Tag Archives: John Donne

Festive Meditation: another Christmas, another tragedy…

Another Christmas, another tragedy in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Last year at this time, ten people died and many were injured in the Clutha Vaults disaster when a police helicopter fell from the skies into a crowded city centre pub.Yesterday, six people died and eight are in hospital with serious injuries, after a bin lorry careered out of control in George Square, the very core of the city, ploughing into crowds of Christmas shoppers, leaving carnage in its wake. We do not yet know the cause, but the driver was seen slumped over his wheel…

George Square tributes

George Square tributes

And yet….through the jagged tempo of tragedy, we began once again to hear the strong heartbeat of Glasgow: that steady pulse of ordinary citizens caring for one another. People called the emergency services immediately. Passers by did not run away: they ran to see what could be done to help. Other folk sat on the street with the injured, held and comforted them, waited till the ambulances came which they did with amazing speed.

Today we are all in shock here. Everyone reacts to tragedy in different ways. The first thing I did yesterday afternoon was to call loved ones who might have been in the city centre. When they answered that they were safe, I wept. Today, our visiting daughter, her partner and their lovely little girl are off to shop – in the city centre. They could have been there yesterday, as so many other folk’s loved ones were: in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

This morning I listened to Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland’s “Morning Call”, responding with sensitivity, compassion and honesty to the responses of  “ordinary people” to the tragedy which has touched all our lives. She admitted that she and her team had debated whether to make this awful event their focus or not.

They made the right decision: in the darkness of tragedy, the light-bringer is everything which brings people closer together as a human community to share, and to do what can be done to help and console. We heard that people were laying flowers. Lighting candles in local churches. Donating blood. Pledging to give money to the appeal fund which will be set up to help the victims. One woman said she would make a point of checking on her elderly neighbours today.

It was all intensely moving. But the overriding response of most people was: “It could have been me. Or mine…” In John Donne’s famous words:

“…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…”

Terrible events such as this, and all the other ones world-wide especially the “massacre of the innocents” in Peshawar, Pakistan, have added up to a truly dreadful week for our human community, given a sharper edge because of its being the Festive Season. In this morning’s radio programme, a strong theme running through what everyone said, many of them explicitly, was that of the sheer fragility of life. We are utterly at the mercy of random events, although preferring to live in a protective insulating bubble from this brutal fact until it is torn away by horror of one kind or another.

What, then, do we do? Life has to go on. We need to mourn along with the bereaved. We need to help them in whatever way we can. But we also need to hold fast to whatever love and joy we can find in life, each moment, each day. The previous post features a beautiful solstice celebration by poet Susan Cooper. Here are the closing lines:

“…They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year…”.

What more can we do, in this especially blood-soaked Festive Season? Despite everything, let us enjoy our holiday, be kind to one another, look forward to the coming  year with its component of joys –and sorrows.

AND – many thanks indeed to all my readers and commenters. It has been an especially good year for me at “Writing from the Twelfth House”, and all of you have made it so.

In the bleak Midwinter...

In the bleak Midwinter…

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Saturn Return and beyond: The Cycles of Saturn part 4

To read Parts 1,2 and 3 of “The Cycles of Saturn: forging the “Diamond Soul” click HERE

Second Saturn Return: Ages 58-59

By the second Saturn return, we can see what our lives have become — and we can see what it is too late to change. This is one of the most fundamental differences in perspective between the second and the first return. At age 30 we have probably still to sow the most productive seeds of our lives — what we have already sown is still only germinating. But by the approach of 60, we are reaping the harvest and are confronted with the stark Biblical words, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Saturn is the planet of strict justice. Blind, stubborn, arrogant, or fearful refusal to face certain basic realities in life, as the second cycle unfolds, skews the life path further and further away from who we could become – were we able to acknowledge and accept who we actually are rather than try to be who we are not. This can bring increasing pain, dissatisfaction, emptiness, and depression as the second Saturn return approaches.

Facing the Final Cycle of Saturn: 60 +

Franz Hals: an image of serene later life

Franz Hals: an image of serene later life

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frans_Hals

At one end of the spectrum are those who arrive at this stage feeling that their time on this Earth has not been wasted. They have very few regrets and are prepared to face the final cycle of life with equanimity, perhaps rooted in great spiritual depth. These people usually retain a zest for life and its remaining possibilities.

At the other end are those who have sown meanly, poorly, or fearfully, and are reaping a harvest of regret, bitterness, loneliness, physical ill health, and fear of the waning of physical power and attractiveness in the inevitable decline toward death.

Most of us will arrive somewhere in the middle range: satisfied with some aspects of our achievement and disappointed by our areas of failure — or those things that fate appears to have denied us without our having had much option for negotiation.

I see the main challenges of this stage as follows:

* first, to value what we HAVE been able to do

*second, to come to terms with and accept those failures or disappointments that it is now too late to change

* third, to find, within the limitations and constraints imposed by our state of mind, body, spirit, and bank balance, some further goals that are realistically achievable, which bring a sense of meaning and enjoyment to whatever time we have left.

Recommended book: 

Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil

  Saturn: A New Look At An Old Devil
by Liz Greene
.

  Info/Order book.

( NOTE: The full text of this article was first published in the UK’s ‘Astrological Journal’ (Nov/Dec 1996), and subsequently in ‘www.innerself.com’ and ‘The Mountain Astrologer’ (Feb/Mar 1998)

It was recently included in  The Mountain Astrologer’s “Editor’s Choice” : 43 previously out-of-print articles from TMA in the 1990s, available on CD from the autumn of 2010.“The Mountain Astrologer” is recognised as the world’s leading astrology magazine.)

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page