She glided into she room, stopped in front me and gazed knowingly into my eyes
I said; “Gemma you have nothing to fear, I will be there for you always”
She smiled at me and her big brown eyes said it all
“I will be there for you too”
Companions to the last, we are
My blonde (Retriever) and me!

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In the calendar picture, the mountains frowned through the early morning mists, the beach side cottages glowed in the rising sun and the tidal pool looked like a shiny mirror. I immediately remembered my lanky friend.

He lived within a short walk from that white, windy beach lined with palm trees. One morning in late autumn the three of us strolled down to the pool. The water was without a ripple and as cold as ice.

Without a word he stripped down to his speedo and dived expertly into the pool. Two quick lengths later, a very cold and very wet swimmer joined his startled friends.

The jog back home was followed by a piping hot breakfast!
There are more tales about the earnest, passionate, steel grey eyed engineer but this is enough for now.

He walks the shore no longer. He has passed thro’ heaven’s door.
I remember you with affection Roy.

To comfort the dying
To dry the tears of the crying
To give comfort to the sighing
To expose the lying

To give hope when there is none
To grow faith while there is some
To pray for no one
To follow the only one

To carry on when belief is dead
To ensure the books are always read
To preach when everything’s been said
To travel where others fear to tread

To hold science and faith together
To view the gloomy satellite image and pray for sunny weather
To teach “creation versus evolution” ’till he’s at the end of his tether
To recite the creeds and doctrines at the drop of a small bird’s feather

We can live so close to another, share their bed and walk their path and yet be unable to penetrate their mind.
“A penny for your thoughts”? Experiences are shared, opinions aired but thoughts & feelings are shrouded in mystery.
What do you really think or feel is the burning question, the question never to be answered that plays upon the mind.
We shut down and rest our case, for fear of what we may be forced to hear. The truth can set us free but it can also remove our sanity!

If you can see yourself in another
If you can see the pain in his face
If you can see that you are not so very other
Then you deserve to be in this place

If you can see the trembling hand
If you can the terror in his eyes
If you can see and truly understand
Then you deserve to be in this place

If you can see behind the mask
If you can see his anxiety and fear
If you can see that all you have to do is ask
Then you deserve to be in this place

A book on the mental state of great leaders has left me pondering how much influence my personality type and mental state has had on my life. Retired, I have the time to think about the past with the aim of trying to learn something of value. Some call this pursuit a luxury but I view it as a great necessity! Surely critical reflection is an essential part of preparing to complete the circle of life?

I have reacted to or dealt with life situations within the parameters of my introverted and high-reactive persona.
I have been driven by exaggerated fear and anxiety. My neatness and attention to detail stemmed from an obsessive compulsive personality type. I have over-reacted to criticism and discontent at least in part because I experienced
three episodes of bullying during my school career.

It’s helpful for me to eventually understand my behaviour but I am also concerned that I could have handled some situations more graciously and profitably. I realise that its “water under the bridge” and that “hindsight is an exact science”, but it’s still distressing to acknowledge the failures of the past. To be fair, there were flashes of insight but these learnings were often not applied.

On a positive note, the book did help me to realise that mental health issues (like depression & anxiety) can help a person to be more compassionate and understanding. It can also promote a more realistic and sober view of the world. Those not “blessed” with these mental challenges can sometimes misjudge the severity of a situation. Clearly our genetic makeup, nurturing and socialization all serve to influence the way we live our lives.

A giraffe did the splits on the water’s edge
While an elephant drank with its trunk
A heron snacked on a lively frog
While a crocodile basked in the sun

A buffalo chewed the cud like a cow
While a hippo raised its head draped with water hyacinth
A stork picked its way through the grass and mud
While a baboon sat on a rock, crossed its arms and mimicked a man

Its possible to get lost looking at the stars
While the earth weaves its magic right before us
The animals are adapting as we watch
While the crust ever so slowly takes new forms

The boy, or adolescent if you like, had been treating his mother with disrespect. It was suggested that he ask his parents for forgiveness before his sixteenth birthday. When he approached, not without fear and trembling, his very stern father the response was “go and sin no more” or more accurately “stop abusing your mother then we can talk about forgiveness.

The lad was duly taken aback and sloped off to lick his wounds in his room. A lesson, all be it rather harsh, was learned. Bad behavior has consequences, we do “reap what we sow!” The hapless fellow now a full-grown adult, still ponders the real meaning of forgiveness. He is now convinced, maybe it is genetic, that the simply solution to all wrong doing is the extension of forgiveness.

What may go some way, he thinks, towards the healing of a wound is genuine contrition on the part of the perpetrator and the victim’s fuller understanding of the said aberrant behavior. Possibly, forgiveness is not the goal but rather an acceptance of the imperfect nature of the human being. No one is perfect, “all have sinned”, all are wounded and from time to time act out their woundedness.

The above is the title of an address to be given at a Men’s Breakfast later this week. I can imagine what the content will be… The title is enough to get my mental alarm bell ringing. The inevitable contrast will be made between man’s wickedness and God’s goodness. How interesting the event would be if it was turned into an open debate on the nature of man and where the focus of man has led the world over the millennia. We could discuss the huge influence that personality, mental health, the availability of resources, culture, education, etc. have had in the shaping of the world.

Instead we will be treated to an exposition of one man’s understanding of the extraordinary nature of God. He has already lost me! Allowing for the possibility that there may be a God, how can man comment knowledgably on the nature of the wholly Other or the universal Spirit? Surely man can only comment on the basis of his understanding of the sacred scriptures of his particular faith community? Primitive man may still understand the workings of the world on the basis of natural phenomena! Consequently, when a religious man talks about God he should at the very least preface his remarks by indicating that his views are based solely on his reading of his sacred writings.

To talk about God being vitally active in his life and experience is a matter of faith at best and a matter of pure speculation at worst. He cannot provide any concrete evidence of such activity. It may as well be a train of thought in his head. Yet, time and again, men of faith will stand up and address other men about the wonders of God and about how they must submit to his perfect will. I just don’t get it! Advocate a sound set of universally acceptable values necessary for the smooth functioning of society, this will be really helpful. This material may include elements of a particular faith world view but it will definitely not include a clarion call for commitment to a God whom no one can really know.

 

I apologize for the use of the male gender, it was retained in this instance as being contextual

The fight is done, the battle won
Life’s been good under the sun
Learned much, had great fun
Time to quit, time to run

What good to fight again
Prove something, what to gain
I’ve raced in sun and rain
I’ve kept my head, I’ve stayed sane

Let me heed the writing on the wall
Continue walking tall
Not be afraid to fall
With courage face the final call

Its time to quit!

 

Thinking of a friend who received a bad diagnosis