Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Goodness?! Gracious me, that's complex!

“So”, said Asarlai

I hate it when he does this, starts of with “so” and then pauses!
I want to break into the Sound of Music, “Sew, a needle pulling thread!” but I refrain, he has already fixed his beady eye on me.

“So” he repeats and I wait.

“How’s it going, doing “the little good in your little life?”

Mixed emotions surge through me, part of me is proud that he has read my previous blog and the other half a sense that I am about to be skewered like a kebab!

“Well, I try, you know, not to cause harm to anyone”

Undeterred by platitudes, he persists, “but do you know what good to do?

“Being compassionate towards others, seeking their good, being kind” I trail off.  Asarlai looks like he just ate a very bad root, and stares at me.  I hate these times with him.  As much as he is my friend, he is ruthless when it comes to sniffing out some platitudinous sentiment that I have allowed myself to bask in.

“Like the ice cream incident?” he queries.

Now years ago when I was working with homeless men we had a client who came down from the Goldfields to give the pubs some respite from his drinking.  Many in the Goldfields are hard drinkers so it was a testament to this man that even by Goldfield standards the pubs had to have a break.  After being in Perth for a few months and drinking himself into a stupor on numerous occasions due to his grief of missing his favourite pubs it was decided he really needed to get back to the Goldfields.  I worked with the hospital to get him sober enough, the Social Work Dept. in the hospital had arranged the train trip home and all we had to do was keep him sober for one more evening and he would be on the train back to the Goldfields and somebody else’s concern.  Off course, by 4:30pm that evening he had disappeared and he remained disappeared until well after the train had disappeared up the tracks to the Goldfields.  In righteous anger I phoned the Social Work Dept. to politely and icily inquire what had happened.  I was advised by some young Social Worker that he had indeed appeared at the Dept. the previous evening and advised that he would need some money for the train trip so he could buy an ice cream!  “And you believed him!” I spat through gritted teeth.  I mean really!  A man with a chronic long term, hard habitual alcohol problem gets some money and thinks
“Now, what will it be?  A Peter’s ice cream or a middy?” 
Hence the ice cream incident as we referred to it.

The Social Worker felt she was doing good, but was she?  Perhaps, perhaps the man really did go and buy an ice cream, perhaps he really enjoyed it and it bought back memories he had forgotten as a young boy getting enough money from somewhere to slink off, buy an ice cream and enjoy it by himself.  Perhaps for those few moments those memories helped him remember a better time.  I will never know for I didn't see him again.  I was angry that my version of goodness, the right version hadn't triumphed over the Social Worker’s.

What about you, asks Asarlai

What about me?

“Well once you were a minister of religion telling people they needed to believe in God.  From what I understand, you preached and told them how they needed to believe and trust and pray and read the Bible and be kind and be good and be gracious and….”

“Okay, no need to labour the point” I sighed.

“Well”, he said “now you don’t believe in a personal God, you don’t read the Bible; you don’t tell people what to believe.  So when were you doing good?  When you were a minister or now that you aren't?”

We sat in silence for awhile and then Asarlai shuffled off, stalk of week sticking out of his mouth and as he went he chuckled and said,

“Perhaps rather than being concerned about doing good we should just be grateful for the ‘is-ness’ of life”

I sat and thought awhile longer.  My friend is right in many ways.  We get caught up in doing good for others, yet so often we do not have enough perspective to know whether what we are doing is really good or not.  Like me in the church, it seemed good at the time but more years, more life experience later I wonder?  The judgements I made, the platitudes given to people in situations that were complex, difficult and where if I am honest no platitude fitted, was that good?

Perhaps if there is a God, then he/she or whoever God may be has enough perspective to know what is good.  In the meantime all I can do is gratefully accept the “is-ness of life” as Asarlai calls it. 

This is the life I have in all its messiness and chaos.  Its laughter and sadness, its challenging times and restful days; its aloneness and friendship.  This life gives me the opportunity to learn to be grateful.  As for doing good?

