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Showing posts from July, 2012

Learning to let go: the harvest of our lives

We are coming to the high point of the agricultural year, when corn-gilded fields ripple in golden streams of sunlight soaking the land – it is a time of gain, and sacrifice.
As the harvest of our past endeavours – agricultural or personal – is gathered in, so it is worth remembering the sacrifices we have made, in time and effort, to reach this point in our lives.
We all make sacrifices to achieve what we want, and it is good from time to time to look at what these have been and how our actions have affected others. Have they reduced suffering and increased happiness in the world? Have the sacrifices been ours, or have we sacrificed the happiness of others? If the latter, though our outer harvest may seem bountiful now, the seeds of resentment we have sown will blight our future crops – inner and outer – unless we learn to till life’s fields with a little more tender loving care. (Consider the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa which have sprung from seeds of resentme…

Redundancy: the gift of a failed harvest

Redundancy has proved to be a surprisingly positive experience in many ways.
Naturally, when a family’s wage-earner loses their job, feelings of financial insecurity and fears for the future crash like waves, one after the other, on to life’s shore – eroding that narrow and fragile coastline between our deep, inner lives and the surface of our day-to-day existence.
But it has also provided a wonderful opportunity to admire the rainbow of emotions that arise and pass away, arise and pass away. Among them are anger at being unappreciated after years of loyal and devoted service and hard work, depression and doubts about one’s abilities. There is also the grief at losing colleagues you’ve come to know and like after years of working, (sometimes) grumbling, (mostly) laughing and certainly growing together – getting to understand and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses that make each of us fascinating and lovable individuals. Confusion, too, about what to do next, like being lost in a …

Tune in to the symphony of leaves

“There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it” – Minnie Aumonier.
Nature’s gentle giants can teach us much, but only when we are still enough to hear the earth breathe. Just as outer stillness enables us to watch her shiest children – birds, hedgehogs, foxes and deer – so inner stillness allows us to hear nature’s subtle harmonies.
One summer night I was in a glade gazing across fields at a vanilla moon – almost full – melting through a smudge of cloud. High in the shimmering sky, a cone of stars wheeled around the North Star, the Great Bear rising over the circle of oaks. 
Listening to nocturnal snufflings and the symphony of leaves cleared my mind of worldly cares and reminded me how vital our woodlands, our emerald oases, are to our physical and psychological health.
Trees are an essential part of our cultural and inner landscape, and yet they are almost victims of familiarity. In Britain, they hold a special place in the hearts of…

Looking to the stars for answers at our feet

Another year has passed, another year older – yes, I recently celebrated my birthday and, like many people, looked to the stars to see how the winds of life will be blowing in the next 12 months: I read my horoscope.
Now, I have no wish here to make a case for or against astrology; my interest is in what the mind does with information presented to it. And how we can use that information skilfully to write the story of our lives – because each of us is a character (and co-author) in the human chapter of a cosmic story that has been unfolding since the beginning of time.
Last week, I wrote about how we naturally seek patterns in life, and I have long admired the way we – as individuals, societies and humanity as a whole – try to explain what we don’t understand, often using stories, mythologies or parables, until science catches up.
For example, I love basking in the starlight, watching the constellations wheel around us, weaving stories in the night sky of gods and goddesses, heroes and …