so this is christmas*

21 the darkness cannot overcome

The young children were playing out the familiar nativity story yesterday.

All was going well unto one of the lambs picked up the baby Jesus and dropped him on his head so that he suffered head trauma.  (It was a doll baby Jesus.)

I wonder, though, whether this story, revisited and reenacted every year by millions of people, holds within it an important message that every child has the capacity and potential to bring really good things into the world – peace and hope and forgiveness.  And we were children once.

We only need stories we can connect to which will help us to see and be this.

This light of the world story finds us all grown up now.  We know there’s darkness “out there,” but, if we’re honest, there’s darkness “in here,” too.

The good gift of light changes everything: we can begin again, we can always start over.  Alvin Toffler shares:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot LEARN, UNLEARN, and RELEARN.”**

Here’s a metaphor for transforming, for morphing people.  Richard Rohr believes:

‘Transformed people transform people.’^

We can still be the children of light we felt ourselves to have lost:

May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.^^

As Yoda would say: “So, Christmas this is.”

(*This echoes John Lennon’s classic Christmas song; when you read the lyrics you could be mistaken for thinking it was written by a child.)
(**Alvin Toffler, quotes in Sunni Brown’s The Doodle Revolution.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(^^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

it’s all about love

20 everyone can see what we can see 1

“If you must be heard, let it be like a babbling brook …
If you must be seen, let it be like sunlight … .”*

This is more an intention of the heart than bringing the one perfect thing to another.

It is an intention to which we apply all of our inventiveness:

‘Intersection thinking is a methods for creating overlap between seemingly disconnected ideas in order to generate new ideas, directions and strategies for powering your own success.’**

Then, we ask of the word or idea or presence or action we offer:

Does this have a good spirit?
Does it forge relationship or community?

Our willingness to see and understand differently makes the offering of something which has a good spirit and creates community more possible:

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”**

I watched the clouds moving from right to left across the sky, passing across the place the rising sun was to be found.  To my right, the clouds were purple-grey but, as they passed over the rising sun, they became salmon-cream.

20 clouds

It left me wondering: what kind of person can I become to others?

In the end, it’s all about love.

(*Kerry Hilcoat, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s morning prayers for 20th December.)
(Physiologist Albert Szent-Györgyi, quoted in Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)


19 everyone fails

Twyla Tharp identifies six kinds of failure: skill, concept, judgement, nerve, repetition, and denial.*

I’d add a seventh, although it can be found in each of the above: character.

When we fail to deal with our failures they become our shadows – we drive them to the hidden places in our lives, hoping to starve them of light, yet they remain a part of us, hurting, hungering.

If I can find a way of dealing with these then I disarm them.

When I acknowledge and embrace them, then their power is not so great.

When I gather forgiveness and learning to them, they become a place for journeying from instead of to.

Then I am able and free to expand; I can grow, I am capable – as Otto Scharmer, proffers, we can:

‘Take deep-dive journeys to the place of most potential.’**

The thing is, no-one is failure free, therefore, shadow-free.  There’re only those who try to escape their shadows and those who face them and embrace them.

The classic hero’s journey sees someone wrenched out of their day-to-day lives to face some challenge they’re rather not face.  In the course of this, they come upon their greatest shadows.  Often, they overcome and emerge to a life of greater hope – which is not the same as “happy ever after.”

‘Courage comes from willingness to “die,” to go forth into an unknown territory that begins to manifest only after you dare to step into the void.’**

Perhaps the best way for many of us is to take on a new challenge and to face the shadows as they present themselves: acknowledging, gathering, and expanding.

(*From Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.)
(**From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)

who are you?

18 we come from the future

Is it possible for someone to come from nowhere and make a significant contribution?

Yes and no.

Yes, because we are living in a time when our changing perspective on Human contribution, together with technology, makes it possible for someone to bring their art into the world.

No, because no-one come from nowhere; everyone comes from somewhere:*

“position yourself and wait for the wave to come to you.  So then you ask, Position myself where?  Position yourself with something that captures your curiosity, something you’re missionary about”**

You have been positioning yourself somewhere for the whole of your life.  You may not have recognised this place (with its ways of thinking, relating, and behaving), but if you take a closer look then you’ll find curiosities and skills and values which allow you to be smarter about this.

And waiting doesn’t meaning inactivity.

It means filling your days with activity around your “smarts.”  Here are my three encouragements:

Be open to more (more has never been more accessible);
Follow your heart (what you feel can be more important than what you think);
Be willing to try and fail, often (it’s the best way to take something from okay to wow).

Waiting for the wave is about listening for your emerging future: ‘Attend.  Listen to what your life calls you to.’^

Who are you?  You are someone who has come from your future.

“I will not die an unlived life,
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my day to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise …”^^

(*Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is a good place to check out where people come from.)
(**Jeff Bezos, quote in Peter Diamonds and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(^From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)
(^^Dawna Markova, quoted in the Northumbria Community’s Morning Prayer for 17 December, 2015.)


what do you want?