Well I might leave that perspective to God or the gods to decide.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Seeking Enlightenment

I woke up the other morning at 12:05am and suddenly realized I needed to be enlightened.  I stayed awake till 2:00am waiting for it, until I fell into a troubled sleep and woke at 6:00am unenlightened and grumpy but this is what I had.

God grant me enlightenment

And God said, I have given you sight.

Ah, God, I said, it is not enough
I need to see visions,
to see the bright lights of eternity;
to see the lights that have not been seen.

God covered himself in darkness.

God let me hear voices

And God said you hear the birds sing and people talk.

Ah, God, I said, it is not enough
I need to hear the voices of the other-world
to hear the dead whisper their secrets,
the departed channel their wisdom.

God was silent

God let me do miracles

And God said I have given you the gift of enjoying the miracle of life.

Ah, God, I said, it is not enough
I need to do miracles to show people how great enlightenment is
To make people happy
To make people constantly happy and joyous and happy and content.

God groaned in pain.

God grant me silence

And God laughed, you want silence after visions, voices and miracles?

Ah, God, I said I need the silence of wisdom,
The silence of serenity
The stillness of composure
The self-possession of having arrived at oneness.

Then God asked

What would you do with enlightenment?

 Why God I would be brilliant,
I would call Oprah out of retirement
I would reach the masses and declare the truth
Or the truths
I would join the line of saints
I would do good and be powerful

God sighed and turning away I heard him say

My child, just do the little good you can in your little life.
It is enough
Spare Me and Oprah and the masses.

And my prayer prayed was unanswered.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for Love or a Good Mirror

I wasn't paying much attention to the conversations going on around me, but a few words from a spoken sentence floated into my conscious awareness, “she was looking for love”!

Reflecting later, there is often a desperate edge to that “looking” for love.  I think of the men I've had coffee with who have bewailed the fact that they cannot find love.  After all, they tell me, “I am reasonably good looking, not shabby on the eye, fairly intelligent, I hold down a good job, I'm financially secure and I just don’t understand why I can’t get someone to love ME”

Oblivious to the fact they sound desperate and like a 3 year old throwing a tantrum which is a ‘turn off’ to anyone they are perplexed by their bad luck.  I try to be a good counsellor and friend, and resist the urge to grab them by the scruff of the neck and bang their head into the coffee table.  Instead I smile weakly and say “I know!  Really! And how does that make you feel!”  All of which I have learnt from my friend the wolf.  Now wolves can say these things with just the right amount of menace in their voice so that men usually decide to quickly stop slobbering about their lack of luck in love.  Badgers don’t have the same menace so said men think I really care!  (The wolf is trying to teach me the tone of menace).

Yet, it is true we often ‘look for love’ so we don’t have to do the hard work of loving ourselves.  If our first priority is not to love ourselves then chances are that our relationships with our lovers, partners, spouse will be difficult, challenging and problematic for we are not looking to love “the other” simply a warm blooded mirror who will send a reflection back to us.

The poem below drawn from the myth of Narcissus reflects the search for that love that is really an excuse to adore ourselves.

Let me gaze into the pool of your eyes
For there I see myself
Let me contemplate my reflection
The ethereal me become solid in your eyes.

Echo for me, my brilliance
                        Your brilliant
Repeat to me my beauty
                        Your beautiful
Reverberate my intelligence back to me
                        You’re intelligent

Hold your gaze in unblinking stare
For in blinking you distort my image
Marbled eyed, keep staring
So I can see my substance

I love you so I can worship myself
My affection for you is bounded only by my adoration of myself
I vow to never leave you
Until I find another with more reflective eyes!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Introducing a Friend

Asarlai is a friend of mine.  He has been a friend for a very long time.  He is old for a badger, his fur lost its distinctive markings a long time ago yet his mind is bright and alert.  With Asarlai I can sit, mull over life’s intricacies, laugh and be irreverent.  We all need friends like him.

