Category Archives: Daily Life

Old Life Completely Past and Done

Here a poem which resonates with me today. It’s two days after a dear Buddhist Sangha friend, Brenda Birchenough died. ‘The Deer’ speaks of sitting with the dying which I’ve been doing for the past week. And before that there has been anticipation. Dear Brenda has spread her wings and taken off into the bright light of the ‘sun’. This short piece below came in an email which fits the moment perfectly.
I now have the impression of them (parents) having moved on and out into huge, sunlit spaces. I think of dragonflies, that spend years crawling in the mud at the bottom of a pond, and then one day just leave it all behind, climbing a stalk into the air; split their skins, and emerge winged, to take off into the sun. All the old life completely past and done.

The Deer
January. Empty days.
The deer, hidden among the trees,
don’t come out any more
to look for the cold, fallen apples on her lawn.

She lies there, not moving;
only her lips, only her hands –
two snails wanting water,
two dry leaves, hardly stirred by her breath.

Over the lawn, the rain,
a cobweb in the uncertain light,
and last autumn’s apples, never picked.

She lies there, not speaking;
only, Water
only, It hurts
only, Leave me now

And the deer, in the early dawn,
don’t come looking for her fruit.
They hide among the trees,

while she dreams, and dreams,
through falling threads of rain,
of ancient summers rich with apples,
and her hands freighted with gold.

By Mark Rowan

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

All Well in The Park


Gathered in groups the Deer remain. They stay and get on with their lives, then for no apparent reason, flick their tails and move off. Still, then away. As I have been, with the spare spaces tending to be filled up with one thing and another.

This post is for a couple of people I know, one in Canada and the other in the Netherlands, who are nearing the end of their lives and are in extremity. Do ‘move off’ when the moment comes, knowing that you are never alone in the deepest sense.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Middle Way is Not Straight


Green is bursting out all over the place. This lane is in the Black Forest Germany where I’ve been spending some time.

Meanwhile, in the Southern Lake District, there has been a whole lot of ‘greening’ going on too. Lakeland Fells are on the horizon.

From my vantage point a small gathering of young deer lurk behind me. The sheep persistent in her presence.

Artful Nature

Then there is nature up close. This dandelion caught my eye,  extending one of it’s fluffy seed heads into a notch at the end of a rural bench.

As you will observe from these photographs the sun has been shining, the weather has been great. So much so one wonders if is will stay this way for ever. Well, nothing lasts for ever and rain today is in the forecast. There is the weather outside and there is the ‘weather’ inside.

This post is for those whose internal weather is testing them mentally/physically and in all ways. We call that having health ‘challenges’. Challenge covers a whole spectrum of pain, discomfort and worry. The question is, how does one meet the challenge. Practically speaking, how does one tread the middle path? That’s between: having ‘further tests’, ‘living with’ what one has, escaping. From my own experience the middle path includes all three: tests, living with (acceptance) and finding ways to escape if for a brief time. Oh yes, and medication.

In particular this is for three people I know who have had, or about to have, further tests or in one case a medical procedure.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Noise of Memory

Down in the wild woods where memories shout.

​Mourning is
the noise of
memory
that follows the
quiet liberation
of death.


How removed we are from death now, how sterile and unseen it has become. My entire fear of death was built on a foundation of having experienced it too little. I feared that the burst of noise that is our lives, once silenced by death, would have no echo. But having experienced her death, having stood at the side of her bed in the middle of the night as she gave one last breath for each of us present, I can tell you that this is what death is like: motionless, hushed, the sound of a candle being extinguished. And then: the cacophony of memories that follows, a cacophony that is both torture and ecstasy. The noise of these memories is what makes you wail and shake and hold your head in your hands. Mourning is the noise of memory that follows the quiet liberation of death.

From Memento Mori

I’ve read through this article, Memento Mori several times and still I come back again. Why? The clue is in the title, Memento Mori – Remember you must die. I’ll say no more. This takes one deeply.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

‘So’ – Like a Noxious Weed

So, another day draws to a close full of activity, notably celebrating my cousins 80th birthday with him and his family. And, since I’ve been staying close by, I once again have had the opportunity to view the art installation at Crosby beach near Liverpool titled Another Place. But that’s not my main thought tonight. My thought is about language, and my use of it. In particular the use of ‘So’ at the start of a sentence. I have also noticed a growing habit of mine of starting sentences with ‘and’ which everybody knows is simply not on. But I’m apparently wrong. Starting a sentence with but? Not on either.

Anyway back to the use of ‘so’ . Consider this from John Humphrys, our very own presenter for the ‘Today’ program on BBC Radio 4.

He blamed the rise of ‘so’ on bumbling academics who use it ‘perhaps to buy a bit of time when they’re not quite sure how to answer the question’. However, he lamented that: ‘Now the misplaced “so” has invaded everyday speech like some noxious weed in an untended garden’.

At the very least paying attention to what comes out of ones mouth, considering what is broadcast, refraining from words better not spoken, is a good practice.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email