Time to spare

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 002The journey north should have given me the first clue to how the weekend would unfold. To be fair, it did… I just didn’t realise. A rainy week had given way to sunshine as I pointed the car north and the hawks kept an eye on my departure. After three hours driving the flat plains gave way to the first of the hills; there was still some way to go and I was still much further south than we usually work, but nevertheless, once you cross one particular road you seem to enter a different landscape and know yourself to be in Derbyshire.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 017Making good time I decided to turn off the main road to a village that looked as if it should have some kind of ecclesiastical building to visit. Several miles of winding country lane later I parked in the centre of Church Broughton and headed off on foot with the camera to inspect the village’s namesake.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 034A neat avenue of trees leads to the porch of the old church. The door opens on a peaceful place, typical of so many of our village churches. This one has stood here for at least the past 900 years and traces of the Norman building still remain in the font and the pillars of the nave. There may have been a church here before as the village seems to trace its roots back even further to a time when it was part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia, but nothing now remains here that predates the Normans.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 009The font, however, is unusual in its decoration of flowing, intertwined geometries; unlike any I have seen before. In spite of its great age it looks rather modern. There are some old carved heads looking down on the aisle and the east window is well worth a little study, but perhaps the most interesting story is that of the people of the village, traced as a living history throughout the building and in the traditions it still upholds… the Maypole and May Queen, for example, along with the somewhat eccentric teddy bear parachuting from the church tower in summer.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 040
There is a literary connection too with a strong link here to the Auden family. Two of the vicars of the church were uncle and nephew of the poet W.H. Auden. In the sanctuary St Michael holds the dragon with the point of his spear, the statue a gift from the family. The weathercock on top of the tower still bears the bullet holes left by one young Auden; possibly W.H. himself says the information provided, though that is mere speculation. The sun glints from the weathervane, but the birds and the carved faces on the tower take precedence over bullet holes in my eyes.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 037
I drive on, taking the twisting, narrow lanes towards Ashbourne, pulling over when movement in the skies catches my eye…four huge birds in flight over the fields. The dog walker looks at me and shakes his head as I snap away in a futile attempt to capture them … ah well, the photograph, after all, matters far less than watching this aerial display of grace that welcomes me back to the north. It was looking as if it could be a good weekend.

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 083

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Rainbows and sunshine

 

x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 024The road out of Sheffield begins to climb almost immediately, rising steadily until the lights of the city are left far behind and you reach the moors. You do not realise how high you are, over a thousand feet above sea level, by the time the houses fall away and the hills surround you. This morning, though, there would be no heart-lifting sight of them to greet me. The darkness was complete; only the sharp crescent of the moon and the distant, sulphurous glow of streetlamps lit the rolling silhouettes of the hills. Even so, I feel them, as if the shadowed darkness in which they have slept has strengthened their presence. I do not need the light for the touch of wild earth to take a reluctant farewell, a lingering touch in the depths of my being.x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 006
It would be an hour before the dawn would light the touch-paper of flame across the horizon. By then I would have crossed that invisible barrier between the wild places and the tamed and be approaching yet another intangible crossing where ancient stone gives way to brick and mortar and the simple beauty of the stars becomes the aggression of oncoming headlights. Another version of reality takes over and the journey back is no longer a journey home.x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 012
My body performs the mechanical movements that carry the car southwards while my mind runs over a weekend that had sung sunshine into the golden autumn days. Once again we had managed to do far more in the little time available than we had any right to be able to do. By ignoring the constraining hands of the clock somehow time seems to take a holiday until the Monday morning alarm sounds.x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 029
It was another full hour before I again pulled over, camera in hand. By this time I was in a small village just north of Lichfield. For some time the sky had been aglow with colour, changing from a streak of molten gold to a silken screen of rainbow hues. It was a beautiful dawn, too lovely to miss with the depressing greyness of the motorway all too close. A dove watched with me from the branches above my head, her breast flushed pink by the sun’s first kiss. Even Monday mornings can hold the seeds of beauty and that is a thought worth carrying forward into the day.x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 026

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Doomsday, Kindle countdown deal- day 4

…Ben grimaces painfully as he considers my latest work of art.