Asarlai is wise; he never believes in the answer and thinks the question isn't much help either.  To him, life must remain open to paradox; life must be capable of surprising us and making us laugh or at least smile.  Despite his age, Asarlai is still sprightly and nimble perhaps his body is simply the physical resemblance of a mind that refuses to grow fixated and arrive at the point of complete understanding.

I have learnt with Asarlai it is pointless to come to him with a question you want the answer to.  That is only an exercise in frustration – yours not his.  I have watched with amusement on many occasions where younger badgers come to Asarlai with a question they think is profound and must be answered so they can know the purpose of their life.  Asarlai will quietly chew the end of the stalk of grass he has in his mouth – a pipe smoker for years Asarlai finally relinquished his pipe but now enjoys a stalk of grass at one side of his mouth.  He will listen with eyes half closed, looking very ponderous and wise.  He will wait after the person has stopped speaking for a minute or two and then let out a long mmmmmmmmmmm, after which with a glint in his eye he was ask “now what was the question again?”

In variably badgers think that in the silence Asarlai is channeling wisdom from the Great Badger in the sky or some ancestral badger who has long crossed over but alas Asarlai is never thinking anything so profound.  His thoughts usually consist of a continuum of “why are badgers so fixated on having their questions answered” on his good days to “what the f*#k!” on his bad days, which are the days he is usually grieving giving up smoking and the stalk of grass, which really is grass, isn't that high quality grass he prefers.

I confess I was once, one of those badgers that needed to have their questions answered.  My questions were few and repetitious, how could I be spiritual, how could I be really spiritual, how could I make an impact and how could I make a really big impact.  If I got the answers to those questions I could be content and happy until of course I saw another badger who I thought was being more spiritual or making a bigger impact than I then the cycle would begin again.  So I tried fasting and praying, reading sacred scriptures, mediating both Christian and Buddhist, I contorted myself into downward facing dogs and upward facing dogs, gave myself high blood pressure saluting the sun.  I tried to un-kink the kinks of yoga with tai chi, I tried belly breathing, aura cleansing, and chakra sounding and joined a monastery as a lay member.  I have devastated forests in the books I have bought and provided employment for countless in the self-help industry both authors and shop attendants.  I have been known personally in many shops for my commitment to buying the latest self help manual that will definitely ensure I achieve spirituality and once, only once I attended a healing workshop where I was the token bit of testosterone amongst a sea of heaving oestrogen.  After a morning of wailing, burping, farting women discovering parts of their psychic histories that I wished had remained undiscovered I took my slightly tattered and battered testosterone and fled.

Am I now spiritual and do I make an impact?  God no!
No, after all my exploration, I am content not to be spiritual, just a badger who sits and enjoys the company of my friend Asarlai.  Often we sit in silence, he with his stalk of grass, no word needing to be spoken as often Asarlai is not coherent enough to speak.  When we do speak, yes we are still searching but the search now is not how to be spiritual it is how to be truly human. Having searched with such seriousness and earnestness to be spiritual we can now enjoy our journey in being truly human with some light and laughter.

Perhaps, I will write next time of the discussions Asarlai and I had the other week with the passing of Valentine’s Day and the nature of love.  In the meantime if you are still searching for spirituality and require a self-help book to assist you, e-mail me.  I’m sure in the boxes of books I have stored away there will be one that may assist in your journey.  Or you could forget the books and just go out, live and enjoy the day you have to the best of your ability.

The Wheel of Fortune

I’m a Badger who enjoys the Tarot, not that I use it to discover the future.  I have enough trouble with the present without trying to discover too much about what is to happen.  Besides, I am learning that often the future is decided by my reactions and choices in the present, so far better to concentrate on making constructive decisions in the here and now. 

Why do I enjoy the tarot?  When I’m having one of those days when my fur is lying all cross-ways and I’m feeling scratchy and irritable I enjoy sitting and drawing cards to focus my thoughts in the here and now and stop my badger mind badgering itself with constant ‘what if’s’.  The other day was one such day and so I drew a card - Card 10 – The Wheel of Fortune. 

