Time to set my grief free

It is the time of year that my stomach starts to churn towards my dad.

260 miles and Nine years away from his bodily presence my thoughts intensify.

Ordinarily I think of him

during my daily chores

(his contributions to our house sinks deep into its very foundations)

during my ablutions

(while unknowingly filled with cancer of the spine, and bowels and internal organs he tried to put my mind at rest by saying that all he needed was ‘a big shit’ and after that ‘all will be fine, you just see son, hey?’)

but in a few weekends time it will be the anniversary of that visit, and already the tensions inside have begun to rise.

That visit.

That Essex trip and his unusual, early September request for us all to pick up the fallen apples in his tree filled side garden.

Remembering that vision of him standing half smiling, half not, patting his tummy and grimacing while watching us scrabble within the wet long grass.

Knowing now that it was indeed the  strange understated start of his 2 month decline towards a mid November death.

During those two months we were largely apart

( ‘but son there’s nowhere here for you to stay,’)

And I began three poems;

‘Loving until his last,’

(which started after a phone call while he was in hospital. Now removed from the blog for reasons of possible impact on others)

‘Upon visiting my dying dad,’

and

‘Meeting my un-metered form,’

(after spending time together while he was in an Essex Chapel of Rest).

With alarming slowness I guess all three are finally finished and ready to be set free…..but then again maybe not

 

 

Nourishment and Healing

Upon this trip to Weston-Super-Mare,

in the damp underarm shock of glittering sunshine, with our wet crotch strides on newly laid concourse we squelch towards a mud flattened horizon. Desperate are we, for holiday fun, restroom relief and stretching out to meet any breeze we are taken afresh by an incoming brown-blue sea swell until, yes, we find refurbishment in a sticky-sweet cafe serving ‘cream-teas for the four a we.’

And watching our Belizian friends mop scone crumbs through fingers and thumb to the full swill of tea dregs to napkin wafts and contented breath, I could not resist floating my mind back to my more distant, less pleasing memories of this sea side idyll.

Past times when Weston was worn out in Novembers drabness, when I related to this place as merely an extension to my a job of work, to the tiredness within the visiting form filling for older folk in Nursing Homes, stranded in Beech lawns and Happy Landings, and for others ailing while I sat appraising their rehab journeys in grand a week placements like Broadway Lodge.

The respite for others was invariably good, even though I, in my personal space was not.

Remembered times, blandly eating lunch from the steamed car window while staring out at the wooden pier that bled neon light into greying sky as metal detecting men in raincoats battled the wind and litter to ply their trade upon the endless expanse of mud, hopeful of becoming the news of the next treasure trove haul.

These fleeting reminiscences,  sinking my heart within such a sparkling, hot and humidly happy day, pulsed forth a sadness that was beaten away by the chatter about the heat and the lack of sweat rags, and our thick socks and tired foot bottoms and the too fast melt of butter cream and the up-coming joys of crazy golf.

Memories so quickly risen up and gone. Sunken illusions that sprout historical self doubt.

And now, at home, pondering and pawing anew through my overlarge pile of hand written diaries, I at last find a poem that captured those feelings, those experiences, that distantly washed out Weston of my past. There (and now presented here) is a testament to how life flows, how transient even the deepest exhaustion is, how the past seven years has unseen the release of my clinging self…

 Weston-Super-Mud

 

there are donkeys on Weston beach

that wade through dreams of sea

and gold on sands and Geiger-count

the penny falls and vinegar drips

from salting pier and cash-back hands

like mud caked bats decoding waves

they strain the pips from tops of beer

and swoop on prey that resonate

in shaking cans and shell suite ear

while stranded addicts chemical dodge

and beg for change from rehab Lodge

where sharing booze and chips and pin

confound the hope of giving in to a clean

and dried out Weston

and on Beached Lawns beside the prom

the 99’s varicose and wait in vain

for nursing shade and kingdom come

licked and flaked skin by skin

by the super-glare encased within

the blue blue rinse of Weston.

Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing:

‘…I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing , healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrows drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear or craving pull me out of the present moment.’

 

Everything belongs

Was it really only six days ago that I wrote this while dodging  30 degree burns in a Park Street coffee shop?

Home’s circular fan shifting dampness within fitful sleep, the coldness of  discarded neck pillow reunited with my head, that dismay at a distant November longing for ‘just one little smidgen of sunshine and warmth,’ are all now briefly remembered with  a wipe of my sweat rag and a guttural, definitely frustrated sigh.

The same kind of sigh that woke my wife this morning, that started my day much too early for its own good, that elicited this current sideways look from my arm chaired Coffee Shop neighbour.

Yes in the deep thug and bother of this new day I find myself half way from home, half way to work,  staring at life going by. Staring and waiting for inspiration and for this thick swirl of coffee to cool. Watching the drip drip overfill of a cities pacing minutes as the clock closes in on nine am.

