We don’t get the post that much anymore, and because the service has been so seriously depleted since privatisation, we no longer have a relationship with our postie. It’s a frightful loss. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t think about the person who delivers our post and parcels anymore, because I do. For this reason I have written a prayer for the Postie, which appears in the new website which still has a few things to sort out, but is gradually getting better every day – Prayers for Everyone
Prayer for the Postie
Let us honour In prayer The honour of work Important jobs That demand Respect Bring pleasure Inspire Poetry
A thousand emotions contained In a million envelopes A universe of ideas Beyond the mind of man
Let us honour The Postie Once esteemed Once smartly uniformed Pillar of the community Now strangely invisible Yet even today Hero and heroine Striding out in wartime Freezing winters Sweltering summers And pandemics
For over 200 years The Postie brought Papers, cheques, passports, Visas, love letters, Cards for birthdays Invitations Letters of sadness Letters of gladness Written on paper of every hue, The pink, the violet, the white and the blue Nasty news alongside nice postcards Silly views alongside perceptive poetry
Let us honour in prayer The Postie Knocking at the door Ringing the bell Descending slippery steps Dodging dubious dogs Negotiating snapping letter boxes
Two hundred years of tradition Needing strength, patience, Kindness, strong limbs… Which is why We bless the Postie Post Woman and Post Man For all they gave us yesterday Today and tomorrow A job well done Thank you
In anticipation of the forthcoming website – Prayers for Everyone – which is currently under development, I am writing prayers where there seem to be gaps… like interfaith prayers that don’t address any deity, but just celebrate joy in the ideas and ideals of the interfaith movement.
When people of different faith Get together in peace True peace Unity and kindness… Something occurs Something good Something… Glorious
An invisible force A commonality Carried on a wave of diversity Arises… Honouring our different beliefs
It’s as if the invisible energies Of miscellaneous angels Move between those faiths Reminding us Of the similarities Between us all
Explaining the power of love The perfection of agreement The exquisite nature Of harmonious understanding
And so together We celebrate Sacred peace Sacred love Harmony in diversity And give thanks
A loving funeral is essential. But isn’t easy to set up a loving funeral. Most of us no longer have a local priest or person to turn to. The vicar or celebrant recommended by a Funeral Director rarely fulfils the task, and to try and carry out the funeral oneself can also be nearly impossible for a thousand reasons, not least the sheer pressure of living with one’s own loss, which can be draining both emotionally and physically.
Many religious people want a funeral done in the usual way, but for some of us this is not what we want. Religion is man-made; spiritual awareness is cosmic. Choice is part of our lives, and this applies to our spiritual lives. Many of us are spiritually aware but not attached to any particular faith, and some celebrants are not prepared to support our need for freedom. There is a beautiful specialness in people, whether they have no interest in anything or have a passion for embroidery, making doll’s houses out of match-boxes, sport, animals, grandchildren, gardening or mountain climbing. Everyone is unique and it is so important that their unique character is honoured at their funeral.
Funerals today are best when they are loving, insightful, and if possible friendly… and they can be friendly whether there are three people present or 300. They don’t need to be sentimental but they do need to be authentic. A funeral must serve two purposes – to make those present feel connected with the person that has died, and to empower people that come to the funeral to feel better for the experience, and appreciate a moment of connection at the deepest level.
I know when I have carried out a funeral successfully. It’s when somebody comes up to me and says “did you know him? I was under the impression you knew him really well…” also when somebody says “She would have really loved this service… it’s as if she was here.”
Over the years I have written many funeral readings for some very special people. The specialness of each person and each funeral helps to create funerals for other unique women, men and children. But with every funeral there is always something different, beautiful, radiant and unexpected. The readings I have created for these unique people can be found on my website – funeral readings.
