Finding the Opposite of Bleakness…

What do we do when we feel really down about the state of things; when the world seems bleak and our hearts are blackened by the sorrows that have befallen ourselves and others? In a week where there have been terrible tragedies affecting innocent people, where do we go to find some comfort? More importantly, how do those involved find peace?

How do we find a way to deal with all the bad news we hear seemingly day in, day out? Pictures of harrowing sufferings unfold in front of our eyes on our television screens 24/7, and the memories leave their mark and come back to haunt us. Some people tell me they avoid the news; they ask what is the point of listening to it all when the problems are out of our control? I understand this viewpoint and I agree that we need to take ‘time out’ at times, but I liken this to sitting in a darkened room; by turning off the lights the bad things will be cloaked in darkness, but they will still be there when the lights come back on. Best to stay in the light and let these things show themselves.

I know that I do feel like saying: ‘What on earth is happening here, what is happening to our world and its people? Why do such innocent people suffer.?’ A much wiser person than I may have an answer. I certainly don’t. But the old adage is true: one candle can be enough to cause the darkness to go away. Once I choose to raise my own awareness I will have done what I can to defeat the dark side of human nature and to discover that a higher reality can be found and lived.

And perhaps the only thing that seems to help in times of worry and sadness is life’s routine. Getting the chores done, watering the plants, preparing food and feeding the family, walking the dog; all these things demand our attention whatever else is going on. By focusing on the small things we realise that those are the things that get us through. After being out in the frenetic world, watching and listening to what seems to make some people ‘tick’ and the seeming importance of riches, I return home and walk around the nearby meadow and feel the grass under my feet and revel in a pleasure that costs nothing and soothes the soul.

When I go out and walk, I usually put on my headphones and listen to my favourite music or listen to one of my favourite motivational gurus. Soon I seem to find some perspective and realise that this world keeps on turning whatever unrest occurs, and will still be turning when we are long gone. I have to have faith that those taken tragically and senselessly from us, whoever they are, and whether we know them are not, are held somewhere where only love and peace abides. For the mother cut down in her prime, I hope the example she set by striving for a more peaceful and fairer world will stay with us and encourage us to carry on on her behalf. I pray for her children; bereft without their loving mother. I pray for an innocent family mowed down in the street on the sunny last day of summer and the heartbroken ones they leave behind.

I pray with all my heart that the little girl who died at just six years old, at the cruel hands of her own father, will be safely looked after by the angels. I hope that she will be cradled and loved, and feel all the happiness she should have felt all the days of her life on earth.

In the dictionary the definition of bleakness is: cheerlessness, desolation, despondency, dis-consolation, heavy-heartedness and more.

Antonyms of that include: cheerfulness, encouragement, happiness, HOPE, hopefulness.

It’s going to be okay, maybe not today, but someday.

‘Where there is hatred let me sow love.’  Francis of Assisi. 

Blessings to you.

To keep on keeping on…..

I guess we all have weeks when it’s harder than normal to get motivated. I was going to write about all sorts of things this week but then I realised my words might have a negative air – not something I would wish to pass on here.

I have so much to be grateful for, including being taken for a wonderful day at a spa yesterday by a very kind and lovely friend. I came home with shining skin, mad hair and a calmer outlook.

Someone posed the question this week about how one would handle the outcome of the EU vote if it is not what one would have wished. My answer was to keep on keeping on, as it is to most questions in my life.

In the meantime, I shall talk to my trees……

                                                                         The Tree

I once read about the healing power of trees and learned that sacred trees with healing powers are found in almost every culture and age, and seen as a gift from the Earth Goddess. I was urged to go out and find a tree I was particularly drawn to, and sit and lean against its trunk. This I did and I have to say it did feel a bit absurd at first! But as the sun filtered through the leaves and my feet connected with the earth it did feel like a very positive experience.

When times are busy, or I’m in a crowded, hectic place, I think of my tree standing firm and resolute in its peaceful woodland setting.

Just off the path in the leafy wood
Stands and old majestic tree,
Its branches spread like open arms
Reaching out to me.

There’s a canopy high above my head,
With leaves of green or gold
Depending of the time of year
And the seasons that unfold.

I can lean against the scratchy bark,
Plant my feet upon the ground,
And feel the gnarled and twisted roots
That are circled all around.

I can dream of all that happens here
As I lay tucked up in my bed,
Hear the hooting owl who roosts aloft
And nods his wise old head.