“There are two spears,” he says rather dismissively.
“Yep, well spotted, there are indeed two spears.”
“Is there a particular reason?”
“There is”
“Would you care to elucidate?”
“The magical weapons are all abilities of the mind and they are only symbolised by the physical objects which have come to represent them.”

fig24‘Lugh’s Spear, Piercing…’

“Hmmmm,” says Ben rather unconvincingly, “And the two spears symbolises which ability of the mind precisely?”
“What ability of the mind pierces?” asks Wen.
“The spear symbolizes thought,” say I.
“Which is why there are two of them,” says Wen.
“It’s like the Greek twins,” say I.
“Prometheus and Epimetheus,” says Wen.
“Forethought and afterthought,” says Ben pensively… “Thieves of fire, yes, that’s very good.”…


As we prepare to relese the second book in the Doomsday Series: Dark Sage, a Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 17th August to 21st October on Amazon UK and Amazon.com forBook One of the Doomsday Triad:

DD front coverDoomsday:

The Ætheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

“Who was this Arviragus bloke anyway?”

Don studies the light as it plays through his beer, casting prisms on the table. How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.

Full colour illustrated

Also available in Paperback.


Kindle Countdown Deals start at the lowest possible price and rise which rises in increments for the duration of the promotion until they reach the normal sales price. This is a limited time offer and the book will display a counter with the current offer price and time remaining for that price.

Did you know? You can download a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, android and other platforms that allows you to read the books available, even if you do not own a Kindle.. and there are thousands of books to choose from, including many classics, and hard-to-find volumes! With a huge catalogue of free, discounted and rare books to choose from it is a treasure trove for bookworms. You can download the free Kindle reading app for your device here in the UK, or here in the US.

Be kind to authors – make their day and leave a review.

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A mother’s hands

deer day 018

I see my mother’s hands before my eyes

The first caress that I had ever known,

And with a thrill of wonder realise

The hands I see before me are my own.

Where did the decades go, I have to ask,

At what point did my springtime slip away?

Is this mid-summer sun in which I bask

Or has the autumn brought a shorter day?

A mellowing has softened me, I know,

Yet coloured me with richer hue and shade,

And written on my face a map to show

The world the choices I have made.

I too can read the story as I look

Of all the things of which I am a part,

The journey traced in lines upon the book

Within the mirror of an open heart.

There read the fearless laughter of the child,

The joys and grief, the lovers I have known,

The windswept glory of a heart gone wild,

The maiden’s tears, the mother’s love, the crone.

But as I journey on and turn the page

Not knowing what will come or what will be,

Or even if true wisdom comes with age,

I see adventure beckoning to me.

I know my winter holds a longer night

And seasons turn for all things on this earth,

The snowy shroud will cover all in white

That it may sleep, and there await rebirth.

Posted in Life, Love and Laughter, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Doomsday, Kindle countdown deal- day 3

poss27

… Our Father, Lady, Countess-Grae, ached fretful and pensive in her bilious Ostrich Feather quilt. Her pale face was pale. She was ailing but the money spiders still fell from her breasts in herds, as tiny, multi-limbed Bilberries, they scattered onto the ivory down all speckled and bright and abundant, shining like studded leather. Her lithe body basked in the wetness of her fever, twisted and wound in tangled sheets which bunched and gathered in knots over her shoulder then smoothed into gentle folds, swelling the busy spiders as they ran. A rather sickly looking leg limped from the covers, sickly but attractive. It relaxed and flopped to one side suggestively. The white pigs on the window sill blushed and snorted their disapproval.

