Hello everyone! Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post. Here is another wee update, and some reflections on All Souls’ Day. In the Christian tradition (marked especially by the Catholic church), November 1st is All Saints’ Day, and November 2nd is All Souls’ Day. On All Saints’ Day, we are invited to reflect on saints of the past and what their lives can teach us; on All Souls’ Day, we are invited to think of all those who have gone on before us, particularly family members. Two years ago yesterday, my father died, and so I have two reasons to be thinking of him just now, although I think of him often anyway. He and I didn’t have an easy relationship but there was always an understanding and an affinity there. We thought alike in many ways. As a grandfather, he really came into his own, and in the last few years of his life he became very loving and affectionate to me, which was a great blessing.
He and the Dafter had a special closeness. Perhaps she inherited her artistic ability from him. He was extremely skilled at drawing and also at sculpture, both wood carving and bronze casting. When I left to go to Portland after he died, I asked the Dafter if there was anything in particular she wanted me to bring back for her as a memento. “Some of his drawings,” she said. But he had destroyed almost everything. However, he left one sculpture just for me. I think he had very little faith in his own ability. I found the book that he published used to prop up a wonky table!
I’m glad his granddaughter has had the chance to develop her art and be encouraged to do so.
Last week we were able to go to an event that we’ve long wanted to attend: the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry. It was quite a long drive for us, but well worth it. The fact that it was wheelchair accessible made it possible. You follow a circuit around the forest and experience various sound-and-light installations. We spent two hours going round. Here are some more “reflections”:
We loved this installation, a little bit from the main path:
The Dafter thoroughly enjoyed Halloween. She was able to go out to celebrate, and met some new friends!
A few weeks ago, I signed up to an online mandala-making course by Heather Plett. Because of the Dafter’s college schedule, I’m not able to attend mid-week service at my church. This service has so often given me perspective and courage in between Sundays, and I was wondering how I would manage without it. The mandala course is 30 days of prompts, but I have followed the suggestion to do a mandala a week, and I now have a mandala date with myself – an hour each week set aside to follow the prompt and see what happens. The results have been surprising to me. I thought I would share the Prayer mandala that I made.
I began by thinking, “I should pray in a more organised way, I should do a better job of keeping track of people needing prayer, I should be quieter, I should be more specific,” etc. etc. I drew my idea of Father-Mother God arching over, with a heart in the middle representing me. I added angels (in my very limited drawing ability – didn’t inherit that from my Dad!). I wanted to express the idea of security and safety. Then, thinking about how prayer works for me in my own life – rather than my list of “shoulds” – I began writing down words, from the centre out, that are like the kinds of prayers I say as I go about my day. These can be anything from “thank you for my life” to “help!” I realised that at the same time, I often receive guidance / intuition. I wrote the kinds of things I might “hear” or “know” as coming from the outside of the circle, from God. These could be anything from “all will be well” to “just let her settle” or “why don’t you email so-and-so?”.
What I like about the mandala-making, besides the fact that it’s a discipline that allows me to spend an hour thinking about deeper things once a week, is that there is no right and wrong. It’s just whatever the unconscious presents. You could do the same prompt over and over, and no doubt each time it would be different. And, as should be obvious from the above, anyone can make one!
My finishing of the Oregon cardigan has gone along rather slowly. The light is now fading and it’s work best done in good light. It’s taken me quite a while to sew in the loose ends inside the sleeves, but the end result is very pleasing:
I have been doing a lot of nurse-maiding both of the Dafter and of Tilly. In between outings and celebrations this month, the Dafter has had two nasty colds, and one horrible cyst on her leg requiring antibiotics. She has had to miss college today, but is drinking lots of water and taking extra Vitamin C (as well as probiotics) and my fingers are very tightly crossed that her body will be able to recover without more drugs.
Tilly has healed very well from her second operation and is now pretty much back to normal. She had her last check day before yesterday. The surgeon said, “We’ve managed to remove all the cancer that isn’t at the microscopic level. She should have a couple of good months left.” I cried in the car, with Tilly wanting to comfort me from inside her carrier, sweet thing. But it’s okay to cry. I do really hope she beats that prediction. I’ve always felt that cats teach us how to appreciate each moment and to get the maximum happiness possible out of everything. I had another reminder of the importance of appreciating what we have when I got the news that a friend’s husband died unexpectedly at the weekend. She lost her first husband very young, and I am so very sorry for her.
The clocks went back last weekend here. I got out for a walk at 5 this afternoon, and there was still just enough light to show you how beautiful the trees are.
Apparently this has been the driest October for many years in this part of the world. My garden received less than an inch of rain in the month, which is very unusual. The colours have been really stunning in Glasgow, and it’s all lasted so long as well. I’m sure the trees were nearly bare at this time last year. At the moment we are walking through golden carpets of leaves.
Life isn’t always easy, that’s for sure, but I think it’s a great privilege to have a life on this earth. I won’t say I don’t get angry at God (some of my prayers go like this: “Really God? REALLY?!”). But I think God can take it, and I think God wants me to be honest. Mostly, I feel loved and heard by the universe. Albert Einstein said that one of the most important decisions we make is whether to see the universe as hostile or loving. I choose the latter, as much as I can.