Monday, 29 June 2009

A matter of understanding

Well, that last post certainly prompted a lot of really useful and thought-provoking comment!

I think Alice hit it on the head when she said it was something I had to pray about with other Friends. Simply posting here about it helped me to face up to the problem, which I needed to do as I was reacting more and more strongly every time this person came to the house. Sitting with my feelings, talking to God about them, finally helped me to see what the underlying problem is. I am a great believer in talking therapy, which helped me a lot when I was in my late twenties, but it's the first time I've ever tried asking God to be the sounding board!

What I finally realised, after a lot of anger and painful honesty, is that I am angry at this person. The silly thing is the reason why I am angry. Far too many years ago, someone asked him to do something for them, which affected me. It wasn't a nasty thing, in fact it was a very kind one, but I didn't want it done. The person who asked is now dead, and I can't be angry at him, so I am angry at this poor chap who was simply doing what a friend asked him to do. I'm sorry to be so convoluted, but I don't want to give away any details in case the chap in question ever reads this. It's unlikely, but I wouldn't want him to be hurt.

Once I finally realised that, I found a lot of my anger and irritation simply left me. He came round soon after that, and I was quite happy to be pleasant and polite with no effort. It's as Alice said: "...when I learn to see people in the cross they don't bug me in the same way, it's like I get why they were bugging me and act on it". If you haven't read the comments on the last post, please do - everyone talks a great deal of sense and wisdom.

Richard's account of an irritating boy in a class had me laughing ruefully, especially: "I know he is not a bad person and wasn't intentionally being annoying. He just didn't know how not to be annoying." That is such a good description of this person, and it helped me enormously.

Thank you to everyone, and I will keep you posted on developments. I doubt if I have solved the whole problem yet!

Jan Lyn was kind enough to give me a blog award, which I have responded to on the Doodles blog. I had nothing to write about there this week, and plenty to write about here.

Finally, I would like to say a few words about Michael Jackson. I wasn't a fan, although I thought 'Thriller' was exceptional, and 'She's Out Of My Life' can reduce me to tears - but we are of an age, and he is a figure of whom I have always been aware. I find it very hypocritical of the media to be falling over themselves now, saying how wonderful he was, and calling him 'the King of Pop', when for the last few years they have had miles of copy from all the 'Wacko Jacko' stories.

I don't think he was allowed to be a child. There was always pressure on him, and I don't think that ever eased up. I suspect he had psychological problems that most of us cannot imagine, and I believe that he, like Britney Spears, could be the poster child for the unhealthiness of fame and wealth. I hope he has peace now.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Seeing that of God

First, hello to Irene, who has recently found my blogs and read the archives - good to have you here! Check out some of the links below - there are so many good Quaker blogs out there.

Probably the most famous quotation from George Fox is his exhortation to Friends to 'walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone'. It sounds so simple. Within our comfort zones, with other Friends/friends, it's easy to see the divine spark, to respond to it, to treat each other as children of God.

But what about the people who annoy us? I am asking for help with one particular person in my life. He's not a Friend, not even a friend, but someone I have known for a long time. The silly thing is that he has been very kind to me, throughout the time that I have known him - but I cannot hear him knock on the door without my teeth gritting and my hackles bristling. It doesn't make for easy encounters. I force myself to smile, to find things to say, to show an interest in what he tells me, but I greet his departure with enormous relief, and release of irritation.

Every time I see him, I feel guilty for disliking him. I know I am not alone in this - his family all find him intensely irritating, and he has no friends to speak of. He has a very pompous attitude, which tends to push people away, and he can be more than a bit of a smartass. But I know there is that of God in him. I can't see it, because I am too busy gritting my teeth, but I know it's there and I should respond to it.

I'm sure, too, that underneath his external posturing, and air of knowing everything, he is probably very sad and lonely. I want to be nice to him. I want to like him. I want to answer that of God in him. But I have no idea how to start.

Any ideas?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Standing up for simplicity

I am finally feeling much better, due, I suspect, to my spending most of yesterday asleep!

No great and startling insights (no change there, then!), but another poem, prompted by some thoughts on consumerism and the pressure on young women.

shopping list

size 8

designer tag with free

stilting stilettos
to stiffen the spine

because I cannot be
without it

I believe one of the best things we can do for our children and young adult members is to instil in them a healthy disregard for advertising and consumerism. The pressure to conform is so strong in the young, and they need all our support to stand up against 'retail therapy', label hierarchy and body fascist cultures.

Hmm. Guess I did have something to say, after all.

Monday, 8 June 2009

My father

I'm gradually improving at last, and have been very cheered in the past few days by finishing a few half-done projects - two novels (reading, not writing!), a sock, and a shawl. I love a sense of achievement, and I'm not fussy where it comes from!

It's getting near to Father's Day, so I'd like to share a poem I wrote about my late father. He was a huge influence on me - a successful businessman who kept his integrity. His funeral was packed out with people whom he had helped. He was very proud of all our achievements, and I know he would have been proud of me for not giving up when I got ill.

The eccentric lullaby I mention was Mad Carew, his party piece. His soft Hampshire accent made his recital a very soothing and soporific thing - but if we had listened to the words, we would have had screaming nightmares! I recorded his performance on tape once, and I am so glad that I have that still.


I fit beneath your arm

black Sunday suit

or fresh grass and hot cotton
clammy garden-sweated skin
beads on your lip
and your balding head

eccentric lullaby in burring purr
brings back your presence

sharp as grief

Monday, 1 June 2009

As promised....

...another poem.

I have dusted off my writing CV, and submitted some to a publisher. We shall see...


how did you deal with customers
slow to pay

were you a good apprentice
natural with lathe and plane

did you shudder
as you hammered in the nails