Wednesday the 14th January 2015. Is peace possible?
I was a very fortunate little girl. The best lessons I learned to set me up for the rest of my life’s uphill climb and down mountain slides were given to me before I turned 7. I had an amazing teacher. Her name is Nellie Florence McEncroe. Otherwise known as my Nan. A constant in my life; she got the lucky chore of looking after me when my Mum was at work, helping in my Grandfather’s family business. The first part of my childhood was spent on the Gold Coast in Queensland. I have some very fond memories. On the piano with Nan, learning Twinkle Twinkle Little star, picking Frangipanis, going to the bakery to buy Neenish Tarts (still a fave), learning how to make our Favourite sandwiches (still both our faves)- Peanut Butter and Honey (YES- together- diviiiiine, which is why I just used a capital F for favourite) and avoiding her Cat at all costs. Yup her cat.
She had a cat called Mischief, and that cat got its namesake doing just that- creating mischief. The strongest memory is me about age 4 on the piano with Nan beside me and looking down to see this Black and White furry dictator giving me the stare down with jealous rage. He would walk past and curl his tail languorously around Nan’s leg shooting me with what I swear was a look of contemptuous arrogance. He would stick his claws in my leg the moment her back was turned, the feline version of Hannibal Lector. Even my pa called that cat by its real name when Nan wasn’t around- Shithead. I wasn’t one for bad words as a little kid, but that pretty much summed up the cat. Cats really can be nasty cant they? I am so sorry cat lovers; I do like Garfield but that little sucker freaked me out. Anyway, again in my pondering I am rambling about a cat. Ive strayed off topic again…I going to blame that on the brain surgery- I am regressing.
When I was small and Nanna looked after me during the day I was taught by example that the practice of Having Faith was a way of life. Not a concept, not an ideology but a working force in my life. I saw it, I experienced it on a weekly basis at an age where learning is vibrant and contagious, a little sponge I soaked up what was on offer. We would ask the Angels for a car space and we would get one EVERY TIME in the busiest of Surfer’s Paradise and Burleigh Heads streets.
Man do you know how cool that was? We had our very own invisible superman as a friend, which when you are little tyke is pretty freaking cool.
We would visit Nan’s friends who talked about faith and God in the most natural peaceful way like he was an old family friend. I was shown how to pray a child’s prayer- sweet and soothing. I never questioned it, it was a gentle and loving concept that I never doubted. I wasn’t brainwashed, I was around someone with a love of God and faith and all things light and it rubbed off. I asked loads of questions and was given solid answers. I was taught to love, to forgive, to treat others the way I would like to be treated, not to envy or be unkind. So I have never NOT known what faith is. From what I understand now as an adult this is a very rare thing. It is the most useful gift anyone had ever given me and I will grateful to my Nanna for all my life. She gave me a box of tools that would come in handy for the rest of my days.
I called on that faith many times as a child and it always made me feel better. I find in life you can try and solve your problems up to your neck in sticky brain muddled dark shite, anxious, freaked out, antsy and on your knees bowing to fear when things go awry, unable to make a clear concise decision, not even trusting the decisions you are making from a clouded standing position.
You can achieve a lighter surer feeling that then helps a clear focussed mind make a decision, or have an ability to have a more optimal coping strategy, a calm, a peace, EASE, clarity. I know which one I choose and the proof is in the pudding as a wise lady once told me. There is no argument against personal experience and this is mine. We are all different I guess? Some people say beliefs are for non copers, I am not sure on that. Desperate people turn to desperate measures etc etc. Many of the people I draw inspiration from that often appear bullet proof and resilient as Titanium are walking in grace. I call it my insurance policy, I am not hurting anyone and it makes our family all feel nice. End of story.
Can you remember as a kid when Grown Ups got angry it could be very scary? When you are very small and a big person gets mad it can be quite freaky and even damaging. As a child you are taught to respect your elders and grown ups are meant to do the right thing. We are conditioned in the Western world to accept this as fact from the time we have to rely on a big person for sustenance and bum changes. This notion of authority and protection of little people isn’t always correct, and when this happens it defies a child’s sense of understanding, confusion ensues. I have mentioned to you before when I was a child my amazing Mother survived extreme domestic violence as did I. There were nights I would crush myself deep down to the very bottom of my bed under the blankets trying to block out the sound of an Angry man, wanting to be a little Joan of Arc and put myself between him and her, but shamefully knowing I was too small. Hearing my beautiful Mother, full of love and life be harmed… there are no words.
There was nothing I could do. I was powerless. So I prayed. I prayed to feel better.