In praise of Glamorous Finches and Exotic Libraries
If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. J.K. Rowling
A great gift from the technology age is the library in your pocket, or backpack, depending on your preference. Books of all kinds are now languishing by the zillion in our electronic libraries on literary ‘clouds’ in the aether. And who can deny… books on a tablet or iPad are wonderful if one lives in a limited space — a virtual library can be as small or massive as you like, or can afford.
The electronic book has changed our reading habits so much. If one commutes, or likes to settle down in a dark place without disturbing one’s partner, the electronic book has much to offer, as opposed to turning on the light and shuffling around in the gloom looking for a misplaced book-mark. The sheer quantity of electronic books in my electronic library also comes as a real relief to the book-shelves in our house. But most importantly these books in the cloud point to a fundamentally different way of reading and book ownership.
When I started to own electronic books, I discovered that important factual volumes needed for research had to be in paper form, because of re-reading, book marking and sharing. This discovery was learned by making mistakes and having to get the same book twice. But then things changed, I started to read only certain kinds of books electronically. Novels, fantasy, stories and ‘page-turners’ were required and acquired electronically. Finally, I came to know when I only needed a real book that involved paper, pictures, references and text… and so, me and a million others changed our reading habits.
The important books that we appreciate have become special, like the illuminated hand-painted tomes of old. Weighing in like the heavyweights that they are, coffee table books have gone out of the window, the big books are the serious ones, for serious people with serious passions. And here are two very different examples I found in our house.
If you key “Exotic Twitchers” into Google you can have real fun, discovering the difference between a real bird-watcher and a twitcher – the twitcher being a person that sets out to record some exotic bird life that got lost in Brexitland en-route to somewhere sunny. Lost and bewildered the foreign bird ends up on our sad little island, being scrutinised by a host of anoraked twitchers. But real bird watchers look at books like ‘Estrildid Finches of the World’ and travel to distant lands to discover more about this branch of truly exotic finch. ‘Estrildid Finches of the World’ is a vast astonishing self-published volume encompassing nine years of work, over a thousand colour photographs, a nearly 400 pages of descriptive text including 146 maps and many magnificent birdy illustrations. The volume includes examinations of markings and descriptions of hatchlings, as well. It’s a dedicated study of Estrildidae, a finch family of 34 genera and 145 species – beautiful birds that can be found in 40 countries around the world. The book, which understandably earned praise from David Attenborough, costs 69.95 Euros and is available from the author – G.J.Huisman – www.finches.nl. and take my word for it, I am not a serious bird watcher, but for somebody who loves their exotic finches, this has to be the book, it’s impressive…
Another volume that reminded me of the way books and their importance have changed during our lifetimes is the seductive Thames & Hudson volume The Library – A World History by James W.P. Campbell and Will Pryce. This is another physically massive tome featuring photographs of libraries across the world. It includes sumptuous pictures of collections of books and manuscripts including detailed views of weird volumes on strange shelves, from Europe to Asia and the Americas. It probably took every bit as long to compile as ‘Estrildid Finches’. I can look at this history of libraries for the rest of my life, and enjoy its fascinating text too, before arriving at the final chapter entitled ‘The Future of Libraries in the Electronic Age.’ Even this last bit of the book is interesting, but nowhere near as visually thrilling as the adventures one might have wandering through the grand bookshelves of The National Library of Finland, or the sensational Wiblington Abbey Library in Wiblington, Germany. They are so glamorous.
As Charles Baudelaire said: “A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors.”
As T.S. Eliot said: “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”
And let’s not forget dear old Albert Einstein, who pointed out that: “The only thing that you absolutelyhave to know, is the location of the library.” How true.
I recently carried out a funeral for a dear friend. She was powerfully spiritual, and although she had complete confidence in life after death, at the start of her funeral I had a moment of great sadness, knowing that her spiritual presence would no longer be visible in this dimension.
During the service – very aware of her spiritual power – I felt the need to point out that there is no death, and I said this, with the accompanying phrase – energy cannot be destroyed. I know this because it comes from the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only altered in its form.
