Marmite Wars (and Other News)

Tesco bans marmite from its shelves! The attention-grabbing headlines reflect a wider truth which is, funnily enough, exactly what any sane voter could see would happen. I voted ‘remain’ because to leave the European Union is likely to benefit the few at the expense of the many. There are some very undemocratic processes within the EU that need reform, but our departure throws out an infant blue whale with the proverbial bathwater. The pound depreciates. Food prices rise. No sugarsnaps*, Sherlock. More on this from the Financial Times:

https://www.ft.com/content/2c651be2-9228-11e6-8df8-d3778b55a923

*’sugarsnaps’: my word of choice. Polite yetersnappy.

*******

In other news, I continue to use the KonMari method of decluttering, along with the Sidetracked Home Executives method of home management. The household is becoming more organised and orderly, albeit at a slower pace than I would like due to my health (and certain messy members of the family who shall remain nameless). My lovely Fluff, now aged 13, has really taken the ideas on board and has been very helpful. I’m so proud of her. Her attitude to everything has changed for the better lately. Hurrah!

I’ve begun studying Data Analysis again with the Open University. It’s going well but I need to be extremely careful to stick to a schedule of study, housework and rest because if I don’t it will all fall apart (again).

My dear mother-in-law was poorly and ended up in hospital for a week but is back at the care home now. I think the dementia has progressed, but she is very well looked after. I’m going to crochet a cuddly animal for her, because often she needs to be comforted in a very basic way and what better than something to snuggle with? I’ve been crocheting away like mad, lately, ready for Christmas as money is a bit tighter this year (and because when I finally decluttered my craft stuff I found a huge stash of yarn). I’ve even been to a sewing class where I’m learning to use a sewing machine 😀

Prince has had a resurgence of the pain that made him stay off school for six months (from December ’15 to June ’16), so we have an appointment at the pain clinic for the beginning of next month. He asked me yesterday if I was praying for him. ‘Of course!’ was my reply but I was so touched that he thought to ask. Please pray, if you’re so inclined, that we get to the bottom of it quickly? His life is hard enough with the inevitable, near-constant anxiety that autism brings. 

How’s life where you are? I’d love to know.

The Work of His Fingers

From Psalm 8:3-6 NIV

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet”

In the deep darkness, water bursts from under the ground, trickling, teasing, spilling over black earth, seeping into the soil.

“Ah.” The Gardener sighs, listening to the quiet trickle and smiling. “It is good. What next?”

Unhurried, he bends, reaching his fingers deep into the soil, grabbing a cool handful of clay.  Stars rupture the sky in pinprick brilliance. The full-bellied moon casts light onto the water. The Gardener glimpses his reflection. “Mmm.” He murmurs thoughtfully, wetness of clay slipping between his fingers. “Yes…” The Gardener’s hands shape a cylinder, and then deftly move to form the face, the body, the arms, legs, hands, tiny, flexible fingers: one, two, three, four and thumb makes five. “One more little touch.” He smiles. “There!”

The Gardener bends towards the little figure and with a tender, warm breath blows essence and soul into the two perfectly formed nostrils. The little creature sighs, and lies sleeping, chest rising and falling in gentle rhythm. He pauses, scrutinising his creation, leans over and pats its head. The Gardener is busy: time for some cultivating. He hums as he works. Thus: orange trees and cabbages and lavender and bulrushes and cacti and orchids and rosemary and eucalyptus and tall, dancing cypresses. Effervescing water widens into a river, pouring out through the garden and into the lands beyond. He says, “It is good.”

The Gardener lifts the little creature, waking it in the process, and sets it on its two feet in the midst of the trees and vegetation. “You are Adam.” A gentle, confidential whisper, “A man!”

The man blinks.

“Now, listen,” The Gardener is solemn, “you may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.” He points. The man turns, following the finger. “You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.” Adam nods; eyes wide. The Gardener contemplates the body of water, and the trees, and the bushes. All is still, save the noiseless flow. He returns his gaze to the man.

“It is quiet.” He says. The man nods again and follows the gaze of his maker, listening to the sound of his own breath, watching the water. Suddenly, thoughtfully, The Gardener says, “You should not be alone. I will make a companion for you.”

Adam smiles and claps his hands. The sky in the east becomes grey, and softly pink. The Gardener bends down and accumulates another handful of damp clay. He starts with a cylinder again, a head, arms, legs and a curling tail. With a quick breath he blows warmth and life into the creature. It jumps up and turns around, teeth chattering. Humming a contented tune, The Gardener presents his new creation for the man to see.

“You are called Adam,” The Gardener says, contemplatively, “and you are a man.” He lifts his palm towards the man. “What shall we call it?

Adam stares at his maker and then back at the little chattering creature. He repeats this several times before pronouncing, “Mon? Mon? Er…” He screws up his nose and furrows his brow. “Monkey!” Adam exclaims. The creature runs towards the nearest tree and scurries up its trunk, pauses, and turns to watch the rest of the proceedings.