There was no pleading or begging, just a request. I would always end up feeling cocooned, a calm would come over me and I would drift off to sleep. Every single time. To this day I cannot explain it, but I learned to trust it. Think of a time in your life when you were very frightened and you dealt with the fear. What was happening? How did you deal with the fear? Did it work? See for me, contemplation, peaceful calm prayer and meditation is what works in those situations. Now I know there are people out there that will read this and say what about the person who..where was God when…. Let me be very very clear. I do not represent anyone but me. This has been my experience. I cannot speak from any other perspective. I was taught that there was a divine architect, we had free will to make our decisions and God was a God of Love, to be of assistance through faith and prayer, treat each other with kindness and love. Love is all. When teenage years hit I found “religion” to be a bit full on and not very cool, I started to see things about Church that didn’t fit in with my view of love and the world and I walked away a bit from God because of my rebellious nature to reject everything I didnt understand and an inherent issue with authority figures! I thought Nan’s crew had some weird ideas that I didn’t really want to “adhere” to.
But what I found was that by rejecting everything altogether didn’t really work that well for me.
The world was a bit messy and dark for a while. I didn’t like the view with the new lenses I was wearing. The world felt draining and lacking. It dawned on me that I didn’t have to walk away from my beliefs or God at all. My beliefs and experiences were what moulded me. It is also good to question and think for yourself, study, ask etc. Dogma isn’t the all and end all, neither are rules. They are there to be upturned, pondered, examined and looked upon. I learned a valuable lesson in faith and the moment I returned to a position of calm and prayerfulness my life was calmer, more peaceful.
What I find intriguing now after my few humble years of stumbling academic study of world Religion and Anthropology is how the original core teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, The Hopis, Zunis of Pueblo cultures, Parsis, The Sikh, just to name a FEW are based on these very concepts of harmonious living or commandments for peaceful living. I had a clue this might be the case before I studied but i have been seriously blown away by the mirroring doctrine, scripture, books, literature that span over thousands of years and at times in completely different parts of the world that had no communication with each other reported to have divine interactions and guidance that verge on coincidence. (That is if you believe in co-incidence) I could seriously write a thesis on it, there are literally hundreds of examples. Same Same! Why do I find this intriguing? Because the nature of Human beings to use mass ideology as a means of power brokerage screws it up for so many. It takes an idea for living peacefully and with grace to some weird rule book made up by Homosapiens and enforced with pain, punishment and separateness. In the same breadth so many of these belief systems have guided, educated and helped humanity, the very concept of donating and helping those in need stems from organisations of belief. Some of the strongest and most helpful communities are found wrapped in a blanket of Church or Temple, the fabric for morale perhaps?
If you go back and study the origins, the fundamental basis of scripture from all of these belief systems and their very conception mirrors each other.
Then people walk away from the concept of religion or dogma of all types altogether because its become a mouthpiece for power, extremism and hurt which has happened over centuries and centuries. From an Anthropological point of view all “Religions” have had human beings in charge that have made a right old mess of things in the name of God. Some Church organisations, even Buddhists, you name it! I think it is so very sad. Sometimes I wonder if God sits back and shakes his/her head in bewilderment, maybe over thousands of years he sends prophets to explain to us how we are meant to live in harmony and unity to give us a heads up, a helping hand, a bit of a guide in different forms and maybe we listen for a bit then it all goes a bit to the left, we turn it into a Dogmatic super circus with rules and regulations, leaving the big G up there going “Oh man! There they go AGAIN? What the?” Its not a theory peeps just a pondering. I hope I haven’t completely freaked you out, will you come back and walk with me in the meadow or have you already run off the dewy grassy screaming OMG SHE’S LOST IT! Its ok, some of my best friend’s are atheists and we get along really well. It gets interesting over a few bottles of wine and polite debating…LOL. Tuesdays with Morrie eat your heart out.
I can tell you though if you haven’t already experienced it, you love your children more than yourself. I do.
My daughter was told she had a pineal cyst that at first they thought was a tumour. A perceived serious threat to your child is like the feeling of that “I’ve lost them in the supermarket” combined with taking the meatiest most tender part of your heart and breath and shredding through a blunt mincer multiplied my mass horror. Graphic I know, but paralysing and efficient. The problem with fear is that is keeps you in slavery, you can face a situation where it feels like there is no hope. A dear friend of mine gave me a prayer to shoo away that intense enemy of fear and it worked enough for us to keep moving and get our faith on.
I am beyond pleased and grateful, smiling today. This daughter of mine went through a day of tests and poking, prodding to a dubious wait in a room, the same area that has given us so many moments of awful news. She turns to me and says “I am going to be fine, its ok and we are surrounded with good” That thing in her head is benign. It has NO growth and is well and truly stable. I went in when she was asleep in bed last night, I watched her sleep for about 20 minutes. The mincer turned into a waterfall of butterflies in my chest.
“Hope is like a kite with a long tail of sturdy string hat even the most downcast of us can manage to grab onto. No matter how bleak our lives may appear to be, no matter how flat on our backs our troubles have pushed us, we can still reach up and take the kite’s string of hope in our hand and it will carry us aloft into a new and brighter day. ” (This too Shall Pass, Eaton, J. pil, 2012)
“Each Affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.” – Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.”- Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith.
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