Friday, 20 October 2017

Love, you are more precious than silver

"I will let my heart break. I will try and let my heart be broken."

Love you are more precious than silver,
love you are more costly than gold.
Love you are more beautiful than diamonds,
and nothing I desire compares with thee.

A slight modification of a song by Lynn DeShazo from 1982.

"The rushing of the wolves. What if the wildness, the savagery, isn't dark just chaotic. What if it can be good."

Friday, 13 October 2017

My Son

You have to be willing to die, but no-one says you have to go easy.
I watch my son grow
Learn to think. How speech comes from thought And thought is growing. That he loves to communicate. To really be known and understood. How precious that is. And how words grow inside him. And how his soul burns. How he flames with life. So rough. So loving. My friend.

Benjamin is rough, too rough. I played with him last night, whilst waiting for him to fall asleep. Every time I stopped playing with him he'd wait for his opportunity and then poke me in the eye to get my attention again. Little git. I tried to be cross but it was too funny.

One of the most fun aspects of teaching him is teaching him to be gentle without squashing the life and roughness out of him. I teach him it's ok to be rough with me, but he must control it. He must learn to control himself. He's not allowed to be rough with Delia at all, and he knows it (he doesn't always stick to it, but he knows it). He's allowed to be rough with Irina, but only with the limits she sets. That one's harder but he's getting there, Irina can be quite fierce when she wants to which helps.

Rosie, our cat, has her own way of teaching Benjamin to be gentle...

"The more compassionate you are with yourself the more compassionate you're able to be with others. And vice-versa. Being compassionate means understanding without blaming or judging. It doesn't mean excusing or denying problems."

Truth and Beauty and the Here and Now

Life is hard, but love will help. Love is on our side.

If your understanding of poetry is that it is the expression of the beautiful, then by any reasonable measure love is poetry. Therefore it is only possible to express any deep understanding of love in a form that is pure art and reveals pure beauty. Therefore the best philosophy of love must be poetry, and this to me is the essence of the language of spirituality. Truth expressed in beauty, revealing love.

This is how we're able to say that truth is beauty. Not that mere appearance of beauty ensures truth, but that anything that claims to be a deep truth about love, if it is not beautiful it simply cannot be true.
Not that all of reality is beautiful. To claim that would clearly be false. It's just that I think love is better and I believe that because it is better, love wins.

Truth can be painful, whilst still being beautiful. Truth is able to remain beautiful through the pain, because it carries hope. We can have faith in the hope, and that itself is beautiful. We trace the rainbow through the rain.

I've travelled the world, a bit, and everywhere I go I meet good people. You have an incredibly rich and complex understanding of the world, deeper and broader than at any point in history before. Merely by living, and functioning (mostly), in modern society there is a huge amount you just know and understand (and take for granted) that was just not understood by those who came before us and upon whose shoulders we stand. Whatever you may think of yourself, that means you're clever. You know a lot of stuff and you use that knowledge all the time. But the truth is, we all have our gifts and our qualities. The essence of what it is to be you or to be me. We all can have a place, a part to play. Things to do and ways to be useful, and to enjoy doing it. It just takes a bit of working out between us. What a thing it is when you're able to really see people and to really trust people, whilst keeping your eyes open. And yes, maybe some people are dumb. But only relatively speaking, not in absolute terms. And it makes the challenge of raising children such a task. There's so much for them to learn and understand (and explore and create and enjoy). We have to care for those we love, but that still leaves us (sometimes) with the capacity to care for others too. It seems like wishful thinking, but it actually happens in small communities all the time, where people really care for each other. It's the nature of what it is to be a family. Negative behaviour and negative world views inevitably come from the way people see the world, how they learned to see the world from their childhood and life experiences. Many, probably most, want to be good but the world is scary, complex and confusing with so many contradictory voices and hosts of difficulties. A negative worldview (including how you see other people including people groups) can seem like the truth, like the right way to think. The challenge, and it is a challenge, is to demonstrate that a positive world view can work and that caring is actually just a better way to live. However far apart we may feel, and honestly everyone feels like an outsider and that's scary, the reality is that we do actually live together. We share this place, like it or not.

If we accept that because love is beautiful any expression of the nature of love must also be beautiful and that this is the essence of spirituality, this tells us something of the nature of the truth any purported spiritual work or text contains. The truth of anything claiming to be spiritual, claiming to reveal something of the nature of love, is to be found in its beauty. So we read spiritual works not for the mundane and literal truth they may (or may not) contain, but in order to understand the beauty within them and how that beauty reflects and casts light on reality and the substance and ways of love.

