Earlier this week I visited the National Memorial Arboretum. It was a beautiful place to visit. There are many memorials not only to service men and women but also for events like the 9/11 attack, for all children who have died because of terror attacks and wars, and for stillborn babies. It was a place to sit and enjoy the surrounding landscape, the river and the woodland and a place to remember those who had left us in one circumstance or another.
The guide book states ‘ Remembrance is living, changing and part of everyday life. It comforts those left behind and pays respect to what is past’. Remembrance is very personal and means different things to different people. The ancients built burial mounds for their dead as a memorial maybe, while today we have various types of memorials. There is a burial mound in the Arboretum.
We choose what to remember and what to forget. I have various items in my home that bring back memories or my parents and friends. My father was an accomplished carpenter and I have two chests of drawers in my bedroom that he made. They will last longer than I will as they were so well made. So each day as I use them I remember my father. I have a painting on the wall done by a friend who died a couple of years ago. He used to work with my father when I was young so lots of memories there.
We keep photos of our and our families activities and when we look at the photos we remember the events and those people in the photos. My son and I recently dedicated some woodland to a friend who passed to the Summerlands recently, so each time we visit we remember our friend and his life. As a druid, I remember my ancestors especially at the time of Samhain.
Remembrance is therefore part of my everyday life. Is it part of yours?
I bought some beautiful poppies (artificial ones) at the Arboretum. I love poppies and they are also a universal symbol of remembrance although many will not wear them on Armistice day as they believe the poppy glorifies war. I am not a believer in war and prefer peace but I am happy to wear a poppy to remember those who died in the war and that includes the many civilians who also died as a result of the war.
I love books and I am an avid reader. I much prefer to read a book than to watch the TV. So what kind of books do I read? I read all kinds of books, everyday feel good fiction for the evenings when I want to relax and more serious non-fiction for other times. I used to have a huge amount of books but had to ‘cull’ them when I downsized. Now I have more space so I have started buying books again. There is something about the smell of the paper that makes me want to read books.
One of my recent purchases is a book called ‘The Fall’ by Steve Taylor. I have only got through the first part so far but it is a very interesting read, for me at least. The sub title is ‘The insanity of the ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era.’ So far it has provoked a lot of thought. Why did humanity suddenly become ego oriented and get a hunger for material goods?
Ancient tribes had a great connection with nature and the land on which they lived. Some of them still do but the rest of us seem to have lost that connection, that feeling for the land beneath our feet and for all that lives on it. This morning the sunrise was stunningly beautiful and I felt so connected to it and the surrounding trees and land. I know I am not alone in this way of thinking but there are far too many people who have totally lost the connection with nature and are busy trying to destroy it and everything that lives on the earth. Do we really need more motorways and high speed trains? Why is it so important to get a journey to work a few minutes shorter? Why are we in such a hurry? Do we need more airports so we can go abroad? What is wrong with taking a holiday in your own country?
I have been abroad several times and seen some stunning scenery and some ancient ruins where my ancestors lived but I do not need to keep going there or going somewhere hot to lie in the sun or as many do going to the beach and drinking far too much. There is so much around us that is beautiful. Watch the flowers open in the sun, the bees flying around collecting pollen and the other insects with their marvellous colours and diaphanous wings. To sit quietly in a park and listen to the birds singing is wonderful and so healing and refreshing too. Let’s encourage others to do the same.
We are now at the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere, a time when day and night are equal and in balance. The sun is in the sign of Libra which is again about balance.
So a time of balance and it is time maybe to look at how our world and its inhabitants are in balance or not in balance as the case may be. Taking a look at nature itself first of all. The food chain shows balance in nature but what if one part of this chain has too many members and wipes out another part of the chain? It can take some time to get back in balance and in some cases when a species has been wiped out, that part of the chain can stay broken for a long time.
On a larger scale perhaps, what about our world? The number of wars and refugees and areas of great poverty shows us that our world is not in balance. Not only wars but there is the way we have been stripping our earth of its assets, plundering the soils and forests for material gain. This is not a way of balance.
But what of ourselves, our bodies and our lives. If we overeat all the time or drink too much then we get out of balance. What we eat plays a part in this too. Too much of one kind of food can also make us out of balance. Our mental states can also get out of balance as we get stressed or depressed. How we spend our money can also make us out of balance. Do we buy too many gadgets or clothes or chocolates? If we do then we can easily get out of balance.
So now at the time of balance of the Equinox, for me it is time to take a look at my life and see what is out of balance so I can do something about it. I hope I have encouraged you to do the same.
This week the words from the Beatles song ‘All you need is love’ have kept going round in my head. So is love all we need? There are of course many different kinds of love. We love our parents and our aunts and uncles. We also love our siblings but in a different way to the love for our parents. We love our firends as well. We love our pets too but again a different kind of love.
