Friday, 15 June 2007


We each construct a framework for the world in which we live.
That world takes its form from the actual places within which it is built, and from the culture and qualities of the people within those places, and yet, the results of this ‘self-build’ instinct and mentality are immensely more varied than can be accounted for by the physical conditions around us, or by any anticipated variety of personality and experience among our neighbours.

We place bricks where we want or need walls, and we leave spaces for windows where we want to look beyond ourselves; we each adjust our views or lack of them to suit our own mental twists and turns, taking little or no account of anyone else. By building a wall in one area we not only shut something out from our sight and mind, but we prevent anyone outside gaining a glimpse of that aspect of ourselves which led to those bricks being placed there. We construct not only the framework for our own world, but also our own personal version of a siege mentality: a survival manual for the life to be lived within it.

All this helps to perpetuate our separation on any deeply meaningful level, but, on top of all this, we have an almost incredible ability to deceive ourselves; we can hold on to our views of the world, our visions of reality and our consistently comfortable false images even when we actually know them to be wrong.
As well as the ever-present possibility of placing something other than reality, other than the truth, in the personal but highly influential glare of our perception - as demonstrated by my own failure to appreciate my substitution of memory for clarity of vision – we so easily hold tight to habits that anchor us in our past. We may have moved well beyond the levels of awareness which gave birth to these islands of apparent solidity and safety, but we do not abandon them, discard or destroy them because they are the very things that keep us in touch with a past we regard as essential to the understanding of our present, and to a willingness to embrace the future. We may feel ourselves to be immensely brave, and to be rightly proud of our faith when we look towards that future with a stance that anticipates a certain amount of buffeting, and a half smile that (we hope) tells the world around us that we know where we are going, and that we are confident that the trials will be worthwhile.

In the present, that future is completely unimaginable.
That which we look towards is a continuation of the present, or, at most, an extension of today’s perception of reality that will extend and expand our understanding of our place in our restricted universe no more than maintaining contact with our past will allow.
As with every aspect of our existence, there are different levels at which this maintenance of links between past, present and future both sustains us and holds us back from the realization of our potential.
I have spoken of the blessing I received through the use of reading glasses. Being enabled to see clearly that which is vague and blurred and virtually invisible to us simply by placing lenses before our eyes is something we take for granted. The absolute faith we have in the science involved in the production of these lenses is as automatic as our acceptance of daylight on opening the curtains in the morning.

Our future can be restricted by a failure to give our present the freedom for which it longs, and this lack of freedom stems from a form of idolatry; the unrealistic and unwarranted framing of aspects of our past in fixed and valued images of certainty and unimpeachable truth. Relating once again to our tendency to not see that which is before us, to have eyes but not to see, I hung on to my past for many years in the form of a pair of binoculars. I had bought them for myself long before learning that clarity of vision and brightness of image far outweighed the importance of magnification.
Seeing is dependent upon having the necessary conditions and attributes for seeing, not on getting closer to, or viewing an enlarged image of that which we wish to see. Even with the prerequisite of having the will and the wish to see, there is little chance of seeing the truth in any situation that provides only the opposite priority of opportunity. My binoculars – like my natural eyesight - deteriorated with time; somewhere along the way they must have had a hard knock and double vision was the result. But still I kept them and used them, (though not often), fully aware that what I was doing was close to ridiculous.
I now have a pair with half the magnification, but with which I am once again, at times, utterly amazed by the detail and beauty of the images I see.

As with my dazzling and heightened awareness of nettle leaves, I have been drawn still deeper into the beauty of the feathered wing, the whispered growth of leaves, the caress of clouds and stars and dusk and dawn, and hidden depths beneath the magical ricochet of reflections.

Our blindness is in the world at large; it is in our interpretation of the little we see; it is in our failure to recognize the word of God; it is in our chiffon-like lack of conviction, and in our vaguest hints of faith.
Our lack of sight, our lack of hearing, our lack of awareness and understanding; our lack of trust, of hope, of love and of faith, are all hidden beneath a sense of security and solidarity built upon our routines and our past; the truth of the reality before us, around us and within us is shut out by the framework we have constructed for ourselves.

Those among us who are churchgoers will almost certainly have strengthened their fortifications still further through a partial blindness and a spiritual poverty having lead them to an unquestioned acceptance of denominational facts.
There is only one truth. That truth is available to us all.

Even among our friends we are fundamentally separate, and that which keeps us apart is a fear of the truth within ourselves: a truth we all share but which we lock away through our lack of understanding of our place in the world, and of our relationship with each other.

John Henry Newman wrote this lovely passage in a sermon on Christian Sympathy. (Parochial and Plain Sermons)

These were the first of his words I ever read, and since being given to me by a friend at Stanbrook Abbey, I have found their truth to have remained undeniable.

'Perhaps the reason why the standard of holiness among us is so low, why our attainments are so poor, our view of the truth so dim, our belief so unreal, our general notions so artificial and external is this, that we dare not trust each other with the secret of our hearts. We have each the same secret, and we keep it to ourselves, and we fear that, as a cause of estrangement, which really would be a bond of union. We do not probe the wounds of our nature thoroughly; we do not lay the foundation of our religious profession in the ground of our inner man; we make clean the outside of things; we are amiable and friendly to each other in words and deeds, but our love is not enlarged, our bowels of affection are straitened, and we fear to let the intercourse begin at the root; and, in consequence, our religion, viewed as a social system is hollow. The presence of Christ is not in it.’

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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