Sin and the art of archery

I’ve been thinking Really Deep Thoughts lately, in between getting annoyed about life and things I can’t do anything about. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the things that make me annoyed and why they annoy me.

I wrote a few days ago in the comments at retired eagle’s photo blog that I was guilty of the sin of accidie, one of the medieval Seven Deadly sins. It’s basically despair and depression, and it’s something I’ve been guilty of intermittantly since I was about six years old. I know how awful that sounds and I can tell you how often people have told me I should count my blessings etc, but it doesn’t make any diference.

The English word SIN is actually a term taken from archery, that oh-so-English art. Think Agincourt, think Robin Hood: the bow is so entrenched in English lore that even today it’s technically illegal to play football on  Sunday if your parish priest has not excused you from longbow practise. Sin simply means failing to hit the target. It means being less than perfect. It doesn’t mean you’re  a criminal, or an evil person; it just means you need more practise to get it right.

This I find comforting. It also means I need more help to get it right. It doesn’t mean I need to be beaten for getting it wrong and missing the target. Imagine God as a loving archery instructor, standing close as you draw the bow, his hand steadying yours, whispering in your ear, “Bit higher, bit further up, hold it steady. Now!”

You see, it upsets me when people assume that their success in life is as a result of God blessing them, because it then implies the opposite: lack of success is God witholding his blessing. It upsets me when people take their health as a sign God is favouring them because that then says that ill health is God punishing them.

Being alive is our blessing. Life is our gift. I’m not saying that God isn’t blessing you when things go well. He might be. But God has no favourites. Blessing or cursing, it may be the same thing when you step out of time and out of being human. Go read the Book of Job if you have never done so. It might be a bit of a puzzle. It opens up ineffable mysteries(because we don’t effin’ well understand them) about God and his relationship with humans. I have no answers to this.

But for me, today, being a sinner is a good thing. It means I have room for improvement. It means I need to keep practising and spending time with my trainer, and learning more and more how to hit the target. When I get good at that, I guess he’ll just move the target further away to test my skill further, or give me a different bow, or change the parameters in some way. There is always room for improvement, when we realise that sin is not the thing we were taught it was by people who didn’t understand it themselves.

The Road of Bones

The Road of Bones

 

There is a zone between here and there,

Where few would choose to tread.

The baking ground shines bright

With the teeth and bones

Of those who lost their way,

Wandered long without a map,

And starved and lonely lay down to die.

The clean white bones, picked bare

Of flesh by wily carrion birds,

Lie as their owners fell.

And if you can but bear to look,

To stare long at the path they make,

The way ahead comes clear.

My path is made of ancient bones,

Holding still their unspoken words,

Waiting for kind and patient hands

To lay their jumbled lives anew

And read the way their bodies made.

I cannot tell which way to go,

Which path to follow, where to roam.

Beneath my feet is only sand

That’s made from bones returned to dust,

Gleaming silver under noonday sun.

No limbs stretch out, no fingers point,

No laughing skull grins at me;

Just pure white sand of powdered bone,

Stretched out till sky meets earth.

The sun is hot, the nights are ice,

But while the sand beneath my feet

Remains this eggshell textured sand,

Then I will know that others long ago

Have trod this road and lie here still,

Guiding my witless feet from harm.

The road of bones leads surely on

To what end I cannot guess;

Its end in sight, then I myself

Will lay my bones along the road,

To mark the way, while I go home,

On silver sand and joyful feet,

And leave the road of bones behind.

Three wishes

Three wishes.

 

Every time I reach breaking point,

I find that I do not break.

Every time I reach the end of my tether,

I find that the tether is made of elastic.

Every time I think in pain I can’t go on,

I find that somehow against the odds, I do.

Sometimes I wish that I might break,

Shattering into a million relieved fragments,

Sparkling like road-crash diamonds

Both beautiful and horrible at once.

I wish that when I feel that collar

Press and pull my aching throat,

That it would snap, burst asunder

And leave me sprawling on the ground.

And I wish more than anything,

That when I feel I can’t possibly go on,

Tired and worn from trying too hard,

I might be given grace and space to stop.

 

Snake oil and me

On Wednesday I finally managed to get a film developed that had been stuck in my old camera since the summer of 2006. I’d actually forgotten most of what was likely to be on it, so I sat down outside Boots and leafed through the wallet of photos. The camera had jammed at the very end of a film and I’d not dared try and retrieve it in case it hadn’t fully rewound. A colleague from work who is a photographer kindly retrieved it for me, in a special dark bag, so I was able to find out what was on the film. I intend to post a few at a later date but need to do a smidge of research for the article I want to write about one.

Some of the photos were from our last holiday before we moved here. We stayed with friends in North Yorkshire and some were taken at the very top of Roseberry Topping and some at a secret beach unknown to all but locals. Since the place is a former pit village, no tourist expects a glorious beach there and even in high summer all you find are locals and a few ex-locals like us. It’s also a brilliant beach for fossil hunting.

Anyway, there a couple of pics taken of me wading in the water, having a wonderful time. Due to some abnormality(light, film whatever) I am surrounded by a pinkish aura, with a deeper pink blob around my right hand. It occurred to me that it would be easy to make a case for this being an accidental Kirlian type photo, showing my “true  colours” and my “healing nature”. I had a small giggle at this and went home.

In the post that day was my copy of The Cygnus Review, which is a book company that specialises in Mind Body Spirit type books, reviewed and with articles etc. This dates from my time as a therapist and I stopped getting it for a while; then I ordered a book via them and I seem to be getting it every month as before. I’d had a long chat a few years back with one of the owners of Cygnus Books basically discussing how I found it disappointing that the vast majority of the books were so light weight and also by the same authors producing yet more books, cards sets and merchandise and how this might be remedied. I’ve had a similar conversation with the owner of our local mind body spirit style shop and it always comes back to the same thing: that’s what most people want. They want the next book by (I won’t mention names) because it’s going to be more of the same. There’s no surprises, no challenges and nothing to make them wake up.

