Musings and Frost

I find in the work of Robert Frost both a heavy, in-birthed cynicism and a fresh dose of reality with an appreciation for all things. I think his poetry is often focused around this conflict and as such I have loved it since I was sixteen years old and received the collected works of Robert Frost for my birthday from my darling Granny. Aside: I never called her ‘darling’ in life but I wish I had; she was a dear soul. I often dream of my grandmother since she died. Strange. Anyway, I am in a strange mood – angry and fed-up but at the same time not caring one way or the other. Also I’m aware that I am alive and have a commission to serve. All things considered it’s not an easy combination but will overrides all and I will to follow God, whatever my emotions. Such is recovery from PTSD, soothly, as I gesse (l’il bit o’ Chaucer for you there – I told you I was in a strange mood). Well, in short, this poem reflects those kinds of conflicts within a backdrop of everyday reality:

A good reading. The last line is what resonates with me:

And they, since they

Were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs.

C’est la vie.

 

My dear son has been ill. We have an appointment at the hospital this afternoon for a scan but so far they’re somewhat baffled. He has missed school for weeks now and I don’t know what to do. He seems ok in himself, apart from running a fever this morning, poor lad, but for the most part I haven’t been able to tell if he’s really ill or if he’s faking it. Or partially faking it, because of his anxiety, which he says no one understands – and perhaps we don’t, not being autistic or OCD like him. I have had to be extremely patient with him, bless him. I thought he would be well enough to go back to school this morning, but ’twas not to be :-/

As for me, I am weary. Bored as much as anything, having stopped studying with the O.U. I am no better, physically, than I was, although I would very much like to be. I am trying to declutter and organise our house, which gives me goals each day, although I dislike housework immensely. I am not sure if it is a sign of organisation or madness to now have labelled shelves in the kitchen and an organised plastic container drawer. What do you reckon? I’ve been learning to speak Mandarin along the way. I can say, “I am English but he is Chinese,” and “She is busy. She is reading a book.” I’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin and they have a good course on Audible so I thought I’d give it a go. But it’s all pretty aimless, really. Is it ironic that the Chinese invented the examination, which was solely for the purpose of becoming a Mandarin, and here I am learning Mandarin but with no prospect of examination? Or is it just a tongue twister?

“In space things touch, in time things part,” she repeated to herself… her brain so weak that she could not decide whether the phrase was a philosophy or a pun.** 

My daughter started talking about careers the other day. She thinks she would like to be an architect or an engineer when she leaves school, and she has the aptitude for it. I do so love my children, but when she started talking about going to university and having a career I found myself unable to join in! My husband chastised me for my tone of voice so I shut up; I would never want to hurt my child. Yet there I was, overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow and, yes, bitterness, that I usually manage to keep under wraps. At least, I’m not generally aware of it. I have no patience for self-pity yet my thoughts were (and have been since) along the lines of: I was the one who scored highest in the 11+ out of everyone who took it that year. I was the one who should have gone to Oxford or Cambridge, or at least to a redbrick. I was the one who should have soared in the academic world of my choosing, following in the footsteps of my father. And what did I get instead? Nightmares and flashbacks and ill-health and a great steaming pile of bovine faeces.

The ridiculous thing is that I know, perhaps more than most, that life isn’t what we expect it to be. We are spoiled, here in the West. We have the illusion of being in control and we don’t like to be disillusioned. When a billion people in the world are malnourished, when 6 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes, who am I to turn my nose up at anything? Yet I couldn’t stop those feelings! Like I said, one’s will is sometimes the only way to move, and movement is surely better than stagnancy: I might not feel a certain way, but I’m flippin’ well not letting it get in the way of what I know to be right and true and honourable.

I hate PTSD and I hate M.E. (note the full stops denoting abbreviation – I don’t hate myself, which is a minor miracle really because I used to). I loathe not being ‘normal’, or at least having the chance to be, but it is what it is and not wanting it to be a certain way is not going to change anything. Since when did a person’s wanting or not wanting change a thing? And because I believe, as a child of God, that I have a divinely-imbued purpose to love and to serve, then so be it. Deep calls to deep. It is inescapable.

 

** from A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

A Twinkle in His Eye?

‘They came again to Jerusalem, and as [Jesus] was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders came to him, and they began saying to him, “By what authority do you do these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John—was it from heaven, or from men? Answer me.”

They reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we should say, ‘From heaven;’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ If we should say, ‘From men’”—they feared the people, for all held John to really be a prophet. They answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said to them, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”’

Mark 11:27-33 (WEB)

These people kept on and on and on bugging Jesus, trying to trip Him up so they could find something to knock Him down with (a bit like the tabloids nowadays?). They never did find anything. Jesus always, always responded with truth, mercy, compassion, wisdom, knowledge and, I like to think, a little bit of humour. Take the above, for example, I like to imagine a twinkle in the eye with that final sentence, not quite a wink, but a definite glimmer of humour, perhaps a raised eyebrow and a wry smile; kindly, funny, stern, honest, authoritative – all at once.

I’m continuing listening to the Librivox free (public domain) recording of the New Testament, read by ordinary volunteers. I’ve listened all the way through the Gospel of Matthew, and am now in the middle of Mark. Listening has brought about whole new levels of awareness of the oh-so-familiar text. I’m particularly struck by the way Jesus is described during His time of ministry (if that is what one can call it): He was relentless.

Dear Lord

Make me more like You.

Amen

Austen Fest

Maybe it’s just me (quite likely), or maybe it’s the spring time and the daffodils and the clear blue skies and the glorious sunshine. Maybe it’s watching aeroplanes do loop-the-loop as if they too are heralding spring, or maybe it’s because I am, at last, s l o w l y beginning to feel better (hurrah! thank you for your prayers – I know people have been praying for me and it’s an amazing gift – thank you). Anyway, whatever the reason, I have decided that I am celebrating all things Jane Austen. I have loved Jane Austen since I was 12 years old, which seems a  l-o-n-g time ago as I hurtle towards middle age. Pride and Prejudice may have been the first ‘grown-up’ book that I ever read, in those BCF* days. My best friend Melanie and I used to dress up as 1800s ladies and pretend we were Jane and Elizabeth Bennett (funny how one always imagines oneself as one of the ladies, yet our ancestors were probably farm labourers or servants). Incidentally, there is a wonderful, but false, family story of my great great great (?) grandmother having been the daughter of a Lord Somebody who ran off with the gardener, my great great great grandfather. Life so imitates art that my mother reminds me of the – er – delightful Mrs Bennett. Mind you, my Frank is not so much a Mr. Darcy as a Colonel Brandon (very much so in fact). Lucky me, eh? 😉

To kick off Austen Fest I have been listening to the delightful (and free) Librivox audiobook of Persuasion (the text is also available online for nowt at Project Gutenberg). I have also been sewing and watching the oh-so-wonderful Kandukondein Kandukondein, which is the modern, Tamil version of Sense and Sensibility. If you have never seen Kandukondein Kandukondein you don’t know what you’re missing. It is a fabulous film, one of my personal all-time favourites, plus it stars the breathtakingly lovely Aishwarya Rai. So forgive me if I come over a trifle Mrs Darcy, but I’m indulging myself with an all-out Austen Fest for the rest of this week. Will you join me?

 

*BCF – Before Colin Firth