The following is a ‘meditation’ on that card and our/my often compulsive search for answers in life and to life.  We search for answers to the “what if’s of life” and when we receive the answers we often do not like what we receive.  Off we go again like the rabbits I watch in the twilight; jumping, running, constantly on the move, twitchy, fretful.  Hoping to find the answer that will suit us and hopping around till we think we have found it. 

Yet the answer is not usually found in our searching and questing.  The answer is usually found in accepting the quiet slow rotation of the wheel of life bringing us good days, indifferent days and difficult days.  It is in the constancy of change and the acceptance of the “is-ness” of life that we find the strength, courage and space to live.  {The “is-ness” is my term for my philosophy that “this is my life today”, I do not have to deal with yesterday or fret about tomorrow, this “is” life, this moment, right now – is life.  I will probably blog more of this later}.


I need the answer
To the question I cannot formulate.
The query that hides in the folds of my mind
Driving my compulsive search
For the answer.

The wheel of life slowly rotates.

I search for the question
To the uncertainty that gnaws in the spaces of my thoughts
Convinced of the certainty of permanency
My mesmerising exploration for the answer.

The wheel of life quietly rotates

The question undiscovered
The answer given, yet
Unacceptable, offensive, objectionable
Cast off,
Castigating life I search again

The wheel of life calmly rotates

The question hidden in the folds of time
Un-thought cannot be asked.
The answer rejected, is lost
Anxious, obsessive, fanatical the search begins again
For the permanence of stability

The wheel of life
Rotating in the permanency of change
Revolving in the stability of constant transformation
Is the answer
Life simply to be lived.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Call of Silence

“People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening….
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence” 
(Words by Simon & Garfunkel)

When the phone call came that my cub had passed and I went into the ward to see him for the last time the thing that hit me was the depth of silence.

After a month of beeping respirators and the click of other computerised medical machines and in the final few days the awful indescribable sound of my young cub trying to drag breath into his lungs while life slowly seeped away there was silence. 

It wasn't the silence of nothingness or emptiness like an empty house; it was the deep profound silence that is left when a soul migrates from this time into time beyond this time.
I came out of the ward, went and had coffee and the silence came with me, wrapped around me, cocooning me.  For 10 days it was like living in a glass dome, I could see out, sounds came through muffled and dulled and in my dome I lived in a well of silence.

I am not a badger given to visions but in those days in that well of silence I stood beside a lake, a flat, smooth lake, a lake whose surface was broken as if a rock had been dropped into its middle and the ripples rippled out.  I watched the ripples whispering in the sounds of silence.

Silence, beautiful silence
Your echoes still reverberate and call to me
In the shadows of my soul.
You entice me with your noiseless grace

Shroud me in your quiet eloquence
Let me drink once more the stilled vintage
Intoxicated with your peaceful presence
Embrace me with your serenity.

The Song of Charon
Like the Sirens of old
Draws and entices
From time into time.

So I stand in mute wonder
Yearning for that silence
And in yearning choose once again
This fragrant, fragile beauty of life.

(Apologies to those readers who aren't familiar with Greek mythology.  The nature and my desire for silence is of a more personal nature and hence shrouded with mythology in the 3rd stanza.  I like to think I am not too elusive in my blogs but after all I am a badger!)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Falling

This poem alludes to the Greek myth of Icarus, the son who flew too close to the sun and the glue holding the feathers of his wings together melted and he fell.

As I have referred to in other posts – my son, my youngest cub fell to his death 4 years ago.  While he fell “in time”, I believe his soul fell through time into eternity.  Though his body fell, his soul flew, drawn by grace into eternity.  

This is an attempt to portray that transition.

Falling in time
Seconds slowing
Icarus’ wings no contest
The feathers of self-confidence
Caught in the down-draft of gravity.

