It’s noon here, and I’m in the garden overlooking the distant hills and mountains of north Wales, and it’s idyllic. I’m munching away on the thickest and most mouth-watering tomato and cheese sandwich you can ever imagine, and there’s the obligatory book and a steaming cup of delicious coffee on the table, too. The weather is wonderfully hot, especially hot for the UK. It’s bliss. I’m in that ‘place’!
I took a telephone call, and that ‘pulled’ me out of the soporific, wonderful, state I was in. It happens. The ‘place’ seemingly ‘evaporated’.
The caller said I needed to make a major legal decision, and I made it. Reluctantly. I would have preferred more time, but that can be a luxury, sometimes. The caller acting on my behalf was pleasant enough, and knowing where I was and what a beautiful part of the country this is, ended their call by wishing that they had such a genteel lifestyle as I had.
And that got me thinking. Always a dangerous thing to do. Do they really know me?
How often, when we get snippets of information do we fill in the ‘gaps’ in a glorious and imaginative fashion, albeit not a very realistic one?
‘The problem is that perception is reality.’ (John Rowland)
Here’s some examples from tv, myth, history, and my life:
I loved those old Robin Hood tv series, and the latter-day ones, but honestly, would Robin Hood really have had all his teeth, would Maid Marion’s dress be so white and her hair so coiffured?
As a student of various ancient spiritual texts, it’s easy to think that Luke the physician ran around Palestine wearing a white coat and with a stethoscope, when probably, he was more akin to an ancient herbalist.
We fill in the gaps, and somehow don’t quite make the leap as regards context and that imaginative inner ‘time travel’ back to those former days to understand what life was really like in only partially complete. Well, unless we really, really, really try!
One of my heroes from English history is Oliver Cromwell. A brave and noble man, many believe, and his statue is outside the Houses Of Parliament in London. But he’s painted with a wart or two on his face, and he wasn’t always noble. To our Irish brethren at that time, and to the Leveller’s of his day he was ruthless, and he killed so many of them.
Be careful when filling in those information gaps!
We see paintings, some of them online, about ancient Druids and Celts, Celtic-Christians and others from yesteryear, and we ‘see’ them depicted through twenty-first century eyes, and in doing so we miss much. Their wisdom surpasses ours, but in many respects their knowledge and (sorry to bring this up) their personal hygiene probably left a lot to be desired. Yes, even Jesus had goat dung between his toes, probably.
We fill in the gaps, and unknowingly factor in modern-day living and thoughts. Authenticity is the goal.
It’s easy to ‘see’ the ancients’ lives though ‘rose-tinted spectacles’. And this goes on even today. Remember that phone call I mentioned earlier, where the person wished for a genteel life such as mine?
What I wanted to say to them was: I want to be honest with you. I’m an ‘amphibian’. And, you are, too! True, I have times of luminous awareness, liminality and can almost ‘feel’ angels at play around me, like you. At other times, I don’t. Then, I have to shop in the supermarket and compare prices, nurse a burnt finger – yes, I burnt my finger on the cooker cooking a nice piece of fish, today – and have to ‘wrestle’ with tax forms, ‘official’ phone calls that demand urgent action, and the world seems to press in so tightly. On those occasions I don’t feel so ‘sagely’ and ‘genteel’. On top of that, in my life, I’ve had cancer (leading to three cycles of chemo, an oesophagetomy and radio-therapy), also had an unrelated thyroidectomy, two broken ribs last year, and now I’ve got a burnt finger.
I’m a work in progress, that’s what I wanted to tell them. And, I know you’re the same as me – the details may change, but we have a share in that ‘common human predicament’.
Those ancients were great people, of that I’m sure, but they had tough lives, and were people of their time. I look around at Church folk and Druids, and Celts and Pagans and others today, and whatever untroubled lifestyle they may ‘exude’ (intentionally or accidentally), I know better. I know that they, like me, you – us – have had (and still have) tough times in our life. Those who are closest to me know my foibles, and I know theirs, and you know what? I love them even more!
But, that’s what makes us all human. That’s what makes us fascinating. And, that means I can relate to you, bless you, and you can relate to me and bless me.
We’re all journeying together, you and me, today, and those of yesteryear, on one conga-line dance from here to eternity.
‘…know that something softer than us but just as holy planted the pieces of
Himself into our feet that we might one day find our way back to Him. you
are almost home. (Anis Mojgani)
As a sat there, having ended that ‘phone call, and munching on that sandwich – and it was so delicious – the thought that ran through my mind was: authenticity.
The ancient Celts and Druids were a ‘gritty’ people, living in tough times, in touch with nature in all its green and yes, its brown and soggy bits, but they were an authentic ‘breed’, and don’t we love them for that? I want to be authentic, too, and my prayer, wish, energy-sending ‘push’ for you is that you, too, are authentic. Warts and all. For then I can relax in your company, and you can take me as I am, and I will take you as are you are, and we’ll journey onward together toward Caer Wydyr
‘Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.’ (Zen quote).
Being an ‘amphibian’ human is all right. And the journey is a good one.