“…But darling, how very clever of you…”
Earl Grae dripped petulantly from one of the wrought iron arches of the bed rest.
“Why, what can you mean, my sweet?”
“The person whom Samuel is writing about, it’s you!”
Earl Grae shrugged coyly.
“Does he know?”
“Y-e-s… but, he’s erm, he’s still looking for confirmation.”
“Oh dear, how marvellous,” she laughed…


As we prepare to relese the second book in the Doomsday Series: Dark Sage, a Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 17th August to 21st October on Amazon UK and Amazon.com forBook One of the Doomsday Triad:

DD front coverDoomsday:

The Ætheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

“Who was this Arviragus bloke anyway?”

Don studies the light as it plays through his beer, casting prisms on the table. How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.

Full colour illustrated

Also available in Paperback.


Kindle Countdown Deals start at the lowest possible price and rise which rises in increments for the duration of the promotion until they reach the normal sales price. This is a limited time offer and the book will display a counter with the current offer price and time remaining for that price.

Did you know? You can download a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, android and other platforms that allows you to read the books available, even if you do not own a Kindle.. and there are thousands of books to choose from, including many classics, and hard-to-find volumes! With a huge catalogue of free, discounted and rare books to choose from it is a treasure trove for bookworms. You can download the free Kindle reading app for your device here in the UK, or here in the US.

Be kind to authors – make their day and leave a review.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

… and another…

A world at our fingertips

Electric_Earth_Globe__soul-amp_8

I woke from another night of deep dreams about a friend I have never met. It is odd how people can get under your skin like that and set up home in your heart. The coming of the internet changed many things, not least opening the world for our exploration, allowing us to stumble upon lives that capture ours in friendship and empathy.

I am blessed with a circle of friends with whom I can, and do, talk about absolutely everything from mice to men, from the deepest spiritual questions to the best fertiliser for roses. Many of them I have never met, the others so distant geographically that we seldom meet, and almost all of these friendships owe their depth to the written word. There is a freedom of expression available to the pen or keyboard that many of us cannot embrace in the flesh. With the written word we can say things we might be too embarrassed to voice, too shy to utter. Things that may defy the social conventions with which we have been conditioned and which we could never have said eye to eye. And sometimes, simply transcends the barriers of time and distance that separate us.

This, of course, is a double edged blade in many respects. It would be very easy to become cut off from reality and live in a virtual world, and I know many who have gone that way. It is also all too easy to be hurtful at a distance and taken to extremes the effects of cyber bullying can be devastating to their victims. The pen, even when it is a keyboard, can wield much power over the emotions.

But of course, the written word is not simply a static expression of thought. It can bring beauty or deception, information or inspiration… but it is dead and may as well not exist until it is given life by the reader. Words themselves mean little without the intellectual or emotional response they elicit, that stirring of heart and mind, questioning or dismissive, engaging or rejecting. It is always a two way process and the reader is deeply entwined in the creation of the effect. Without the imagination of the reader, no fantasy world could exist, no idea take root and no inspiration could flower.

It is the same with friendships built over the internet. It takes a genuine emotional response to nurture the growing seeds. Among the hundreds of people we encounter online a few strike a chord and a friendship can grow. I have seen the heartbreak when these are built around a false persona. I even saw a marriage rushed into with all the attendant heartache when reality hit home beyond the romance. But I have also seen deep and lasting friendships built and fleeting encounters given chance to grow that could never have happened without our access to the highways of the internet.

A brief encounter with a woman in unusual circumstances years ago, maintained largely via chat facilities, sparked one of the closest friendships I have ever known and the levels at which minds and hearts touch are extraordinary.

Not all of us travel and stumble across those kindred spirits to whom we warm immediately and who become part of our hearts and lives. Yet occasionally there is a spark immediately recognised and something special occurs. Whether in reality or online. I don’t think it has a lot to do with their words , but has more to do with a response and recognition of the person behind them.

One of my closest friendships was built on such a response. Two people, who could have been anyone, anywhere, began to answer each other’s posts on a forum. The minds got to know each other, the emotions were engaged with delight, the exchange of ideas went deep. It must have been years before we even saw a photo of each other. Yet so close did we become that he flew nearly five thousand miles to meet me. And that too was a joy.