We love doing different things. Some of us love cooking and baking, others love gardening or going out walking. So we are all different and our kinds of love are all different. Whatever we do, we do it with love or at least I do and I hope you do too. But what about those we do not know who need our love? Refugees and children who live in poverty too. If we send them love does it make a difference to their lives. At some point it does make a difference especially if they realise that they are loved. But it won’t necessarily change their circumstances.
In our 3d world we need material things in order to survive. We need food and clothing and a roof over our heads. Does love provide this? In order to have those things we generally need some form of income usually from a job. Does love provide this? Many of us have worked at jobs that we do not like in order to have the roof over our head. Although we might come from love and it might make us feel better, love does not provide the roof or food or clothes.
So how are we going to get around this? Is it possible that in a different world love would give us everything we needed? I think there is a lot of thinking to do about this phrase ‘love is all we need’. What are your thoughts?
It has been a strange week with lots of things to think about so here are a few of my thoughts from this week.
I have written about respect before but a brief thought here about it. I was watching a television programme this week when the subject of respect came up and how important it was to respect yourself and each other whatever age, creed or colour you were. No-one should feel superior to someone else because of colour, age or creed. Cheddar Man was brown as were most of our ancient predecessors. We all come from the same source.
Listening to my body has been important this week. Since I moved house I have ignored the listening and just got on with things, housework, gardening and eating junk food. This week my body rebelled so I had to listen. Too much pain and an upset stomach made me realise that I cannot go on as I have been doing. So hand some things over to others and look at my diet, cutting out the junk food.
Other thoughts have been about courtesy which is again about respect. If you are asked if you are coming to an event via email it is courtesy to respond. even if you are not coming. I run a group with about twelve people as members and after my last email about the next meeting I had five replies. Some of course will turn up even if they have not replied. I find this not good at all. After all I need to know how many teas to book!
But now I am listening to my body and going to make a decaf green tea and have a plain biscuit with it!
Some years ago I paid for a small grove of trees, twenty I think, to be planted in a nearby wood by the Woodland Trust. Those trees are now much bigger and I love to see how they have grown. Trees are so important to us but there are many who do not know why. They are the biggest plants on the planet, and they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.
This week my son and I have dedicated half an acre of woodland through the Woodland Trust, in memory of my dear friend Simon who passed early in August. Simon and I loved trees and spent many hours over the last 20 years or so walking amongst the trees, hugging them and talking to them. So I feel the dedication of these trees is very fitting as a memorial.
There is something about trees that has always called to me. I love them all although some are more special than others. I have always loved the graceful silver birch, one of the trees that grows first after any devastation such as fire. Yet the birch always looks very delicate. I also love the weeping willow which seems to have a yellow colour when the leaves are starting to appear. One of my very favourite trees is no longer around having been felled some years ago possibly because it had become dangerous. It was an ancient beech which seemed to love having people around it and sitting on its wide low branches.
Because of my love for trees I am always happy to help in some way when they are planted and I did this some years ago when the Woodland Trust was planting a new wood. The Trust also does other things in the woodland such as preserving hedging and dead tree trunks for insect life. Do you love trees like I do? I hope so. The photo today was taken earlier in the year as I was leaving a bluebell wood. I hope you like it as much as I do. I did use it on an earlier blog but it fits this one very well and for me is worth a second look.
It has been a long hot dry summer but the last couple of weeks have brought us some rain which has been very good for the garden. One day last week I opened the door, as I do every day, to let in the fresh air and to give thanks for all around me. This particular morning was different than the previous ones. It was cooler and fresher but there was also a distinctive feel and smell of the coming autumn. It’s not something I find easy to put into words but the feel and smell is something I recognise and know that autumn is on its way.
Looking back at the days of summer I see lots of flowers, their wonderful colours still there for the coming days. I noticed the number of birds too. I have a large thick hedge at the top of my garden and it has been home to several broods of birds, blackbirds, sparrows and robins. It has been a wonderful experience to watch them grow into adult birds. This last week a sparrowhawk visited as well. Luckily all the smaller birds were safe in the hedge and surrounding bushes.
I have also noticed the large number of bees visiting the flowers. But many of the flowers are there specifically for that purpose, to attract the bees. There are not so many now but they are still coming finding other plants attractive when their favourite ones have finished flowering.
There has been a large number of different butterflies visiting the flowers especially the buddleias which are commonly known as butterfly bushes. I have also seen damselflies and dragonflies whizzing around the garden but not often settling for photos! The plum tree and the brambles (which are not really wanted as they stop other plants from growing) have done exceptionally well and I have lots of fruit in my freezer. There were so many plums that I have been giving them to neighbours. Someone said it must be the fifth year as you get an abundant crop every five years.
But what I have noticed the most is the abundance of everything. There has been wonderful colour, and food for everything that comes into the garden, and watching the birds trying to get the blackberries and plums has been entertaining at times.
So now the season is changing and there will be different things to watch and to do as well. But my main thought at this point in time is ‘Abundance!’