One of the books in this months Review is about Orbs. Now, I am sure there are a lot of things out there that are unexplained that really are of supernatural origin, but I am a firm believer in Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is probably the right one. Looking at my pinkish pics, I am certain that nothing is going on there that a good photographer can’t explain by the age of the film or other factors. But Orbs? Try a swift Google search and see what it comes up with.

So much of the MBS world is built on existing books and these are not checked for either sense or authenticity. Because it’s been around a few years, it becomes a source, and an acceptible one, for people to build their own research(ha ha) on. And people want to swallow what seems nice to them. Go into your local bookstore and visit the MBS section; I can almost guarantee you will find a massive array of books on angels (probably by three authors) plus oracle decks and divination sets. Now my own experience and beliefs suggest that angels are real entities; however, my opinion is that a lot of what is written is wishful thinking, delusion and merchandising. I also suspect from accounts from people I know and respect of their encounters with this type of being, the writers of the popular angel books would die of fright if they ever encountered the real thing.

In my novel, “Little Gidding Girl” I had the enjoyable task of creating a range of spurious therapies for a secondary character to offer as part of her therapy business. They included: Egyptian Rejuvenation Therapy, Angel Healing(with range of angelic beauty products) Japanese Forest Therapy(using Bonsai trees) and Mayan Heart Retrieval. I drew the line at musa-rectal therapy (musa= banana) because it was just too gross. Although I had fun inventing the therapies, I got quite worried because they were altogether just too convincing. My daughter reckoned I could sell any one of them as a genuine therapy and they would actually work. I’ve deliberately not explained them here in case someone somewhere has actually started them(since then, various angel therapy courses have appeared; don’t know about the beauty products yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me)

It scares me because it would be so easy to exploit the very real and very human need for healing and wholeness, and I am fully equipped to do so. I have an inventive brain, a personality that can sell anything and a flair for media ideas. I frequently see ideas I have thought of appear on TV and ads and be successful.

And yet, this appals me. I am no guru. I am no Messiah. I want people to find their own way and if I can help, I will. But this is not what most people want. They want the books that come out every six months, they want the next set of cards or crystals or the next course or whatever. Maybe this IS their way of finding their way; but it doesn’t seem to be helping anyone but the fatcat authors and publishers and the whole merchadising industry surrounding it all. The sad thing is there is a grain of truth in every glossily packaged book or course; but to get to that truth you have to swallow a whole pack of lies, dross and frankly bullshit.

There’s a berry known as Miracle Berries that make everything from drain cleaner to shit taste sweet and nice. Someone out there has found the equivalent in the MBS area and it’s going to kill people eventually. Their bodies might go on but their souls are going into shutdown. It’s not why I got out of therapy work but it’s why I’d not want to ever go back. In the end I value my integtrity too highly to sell something that is unreal or damaging.

I’d rather be able to distinguish between good and evil and have the sadness that comes with this than eat poison and never know it.

Button Badge

The card my husband gave me for my birthday this year was a humorous one, and it came complete with a nice little button badge.

The badge reads:

“If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.”

Says it all really. We ignore so many things we ought to be angry or upset about in life; the big things, like war and famine, and the little things like work and friends and so on. We tune them out, constantly, to keep some sort of equilibrium, or to ensure we don’t turn into raving loonies.

I’m paying attention and boy, am I pissed off. With personal and global things. But because I am a venial and fallible human being, mainly with the personal. I’d like to think it’s because on some level I recognise that I have some chance of affecting the personal with a hope of changing things for the better.

But I SO want to wear my badge to work on Thursday…Is that so very bad of me??

Horses for courses

I’ve only just got out of bed despite it being early evening; I woke this morning with enough headache for three people and was forced to ring in sick. That’s a day’s pay lost. I’m not brilliant now; all fuzzy and the pain is still there but I can at least stay upright again.

I’m thinking about why people cannot accept that another person does not or cannot enjoy something they love. This comes via an exchange on Facebook, that utterly banal waste of time where one dear friend commented something about dancing in the rain; I’d answered, well I don’t dance, full stop end of story. There followed a couple of people saying to the effect “Oh you should try it, you’d like it!” or “Oh you haven’t lived till you’ve danced at least one dance!”

I’m forty three for ****’s sake! Does anybody seriously imagine that in all that time I have escaped dance altogether? I had even made this a part of my answer. I’ve tried most things; I don’t have to like them all. I hate dance. I don’t even much enjoy watching it; most people dance as though they had electrodes attached to their private parts. But I accept that they enjoy it and I am glad for them. Why then do people blindly and blithely assume that I’d like it if I only tried it, or tried harder? I know what I like and I know what I don’t like. I try not to go round telling other people they’d enjoy what I enjoy if they only tried it. I wanted to write, “Oh I’m sure you’d adore higher maths if you only tried it!” or “You simply haven’t lived till you read The Illiad in the original Greek!” 

We’re each different, with different tastes. Mine are my own, so why do people endlessly try and make me like what they like? 

Go dance, in the rain or where ever you want. Just don’t imply that by refusing to join you I am a lesser human being.

Signed,

Pissed off of Lowestoft

News

I’ve written briefly about my news at my other blog: http://cafecrem.wordpress.com/

I shall be explaining more when the time is right but just for the moment have a quick read of View from a Mountain top; I’m feeling oddly positive and this is something worth sharing.