It is almost as if the internet encourages in us the use of a sixth sense. We are dealing with possibly deceptive personas and the onus is on us to distinguish the false from the real, both with regard to those we meet and to ourselves. It is easy to project the personality we wish we had and deceive ourselves here too, and this, I think, is where many of the heartaches arise. If we can simply be who we are, and listen to that inner sense of truth, we encounter wonderful things and people every day.

There is one area though where electronic communications cannot help. The support from friends a thousand miles away geographically can be invaluable and sustaining when life hurts. I know this to be true having been incredibly blessed with it. But a phone call beats an email hands down. A handwritten letter can be cherished and carried next to the heart. A virtual shoulder is not the same as a real one, a cyber-hug lacks the warmth of arms holding you with love, and nothing can beat that eye to eye contact of a shared smile, whether in sympathy, mischief, friendship or love.

The internet is a wonderful thing, erasing isolation, encouraging communication and the dissemination of ideas, bridging the sometimes inevitable distance of separation, and allowing minds and hearts to speak to each other. But it can never be a substitute for the warmth of a human presence and a moment shared with a friend.

Originally posted 2013

Image Google search

Posted in Friendship | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Doomsday, Kindle countdown deal- day 2

As we prepare to relese the second book in the Doomsday Series: Dark Sage, a Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 17th August to 21st October on Amazon UK and Amazon.com forBook One of the Doomsday Triad:

DD front coverDoomsday:

The Ætheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

“Who was this Arviragus bloke anyway?”

Don studies the light as it plays through his beer, casting prisms on the table. How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.

***

Anu’s Folk
studied in
the North-Isles.

Four seats there
And four sages
who taught them;

A plentiful sowing…
A dutiful flowing…
A beautiful glowing…
An artful knowing…

Wen catches a brief sight of the poem I have been showing Ben before he has time to hastily secrete it about his person.

“You’re obsessed with that dog!”

Which of course as anyone who has read any of our books well knows is utter nonsense…

***

Full colour illustrated

Also available in Paperback.


Kindle Countdown Deals start at the lowest possible price and rise which rises in increments for the duration of the promotion until they reach the normal sales price. This is a limited time offer and the book will display a counter with the current offer price and time remaining for that price.

Did you know? You can download a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, android and other platforms that allows you to read the books available, even if you do not own a Kindle.. and there are thousands of books to choose from, including many classics, and hard-to-find volumes! With a huge catalogue of free, discounted and rare books to choose from it is a treasure trove for bookworms. You can download the free Kindle reading app for your device here in the UK, or here in the US.

Be kind to authors – make their day and leave a review.

Posted in Books, Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another from the archives…

Barefoot in the snow

footprints-man-beach-morningHave you ever walked along the water’s edge in wet sand, leaving behind a transient trail of footprints that will be washed away by the sea? The image is an evocative one, though a little trite perhaps. Many have seen it as an illustration of the fleeting and impermanent nature of our passage through the world.

Although there may be few things more wonderful than walking through warm shallows and laughing at the sun, that too brings an image of life to mind. The shallows are comfortable, they are safe and known, the point where land and water meet. We experience both without leaving our own natural element. We don’t even need to adjust much, simply take of the shoes and walk. At worst we risk stepping on a shard of shell. But we feel the caress of the waves on our skin and the shifting tides echoing in our bodies.

How often do we unconsciously stick to the safety of the shallows, walking along the edges of life and taking care never to get out of our depth? No danger, no major adjustments required, but we can dip our toes in the edges of life and retreat easily when the bigger wave comes, never leaving our comfort zone.

Leaving the water’s edge and plunging headlong into life can be a scary thing. It makes us visible in a world where anonymity feels safer. People stop and stare, they may think we are mad, or envy the lunacy and the freedom that allows it. Either way, it is only those prepared to get wet who will explore the depths and discover the inner beauty of the oceans.

