Lullaby for the lost

Sitting in Canongate Kirk on Remembrance Sunday and thinking of the sacrifice not only of that generation of brave Europeans (all of them German, British, French) – and then all of the unborn children whose futures died with them.

Lullaby for the Lost

Acceptable Nationalism?

Can nationalism ever be more than a dirty word? An inward looking concept – fuelled by the identity with a particular group, and by the exclusion and minimisation of “the other”?

I was struck in reading The Hare with the Amber Eyes by the fragility of an accepting and tolerant society. The Austrian Empire up to Franz Joseph seems to have thrived on acceptance and tolerance, or many races – including the jews. And yet. The Nazi Putsch changed everything – in a heartbeat. The same could probably be applied to the Wehrmacht through to 1933.

Nationalism certainly has the potential to release an infectious plague of ugly emotions from the Pandora’s box of a tolerant pluralistic society. What are the balancing reasons for turning that key and letting fly those negative divisive emotions? They should necessarily be overwhelmingly powerful.

The thing is, living here in Scotland I just don’t see them.

Perhaps I’m confused or overly fearful, or maybe just missing something.

What was the quote – jingoism the last bastion or refuge of the scoundrel?

Falling and Being In Love

Its the falling not the being that you experience. Love isn’t a static thing. It’s a verb. It describes a connection and it’s living in relation.

Isn’t that true of all experience? Everything is relative and it’s the pull between two poles that is real, rather than the “concrete”.

Gravity is FELT, but it’s described as acceleration not as a physical thing. In fact it’s created between things – there appears to be a graviton, but only something that connects matter and matter – and in doing so allows matter to have weight and therefore being.

In fact I wonder if all things exist as flux? In which case the more movement the better? Does spirit stagnate – like static water – if it is not allowed to connect and flow between us? If that is so, then to live this life as intensely as possible we should swim to the centre of the turbulent rushing river of and enjoy the movement as we’re swept along – refreshed – to the infinite sea.

Mystical Ellipticism

Why are all the great thinkers difficult to understand, at least with our mind? Perhaps because reality is so difficult for us to perceive – as through a glass darkly. That wouldn’t be surprising I guess. Our brain is evolved to help our bodies survive in jungles. We don’t see polarised light as bees do. The point is – it’s not some kind of perfect instrument designed to understand the outer reaches and meaning of creation. Neither does it have complete sensory input.

At least for me, those who have most changed my life all point to reality in relation. That is to say – reality existing in the magnetism between two points. As opposed to reality in the points themselves,

Carl Jung, for instance, in his search for integration between opposites “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed”. Martin Buber sets out his form of existentialism entirely against a backdrop of relationship – his “philosophy of dialogue” with it’s primary words I-Thou and I-It. Teilhard de Chardin saw the process of evolution (powered by love) toward a shared consciousness. Alfred North Whitehead saw the whole of reality as process.

All of these elliptical thinkers seem to expose facets of the same underlying truth. It’s connection that matters, not matter that connects.

And yet..

For the Dawkins of this world it’s so simple. Matter. Of Fact. Simple(s). Nothing there but things. Science, thought and our brains have solutions. Death comes and there is nothing beyond. Love, kindness, a shared smile – all just twitchings of the material – set in the one-way street of time.(It’s not what science shows, but there you are .. better read Rupert Sheldrake on the subject.)

The writings of Buddha, the parables of Christ, the music of Bach. Complex – difficult. Mystical. Elliptical.

Authentic Spiritual Freedom from Disordered Attachments

This site is powered by grace…

Teilhard de Chardin


This week I started an online Ignatian Retreat. So far so good, although I have not been able to devote as much time to prayer and meditation as I hoped for. One of the themes this week is on Spiritual Freedom. A copy of the reflection is set forth below:

Spiritual Freedom

Spiritual freedom is an interior freedom, a freedom of the mind and heart. People who are spiritually free know who they are—with all of their gifts and limitations—and are comfortable with who they are.

However, we have numerous preoccupations that get in the way of our hearing and responding to God’s call: fears, prejudices, greed, the need to control, perfectionism, jealousies, resentments, and excessive self-doubts. These tendencies bind us and hold us back from loving God, ourselves, and others as we ought to. They create chaos in our souls and lead us to make poor choices.


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The Corridor of Now

Dear P

I was also sitting in a coffee shop this morning. You came to mind, because I was pleased that I had obeyed you and was not in a faceless coffee chain. The barristars did their work (yes they’re that good at Peter’s Yard) and I mulled your last missive.

What is quietness? What does it allow. Thought, or experience? I opened the copy of the New Scientist you sent me – with the article – Does Now exist – and a question came to mind.

What is present? Surely it’s a vanishingly small thing. If you play music you need the notes before and after the actual one you are playing in order to add context. The note alone does not have harmony or meaning except as part of sequence (call that melody). So the Now of music at least stretches a little bit into the past. The whole piece – with it’s over all (Now) effect takes time.

I have found that it really helps to live in the present – and exclude worry about the future(s) and pollution from the past. But the Now that we live in is a kind of corridor, with a small piece of past and future in order to add context to the infinitely small present.

(I do understand that being present is a different thing from being in the present).

It occurs to me that one way in which we can define our life is the width of the Now corridor in which we live. Ultimately focussed and we are living in Zen. Extremely unfocussed and we’re tossed about in the material world created by time.

Is there a happy medium in which we can still enjoy a good tune?



In it to Win it

Dear P

You sound like Dr Seuss. Remember – the waiting place? But how can this be – from you, who extols the po’or ‘o the ‘noo?

It may be that the best insights into existence come from the media – film and tv – your world. So how about the underlying reality of “let the force be with you” and the UK lottery end-line “you’ve got to be in it to win it”.

All as in – purpose is everywhere, sewn into the fabric of time and space (even the coffee shop waiting space?) – the force that we can tap in to. Does it come to you quietly? I don’t know, I’ll try being quiet and see! For me it’s more.. in the thick of it to win it?


Coffee Barrister

Dear D,
Sometimes I get swept horizontal by the meaningless of space, space as in “a” space. This coffee shop. And though I feel uncomfortable talking from myself, owning a perspective, I’ve come to understand, or believe rather, that meaning is in the concentration. Meaning is in individual and collective purpose. This space, this coffee shop, is a make up of intentions. The music was chosen, the barristas are here to earn money, the coffee drinkers are getting a fix, having a meeting, waiting for someone. Sometimes I feel purposeless, I come unstuck in time and try and become part of the space rather than owning intention. But the space itself is meaningless. It’s like I’ve thought of spaces themselves as holding a kind of shamanistic ambiance and if I’m quiet enough, it will tell me what to do. But I can never be quiet enough. I am always blocked out by my own straining silence. How do you listen for quiet truths whilst not forgetting your own powerful self?

Time as a field?

It appears that the physical world is governed by fields. Mass and energy depend upon them.

Electricity and magnetism, and therefore the cinema, facebook, light, our e-mail traffic and our clean clothes, are underpinned by the electro-magnetic field (James Clerk Maxwell).

Gravity, and therefore mass itself – structure, form, atoms, molecules and things, result from the gravitational field (Newton, Einstein).

Time results in our sense of experience. Without it nothing is. We sense and experience anything and everything NOW (Alfred North Whitehead). It isn’t the past or future – the “late and soon” of Wordsworth’s poem – where we build existence, it is here and now – the present. The experience of NOW is though only possible because of time. I am not a mathematician, but it seems logical to me to think of time as a field which makes possible NOW. In the same way that the gravitational field makes possible MASS, matter.

I am deeply convinced of our joyful and interconnected existence beyond space and time. We are part of “the Word existing beyond time”. I have a sense that we are droplets here, in this material world. We are boundaried as water is within a droplet as opposed to infinitely inter-connected as within an ocean. Boundary brings loneliness (if we let it), but is essential for experience.

Perhaps time is the field within which this transmutation occurs. Gravity has been described as a “field like treacle that sticks down energy as mass”. Is time the equivalent – a field like treacle that allows spirit to be stuck down as experience? As being.