Thursday, 23 March 2017

Things worth waiting for

Last Autumn I planted lots of tulip bulbs. I bought them in a beautiful public park that was so large that you had to go round it on a little train or by bike. There were flowers everywhere. They told me to plant the bulbs and then forget about them all winter, no water or anything. So I did. then in January the first shoots appeared and they have been growing daily ever since and now at last they are beautiful, tall and spectacular tulips.
A whole garden in a vase, giving so much pleasure. There were twenty five bulbs and now I have twenty five tulips, yellow, pink and red. Thinking about those brown bulbs and that they had everything in them to blossom into such majestic flowers, it's a bit like us. We've got everything that is needed to blossom and give pleasure to those around us, kindness, a smile, a hug, a gentle word of encouragement, an apology when necessary, it's all there within us. The power to turn anger and hatred into peace and love. Our hearts are like the bulbs, they have all that is necessary.
Look around at all the beauty of Spring, watch the blossom float to the ground, watch the buds unfurl ( or whatever it is they do).

Happy Spring everyone.

The first shoots caused great excitement

getting taller, growing towards the sun

Taller every day

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour, William Blake ( 1757 - 1827)


Saturday, 18 March 2017

La Festa del papà, missing my dad

The 19th March is Fathers' Day in Italy, it is St. Joseph's day, the patron saint of fathers everywhere. It's on a Sunday this year, so many dads will be woken up with heart wrenching renderings of poems learned with love and repeated with adoration and devotion. We have a whole collection of wine bottles, cardboard ties, roughly modelled statues, drawings with big smiley mouths and no legs and are forever grateful to all the teachers that sent our children home with lovingly made objects, reciting poems that cause many a tear to fall.

For a long time I thought of this song by Bread as a love song for a lost romantic love, then one day I heard it on the radio as a dedication to a father who was no longer here. I had to stop the car as the tears flowed down my face, thinking of my own father. Now I always think of him when hearing this song.

Fathers used to have quite a different role to mothers. Many of my generation were told to 'wait till your father gets home.' So poor old dad would come in the door expecting a warm greeting only to find us cowering behind the armchair in fear and trepidation.

My cousins were afraid of my dad, they said he was 'big and boomy'. Looking back I can see now that his anger was of a protective kind, the anger a mother would feel if a child let go of her hand and ran into the road.
Growing up it was quite useful to be able to say, 'my dad won't let me', if I was asked to do something I wasn't sure about.
Once a friend of mine said to me, 'we all wish we could have a dad like yours'.
Thank you dad, for loving me.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Names can hurt you

Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me, so went a popular playground chant. It was used as a defence to let the bully think you were strong and unaffected by their unkind taunts.
It's not true though, is it? names really do hurt, unkind comments and remarks can harm. Insults thrown about in the heat of an argument can cause lasting damage to a relationship.
 In this day and age of modern technology even text messages and emails, comments on Facebook can hurt feelings and cause distress.
How many times have you studied a text message to try and decipher any hidden implications or searched for some badly needed sign of affection in the typed words. That must be why we use so many emoticons, to soften messages to remove doubt that we might be joking or attempting irony.
Words such as please, thank you, sorry can heal and smooth, especially sorry. It must surely be one of the most healing words that someone can use.
Insults and criticism can be thrown around on the internet, Facebook etc and do untold harm.
The same rules apply though, in this world of modern technology and instant contact, that have always concerned the human race.

There is a story about Socrates who when a friend whispered in his ear that he had something to tell him about a mutual friend, held up his hand to stop him.
Socrates went on to ask his friend to reflect before speaking to see if this gossip would pass the test of the three sieves.
Firstly was what he was going to say true.?
Secondly was what he was going to say kind.?
Thirdly was what he was going to say useful.?
The friend thought for awhile and then admitted that he didn't know if it was true, it wasn't nice and certainly wasn't useful. So what was the point of passing on  such information ?


We probably all grew up with advice from our parents ringing in our ears and tried to put it into practice.
My mum and dad used to like the expression,' it's the singer, not the song,' and would tell each other ' it's not what you say, it's the way that you say it.'
Sometimes for fun, my dad would illustrate this by telling our dog that he was horrible and smelly, in a sweet and gentle voice. The dog would look at him in adoration and wag his tail. 
Then, to prove his point, he would tell the dog that he was lovely and a good dog, but in a cross voice, then the dog would run to his basket, tail between his legs.

When animals roll over like this it means they really trust you