Tuesday, 30 November 2021
As a teenager growing up in the 1960s in a small town where everyone seemed to know me and when I was out and about on a Saturday night people would tell my parents all about it until I got to drive and hang out in the big city - Birmingham. I used to hang out in cafes in y home town on Saturday mornings with Chunky and Ziggy. These were safe places and usually had expresso coffee, juke boxes and pin ball machines. Imagine me hearing Pete Townsend of The Who singing My Generation – ‘Why don’t you all f-f-f-f fade away?’ Of course it was obvious he wanted to sing ‘Why don’t you all f*ck off?’ I needed this safe space to be in and to be with who I was. That has not changed for me. I still use cafes this way, alone or with safe friends. You know who you are. This was because I did not really feel that I belonged in my birth family. Not that unusual a feeling. I thought I might have been adopted but my mum told too many stories about me as a baby. I also did not like some aspects of what young men were supposed to be and still don’t. I wanted to be free to be me but without a fight just to sit with the realization. What is clear to me now is that I can choose how I present myself – and that can be real fun – but I can not choose who I am. It’s an ongoing process of discovery and coming to terms with being human and not an angel
Friday, 24 September 2021
Saturday, 22 May 2021
The Boss meets with Q once more - Hi Boss. - Hi Q. There was a silence that the Boss was unwilling to break. It just felt so good to be sitting quietly in the presence of Q. But he had come to Q with something on his mind, indeed on his body – he could feel the tension in his guts. - Oh Q, I am still wrestling with suffering. - Hmm. - Yeah…. Two old friends of mine are both getting slowly frailer. At least they have each other and their son does live nearby…. And I have a delightful neighbour who keeps getting strokes…. It seems so unfair for people, for anyone to suffer so but especially those I care about. And don’t get me started on my family and close friends. - Sounds very troubling. - It is… and I used to think we had more agency, more choices, more responsibility. And I guess we do but some of this just seems to come from nowhere which makes it even more scary… - Hmm. - Yeah. Hmmm… Yet I still cling to a benevolent Creator despite all of this. Which means I can’t understand suffering. - Maybe you need not so much to understand it as to find a way to make your peace with it. The Boss snorts. - Oh really! Q smiles. - Yes. - And how might I do that? - Well it is a process that might never end but I know that there are times when you are at peace with this. - I am? - Yes… when you are in a deep contemplative space or in the high of a mystical experience. - True but I only wish I could hang on to that…. Bring it back into my ordinary life. - I think you do! - Really? - Yes, really. Otherwise you would be weeping even more than you usually do…. And who knows what a state you would then be in! The Boss sighs and they both find themselves in a comfortable silence.
Sunday, 2 May 2021
Thursday, 11 March 2021
The Boss meets Q virtually during the pandemic - Hi Q. - Hi Boss. - Good to see you. - You too, Boss … How goes? - Well … I am coping with the pandemic OK … crawling up the walls some days. But getting out when I can does help. The Boss nods. - But just before the first lockdown I had some new projects in the air almost ready to go and then … The thing is that IK thought they were what God wanted me to do. - Hmm. - Yes. And now I don’t know. I am waiting to see if they feel right to resume later this year. But they will be different and so will I. - In what way? - Older …probably not wiser … valuing people in my life so much more; nature has been wonderful to me; the simple things of life matter more. The thing I used to worry about they matter so much less when death is so close. - Hmm, says Q and they both drift into a deep and settled silence
Monday, 1 February 2021
Be at peace with me/ For I don’t know how long we have got/ And I so wish for you to be/ At peace when we part/ As in these bodies we must/ Sooner or later/ But what of our souls?/ We have more choice/ Dare I say more agency?/ If we know that/ As Truth.
Sunday, 31 January 2021
On meeting a snake in Kenya A few years ago, on a regular work trip to Kenya, after the usual international counselling conference – which was as ever stunning and humbling to hear of the amazing work being done – I was taken off on a weekend away to a rather comfortable campsite on a small island in the middle of a lake. I had a very comfortable tent to myself with a real bed and a shower. Late afternoon walking into my tent I noticed a colourful snake. I carefully edged out and rain to reception and the manager came back with me to the tent. The snake had taken off but the manager assured me it was not poisonous. I eventually managed to sleep that night! Later the next day as my colleagues were having an afternoon nap I scoured the bookshelves for something to read. I came across a nature book with a chapter on snakes and low and behold I found my snake. And it was poisonous! I found the manager again and this time he said Yes it was poisonous and had it bit me I would have been dead before they got me to the mainland hospital!
Monday, 25 January 2021
On meeting a tree in Alex Park In the winter of 1970 when I was in my final year at the University of Manchester me and my girl friend split up and soon after I moved into a bedsit in Whalley Range and had a miserable time for about 3 months. I nearly quit my course – Computer Science – and indeed missed the mock exams just after Christmas. I walked around the streets and Alexandra Park restlessly. I remember walking late night about 3am when I couldn’t sleep and being stunned by the dawn chorus. Then one day in March I was walking in Alex Park and a tree was light up with the energy of Spring. This touched me deeply- I would now say to my very soul - and raised my spirits. This was a turning point for me in more ways than one. I had been touched by nature before. The first time I saw the Highlands of Scotland in Summer 1969 I felt a love but this tree had a deeper effect on me. I spoke to my cousin Ben who was doing Literature and he said ‘Wordsworth’. He was right Wordsworth spoke to my condition, to use a Quaker phrase. And like Wordsworth nature became my teacher. Later I would become aware of the energies present at sacred sites and religious buildings. (And of course, the energies between people but that is another story!). A few months later I was walking near my family home in Habberley Valley and nature was around me and a voice speaks inside me and says ‘Love is the essence of being’. I didn’t understand what these words meant at the time and perhaps I still only provisionally understand. My religious beliefs, my personal theology, as it were, comes from my encounter with this tree. It took me a long time to reconcile these experiences of mine and their impact on me with religion but again another story.