I imagine the fairies that alight here,
After their midnight flight
From behind the spotted toadstools
Where they stay hidden until night.

And in the early morning sun
Like a landmark to show the way
The tree stands in the filtered light
Of yet another day.

And the leafy boughs that dip and bow,
Freshen the dampened air;
Bending to sweep the forest floor,
So tread softly if you dare.

 

Blessings to you ……Lyn's tree

The Love of a Good Friend

I’m been thinking about friendship this week. Love and friendship.

Friendship comes in so many guises. Most of us have friends we see regularly; those who share a large part of our lives and know us inside out. If we are lucky, we have partners who are our soul mates; we can finish their sentences, know what they are thinking without having to ask, and indeed would not wish to imagine life without them. Sometimes we have friends we only see perhaps once a year, perhaps because they are a distance away, yet we immediately pick up where we left off when we do see them.

Our friends are there for us when times are hard, and we are there for them.

There are friends too, who we have just met, and there are some waiting in the wings. Tonight we dinned on a delicious, organically grown squash, given to us by a new friend who had grown it and harvested it for us. Roasted gently with a sprinkling of turmeric, we could almost taste the love that had nurtured it.

I like to think we all have a friend we can rely on. Sometimes, though, we need extra special help. When that north wind blows and we need sheltering for a while, it’s surprising how help can appear just when we least expect it.

‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for in doing so some have entertained angels                   unawares.’

 

A Friend Indeed

I was standing by the window
Staring out to space
Wondering if I could find a friend
To stop me feeling out of place.
Then out of nowhere you appeared
With your jolly point of view,
Taking life so lightly
That I believed in you.

I don’t know where you came from;
Were you just out of sight
Like the sun, waiting behind the clouds
To dazzle me with light?
You seemed to gather my sadness,
And discard it, like a cloak
I’d never need to wear again,
With one uplifting stroke.

You gave me help to find my way
To somewhere I belong,
Gave me your time, just like a gift
I’d waited for so long.
I don’t know where you came from
But you changed my point of view;
Your heart is surely golden
And I believe in you.

© Lyn Halvorsen

My Friendly Heart

When the north wind blows
And your world is grey,
My friendly heart
Hears all you say.
Call my name
In your darkest night
I’ll find a way
To bring you light.
And if your world
Is tumbling down,
I’ll wrap you
In a fleecy gown,
Feed you soup
And bring you wine,
For your life is
A part of mine.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Angel blessings

Blessings to you.

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Children in the Shadows

I vowed when I started writing my weekly blog that I wouldn’t write about my political views. That is still my aim. I have, however, found the news extremely upsetting these last weeks, months even, and whilst I don’t wish to comment on immigration, I want to remember the innocent adults and children who have lost their lives whilst fleeing their homelands in search of a safer and better life.

So many migrants have been lost at sea this last week according to reports, and whilst some have been rescued or bodies recovered,  hundreds are missing, including infants. A heartbreaking story I read on the internet tells of a drowned migrant baby, and highlights the tragic consequences fleeing migrants face when crossing the sea.

Pope Francis met with children recently at the Vatican to talk about migration. He urged them to welcome migrants, because they are not dangerous but in danger.

Most of us here in Britain are lucky enough to go about our daily business in relative safety; we can raise our families, send our children to school and put food on our tables. We have a healthcare system – yes it may be overstretched – but those needing care are never turned away. Things aren’t always perfect, but we can walk freely in green fields and feel the sun on our faces without living in fear.

How must those families have felt as they boarded those overcrowded boats? How did they feel as they left the land they knew to depart for unknown shores? How did the mothers and fathers feel as they dressed their beloved children that morning? I cannot begin to know. One thing is apparent to me; these are the actions of desperate people who are willing to take a perilous journey in the (sometimes vain) hope of a new life.

As we tuck our children and grandchildren into bed at night we can only be thankful. And we can say a prayer for all those families who yearn for safer shores.

Blessings to you.

Here where I sleep,
As the shadows creep
Over silent, darkening hills,
The night is long
And the stars keep
Watch, as my world stills.

But in other lands
Will tiny hands
Reach out to feel some grace?
I am tied to them, with invisible bands
Pulling from another place.

The deepest sigh
The longest cry
Those echoes that ring too long,
Who will hear you passing by
And listen to your song?

© Lyn Halvorsen

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty place from day to day. William Shakespeare.