Yet have you ever run through the frozen waters of a winter sea, laughing as the cold bites? That is a different thing altogether. Suddenly you are a child again, there is an energy and a joy, a feeling of breaking the bonds of everyday life and touching the edges of an almost Dionysian exhilaration.

snow

Have you walked barefoot in the snow? Your feet are cold, though not, oddly enough, as cold as you would expect. You cannot help laughing as the comfort zone is thrown out of the window. The ground is hidden beneath the white blanket. You do not know what you will stand on, there is an element of risk with every step. The footprints you leave behind are different. Your own warmth melts the snow around them and they are bigger, as if by braving this unusual element you have somehow grown in stature.

What about the footprints you will leave behind you as you leave this life? It is something many of us consider as we get older, of course. Some want to make a mark in the world of business or the arts, some will want to leave a giant footstep imprinted on history… some will do so whether they intended to or not. Most of us, however, are content with the quieter trail left in the hearts of those we love. That faint imprint we leave where we have touched another being in love and kindness, shared tears and laughter or taught a child, nurturing and helping it grow. In many ways these are the most enduring footprints as they shape the future as we walk and the quiet echo of our footfall may be felt long after we have left the room.

We often consider these footprints left to posterity only in terms of how they will be perceived by others. But what about ourselves? Are we paddling in the shallows because we ought or because we want to? Some of our greatest achievements follow from breaking our own inner bonds and doing the things that we dream of, embracing life without embarrassment and laughing at our own fears as we watch them recede into the distance, dispersing like foam on the water.

All too often, I think, we simply accept the image of ourselves the world mirrors back to us instead of looking more closely and seeing it is only two dimensional while we are more than that. Like a hall of mirrors this image is reflected into apparent infinity unless we step aside and see that we are helping to create it by our very stasis  within it. Step out of the comfort zone and the illusion is broken.

whimsy-and-footprints-over-the-wall

I have a feeling we do much the same with life. We are so afraid of losing the image we have of ourselves that we dare not move. We do not do the things we dream because we are afraid of who we might be outside of that static reflection.

We are all so different, our dreams vary from great to small, each one equally precious and fragile, each personal and to be treasured. Perhaps in realising our dreams the footprints we leave would be a little different. Who knows what possibilities could be born into the world? Will you look back on your own life with regret if you never left the shallows or stood naked in the snow? Or will you see where you left your footprints and smile thinking, ‘Oh yes, that was me.’

Footprints-carved-in-wood-001

Posted in Life, Love and Laughter | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kindle Countdown – Doomsday: The Aetheling Thing

As we prepare to relese the second book in the Doomsday Series: Dark Sage, a Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 17th August to 21st October on Amazon UK and Amazon.com forBook One of the Doomsday Triad:

DD front coverDoomsday:

The Ætheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

“Who was this Arviragus bloke anyway?”

Don studies the light as it plays through his beer, casting prisms on the table. How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.

***

Wen is checking something in the Dictionary, “Get this… ‘ætheling from O.E. .Æpling, ‘son of a king, man of royal blood, nobleman, chief, prince, king, Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…’
“Wait a minute… wait a minute… give me that last bit again.”
“…Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…”
“Didn’t we call our Arthur, Aeth in, ‘The Heart of Albion’?”
“We did.”
“And didn’t we set his story in Mercia?”
“We did.”
“And didn’t Mercia grow to become the largest and most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Albion at one point in its history?”
“It did indeed.”
“Well that’s it then…The Anglo Saxon kings were claiming divine descent.”
“…Along with most other European kings at that time no doubt.”
“That’s true, but the Anglo-Saxon kings’ descent wasn’t from God it was from Christ.”
“And how did they get there?”
“They got there from their very own High One who also hung from a tree with a spear in his side… screaming.”
“Odin!”
“They evidently regarded Christ as an avatar of Odin.”
“Blimey, you’ll not read that in any history book!”
“Just as well we’re not writing a history then isn’t it?”

Full colour illustrated

Also available in Paperback.


Kindle Countdown Deals start at the lowest possible price and rise which rises in increments for the duration of the promotion until they reach the normal sales price. This is a limited time offer and the book will display a counter with the current offer price and time remaining for that price.