Since carrying out that funeral, the phrase “There is no death – energy cannot be destroyed” has been wandering through my mind, like some kind of super-silly-stuck-song, but more peaceful. And so I came to write this reading, poem or whatever you like to call it, and of course dedicate it to my late friend – Rev Debbie Gaston.
There is No Death
There is no death Energy cannot be destroyed
There is poetry, music, love But no death
The spirit arrives Dancing through humankind
The spirit moves Departing sleeping bones
Even in great wars Death is not sovereign
Energy cannot be destroyed
A wave breaks on rocks Emitting a roar
Its power transformed From rage to music The seductive snarl of the sea Altered But never abolished
Who deserves thanks? Me? Another? So… Why do I give thanks? Is it useful to give thanks? Is there anything to be thankful for?
Maybe if I step into somebody else’s shoes It would be easier to be thankful… I might be luckier, richer, more gorgeous But then… Maybe if I stepped into another’s shoes I might discover I was poorer, Sicker, a sucker, sadder
Right now, why thank? OK, if I had to I could But why?
Here’s one wild reason to thank… Pluck a memory Carefully selected From the memory bank Pause… Enjoy that sweet recollection… Make it lovely and lovelier
Smile and feel thankful Or pretend To be thankful For being able to smile For having laughed… once or twice In life For being kind, once or twice in life For worrying And discovering that worrying generally Is a unmitigated waste of time A misuse of imagination So, use your imagination For something better, finer, lovelier More beautiful… And smile
I can smile I know how to do it I’ve done it before I can snort (with hilarity) I can laugh at myself smiling and snorting Frivolously and inanely I can appreciate I have a lousy sense of humour I can appreciate myself In all my glory… because A lousy sense of humour – might just be a terrific sense of humour
I can be kind to myself I can be kind to somebody else I can smile to myself And I can smile about myself I can stroke myself, like a cat I can be sensible I can be silly I can be funny I can be wise And amidst all this stuff and guff I can thank myself And whoever made me
It’s time to try-out a token ‘thank you’ Offer some gentle appreciation To you, me and the universe… Go on… Gift yourself with gratitude
I have been giving a thought to ‘worrying’ in all its sadness and negativity. The problem with worrying is that it is highly infectious. We talk to each other and we worry about the climate, the economy, the war, Covid, the earthquake and the horribly inappropriate behaviour of those in power. So I’ve written a prayer about worrying…
Why worry? When you can pray? … With calm
Why misuse imagination When you can request? … Ruffle-free
Right now I pray for more love More kindness More compassion
What’s there not to pray for? What’s there not to ask? What indeed?
Intention is stronger Than you and I So pray… And stop worrying
Make it happen soon Make it good and kind
Change the song Throw the switch Do it now Thank you Thank you Thank you
Lots of us find it difficult to identify completely with any particular religion, even if we respect and love the religious practices of our friends and neighbours. There are few prayers outside the usual stuff that address everyday emotions. With this in mind I’m creating a website of prayers, in the language of the moment without reference to any particular religion. It will be called ‘Prayers for Everyone’ and I hope to have it up and running in a month or two. Here is a prayer about anger. I shall publish several of my angry prayers over the coming days. If they resonate with you, let me know… and let me know if you believe that we need prayers to help with anger… despair… environmental decline… earthquakes… war and all the concerns of the moment.
So Much to be Angry About
I pray That I can look At the wickedness The cruelty The greed And the self-serving… And not feel rage, pure rage
I pray That I will come to know That wickedness Will give way to good.
That cruelty Will be overwhelmed by compassion. That the greedy Will be satiated, shamed and step back.
May those self-serving beings Whose faces I see every evening Framed in boxes of all sizes Be put in their place… And when all this happens… When change comes As it must do I will no longer be angry But give thanks That my prayers Came to be answered.
But right now Embracing inevitable change Let me experience Calm… peace and understanding.