Be like a train; go in the rain,

go in the sun, go in the storm,

go in the dark tunnels!

Be like a train;

concentrate on your road

and go with no hesitation!
~Mehmet Murat ildan

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

***Unfold your own myth.***

I hope you will go out and let stories,

that is life, happen to you, and that

you will work with these stories . . .

water them with your blood &

tears & your laughter till they bloom,

till you yourself burst into bloom.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Monday, 14 December 2015

A Favorite Christmas Poem

Patrick Kavanagh
Stanza II

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east;
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry.
I knew something strange had happened.

Outside in the cow house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a 
Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode,  
The Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:
"Can't he make it talk"-
The melodeon, I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade -
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

Patrick Kavanagh ~ Irish poet & novelist, 1904-1967

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Let Peace Begin With Me

All the great things are simple, and many
 can be expressed in a single word: 
freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. 
~Winston Churchill

Stuart and I recently took a short break up to Leicester and Coventry. We wanted to pay our respects to Richard III in Leicester and also visit Coventry Cathedral, one of the few cathedrals we haven't visited yet. Travelling together is one of the things Stuart and I do best and love the most, and we made it a mission for ourselves 17 years ago to visit every cathedral in Britain. We're nearly there and Coventry Cathedral was one of the last on our list.

We climbed the tower and looked down
 on the footprint of the old cathedral,
 and also the new cathedral which rose
 like a phoenix from the ashes of the blitz.

Coventry was bombed during WWII between the Augusts of 1940 and 1942, and the very worst of the blitz on this city, located in the heart of Britain, occurred 75 years ago last evening, the evening of November 14th, 1940. Very little of Coventry's city centre remained standing after the night of bombing, but outer walls and the tower of the cathedral stood amidst the rubble.

"They bombed in straight lines from east to west, and then they started from south to north."  ~Alan Hartley, Coventry (witnessed the attack at the age of 16.)

The second I stepped into what remains of the old cathedral, I began to cry almost uncontrollably--but I was in good company because Churchill did the same when confronted with the destruction of the ancient cathedral, first built between the late 14th and the early 15th centuries.

If you're going through hell, keep going. 
~Winston Churchill

What remains of the outer walls of the old cathedral.

The spirit of reconciliation and peace was present as soon as Coventry started to rebuild it's cathedral and it's now a worldwide centre working toward those goals. "Father Forgive" were the words almost immediately placed over the high altar of the bombed out cathedral.

The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
~Mahatma Ghandi

The new cathedral sits adjacent and perpendicular to the old, 
so there's a flow from old to new, from destruction to reconciliation.

'St. Michael and the Devil', by Sir Jacob Epstein,
looms over the entrance of the cathedral.
Inside the cathedral a tapestry of Christ, commanding his throne and dominion over all, hangs at the front of the cathedral. It's hangs ceiling to floor and it is the colours of creation--of hope and vibrant life. Wooden carvings that hang over the choir echo Sadoko Sasaki, a child victim of Hiroshima and her '1000 Cranes of Peace'.

I will write peace on your wings
and you will fly all over the world.
~Sadako Sasaki

Stunning stained glass windows curve around the nave.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
 there is a field. I'll meet you there........
~Rumi, Persian Poet

The Statue of Reconciliation,
Coventry Cathedral
The spirit of Peace that reigns in Coventry Cathedral stayed with me long after we left, so it was one of the first things I thought of yesterday morning in the aftermath of the Friday night attacks on Paris--as well as it was the anniversary of the worst attack of the Coventry Blitz.

There can never be peace made with evil, but there can be peace made between people. There was no better example of that than the fact that Friday night's football match in the Paris stadium was between France and Germany--70 years almost to the day that German bombs fell on Coventry. Until the moment evil broke through, French and German people sat together in peace. Peace is possible in this world and my prayer today is, as it always is, let it begin with me.

If we have no peace, it is because we 
have forgotten that we belong to each other. 
~Mother Teresa

Grant, gentle Father, 
that your Spirit may give us the
 will and the courage to act to make a difference,
 in order to make real your kingdom among us,
 so that we may we all live together in peace,
 truth, justice and love,
 sharing the resources of the earth. 
(A prayer from the Jesuit Institute)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


The last rose of the season.
Gratitude is an art of painting 
an adversity into a lovely picture. 
~K. Sri 

There are days and then there are days.....and some days are certainly harder than others. Today is one of those days. Between just plain tiredness and having the sad job of cutting back and saying goodbye to my roses, along with having to withstand an extremely negative and mean-spirited on-line review of our B&B, as well as a very personal heartache, today has seemed like a good day to go back to bed and hope for a better tomorrow. BUT I was gifted with the 'resiliency gene' at birth, so there's no going back to bed or moping around for me.

One of my favourite movies is 'White Christmas', and in one of the scenes Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby sing, "Count Your Blessings". On days like today, when part of me would rather crawl back under the covers, I take their advice and that's just what I do. I count my blessings. Once I started though, it was hard to keep it down to ten, so here are eleven of my Oxford blessingsplus a few more for good measure.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments 
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. 
~Thornton Wilder 

1) Our beautiful autumn this year.

Walking along the Cherwell River
 at Christ Church meadow.
Walking home down Brasenose Lane.
The Oxford University Parks

2) Looking out the window and seeing 20 little 'Harry Potters', walking two by two, on their way to chapel in New College.

3)  Hearing college chapel bells ring each day--it's like Christmas every day.  

Merton College Chapel

4) Jack, Max and I turn the corner and see the clock tower of Harris Manchester College. It's bell marks the hours for us throughout the day.

Harris Manchester Clock Tower

5) This is a part of our skyline every day. Seeing it always makes me happy because it reminds me of one of my favourite movies, "Goodbye Mr. Chips".

The weathervane on the Harris Manchester clock tower.

6)  The Oxford skyline and the "dreaming spires", no matter the season.  

7) Being able to walk everywhere in Oxford and carrying shopping home down Brasenose Lane.

8) Alice Walker wrote a story called "Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful", and I think the same is true with bicycles in Oxford, they make everything more beautiful.

9) My little garden paradise hidden right in the middle of a bustling city. It's surrounded by a tall hedge, with little flagstone steps that lead up into it.

10)  Narnia lamp-post style street lights.  I'm still patiently waiting for Mr. Tumnus to appear under one of them.

11) Now that it's November and a stone's throw from the holidays, Christmas in Oxford!

The Covered Market

The gardens of New College.
The chapel of New College.

If the only prayer you said in your whole 
life was, "thank you," that would suffice. 
~Meister Eckhart

And since it's nearly Thanksgiving back home, I'll throw in a few more things that I'm grateful for..........

12) This year I'm especially grateful for a sweet puppy named Jack. Even if I hadn't been gifted with the 'resiliency gene', one look from him still would lift the dark clouds and make the sun come out.

13) Collecting beautiful eggs every day and being adored by two chickens named Miss Havisham and Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

14) The man who makes me laugh, who loves to have afternoon tea with me, loves our travels, who shares my life--all of the burdens, along with the joys.

Stuart, who started and runs Oxford Walking Tours,
leads one of his many groups through Oxford.
15) My wonderful, big, crazy, diverse, and loving family, and my most precious children.

The best job in the world, being mom to these 3 people.

16) Going home for Christmas!!!

Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby,
'Count Your Blessings'
White Christmas

"Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
 to God the Creator triumphantly raise...."
~"Let All Things Now Living",
 by Katherine K. Davis