Sunday 27 November 2011

For Advent... The First Candle

I'll be putting up Advent candles on my blog this Christmas. :-) The candles lit for Advent are still, in my opinion, one of the loveliest celebrations.

Advent is a period of preparation and waiting for Jesus to be born. It used to involve fasting (Catholics and others) until the Christmas celebration, but I don't think many people do that anymore.

There are many variations on Advent, so I'm sticking with the one I like the most. There are four candles for the four Sundays before Christmas. The third one is traditionally rose pink, but nowadays all sorts of colours are used. Each candle has meaning and I've used some of the quotes from Words for Worship to put together my own Christmas Advent idea.

1st Sunday of Advent

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.

We join with sisters and brothers around the world, lighting a candle to mark our steps in this Advent journey.

Today, we light the candle of Hope.


Saturday 26 November 2011

Wow... how long has it been?

I hadn't realised how long it's been since I blogged here. With my fingers and hands not working properly for months I've pretty much ground to a crawl with emails, blogs, etc.

So... what can I say? Life has been hectic and weird, which seems to be the theme song for 2011 in general. Most of my friends and family have dealt with 'hectic and weird' this year, in one way or another.

My fingers are an ongoing puzzle. I have been to several doctors and have a few left to see in December. They think it's likely a mix of things, some carpel tunnel stuff, but something else on top of that, which makes all the symptoms and test results confusing. I'm not sleeping much - lying down hurts. I'm tired a lot, but have loads of help from hubby who is turning into a good cook. :-) My mom had hip surgery end of Oct and is recovering well. Dad's doing good too...

...and otherwise life has been really quiet. No-one is up to doing much, the price of fuel has risen to a stage where going out is kept to a minimum so I'm not getting many chances to take nice scenic photos. All a bit dull and drab... rather like the weather. November has been warm, but windy and the trees are so confused that a lot of them haven't lost their leaves yet and haven't gone those lovely autumn golds and coppers either.

Strange month in a strange year!

Friday 11 November 2011

In Remembrance


Remembrance – A hymn
for Remembrance Sunday

Charles Henrywood

Grant peace, O Lord, across our strife-torn world,
Where war divides and greed and dogma drive.
Help us to learn the lessons from the past,
That all are human and all pay the price.
All life is dear and should be treated so;
Joined, not divided, is the way to go.

Grant rest, O Lord, to those no longer with us;
Who died protecting us and this their land.
Bring healing, Lord, to those who, through their service,
Bear conflict’s scars on body or in mind.
With those who mourn support and comfort share.
Give strength to those who for hurt loved-ones care.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

We will remember them


Friday 4 November 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem 2011 - The Dreamers...

... Every time that I’ve taken part in Blogblast for Peace I’ve tried to find a new viewpoint to the idea of Peace:

But when it came to planning for 2011 my brain went blank ... so I avoided the question by designing some Peace badges for Mimi instead.

Then I avoided it again by getting involved in Mimi's ‘100 Reasons for Peace’ challenge. It started small, just thimblefuls of peace, but those small posts soon started to overwhelm my everyday blogging and so I moved them all to a new blog - Peace Thimbles.

I was busy preparing a thimble post, when it struck me – THIS was my Blogblast 2011 message! This was everything I wanted to say.

'Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.'

That small thimble was a special song I had intended to post on the birthday of its composer, the magically talented Paul Williams. Paul Williams has been entertaining the world, and touching hearts, for over four decades. His songs have been recorded by everyone from Elvis and David Bowie to Frank Sinatra and… Kermit the frog.

It’s Kermit’s favourite song, The Rainbow Connection, that sums it all up for me
Mimi’s dream of Blogblast for Peace
inspired by Papa’s beautiful world-in-a-marble...

the Peace Bees, the Peace Bloggers,
all the everyday rainbow-hearted people involved…

'the lovers, the dreamers and me.'

The dreamers... that’s the real miracle of Mimi’s Blogblast - the fact that it has brought together people from all over our planet. People who all share the same simple dream of wanting a better, safer world.

'All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....'

I chose a thimble for my peace “symbol” this year, because some days it feels as if trying to make the world a better place is like bailing a flood with a thimble. Let’s face it, you turn on the news and the media bombards you with wars, murders, and disasters. Dramas sell more papers than ‘feel good’ stories; most journalists would rather cover a war than a charity gala. As a result we get reminded far more often about humanity’s catastrophes than our achievements.

War is dramatic – Peace is humble.

It’s easy to feel small and overwhelmed when the media keeps reminding us of our failures. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re standing there all alone with your thimble clutched to your heart.

'So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.'

So maybe you can't bail a flood with a thimble, but what if you had the world to help you?

What could you achieve if you bailed with a billion thimbles? What if you discovered you weren’t so alone after all? That’s what Mimi proved to all of us in blogblast for Peace – that we weren’t alone. Not yet a billion thimbles, but not alone.

'Somebody thought of thatand someone believed it,and look what it's done so far.'

I went looking for more info on what Paul Williams is up to nowadays and I discovered that he has a whole armful of thimbles of his own on his Connections website! You can find them here at Save me a Dream. Paul Williams is out there bailing bravely for victims of child abuse, domestic violence, fetal alcohol syndrome and so many others I can’t list them all! It’s an absolutely fantastic site, please go look at it. He has links to all kinds of help and support – a hundred beautiful thimbles.

'Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?'

Now, as much as I like Kermit, I found a version of The Rainbow Connection on YouTube that fits my ideas about a peace-filled world far better. Go watch it and you’ll see a fragment of what I dream our world could be…

I also loved the way the world famous singer in this video walks into it in such an unassuming way.

Peace is humble…

I went to check up on Willie Nelson and found out that he's busy with his own thimbles of hope - he's president of Farm Aid.

Farm Aid is a non profit organisation that tries to keep family farmers on their land. Farmers are also the often completely forgotten victims of war. You cannot farm in a war zone, I know - I have family on my dad’s side who have been caught up in having farming land in a war zone. When we lose our family farmers, we lose the heart of our countries. When we lose farmers in war zones... people starve to death.

There’s a great quote on the Farm Aid site. Willie Nelson says:

I've always believed that the most important people on the planet are the ones who plant the seeds and care for the soil where they are grown.

He’s right - the smallest things are often the most important. It’s those who sow seeds, those who bail hope in small thimblefuls, who make this world a place worth living in. It’s the small ordinary people, mostly invisible, rarely acknowledged, who are the true heroes in Life.

So this year’s Blogblast theme is for you – sitting there reading this, holding your thimble and feeling like you don’t make much of a difference because you’re too small to count…

You count to those who matter.

'I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
it's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.'

Never think you’re too small to make a difference...

'Life's like a movie, write your own ending.
Keep believing, keep pretending.
we’ve done just what we set out to do

Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers…
and you.'

Jim Henson

* thank you to my friend, Kim, for designing the thimble. x
*credits to Sarah Edwards, for creating and maintaining Paul Williams' Connection websites
And everlasting thanks to Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher for "The Rainbow connection" :-)

Thursday 3 November 2011

Battle Cry

Recently the TV news showed footage of a little girl in China being hit by a car. She died because neither the driver, nor the 18 people who walked by or over her, stopped to help her. She seemed to be invisible to everyone except the CCTV cameras.

What went wrong? How can you overlook a dying child beneath your feet? It seems unbelievable that people can be so uncaring, but then you stop and look around you and it gets to be even more frightening. Modern life seems to have become a war where only the selfish flourish. Win at all costs, reach the top at all costs… The message is fairly clear - that it is perfectly fine to hurt, lie or elbow anyone out of your way in order to gratify your own personal greeds and needs.

From school to sports, and jobs to politics, it is considered perfectly acceptable to fight to reach the top. Our politicians battle it out with each other constantly, and often quite nastily. Our sports teams are expected to win regardless of fairplay and businesses lie and manipulate each other out of the way to get the best trade deals.

Battles… wars… aggression… struggle… I’m so tired of it all. I’d love to just run away and hide, but I can’t, because there are some battles you simply cannot walk away from. You see… I’ve realised I’m a fighter too, but of a different kind. I’ve realised I’m a Peace Warrior.

Now I’m not meaning anything wild and drastic by that, I don’t go chaining myself to railings chanting peace slogans. You do get those kinds if Warriors for Peace, those people who leap into public view, but on the whole most Peace Warriors are invisible, overlooked and unknown. Peace isn’t fought for on battlegrounds or under spotlights – it’s fought for in all the ordinary everyday places by very ordinary everyday people, like me… and like you.

Peace has no prejudices; you can be any age, religion or race. Peace Warriors may fight with tact and smiles or arm themselves with petitions and posters, but basically they are all the same. There are Peace Warriors out there carrying school books as well as those who have dentures. They are many and varied, but there is one thing they all have in common - they all expect more from humanity.

Now, there are those who think any attempt to change humanity is ridiculous and unrealistic. Maybe… maybe Peace Warriors are dreamers of improbable dreams, but we aren’t quitters. Like Gandhi and Irena Sendler, Peace Warriors quietly get on with doing those things other people say are impossible.

As a Peace Warrior friend of mine puts it:

“I blog for peace because some say it is impossible to achieve.
I am stubborn. Tell me I can't and I will.”

Mimi Lennox (founder of Blogblast4Peace)

She’s right, Peace Warriors have to be stubborn, because changing the world is grindingly slow - you’ll not survive this battle if you’re impatient or only in it for short term rewards.

There’s another misconception about Peace – that being a pacifist is an easy way out and that stepping back from violence, or war, is akin to cowardice. The truth is actually the complete opposite. Peace Warriors challenge others; they shine a light on what needs to be changed and that can be a very dangerous thing. Throughout world history Peace Warriors have been mocked, threatened, hated, beaten, imprisoned and even executed. Peace has never been the choice for cowards.

True Peace Warriors don’t wield weapons or incite violence, but they don’t step back and ‘take it’ either. Peace Warriors are those people who not only think, “This isn’t right; this isn’t fair,” they stand up and do something about it. If you’ve ever made a decision based on what was right instead of what was popular, if you’ve ever put the safety of others ahead of your own, if you’ve ever stood up to a bully, yet not lowered yourself to their levels to do so… you are a Peace Warrior.

Peace stands up when the rest sit down,
Peace steps forward when the others turn and run.
Peace shines a light in the darkest places,
no matter the danger in what it faces.
Peace is a warrior, do you understand?
Peace is a warrior within your hands.

(“Peace Warrior” by Michelle Frost)