to your ear and listening to the sound of happiness? Talk about sound therapy to heal the heart and soul! We can learn a lot from how cats spend their day. Get up and stretch. (Activate muscles and open energy channels.) Big yawn. (Release tension from the jaw.) Go out for a ramble. (Fresh air and exercise.) Come back in and be served food. (Manifestation of good-quality staff.) Go for a power nap. (Don’t overdo it.) Get up and stretch. (Stay flexible.) Nibble on some food. (Eat small and often.) Go out and catch sparrow as gift for Mammy. (Use God-given talents.) Watch Mammy in disbelief as she rejects gift and instead successfully resuscitates sparrow from near-death experience by giving him healing energy. (Educate Mammy in higher healing arts.) Watch Mammy with exasperation as she runs out door with chirping sparrow wrapped in kitchen towel. (Create exercise program for Mammy.) Watch Mammy in puzzlement as she adds revived sparrow to her miracle list. (Create spiritual growth opportunity for Mammy.) Throw back leg over shoulder to clean bum while considering that Mammy needs to get out more. (Attend to physical and mental hygiene.) See what I mean? Cats are God’s best invention.
It was two days before Christmas and Libby was glum. She looked at a statue of an angel holding a cat that Jim had once given her. He had said the cat was like her beloved Mr. Pickles. They were both gone now. ‘Serafina,’ she said severely, addressing the angel. ‘Maybe you’ve had your head up in the clouds, eating Philadelphia cream cheese like that angel on the telly. But I need to be cheered up. So get onto it now, right?’
A flyer for a Bring and Buy sale in the local community hall fluttered onto the mat inside the front door. Libby read it and nodded decisively. She put on her coat, and jammed on a Santy hat at a jaunty angle. She walked to Dina’s house. ‘Get your coat, Dina. We’re going to help out at this thing’, she said, waving the flyer. ‘Dispensing with the social niceties now that we’re old and bonkers, are we?’ sniffed Dina. ‘That’s it,’ said Libby. ‘Here’s your Santy hat. Let’s go.’
‘We’re here to help,’Libby said to the organiser who had a namebadge with ‘Jean’ on it. Jean looked at the angle of the hats. ‘Brilliant, Ladies!’ She grinned as she led them to the tea and cake stand. ‘The price list is there. Go for it!’ she said, as she sped off with a book of raffle tickets. ‘Coffee first for the workers,’ said Dina, ‘and a little something to cheer us up!’ She waved a small bottle of brandy at Libby and winked. Libby stared at her and thought of her angel. ‘Okay, but go easy with it, with all the tablets we’re on we could explode!’ ‘At least we’d go out with a bang!’ said Dina as they clinked mugs and giggled. The crowds started coming in and were unaccountably drawn to the festive atmosphere at the tea stall.
Jean beamed at them as they handed over the biscuit tin full of money at the end of the day. ‘Thanks a million girls, and here, write your phone numbers down, there’s a couple of free raffle tickets for each of you for helping out!’
Libby straightened Dina’s Santy hat and steered her home while Dina sang ‘Dirty Auld Town’ quite loudly. Her own house was warm and she dozed by the fire after her tea. The doorbell rang, but by the time Libby opened it, there was no-one there. Except a cardboard box on the step. Inside was a small shivering ginger kitten. ‘Oh no,’ said Libby. ‘No, no. I can’t afford you. No way.’ But she wrapped him up in a warm towel on her knee anyway. ‘You’re going to the shelter first thing tomorrow, right?’ But she brought him to the bedroom with her and put him in his box on the mat. She woke on Christmas Eve with a purring ball of fur at her throat, under the bedclothes. Mr. Pickles was the only cat she had ever known to do that. She sighed as she put him in the old cat carrier in the front hall. The answering machine blinked with one message and she pushed the button on it as she opened her post. It was Jean, the Bring and Buy woman. ‘I’m delighted to tell you that you’ve won first prize in the raffle, five hundred euro! That should make for a cheerful Christmas!’ Libby thought of Serafina and laughed out loud. She took the kitten out of the carrier and kissed him. ‘You may or may not be the reincarnation of Mr. Pickles but the universe is conspiring to keep you here. Welcome home. I now christen you Angelo.’ Libby threw his cardboard box in the recycling bin. Then she opened the bin again and looked in. Yes, it was. A Philadelphia cheese box.
END ©Marese Hickey 2015
“Create in me a divine cooperation – /from many selves, one voice, one action.”
Neil Douglas Klotz, Prayers of The Cosmos
The violence of the world can seem overwhelming. The terror attacks aim to create fear and panic. And yet, I have heard of a Romanian girl who lives in Paris and who now finds that there is solidarity amongst people where none existed before. Strangers smile at her more, even though she is not French. It is indeed an ill wind that blows no good.
What can we do when faced with the horror of violence? We can create a peaceful heart within ourselves and aim to share that with the world. What we do as individuals matters. If we choose to create peace from the inside out, we can influence our world for the better. If we choose to join with others on this quest, our influence grows exponentially. One way of joining with others in such a task is to explore the Global Coherence Initiative. It is one of many such movements aimed at creating a world graced with love and peace. At the bottom of this blog is a link to this movement, and also a link to a free Peaceful Heart audio meditation I have recorded. Find your own way to contribute to world peace, one heartbeat at a time.
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Explore the Global Coherence Initiative