Who Do You Think You Are?

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One on my favourite tv programs is, ‘Who do you think you are?’. Each week different celebrities reveal the lives of their grandparents and great grandparents etc, and some times the celebrities are so emotional they are reduced to tears when the program’s host reveals that their forebears were so poor that they were confined to the workhouse and died young, or had mental health issues, poorly understood at the time, and were treated cruelly and ‘shut away’, or fell pregnant outside of marriage and were shunned.

But, it begs the question: who do you think you are? Who am I? Who are we? On a planet of eight billion people, in a scientific age which can be ‘number-crunchingly’ de-humanising and demeaning, and one that seems to be increasingly ‘tribal’, who are we?

What are little boys made of?  Snips and snails  and puppy-dogs’ tails.

When I was at school, and so we’re going back (only) a few years (cough, cough), in the science lesson one day we marvelled at the fact that each person is roughly: two ounces (56 g) of salt, 3lb (1.35 kg) of calcium or chalk, contains enough carbon to make 9000 pencils, phosphorus to make 20,000 match heads, enough fat for ten bars of soap, and sulphur to rid one dog of fleas.

But, it that all we are?

What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice.

My favourite Welsh phrase is mae mwy. It means ‘there is more’. Whether it’s apple pie, a great holiday or a party,  or an awesome, numinous experience of the Presence, we seemingly never want it to end. We always want there to be more.

Mae mwy. There is more.

As I sit here in an aptly named,  ‘Magic Café’ in London – and magic does really happen here: strangers become friends, friends become ‘soul-friends’, people take an interest in what book you’re reading, and those who seem sullen break out into a laugh: isn’t that alchemy at work, isn’t that magic? – I’m surrounded by a few regulars.

By the door is ‘the yatchsman’, which is my name for him as he wears boat shoes – those leather-like casual shoes with the ‘string’ running around them like a lateral line on a fish. There is the ‘journal lady’, so-called because she is always writing in a blank book or journal, and I’m sure at some point she’s probably written something like, ‘and then there’s that man reading even more books’ – and that would be me. If she wanted to add the word ‘handsome’ or ‘debonair’ to her prose I wouldn’t object!

I haven’t mentioned all the regulars, and though I know a few of their names, I prefer my quaint ‘nicknames’ for them, at least when I’m remembering them. Much more descriptive. Oh, and in comes yet another regular who always reads a tabloid newspaper and stays for only a very short time. I call her, ‘reads whilst moving her lips’. I hope you can guess why? But, is this all those people are? Is that all I am? Just a name?

Mae mwy. There is more.

Some have said we’re all ‘naked apes’ [‘thankyou’, Desmond Morris], just the result of blind chance and evolution [‘bless you’, Charles Darwin]. Other say we’re the descendants of aliens who landed a few thousand years ago. Still others believe that we are something altogether different.

Mae mwy. There is more.

Though suited to the Earth, and indeed something of the earth or soil is in us, we are more than just a conglomeration of carbon and other chemicals, and as regards outer space, perhaps we are stardust, but…

Mae mwy. There is more.

But, who do you think you are? Who am I? Sacred text, that I hold dear, informs me that we are all made in the Creator’s image, that ‘that which is larger than us’ cares for each one of us, and takes delight in all that we do, and declares that we are loved, unconditionally.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
hath had elsewhere its setting,
and cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
but trailing clouds of glory do we come
from God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close…

William Wordsworth’s words, above, succinctly define our origin in Heaven, our nature now as the pinnacle of creation, and our destination which is to return to the beginning. Whilst we’re here, we are truly, yet invisibly, trailing clouds of glory and are having a marvellous effect (even if we don’t know it), but as time goes by, sadly, the prison-house begins to close and we forget our awesome, beloved and noble status. Have you forgotten?

Who are you? You are all this, and more. As one musical prophet of old said, ‘…you are fearfully and wonderfully made.’

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