We seem to have been driving from place to place a lot in the last few weeks. Sometimes going off to visit loved ones, sometimes going out to dinner, taking our little grandson out or simply driving to the allotment.  The weather has been mixed, but rain or shine it’s a pleasure to be out. Perhaps one forgets about the glories of spring and early summer until the next one comes along, but it does seem to me that the spring this year has been one of the most beautiful I can remember. Trundling along the country roads, I marvel at the abundance of the cow parsley, (I like its other name too – Queen Anne’s Lace,) its masses of frothy white flowers decorating the grassy lanes and the woodland edges.

There is a mouthwatering palette of colour in the countryside; vibrant yellows, blue hues and pastel shades all fill the countryside this spring.

And the birdsong!  Who can fail to feel uplifted at the sound of the dawn chorus; the male birds singing their hearts out in the hope of attracting a mate, and who can complain at the sound of the feathered alarm clock calling us from our beds?

I thought about time this week. I thought that I would like it to stop for a while and freeze-frame the beauty laid out in front of me; keep the flowers from fading, and the candles on the horse chestnut trees from withering. I’d like to tell the birds not to stop singing their merry tunes.  But Mother Nature is far wiser than me. Keeping watch like a hidden chaperone, she knows that just as in life, each season paves the way for the next. For if we had no winter, would we enjoy the spring?

                                                                     Blessings to you.

The Butterfly Walk

Over the bridge I lean, and watch
The bright and brimming river,
And it seems that I have known
This familiar scene forever.

And on deep and silver waters
Where ancient moons once shone,
Nature keeps her quiet watch
Like a hidden chaperone.

No need here for a ticking clock
To hasten the sun to shine,
Or an order for the hollyhock
To flower by supper-time.

As the songbirds in the hedgerows
Conspire to lift my mood,
Sweet air blows the rustling leaves
And I feel no need to brood.

The butterfly, woken by the sun,
Gently unfolds her wings,
Here, no less beauty am I shown
Than cardinals or Kings.
© Lyn Halvorsen

Appletree, Ella and more 011

When the Well is Dry….

When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.

 

I spent time at our allotment today. We have been spending a lot of time there over the last few weeks, weeding, clearing, preparing the soil and finally, planting.

Our allotment is a beautiful space. Now we don’t have a garden we really appreciate our plot of land and the peaceful, unspoiled environment. We are surrounded  by fields, hedges and a cherry orchard. It is a haven for bees, birds and butterflies. Once there, all the hustle and bustle of the outside world disappears, the mood lifts and nature works its charm.

Although it’s not too long since we have had rain, the ground already seemed dry today and we needed to water our newly planted vegetable patch. As I walked back and forth to the water butt to fill the watering cans, I started thinking about our need for water, its importance in our daily life, how we need to save it and how we need to drink clean water for healthy life. Each time I returned to the water butt for a refill I stood and watched the pure water flow from the pipe into the watering cans; splashing and flowing, in plentiful supply, conserved from the generous winter rain showers, stray droplets sparkling in the sunshine.

I started thinking about people in other lands where there is dire need for clean, safe  drinking water that is readily available. In many developing countries, millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, and I thought about the children who die of water related diseases. I read recently that almost 2 in 3 people who need safe drinking water survive on less than £2 a day. (There is a lot more information at Wateraid.org )

Today, here at home in early summer, with the sun peeking out occasionally from behind the scudding clouds,  still glad of a sweater in this temperamental climate, I was grateful.

 

 

I wish that I had special powers
And could turn everything around,
So we could change the way we look at things,
And keep our feet above the ground.

To ask the floating clouds above
To spill the gentle rain,
To water the dry and barren land
And make it green again.

And could I harness the force of the wind,
Calm the raging sea,
Reign over nature’s wayward mind,
And let it quietly be?

For every child in every land,
There would be food enough to eat,
Arms stretched out to hold them tight,
And shelter from the heat.

And what if I could ask the world,
To find the path to peace,
With every countrys’ flag unfurled
As all the wars have ceased?

But if I cannot change the world,
I can bend when the storm appears,
Do great things in smaller ways,
Dry another’s tears.

For I alone cannot decide
The way the world should be,
And I cannot begin to know
What there is still to be.
© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Blessings to you.

watering can

 

Music to my years…

I thought I would have a bit of fun this week. Please excuse me if this seems a bit indulgent.