"That which art love, I will trust it completely. That which art the enemy I will fight. Even though I am scared I will fight."

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Tangle Heart

Last one, I promise (for a while at least). My favourite, and the shortest, from somewhere around '95-98

Tangle Heart

A pot of love
Cleft downstream
in a motion of clutter
Attention, a breath
Stroke in, Stroke out, stuck

but to what porpoise.
How hard to see
when the world floats merrily
like so much broken flotsam.

Words, fucking words

Another poem from around 98. This one written to try and express my frustration at not being able to express myself.

Words, fucking words
a passion unknown
a fruit untasted.

Everywhere I go
my ears fill with the thoughts
of others that
echo my deepest longings,
deeper than me, than mine

and yet still a haunting sound
that calls out to an unknown future
and broken platitudes flow out
to fill the gap inside
that burns with every touch of beauty
from another's lips.

And as for me my dear,
foolish knowing that weeps dry hard pebbles into sand

I cradle the ache in my belly
like a mother nurses the child
that grows inside.
A twisting panic reaches out
to express more than these feeble scratches
even in subtle nuance can convey.

So here I am,
fucking words.

Muddy Waters

While history charge on
Mad plunge of doomed humanity
Pouring over crags of grey & blasted stones
Onto the shores of lost hope
& Frustrated opportunity

I spy a glimmer
Faint light midst swirl of chaos
but down I drive.
Faint heart swept on strange current
Saved from fates of death that twist & clamour all around.

Drawn on weakly as if toward some goal
at last I see, but dimly up ahead
The well of Christ
And now my own will must I use
So nearer do I come & sure enough

Amongst this senseless life & endless calling;
All to death though it had seemed;
Is Paradise - or promise of -
Through passage small and narrow
The plughole of salvation.
-- by Michael Foord, November 1998
Written at a dark time of my life, but not the very darkest and there was some light.

Mother Nina

It was recently my mother's 70th birthday. For her birthday celebration my brother conned me into singing for my Mum, accompanied by my sister. It was the first time I've sung in front of more than two people, and thankfully no video evidence of the event exists. This video is the song I sang for her, words arranged by David Foord.

This is what I said to her before singing.

There is a cliche that says you never really understand your parents until you have your own children. The trouble is, like many cliches, it's true. Mum has been a steadfast support to me and my family, and we're very grateful to her and love her a great deal. I really enjoy being friends with my Mum.

When I think about my mum the strongest thought is that she's so obviously a good and true friend, not just to me but she loves so many people steadily and is in turn loved by us. The evidence of this is all around us right here. Now I'm aware that when you say of someone "they're a good friend" it sounds nice, but perhaps a bit of a cop out. To balance that I'd like to quote one of the most important verses from the bible, from the new testament.

This is Jesus speaking in John 15:13 "Greater love has no-one that this: to lay down one's life for one's friends". In Christian tradition we understand that "laying down one's life" means to put aside your own priorities and put other people first. I'm sure many of you will recognise this description in my Mum. What is often not commented on in this verse is here Jesus defines the greatest love. Friendship. There is no higher love than being a true friend, putting aside your own life and priorities for your friend is the best possible thing that anyone can do can do according to Jesus. And that's so easy to see in how my Mum lives and has lived for years.

Mum is very generous. One of the things she loves most is buying things. Oops, I mean giving gifts to people. Mum is highly creative, a gift she's passed onto her children. You can also see in her children another quality for which we can blame her. We're very good at being determined to get our own way. A gift I'm not so sure my Dad was ever very impressed with when we were children, but which I'm very grateful for in adult life. Although I slightly suspect my sister is better at it than I am! I think we'd all agree that Mum is the master here though and I take my hat off to her.

It wasn't just her youth, as a Jewish girl in a relatively poor family, that was difficult. Most of you will know of my Mum's struggle with bleak and dark depression many years ago and how she came through that and now uses that experience to empathise with and encourage and support people struggling in similar ways. And of course her battle with cancer last year. Something she also came through with dignity and determination. I'm so proud of her.Her own struggle has been very hard, but that's built into her a real strength and determination that it's impossible not to admire.

My Mum is a light that has shone for many years and will continue to shine in my life as long as I'm alive.