stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of year reflections

A few words from Zen's post struck a chord with me "With the passing of Christmas this season , the sun begins to set on 2007. It was a challenging year. One in which we can be thankful to get through, and learn from our errors, celebrate our joys and sorrows, would be the Zen thought. For without those Yin moments of bitter tea, there would have been no chance to grow."

How right he is, and how wise. Thich Nhat Hanh (the Vietnamese Zen master) says that the most fragrant flowers grow from compost, and our suffering is the compost! But its hard to remember that when in the midst of sufferings - large or small.

One of the reasons why my blog exists is to keep a journal of my "trying to walk mindfully on the path, from one stepping stone to the next."

Cate's beautiful words on her post detail the small wonders of nature and pull me back to mindfulness of my path "Out of such small gifts, random blessings and wild graces, perhaps one can craft a mindful life." I do hope so.

Here are a few images of a walk through my village that show how small hopes and blossoms survive a grey winter.

And a walk by the sea with my Life Long Friend showed how a piece of seaweed survives being thrown on shore (complete with its tiny stone anchor) just as I survive the world with my friends as my anchor. You know who you are - online and in everyday life!

Finally, as suggested by LLF - a boot shot, with a shaft of weak winter sunlight beckoning!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas photo journal

Candle lit Carol Service before Christmas in the village church

The tree, with the Christmas hamper kindly sent by our American relatives - ordered by internet and full of all sorts of English goodies, very luxurious. A few more presents appeared later, but not many - just a few well chosen gifts.

Carrot cake doesn't only appear as wedding cake in our house (our eldest daughter's wedding in the summer), but here makes a reprise as Christmas Cake!

Christmas morning service.
Children, dressed for their Nativity playlet, show Ken the Rector some of their presents. He is striking a pose for an angel who got a camera. Just to show that the sort of thing referred to in my Sunday Journal on ArkSanctum has changed these days!

I raise my glass and wish you peace and joy this Christmastime.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I am inspired by Cate's post and invitation to write about my thoughts on the word "turnings".

A stone carving on the base of the pulpit of our village church is key to these musings. It is of a monk holding a sunflower. But research proves this not to be so, he is holding a monstrance. And what is a Roman Catholic carving doing in an Anglican village church? It is thought that it belongs the latter half of the fifteenth century - when we were all Roman Catholic I suppose.

Anyway to me it looks like a sunflower. And while delving into this anomaly, I discovered that the Italian for sunflower is girasol (from girare to turn and sol sun)

I've always loved sunflowers. They are the one thing, the sight of which (apart from a dolphin) is guaranteed to make me smile. And to see a field of them is amazing - we don't grow them much in England - too cold I suppose.

(This was taken by my friend Russ in France)

But, and I will get to the point eventually - like us human animals - the sunflowers always turn to the sun. By genetic imprinting deep in their system, their faces follow the sun through the day. And we? We also, I am sure, turn to the Light - in whatever shape or form we perceive it. No-one turns to the Dark naturally. ( I am avoiding all reference to Jedi and Darth Vader)

So at this time of utmost seasonal darkness in our hemisphere, when the world stands poised ready to turn to the Light/Sun/Son that is born, I long for sunflowers nodding in the breeze and turning to the wamth and lifegiving light

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas shouldn't cost the earth - recycle!

Interesting tips also here

Friday, December 07, 2007

Seven random things

I've been tagged by Tabor, whose blog One Day at a Time is always such good reading, I too only go one stepping stone at a time!

I shall join the game.The rules are as follows :
  • link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • share 7 random or weird things about yourself.
  • tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  • let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I am a bellringer. I didnt start till late in life, and went out and found somewhere to learn. A compulsion to do it. I think I must have spent a past life being a monk in Japan hitting those huge bells with logs of wood and English church bells is as close as I could get?!

2. I admire, and try to follow the teachings of the Buddha. He was a sensible guy with practical solutions to all life's challenges. I should meditate more - I know its the right thing to do to make life easier and happier. "Peace in oneself. Peace in the world" as Thich Naht Hanh says.

3. I love the Chalice Well Gardens in Glastonbury - an oasis of peace and quiet, which tolerates and welcomes all views and beliefs.

4.I learned ballet almost as soon as I could walk, and still love movement of all kinds including t'ai chi.

5. I completed a distance learning course in Japanese gardens recently - and received the annual senior tutors' coursework prize. I've been to Kyoto three times, and think that the temple gardens there are the most sublime places in the world. They are not all gravel and stones! Bliss. Especially the rare occasions when Ive heard a temple bell being hit.

6. Last year, as well as full time work during the day, I was doing some regular activity EVERY night of the week. Reluctantly I gave up some. I couldn't stand the pace.

7. Its all my brother's fault that I enjoy science fantasy fiction. He is eight years older than me, I used to sneak a look at his Eagle magazines, and read his books too! Luckily I am a librarian so get to find out all the new books. But my reading stamina is limited, so I read teenage or young adult fiction.

I shall tag these 7 people. I hope they find the time to join the game at some point.

Zen on Zen's Sekai I - by Land
Kerri on Colors Of The Garden
Vishwa on A Walk in the Drizzle
Tanya on The Purple Giraffes
Rowan on The Circle of the Year
Cate on Beyond the Fields we know
Jim Otterstrom on Earth Home Garden

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A December day out in Britain

The weather is always a topic of conversation in Britain. Its never the same two days running. December doesnt seem like winter yet, as the temperatures are still mild on the whole. But we have had heavy showers and strong winds in the last day or two. Enough to make you want to stay indoors.

(photo of Russell-Cotes Museum courtesty

But the Man of the House and I went yesterday to Bournemouth by train (nice cheap tickets) and went to the Russell-Cotes Museum (nice free entry). It is tucked on the side of the cliff overlooking the sea, at one of the only surfing spots on the south coast before you get to Cornwall. We could see the surfers waiting for waves, like so many seals bobbing in the ocean.

This gives a flavour of the house, imagine having a fountain in your hall! (at the moment of writing the Museum's own website is down) But a wonderful Victorian house stuffed full of artefacts brought back from their travels to the East plus a new gallery and a modern café, kept us happy and interested all afternoon.

It has some wonderful pre-Raphaelite paintings, which I cant show here as most need permission to use them and I am ever mindful of Intellectual Property Rights (though I have borrowed photos today as I didnt take my camera)

As dusk fell, and the rain stopped, we walked down to the town centre through shops with their lights shining out onto damp pavements. This is what I missed when we were away for a year in the seventies on the hippy trail to India. In the heat and sunshine I missed dark evenings and Christmas lights!?

There was a German market in the pedestrianised area at the town centre, and the smells of German sausages and mulled wine wafted out from small wooden chalets, selling gifts as varied as shiny smooth thuja wood boxes from Morrocco to reindeer fur rugs from Finland. The vendors were not German but every race under the sun! A lively and good natured enterprise that celebrated our European nature these days.

Back on the train to have fish and chips in a pub. Maybe not so European after all!