Monthly Archives: November 2014

…Transforming common days into thanksgivings…

Growing older has brought me an understanding of the value of living in the day, of being grateful for the texture of blessings that each new dawn brings: all we have to do is be mindful. So, on a very regular basis  now – without denying that life is often difficult and sometimes downright brutal – I remember to give thanks.

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

I live in Scotland, home of many expat Americans. Today, and across the world, citizens of the USA both at home and in all corners of the globe will be gathering in groups great and small, familial and otherwise, preparing for today’s great festival of Thanksgiving.

But the spirit of this festival is catching! Whether we are USA citizens or not, Thanksgiving is a great pause point in the year, reminding us to be grateful for whatever blessings we have, great and small. My small contribution from this blog is to collect a few lovely quotations which chime with Thanksgiving Day’s spirit. I do hope you enjoy them.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “Thank You!” to all the many readers and followers of this blog, especially those who drop by on a regular basis to leave comments: all of you are are gratefully appreciated. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” — G. K. Chesterton

 “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”. — Unknown

 “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” — Cynthia Ozick

 “(Some people) have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” — A.H. Maslow

 “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

(Many thanks to the DARING TO LIVE FULLY  site for the above quotes and IMAGES FOR THANKSGIVING for the jpegs)

Abundance

Abundance

450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Some thoughts on friendship: Anne and Peggy chew the fat…

I have been reflecting on the importance of having inter-generational friendships, in relation to the type of society in which we live which is riven by a huge paradox.

Thanks to the Internet-expedited social media revolution,  never in human history have we been so inter-connected at so many levels worldwide as we are now. This fact co-exists with a rising tide of human loneliness, especially amongst older people, who in terms of life experience are probably the richest members of our human community.

Good Friends

Good Friends

Today I have decided in my own small way to bridge this paradox, by using the Internet to tell a very personal story of  inter-generational friendship which I hope will inspire other people to reach out and make connections in their own way across the generations.

In 2012 I decided to return to work part-time after a long career break. Since some of my work involves making recordings both of one-to-one sessions and of classes, I needed to familiarise myself with digital MP3 recordings. My trusty old tape machine was now well and truly out of date! Worse still, I felt very ‘rusty’ as far as making recordings was concerned and did not wish to inflict myself on an unsuspecting public without having had some practice. But who would I ask to be my guinea pig?

One morning – in the shower, where I always get my best ideas – I hit on the idea of asking a good friend two decades older than me whether I could make some recordings of her life history. She was born in 1928, just before the stock market crash of 1929 which ushered in the Great Depression.

One of my main interests is looking at individual human lives in relation to the Big Picture. So, getting my friend to tell her life story against the backdrop of  the most turbulent, changeful century in human history seemed to me to be a wonderful project to set up for my MP3 recording initiation. But would she do it?

Of course she did! Peggy, my good friend, is always up for a new ploy. We embarked on our recording sessions in the spring of  2012. Twenty sessions and one year later, our project was complete. Peggy now has three copies of her life story, unfolding through those recordings, to give to each of her children. In typically irreverent fashion she said to me, in response to my enquiry regarding when she would be giving them out: “They can listen to them after I’ve kicked the bucket!!”

It was a privilege and an honour to do this piece of work with Peggy. To round the whole thing off, we did a concluding recording in which we reflected on the experience, what we had both gained from it (Lots!!), and how important it is for us all to make good friendships and connections throughout our whole lives.

There is plenty of irreverence and laughter in this short recording, as well as seriousness and poignancy. Peggy and I have decided to share it with you. We hope you listen, enjoy, let us have your feedback –and hopefully feel inspired to embark on something similar yourselves.

We only hope, if you do, that (as once happened to us) a bulldozer doesn’t start noisily digging up the road just outside your window as you begin your recording session!

Anne and Peggy chew the fat

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550 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

A ‘Time Slip’ Tale: Mediaeval church music 1980s to 1990s

Everybody knows the secular holiday of Hallowe’en. But not everybody knows it derives from a holy day,  All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, which is followed by All Souls’ day on Nov. 2.

The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honours saintly people of the past. All Saints is a celebration of the communion of saints.

The religious connotation of today thus fits well with the third of my series of Uncanny  Tales. This time, I am offering what is only a fragment – but a very vivid, intermittently repeated fragment during approximately a decade of my life from the 1980s to the 1990s. I am curious to know whether any of my readers have had similar experiences  – vivid, but fleeting. Do tell!

St Paul on All Saints' Day

St Paul on All Saints’ Day

When Ian and I were on one of our walking trips up in Northern Scotland, driving in lovely remote places, or pottering about at home, plain chant religious music from around the mediaeval period would occasionally come on the radio, or Ian would be playing something of that type and period from his extensive music collection.

I would suddenly, without warning, experience a kind of consciousness “shift”. Feeling my bare feet on the stone flags of a big church or cathedral, I would actually be there, in some religious capacity, feeling deeply connected to the music and its spirituality. This “shift’ would last only seconds, then I’d be back in my own time.

When they came at first, these episodes were very vivid and ‘real’. But gradually they got wispier and less substantial over time, disappearing over a few years, never (so far) to be repeated.

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This account is an extract from my memoir “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” – an open-minded take on paranormal experience – now published as an ebook and available  HERE.

Dazzling Darkness

Dazzling Darkness

“…. I was immediately taken by the compelling nature of your words, the honesty, the authenticity and the simplicity…..Your work is incredibly important because you address these issues very clearly and simply and with grace…” ( charty at fablefoundation.com)

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page