Soul surprised
Startled with the intensity of pain
Hand held while your soul seeks its exit
Along the tracks we walked

Falling into eternity
Drawn by grace
Your soul soars
Lifts, pauses, lifts again,
Caught in the current of life

Now, no Icarus wings required,
Your soul ascending in radiant self-confidence.
Light refracted, bends and is stilled again.
The gentle whisper of your going.


I was fossicking through some material this afternoon and came across the prose below that I had written in July last year.  At that time I was reflecting on the power of speaking our truth.  
Often we don't speak our truth and the word is unspoken, unborn.  
Other times we speak a form of truth basically to please another, then our words our bound by the other, they are throttled. 
It is only when we give ourselves freedom to speak our truth breathed into gentle existence that our words have impact.

The Word unspoken
Lies aborted.
A legacy of what might have been
A space where beauty may have arisen
A contraction of nothing into nothing

The Word bound
                                    Pushed out
Lies disfigured
An abused thing
Twisting of reality
Shapeshifter of chaos

The Word created in truth
                        Breathed into gentle existence
In wondrous silence
It lifts
And the energy of eternity parts to make space,
To make place

For the Word.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dragon

 I am a badger who enjoys a good story, a story that has layers within layers – like an onion.  A story that reverberates and leaves you thinking, pondering it’s meaning.  I like a good ponder! 

I was pondering the other day how men deal with grief when I remembered a story that came down through the clan about the Dragon Mairgbron.  It was possibly my great, great, great grandfather who told the story or perhaps it was a story that was told to him.  Being an Aussie Badger I have lost many of the stories of my Celtic clan.  The story went along these lines.

The Dragon Mairgbron had taken up residence in the ruins of Elim’s castle after Elim was slain in the battle of Aichill.  The once mighty castle was in ruins, its roof open to the elements.  Rich tapestries that had hung, gold threaded, rich dyed were now threadbare, mildewy and surrendering to gravity now rested on the floor in an inglorious heap.  The proud stone blackened and cracked from the heat and fire of Mairgbron.  The castle was more desolate than a cemetery on a wild wintry day.  People had moved away, chased by the air’s toxic sulphur that caused itching to their eyes and massive rashes to their new borns.  Even the badgers had fled, having read the signs when the mighty shadow of Mairgbron first crossed the sun and blotted out the day.

Eighty years Mairgbron had been in residence and during these long years the badgers had kept an eye on things.  The land around the castle was after all their territory and badgers do not give up their land lightly even for a dragon.  The badgers observed men coming to the Castle.  Some left, most didn't  some came with swords, some with chains.  The badgers watched and pondered and came to understand that the men came to fight and try to overcome Mairgbron.  The men were already wounded, some realized their wound, many did not but all had been told that if they could defeat Mairgbron they would know healing, freedom, liberty and a return to life as it was.  Yet Mairgbron remained undefeated.  The heat of his flame melted their shields; their swords were not long enough to pierce his scaly skin. Men tried to sneak up and bind Mairgbron with their chains.  Even if he were in a deep sleep and did not stir while they wove their chains over him and around him, on waking he would rise on his back legs and shake his body causing the chains to break and whip through the air with lethal force.  The skeletons of those who had tried and failed lay scattered waiting till Mairgbron’s fire turned them to ash.

Into this desolation a man wandered one day as if by accident.  Like the others before him, he was wounded yet he carried no sword or chains.  He entered Mairgbron’s lair as if in a daze.  The dragon stirred and with a spiteful gaze eyed him as if gauging how much fire he would need to immolate this man.  The man did not return Mairgbron’s gaze, in fact he did not look at the dragon at all instead looking skyward through the patchwork of charred and broken rafters he sought the fragmentary glimpses of the sun.  Then finding a pillar close to the wall where Mairgbron could not reach him he sat with his back against the pillar and faced away from the dragon.  Mairgbron was perplexed, no man came into his presence and ignored him.  All men faced him, they rushed at him, came in close, so close he could smell their fear, their pain, the gangrenous septic odour of their wounds.  Mairgbron waited, the man sat.  Mairgbron grew restless, still the man sat.