Noticing these streets, brightly distorted with emancipated brick dust and a shimmer and sheen from the nose to bumper nose to bumper conga line of congestion, gently offering their hot workout to exposed skin, surreptitiously suggesting deep ingestion to thinly clad young lungs bursting within ardent strides and their need to ‘get there and there and to get there once again.’

My languishing foot swells for them, for the city dwellers traipsing outside this damply conditioned coffee shop and as I sip my brew to the Deliveroo moped pip pip pippig his way through, I adjust my sweat, exhaust in moistness and try to breathe a clearing in the clog of my tired  waiting heart, in my pregnant pulse hoping to launch goodness and joy into these hard trodden city streets.

And as the froth sticks to my upper lip I smile to remember my shrinking walk thus far. My inward flinch to the hum of richly rotted wheelie bins lining my South Bristol route. Who in their right mind would welcome such a stench, such an unwanted express of our discarded living?

Remembering the diesel sheen and the over pitched radio heralding in the odd assortment, the four neon clad bin collectors, all woolly hats and shouts of ‘attention’ and ‘left a bit,’ and ‘to the right mate,’ as their vehicle reversed to attention,

attention, attention vehicle reversing, attention………’

Yes my attention was averted, my nose haughtily placed, but now reflecting on their grind I connect with a thankfulness for those humpingly slow city litter scatterers.

What a blessing they are, those livers of this city.

And somehow I drift towards Titch Nhat Hahns lovely little book ‘No lotus without mud,’ and within the next few breaths and coffee slurps, I practice breathing in the dark dank smells, the compost and rot, and breathing out pure clear light. Imagining walking and breathing thus, so a flower could sprout within the shadow of each footfall, each shit mound.

What if this impromptu Ton-Glen could spin my love and appreciation towards those workers, just as easily the oft quoted flap of a butterfly’s wing can be felt all around the world.

And with a smile, I settle to read and bask in some nourishment…..

‘Everything belongs, God uses everything: Everything is recycled, there are no wasted energies….God forgives (and loves) all things for being imperfect, broken and poor.’ Ricahrd Rohr, Everything Belongs P130

Five Mindfulness Trainings, number two: True Happiness.

‘I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy.’

 

First tentative steps

I woke today  to the usual bed sheet tangle

and to an unfamiliar dream song spinning in my head. As soon as I tried to capture its essence it melted into nothing. Showering I began to remember parts of the now distant chorus:

Our past informs us

That futures rush towards us

So wish to wake afresh

Within this very  breath.

Twee and clunky and probably some mish-mash of the stuff  I was reading just before bed  last night but placing it down here is a good enough start to this blogging experiment.

My central concern is how to live well and feel contented within my life right now. I find the countryside slightly depressing and green and kind of alien. I enjoy being there for an afternoon, as long as I can get back to the city before night fall.

I am a city dweller and although I most times enjoy the city, I have found a growing need to search for ways to appreciate  my surroundings more fully. To find refuge and joy in the concrete and car filled streets, to welcome living so close to others.

 

A past diary entry

(when I was in the thick of reading ‘The Spiritual City’ by Phillip Sheldrake):

I am told that someone called Igantius Loyola thought that the ‘right choice’ for people seeking inner spiritual freedom was to be compassionate, charitable and attentive to others.  And  after summarising a bit of Aristotle, Tomas Aquinas and some other long dead luminaries, Sheldrake asks if  diverse voices, groups and city populations can really come together and talk about and act towards a common good.

Maybe, maybe not.

Today our choir (Renewal) sang at Princess Campbell’s funeral.  What an honour. I heard of a woman whose views, criticisms and passion were worn on the outside. She had made her mark within nursing and city life and evidently was dearly missed by those who knew and came into contact with her.

The half discussion. the relayed story on the way home touched my heart. When frailer and in her mid seventies this Jamaican woman basked in four standing ovations at Bristol university (while receiving an honorary doctorate in Law), but said the teller, she was then taken home by a volunteer. Taken back to a home where sparsity of furniture and food made their presence known.

The friend made her some hot soup, then left Princess, alone. Both venerated and discarded within the very same day.

As I rewrite this today, I wonder about this story, this glimpse of another who I never even met. Below the entry I see two more entries from the epilogue to Sheldrake’s book:

a quote:

‘It is human gestures that remake the city day by day.’ (Michel de Certeau)

and a question:

‘How are we to enable our streets and neighbourhoods to be effective places of mutual engagement, often of a casual nature, rather than places of exclusion for some people and of threat for others.’

He asks how can it become a place where strangers are cherished? How can we love our city as ourselves?

How indeed.

For, he goes on the say, no image embodies the fullness of the human condition better than a city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowing down in the city

I aim to share glimpses of my journals and poetry

that has grown from times of stillness and reflection.

My writing, meditations and daily readings helps me slow down, wake up and contemplate how I can grow love and compassion.

May you and all around you become and stay peaceful, contented and secure.

Thanks for stopping by.