17 follow your dreams 1

‘The nature of life based on photosynthesis assures this will happen: fire will occur unless something blocks it. … A unique fire planet finally evolved a unique fiery creature.’*

When asked, What do you want?, many of us may be tempted to say we need something from outside of our lives right now.

Maybe what we need to know is that the answer, the something lies within, that we have enough to begin.  Only something is blocking it.

“Dreamers can never be tamed,”** writes the interpreter Yau on a Post-it – the thought for the day for Paulo Coelho and guests on his pilgrimage.

(*From Stephen Pyne’s Fire.)
(**From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph)

why what who when

16 who why what when

What happens when these four things come together, identifying a moment in time when a group of people are meant to do something exceptional, to do some great good in the universe?

Up close, each appears to have an inner and outer expression:

Why do others need this and why do I need this?
What kind of thinking, relating, behaving would really help others, and how does this help me?
Who will I work with and who will benefit?
When, as in, is this the time when others need this, and am I ready.

To see our own why/what/who/when needs as such an important part of this may sound selfish; Brené Brown helps us to see that we’re really talking about love here when she explains it this way:

‘Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – we can only love others as such as we can love ourselves.’*

If you find yourself with a special group of people at a particular time in history for a significant challenge.

Of course, there’s only one way to find out.

(*From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)




15 unlikely 1

‘True worth, for such a person, inheres in the creative spirit, and the objects of the world should move accordingly, not to some other, illusory value.*

The person described is expatriate American poet Ezra Pound, an unlikely hero for those who awaken to their creative spirit.

Pound became a supporter of the Axis Powers during the Second World War, having moved to Italy when he turned his back on what he saw to be the destructiveness of usury and capitalism.

In 1927 Pound had won the $2,000 Dial Award prize, promptly investing the prize money to be able to use the annual interest for supporting struggling artists.

For all the wonder of our modern life, it leaves many thinking they are devoid of creativity, or that they must pursue creativity in the scarcity markets of sport and show business and such – so robbing them of their true Human capacity.

Pound expresses how we can all use what we have in encouragement of others.  Indeed, this may be one of the most useful talents in the world today: enabling others to express and give form to their talent.

(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

tribes of gentle disruptors

14 what the world needs 1

Eckhart Tolle makes a critical distinction between the form of something and its Being:

‘Only beyond form, in Being, are you equal, and only when you find the formless dimension in yourself can there be true love in that relationship.’*

Institutions and titles and roles and recognition are all forms.  They can both beguile and disempower those who do not belong to them.

The most extreme expressions of form of being can be found in the example of the Haitian children who told Compassion‘s Wess Stafford, “I don’t have anything you would need or would want”**

Beneath the surfaces of all these forms, there is equality.  We are “inter-beings,” as Richard Rohr describes us.^  Everyone is equal in being.  Everyone has something to give, and everyone has need of something someone else can give.  No-one can say “You have nothing that I need.”  Everyone has enough.

We find our enoughness around the things we love to do and love to do for others.

We are gentle disruptors, and tribes of gentle disruptors can change the world.what the world needs 100

(*From Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)
(**From Wess Stafford’s Too Small To Ignore.  The phrase was M’pa gagne, meaning “I don’t have.”)
(^From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.  Person is derived from per sonare: we are sounded through each other, an expression of the many.)

love is a dance

13 who'd have imagined

Paulo Coelho’s interpreter Yau counsels the author:

“Seek out people who aren’t afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes … they are precisely the kind of people who change the world”.*

Love is what the universe is about, but it feels more like a dance rehearsal than a performance.  Moving this way or that way with someone or with many, until some way of connecting with rhythm is found making it possible for giving and receiving.

It’s hard, and many lose interest, or get tired or exasperated, long before the connection is found, but life is about having the time we need.  Those who hope for more are willing to stumble their way forward, finding some way to dance together.

Yau also said to Coelho:

“Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.”*

Pride and greed and foolishness pulls me away from others, but humility and gratitude and faithfulness pulls me towards others.

And, if you don’t expect some perfect dance moves from me, then I can join in the dance, too.

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)

when i close my eyes

12 i can imagine

‘Do you believe in a spiritual world, in a parallel universe, where time and space is eternal and always present.’*

When I close my eyes, I can imagine how I am one with everyone who is, has been, and who has ever been.  The kind of moment in which I feel the universe to be for everyone, hoping for an alternative reality to how things are.

We can all imagine something better and then to try and do something about it in a small way.**

I was sat in the local library yesterday and saw this book cover on a stand on my desk:

‘For Every Moment You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness’^

12 60 seconds

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(**Later today, someone told me about a group of people who drove up in a Land Rover from Manchester to Carlisle – hit so bad by the flooding.  I thought the story was about using the Land Rover, but it wasn’t.  The Land Rover was full of food, and the Mancunians set up a kitchen and cooked for the people forced out of their homes.  Sean, who was telling me this story, said that some really great Human things were happening in Carlisle at the moment.)
(^Julian Germain’s For Every Moment You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness.)