“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Friday, 25 January 2013

I Know Not How To Say Farewell

I found this sad little song in Stephen Donaldson's book White Gold Wielder. It speaks of grief and loss, and how hard it is to let go:

My heart has rooms that sigh with dust
And ashes in the hearth.
They must be cleaned and blown away
By daylight's breath.
But I cannot essay the task,
For even dust to me is dear;
For dust and ashes still recall,
My love was here.
I know not how to say Farewell,
When Farewell is the word
That stays alone for me to say
Or will be heard.
But I cannot speak out that word
Or ever let my loved one go:
How can I bear it that these rooms
Are empty so?
I sit among the dust and hope
That dust will cover me.
I stir the ashes in the hearth,
Though cold they be.
I cannot bear to close the door,
To seal my loneliness away
While dust and ashes yet remain
Of my love's day.
May all who are grieving find peace, and the strength to move on, and embrace life once more.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

"That of God in everyone"

I love Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's words: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." With the Quakers, I believe that there is "that of God in everyone"; a divine spark reaching out to the rest of the universe and to God. Some Unitarians believe in the Holy Spirit as "the active divine presence in individuals and communities, as the divine breath that gives us life, as ... the divine mystery moving among us and within us as we work and worship." (Cliff Reed)

The belief in God as the Spirit working through human beings is one which many Unitarians, including myself, are increasingly warming to. While we may have rejected the concept of an omnipotent, omniscient God, many of us still believe that God definitely exists, as that "active divine presence" that Hall refers to. As Mother Teresa wrote: "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own home. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbout ... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

"Comparisons are odorous"

Thus said Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. It is something I need to remember more often than I do.

Today I went for a run, and was feeling really pleased - I did a shade under three miles in 31 minutes. I was just walking back up the hill to cool down, when I met my neighbour, Alan. Now Alan is a super-athlete - tall, slim, rangy, and has run sub-3 hour marathons and a couple of Ironmans for good measure. We got into conversation and he mentioned that he was in training for a 900-mile bike ride in July (London to Edinburgh and back), which would take a maximum of five days.


I told him he was crazy, and wished him well. Then, as I plodded back up the hill, the thought crossed my mind: "Well, that put me in my place."

Then I thought: "Woah! Wait just a minute! You are Sue Woolley and have just run three miles in 31 minutes. That is something to celebrate. Comparing yourself to Alan is stupid and pointless. he is him, and you are you, and so you need to celebrate your own achievements and feel good about them."

Comparisons are odorous indeed.

Friday, 4 January 2013

To Find Happiness in Small Things

And so another year begins. Another year of resolutions and plans. In previous years, I have set the bar quite high, and inevitably fallen short. So this year, I have only one resolution - to find happiness in small things, and to be aware of God at work in my life.

This has partly been provoked by re-reading, over the Christmas period, Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, which I blogged about back in March. Her overall message seems to be that it is possible to find happiness where you are, and that doing so is largely dependent on increasing things that make you feel good, decreasing things that make you feel bad, doing things that make you feel right, all in an atmosphere of growth.

I think that the Quakers are getting at the same approach, when they advise:

"Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with discernment?"