Finally Mairgbron filled his belly with fire and breathed out; the fire licked the pillar, heating the stone, dividing in two it sought to circle the pillar and in a circle of fire burn the man who ignored him.  The heat radiated around the man, tightening his skin, he could feel his moisture evaporate, his skin cracking like a sun-parched mud hole.  Yet while the heat scorched him, the flames could not reach him and so he sat.  He sat and waited and watched as the morning star rose.  Days passed, each day a repetition of the day before.  The man’s skin was nuggetty brown, drawn tight across his bones stretched like a drum hide from the radiated heat of Mairgbron’s fire.  Each morning he watched as the morning star rose.  Mairgbron’s frustration rose in intensity, never before had he been treated with such disdain.  This man would not face him; this man ignored him and sat.  Mairgbron raged, his fire hot yet all he succeeded in doing was melting stone.  He could not defeat this man with his fire but he had a second strategy.  He crept close to the pillar and lay down; he turned the fire in his belly so low and filled the space with icy blackness.  This was no ordinary icy blackness; it was the blackness that drove men to despair.  Its fog like tentacles crept around the pillar, grasping greedily as if to feed of the man.  Still the man sat and watched the morning star rise in the sky.

Early one morning, the man stirred.  Mairgbron grew alert; finally he would destroy this man who had shown such disregard.  Slowly the man stood, clawing his way up the pillar for he had sat along time and his joints were stiff and locked.  Finally, standing he stepped out from behind the pillar, looking directly at Mairgbron he bowed, smiled turned and walked out of the ruined castle as the morning star rose in the sky and a new day began. 

A tear rolled down from Mairgbron’s eyes.

Grief is sometimes like a dragon that threatens to burn us.  So often as men we try to control or manage our grief yet we need to learn to sit with it.  To sit and wait while the fire rages and we feel the heat of pain and torment.  We need to sit and wait in the days of icy despair.  Each day the morning star rises and one day we too rise, we bow before the grief that is now part of us and we go out to face a new day and a new life.  Life that is different because we have sat with our grief.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Bit More About Me

I am a badger of a “certain age” which basically means there is more grey in my fur than the distinctive markings of a younger badger.  To put it another way, I sit on the fulcrum of this see-saw called life and look both ways.  Many would suggest the way forward is “all downhill” yet I retain enough optimism or perhaps deluded thinking to believe it doesn't have to be as the many suggest.

As badger’s go I am a fairly reserved and solitary badger.  For years I have journaled, pondering, mulling over things, writing down my thoughts.  I used to write in long hand but out of concern my cubs might stumble across their father’s musings I consigned those journals to the fire, taught myself short hand and once more set off pondering, musing, mulling and writing secure in the knowledge non-one would understand my scribbling.  My burrow is filled with journals written but not re-read for having crystallized my thoughts in one matter I happily begin mulling on another and see no need to refer to earlier scribbling.

So why start to blog and go against the pattern of a lifetime?  Well, my eldest cub started her own blog and encouraged me to follow suit, a friend with whom I breakfast has been encouraging me to write and a wolf who loped into my life last year has also been encouraging me to write.  Besides, if the see-saw of life is not to be “all down hill” occasionally you need to force yourself to do something that is against the grain – or in my case – against my fur!

As much as I would love to amble back down my burrow and begin another journal in shorthand I have decided to take the advice of my cub, my friend and my wolf, stick my nose out of the burrow, do something new and begin to write.
In other guises I have been a Psychiatric Nurse, a Minister of Religion and have worked with the homeless, those with drug and alcohol addictions, so my ponderings are a mixture of the philosophical, the spiritual, the mundane and the wonderful ordinariness of life.
With introductions over, welcome to badger’s blog!


Infectious melody
Begun in a giggle
Rippling into a chuckle
Cascading in laughter that swirls and eddies around you.

Laughter replicating itself in the other
Birthing a smile
Chortling in the wave of your happiness
Surging into shared laughter

The echo of your laughter rolls back to me.
Surging, swirling, back from eternity into the present.
Faint melody vibrating in the warp of time
Still capable of birthing a smile.