Did you know? You can download a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, android and other platforms that allows you to read the books available, even if you do not own a Kindle.. and there are thousands of books to choose from, including many classics, and hard-to-find volumes! With a huge catalogue of free, discounted and rare books to choose from it is a treasure trove for bookworms. You can download the free Kindle reading app for your device here in the UK, or here in the US.

Be kind to authors – make their day and leave a review.

Posted in Books, Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

First impressions

Photograph by Laura Williams

Photograph by Laura Williams

I met a woman at the village shop today. We had the vaguest of acquaintance to begin with, a greeting over her garden fence, but enough, apparently, for her to decide she had reason to enquire after my entire family and circle of friends before starting to dig up anything she could about my past. It was done with eager curiosity, a toothless smile and no malice whatsoever. The lady is elderly and lives alone; she may simply have wanted the company, or someone to talk to… and possibly something to talk about when she next met her friends.

Walking home, I had to think about that. I had barely arrived when a knock on the door heralded the arrival of a couple of fresh faced evangelists. Their interest was solely in my religious bias, not even the state of my soul. They did not seem intent on my salvation as much as coercing my cooperation. Brandishing the Bible under my nose they instructed me to pray in a particular manner for Government on Earth by God. Their perception of God, of course, not mine; they had no interest in that. They quoted Bible verses as if I knew nothing, assuming I knew nothing, and seemed most disconcerted when I could quote them too. They had no interest whatsoever in listening to my view, or even my responses to their questions, only in promulgating their own.

The little old lady was sweet and made me smile, even though her questioning approached the third degree. I parried her curiosity as best I could and listened to her ailments. Although I had a lot to do, I was in no hurry to escape her. The evangelists looked earnest and tired. I can imagine that they had not been well received by the majority of doors upon which they had knocked. They were pleasant enough people, but the blinkers of their fervour placed a barrier between us through which no personality was allowed to shine. I might as well have been speaking with automata.

When we meet someone it is natural for us to be curious, I think. We like to know who it is that we are talking to, like to know something of the person behind the face, the clothes or the front door. Yet our assessment of whether or not we like someone seems to be made almost instantaneously, based not upon a detailed background knowledge of their life story, but simply on the ‘feel’ of them. Body language, a look in the eye, a smile… the ‘vibe’ we pick up from them. And perhaps what they reflect back at us of ourselves.

There is no need to give the third degree and question the past of a friend, their life’s journey is their own and those who become friends will share what they choose, when they choose as the moment invites. Much is shared simply by them being who they are, without need for detail and history; their lives and choices, good, bad and indifferent; their stories, trials, successes and fears have shaped and made them who they are and it is who they are that we care about. Not who they have been, who they might have been or who they may yet become. Who they are right now, in this moment that they are spending with you, that is what matters.

There is not one of us who has not made mistakes, triumphed over something, suffered embarrassment, given joy or caused hurt to someone somehow. No-one goes through life without writing a story on the pages of time, and all stories call upon the gamut of human behaviour and emotion. Our relationships with people are seldom begun with a knowledge of that story, we simply reach out and ‘touch’ whether a person feels right or not in that first split-second of meeting and our smile or greeting will be warm, absent or polite in response to that feeling… and we are usually right.

And if that first impression is enough, why do we need the inquisition? I have known and loved friends others have disliked; it doesn’t matter at all who was wrong and who was right in their assessment of a character, what matters is whether the friendship was true. We look beyond the surface with a deeper understanding than facts and reason when we exchange that first smile of friendship. We ‘know’ that person in a way we cannot explain and which may bear little relation to the facts of their life or ours.

My little old lady and I will now exchange smiles and talk when we see each other again. The evangelists, their own human warmth closed and curtailed by their mission, I would probably not recognise in the street if I saw them. It felt as if they had not seen me as a person nor had they opened themselves for me to see. I found that sad, an opportunity missed. It seemed as if in opening my door, a door had closed between us. Perhaps they are so used to dismissal or antagonism that their personal shields are up. Or perhaps they has simply looked and not liked what they found. Those first impressions work both ways.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments