Posted by: christinelaennec | November 2, 2016

All Souls’ Day: Reflections

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!

View of Glasgow from the airplane coming in to land at sunset. Painting by the Dafter.

View of Glasgow from the airplane coming in to land at sunset. Painting by the Dafter.

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”:

"Shimmer" - the Enchanted Forest 2016, Faskally Woods, near Pitlochry, Scotland

“Shimmer” – the Enchanted Forest 2016, Faskally Woods, near Pitlochry, Scotland.  In the centre, light is being projected on a fountain (coloured swirl above the water).

Michael pushing the Dafter - The Enchanted Forest was surprisingly wheelchair accessible.

Michael pushing the Dafter – The Enchanted Forest was surprisingly wheelchair accessible.

We loved this installation, a little bit from the main path:

Strands of lights that people could walk through.

Strands of lights that people could walk through.  The lights changed colour constantly, and made different patterns.

It is also a blessing that the Dafter isn't wheelchair-bound, because she could come into the strands of hanging lights with other people. Such fun!

It is also a blessing that the Dafter isn’t wheelchair-bound, because she could come into the strands of hanging lights with other people. Such fun!

The Dafter thoroughly enjoyed Halloween.  She was able to go out to celebrate, and met some new friends!

Halloween 2016!

Halloween 2016!

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?”.

Mandala on the topic of prayer. October 2016.

Mandala on the topic of prayer. October 2016.

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:

Finishing Alice Starmore's the Oregon Cardigan: sewing the ends into the underarm seam of the sleeves. In the foreground, Before, and further away, After.

Finishing Alice Starmore’s the Oregon Cardigan: sewing the ends into the underarm seam of the sleeves. In the foreground, Before, and further away, After.

Right sides: in the foreground, sleeve needing finishing; further away, the sleeve with ends sewn in has a noticeable underarm seam row.

Right sides: in the foreground, sleeve needing finishing; further away, the sleeve with ends sewn in has a noticeable underarm seam row.

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.

Autumn colour at 5 pm, 2 November 2016, Glasgow

Autumn colour at 5 pm, 2 November 2016, Glasgow

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.

Happy November!




  1. I do hope Tilly has many more months of happy life ahead of her. She is so beautiful, and seems to have a lovely personality too. I do feel for you over her illness. I was in tears two years ago over our sweet cat Mango, who didn’t survive kidney failure. But now we’re enjoying the company of her successor Hamish. I was brought up with dogs, but now I need to have a cat. It feels odd to me if we visit a home where there isn’t an animal.

  2. As much as we anguish for the illness or expected loss of our loved human-kind, there is something especially poignant about the last years/weeks/days of a special cat or dog–their patience, perhaps, with all they must endure.
    How lovely that the Dafter could enjoy that light-filled outing with you. I continue to hope that her down times will be less frequent and less severe.

  3. It looks like you all had a fun outing at the Enchanted Forest, and from the way you’re bundled up, it must have been a little cold! The Dafter’s painting of Glasgow at sunset is amazing! The Oregon Cardigan is just beautiful ~ coming to the finish now. 🙂 Hope the Dafter is feeling better now, and Tilly too.
    Enjoy your week!

  4. Oh my goodness your Michael looks froze o’ cold in that photo – having a good time but frozen. 🙂
    With all that is going on in your life at the moment I think you are right in looking for an alternative way to process your thoughts. The personalised Mandala project seems to be tailored to your needs and wants – I hope you enjoy every week you participate. I’ve had a look at the web site and am contemplating joining in the New Year
    Take care

  5. I think you have a good close relationship with God, He can take our questioning. The art by your daughter is beautiful and that cardigan is so intricate and pretty.

  6. So interesting to see the Enchanted Forest from the inside. We only ever drive past it on our way up and down the A9. The first time we saw it we thought aliens were landing – the lights projecting upwards were sweeping across the (low!) cloud base in a very spooky way. It can be distracting while driving past it – you keep wanting to sneak a look at the play of light. Generally I’m not a fan of illuminating winter darkness via electric light (symbolically of course I don’t mean that there shouldn’t be light in darkness), but I’m prepared to make an exception for wheelchair accessible Enchanted Forest if it brought you all pleasure! I long for the days of my childhood when outdoor lights were only the feeble yet warm glow of a single lamp outside the back door. Now LED lighting has gone mad outdoors, illuminating every plant and bit of decking, to say nothing of ‘insecurity’ lighting. I saw a very interesting presentation from the police about the latter, about how ‘security’ lighting stops you seeing an intruder in the garden from inside the house, because you are so blinded by the light. Our dark skies are so precious, and yet we are polluting them all over the world (Aviemore, I’m talking to you and your illuminated rock face beside the A9). Rant over.
    The Dafter has a very definite artistic ‘voice’. I would buy this painting. It captures the essence and wonder of coming in to land at sunset. Continuing to wish her and you all well. Apologies for being very disconnected of late.

  7. Your posts are always so touching. I’m glad you were able to fulfil your ambition to visit the Enchanted Forest, it’s become a big event these days. I haven’t been but I’ve heard it’s impressive and your photos give a glimpse into how magical it is. I hope the Dafter and Tilly are both on the up, that picture painted by the Dafter is lovely. She has a real gift, I’m sure her grandfather would have been very proud to see her talents develop. The mandala project sounds interesting, I’m off to check it out.

  8. Thank you everyone, for your comments. The Dafter thanks you for your appreciation of her art!

    Flora, I know just what you mean about a house without pets. It seems strange to me too.

    Mimacat, thank you for your sympathy and good wishes. The Dafter is holding a steady course, overall.

    Anne, thank you – I hope your own family’s challenges are easing now! Can you believe I have still not finished the Oregon cardigan, but am making steady progress. It will happen one of these days!

    Terra, thank you. I agree, God wants our honest selves and He/She is so much bigger than our human selves can understand.

    Linda, how interesting to read your impressions about the Enchanted Forest. For us it was a great experience and well worth the effort. Something special we will look back on. We were all interested in what you say about “insecurity” lights. This is a bit of an issue for us in our neighbourhood in Glasgow – not burglaries, but bright lights that people have installed shining at night, sometimes directly into our windows. I, too, love soft lights in the winter. The blue LED craze doesn’t do it for me.

    Lorna, thanks for your good wishes. The Dafter and Tilly are both doing ok. I think you might get a lot from the mandala course, as I am.

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