In your echo death sheds its heaviness
A smile steals through it’s greyness
Grief’s solidness vibrates,
Pulsating at the resonance of your memory.

You send your laugher back
I send my laughter forward
Surging in shared laughter
Here and there.

As a child Matthew’s laughter was infectious.  He had one of those laughs that you ended up laughing with.  Many was the time he was laughing about something that he should have been told off about and I would start to be stern only to ending up laughing along with him.  It was a laughter you could hear across play grounds and in crowded noisy rooms.  It rose above the noise, clear, strong and vibrant.
As he grew into teenage years he didn’t laugh as much.  It was something I often missed.  The process of growing into manhood seemed to still his laughter.  Yet on occasions his laughter would still rumble – now it was deeper, still strong and clear particularly when he was being irreverent or reminding me that life shouldn’t be so serious.
With his passing, it is the echo of his laughter I still hear.  That infectious laughter, as if he is reminding me to “lighten up” and stop being so serious.
This poem is to honour that laughter that I still hear.


Time once more has circled upon itself
Memories re-awakened, unfurl and leach through my being again
These wafting, ethereal wraith’s seep through the cracks of my thoughts
and dance again with painful softness on my soul.

No Orpheus, I have no flute to play you from the otherworld
No song to sing you back into this sun again 
Only the echo of your laughter bubbles from eternity crosses time and forms the adagio of this dance.

This dance - a ballet of sorrow and pain
Pirouettes learnt on the skewer of intense agony
Grand jette’s practiced in the immobility of frozen sorrow
A ballet clawed out of pain - reflected and refracted.

This anniversary the dance again begins to thrum against my soul.
The opening bars begin to play
The soul reflexively grimaces in anticipation
Yet perhaps, perhaps….

Having danced with death
The soul no longer so contorted, twisted, wracked
Has created a ballroom where light reflected and refracted
Allows memories to dance with painful softness on my soul.


For Matthew

4 years ago my youngest cub Matthew passed from this world.  He was 24 years old.  It was Feb 18th 2009. 
He fell on Sunday January 18th 2009 and chose to leave this world exactly four weeks later, the same date and time he fell.
I have joined the crowd of parents who grieve the passing of their children.  While my grief is not as raw as those first few years January and February are still challenging weeks to get through.  Will I eventually “get over” the challenge of these weeks?  No, those who have journeyed with grief know you don’t get over it.  You learn to adapt, to try to live as much as possible “at peace” with these emotions that tumbled so uninvited into my life with that early Sunday morning phone call.
Grief is a unique journey for each of us.  Yes, there are signposts, those stages of grief that friends wonder about because it is easier to react when they know “what stage we are in”!  Yet my experience is that the stages are as helpful as a “pocket in a singlet”.  They do not prepare you for the dementing, excruciatingly painful journey that begins when you realise your child is passing from this world and you have “that discussion” with the Dr’s where it is agreed medical treatment will switch to palliative care and in the coming days you sit by his bed and listen to his breathing become coarser, more laboured and the silence between each breath grows longer and longer and still you wait as his body gradually surrenders to death.
In “The Anthem” Leonard Cohen sings
            “There is a crack in everything
            That’s how the light gets in”
In grief everything is cracked, everything is broken and as for light getting in?  There is only darkness, days where you sit and stare because the mind cannot formulate coherent thoughts. 
I was graced in those days to have a wise counsellor who did not help me through the stages but simply encouraged me to hang on because in time grief would metamorphise from something which threatened to consume and destroy my life to something which lived within me because my soul could live with the pain.
Yes, there is a crack in everything and the light is getting in.  There is pain and I can now live with that pain.  I watch other fathers and their sons and my heart hurts and I remember my son’s laughter and the light comes in.  Life has become a journey of both/and.  These next few weeks will be a challenge and a time to remember.  As challenging as this time may be I choose to also honour the gift of Matthew’s life.