“Tum te tum te tum.” Humming again, The Gardener grasps the clay between finger and thumb, pinches the two ends, then tweaks the two sides until he forms a beak, a tail and wings. He breathes over the creation and with a squawk and a flutter the creature shakes itself awake, peering over the side of the hand and settling a black, beady eye on Adam.

Adam returns the gaze. “Bird!” He cries. And the bird breaks into vigorous flapping, heading towards the dense undergrowth and disappearing in the foliage. The Gardener creates more birds, more monkeys, lizards and caterpillars, rabbits and foxes, fireflies and donkeys and gnus. Adam gasps with delight at each new animal, and each new name spills from his lips, echoing his maker’s act with the creativity of naming. After some time, The Gardener creates four legs, large claws, and a thick, fiery mane.

“Lion.” Adam breathes, suitably impressed by the magnificence of the creation. The lion lifts its head and yawns, sharp, white points gleaming against a livid, fleshy tongue. Adam’s eyebrows rise, his mouth parting in a dubious frown.

“Don’t worry!” says The Gardener. “I was just getting a little carried away. Now, let me think… A suitable companion is what I said, didn’t I?”

Adam nods. The Gardener taps his fingers. “Hmm. Yes, I have an idea.” The Gardener hums a jaunty tune as he again gathers the clay and begins deftly shaping a fine nose, brown, almond eyes, a mouth with just a hint of a smile, legs, and a body.

“There.” says The Gardener, sounding pleased.

Adam grins. “Dog!” He says happily, as the little grey creature trots towards him, wagging its tail. He reaches down and strokes its ears, then lifts his arms into a stretch. Yawning, he sits on the grass. The dog settles beside him.

“Watch!” The Gardener says. “I’ll do some more.”

Humming and smiling all the while, the industrious creator fills the garden with animals large and animals small, some quiet, some shy, others loud and screeching. Every so often he takes a look at the little man. After a while, he pauses, looking around at all that fills the garden. Something is still not right. Adam sits, amused, and bemused, by all that The Gardener has placed before him. The Gardener watches Adam and the dog, which has fallen asleep, its furry head against Adam’s thigh.

The Gardener sighs. “That’s not quite right, is it?” He says to himself. “A suitable companion, Adam?” The Gardener inquires, indicating the sleeping creature. The man looks down, strokes the silky fur and smiles. Then his face changes and he gazes at his maker somewhat wistfully.

“I . . . thank you.” Adam bows his head.

“You are my beloved.” The Gardener says tenderly. “You shall have a suitable companion. Lie down, Adam.”

The Gardener breathes and Adam finds his eyes sticky and his head drooping. He stretches himself out on the grass and falls, tumbles, into soft, silent sleep. The Gardener tweaks Adam, just as if he was made of clay again, and pulls out a short, slightly curved stick. He folds up the skin and blows gently, sealing over the wound. Adam’s chest rises and falls. From the stick The Gardener fashions another, like Adam but a little different. He gives this one softness and curves and shapes that the man lacks. Newly-made birds begin the chorus of morning. Breathing gently over the second creature, setting it on its feet, he wakes Adam.

Adam rubs his eyes and yawns. Then he notices the other creature, and jumps to his feet. His hand flies to his side. He frowns, gaze flickering between his abdomen and the new creature. “At last! Here is one of my own kind.” Adam breathes in wonder. “Bone taken from my bone,” he pats his side, “and flesh from my flesh.”

The man walks forward, grinning. “Woman is her name because she was taken out of man.”

The morning breeze tickles her hair and she laughs. The dog wakes and runs toward Adam. The woman’s mouth curves and her eyes crease into a smile. She rubs its head. Adam does the same and, taking her hand in his own, brings it to his lips, tenderly kissing her fingers. Gold rays burst over the horizon into morning.

“It is good.” The Gardener says, smiling.

Sometimes Even Music Cannot Substitute for Tears

Hard times?
I’m used to them
The speeding planet burns
I’m used to that
My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

Paul Simon’s breathtaking poetry has been echoing around my head this morning. Do you always have music in your head or is it just me? Last week I did the BBC’s ‘How Musical are You?’ quiz, designed by researchers from some university or other. It told me I was more musical than 99% of people. Whatever that means.

I went to music school, briefly, when I was 18. I only lasted a term because of a recurring illness, but I loved it. I felt like I was in the presence of so much burning talent. Part of my journey now, as an adult going through the process of healing, has been discovering my identity. This is a strange process to go through in your late twenties <ahem> early thirties <ahem> at my age.

Today I bought a copy of the sheet music for the audition piece I played, all those years ago. It is a real thrill to rediscover these talents and creativity. Almost too much of a thrill. To one in the process of recovery, it is almost intimidating. What if it all goes wrong again? What if I have to give it all up again? What if I fall in love with writing and music and creating with the same burning passion that my Creator made me… and then life steals it all, again? Can I go through that pain again?

But maybe…. Maybe the real truth is that I never lost these things. Maybe… they are God-breathed – and not possible to lose.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth…

Psalm 98:4 NRSVA

…the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

Seems like music is an inescapable part of living.