I have often wondered what records I would choose in the unlikely event of being a celebrity guest on Desert Island Discs. (For anyone from different shores, Desert Island discs is a weekly radio program on BBC Radio 4 that has been running for many years and is almost a national institution. Each week a ‘castaway’ is asked to choose eight records, one book – in addition to the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare – and one luxury item that they would take to the island, whilst discussing their life and reasons for their choices.)

It’s quite hard to narrow your choice of records to eight..eighty would probably be better but here goes:

Song 1       Yellow Submarine       The Beatles

There is quite an age gap between my sister and me. I was thirteen when she was born and she became my sweetest little shadow. At night she would often wake and would only be soothed by me singing a (wobbly) version of Yellow Submarine. I don’t think I ever knew the words all the way through but often just singing the first few lines over and over again was enough to keep her happy. These days I only need to hear the opening bars of the song and I am transported back to her little room in our house in Somerset.

Song 2      Your Song                     Elton John

Leaving home for the first time was a very emotional time. I was eighteen and about to start my nursing career in Bristol. To me it was momentous. I had dreamed of being a nurse ever since I was a little girl but now the time had come I was full of trepidation and already homesick. The months before I left were full of plans, preparations and the realisation that life was changing for ever. ‘Your Song’ was in the charts during those days before I set off for Bristol; I loved it the very first time I heard those poignant opening chords and still do today.

Song 3       Maggie May                Rod Stewart

I started my nursing training. Before long I was wearing the nurse’s uniform that had been laid out on the bed for me in my spartan room in the nurse’s home. I got used to starching the cap every night, and wrapping myself in the cloak always worn by nurses back then to keep out the chill of the draughty hospital corridors. I made new friends that I still have to this day. I soon came to realise there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved! Sometimes it was hard but I kept going. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and the humour encountered along the way.

Several times I had noticed a dark and handsome dental student smiling at me, his white surgical coat flapping in the breeze. He had a certain nonchalant look about him which intrigued me. We met properly at a hospital dance; me in a long hippy dress and he in a flowery shirt and loon pants. That was it. We have been together ever since. And Maggie May is the song that always transports me back to that incredible time. (I could mention Carole King and Neil Young here if I was allowed, but that would be cheating).

Song 4       Livin’ On A Prayer       Bon Jovi

I could pick so many songs that remind me of my two sons. I think the happiest times in most parents lives are the ones related to their children. Through all the different phases of childhood and beyond, music seems to play an important part. I remember all the musical genres with affection …yes sometimes it was loud but it meant they were home. One really happy memory is of the two of them bundled together in the hall listening to Bon Jovi at full blast. The younger one was only about three at the time but whatever his brother liked then so did he!

Song 5       This Guy’s In Love With You       Herb Alpert

Although this is a romantic love song it really reminds me of family. I remember listening to this many years ago with my mother. It reminds me of sunny days and of life as it was many years ago. It’s one of my all time favourites and it has stood the test of time.

Song Six     Home Thoughts From Abroad      Clifford T. Ward

To me Clifford T. Ward was a singer/songwriter of immense talent. Sadly he died at a fairly young age of multiple sclerosis but his legacy lives on in his wonderful words and music.

Home Thoughts From Abroad is one of the most beautiful songs in the world. If you have some time listen to the song and then download the lyrics. They are perfect. They talk of love and missing home. They manage to weave thoughts of everyday life with sublime poetry. They are wistful and poignant. I have most of Clifford’s songs on my i pod and never tire of listening to them.

Song Seven        Going Back              Dusty Springfield

For Brian. Because he loves it. Again, good lyrics.

Song Eight        Jerusalem         Words by William Blake  Music by Sir Hubert Parry

This is more than a hymn. It is almost our National Anthem. It takes one back to school assembly, to singing one’s heart out in church, to the Last Night at The Proms, and to all things patriotic. Wherever I was in the world this would always remind me of home and bring a tear to the eye.

Well there we have my eight desert island discs. I realise there is nothing remotely up to date here. I promise you I like lots of modern music too and there are lots of greats I know I have left out. I could leave you a very long list but that wouldn’t be sticking to the rules.

My book of choice would be Mariana by Monica Dickens because I loved reading it as a young girl and I have re-read it many times.

And my luxury item? Difficult choice between mascara and lip gloss but I think mascara wins. Then again I wouldn’t have a mirror….

Jubilee 003