Daily inspiration

Be A Samaritan

Call to donate in honour of Danielle

As a funeral celebrant, there’s a whole absence of self. It is never about me.

The preparations, as well as the service, are always about sensitive listening, respectful giving, compassionate holding of a space for those left behind in grief. Truth be told, I have less to do with death and dying and much more to do with the living, grieving, breathing bereaved; bringing respect, kindness, empathy and hopefully, some dignity to a situation that I can never change or reverse. It is always about them.

I am forever moved by the stories I hear and feel somehow connected, not only to the family and mourners but often, to the deceased. There are many tiny synchronicities that make me feel close and that help me to understand better the different ways that people deal with their loss; the myriad beliefs that people turn to, to cope with debilitating grief; the sounds or the silences of suffering.

When I walk away from a service, I never forget…

But some return to me more often than others…in thoughts, in dreams, often in daily life. And today, I am going to share with you the story of a girl who I never met but who I know so well – a girl who’s story is so close to mine. Six months ago, she took the decision to end her own life.

The circumstances of Danielle’s death are…I cannot find the right word…Unbelievable? Lamentable… Tragic! Her family shared with me her brilliance, her beauty, her eloquence, her despair and the battle she went through to access the help that was vital.

The help that was ultimately not forthcoming.

In the litany of emails and messages that they shared, it’s clear that ultimately, Danielle could not reach the expert medical attention that would have saved her life. Perhaps the words which describe that are cruel, utterly avoidable, unforgivable! And yet forgiving is absolutely what Danielle’s family have to do in order to wade through their grief and to find some stable ground once more, as Danielle hoped they would. Having seen her desperate, yet so eloquent cries for help, having read the letter that Danielle wrote, having wept at the line which said, ‘we tell people to reach out when they need help, but when they do, they are gaslighted into thinking they don’t need it,’ it would be quite understandable if Danielle’s family exerted every ounce of energy in calling out those who rejected their accountability, those who’s negligence is unquestionably responsible for their grief, those who’s job it was to help. Instead, they are taking positive and life-giving action.

Danielle’s letter explained that The Samaritans were the only organisation that she found consistently amazing and non-judgmental. And so, this coming Saturday, 18th March, her whole family will be engaged in fund-raising in Danielle’s name. I will be there too, in my small capacity, to let them know that we can keep fighting, we can honour Danielle’s resounding plea for humane, kind, compassionate resources to be always readily available for those who need their lives saving.

Funerals are never about me.

But in terms of Danielle and The Cornish family, there, but for the grace of god, went I. Or perhaps, more relevant to say, there but for the grace of The Samaritans…

If you are able, please donate generously in Danielle’s name.

Daily inspiration

Mother’s Day

Originally, I wrote this poem for two women – one lived locally, one overseas. They lost their Mother during the thick of the pandemic and the latter was unable to travel to the UK for the funeral service. I cannot imagine how they felt and nothing can, either then or now, compensate for that loss. But I hope that the poem showed how a Mother’s legacy can transcend even death. It is adapted here for Mother’s day…

Legacy of Love
Legacy’s not the tangible, an heirloom, bequest, or gift;
Legacy’s in words and memories that make our dark clouds lift.
In a song she sang from the old days, one to which we still must sing,
Hearing melodies and lyrics takes us back to them in their Spring.

Legacy lingers in play with babes; the offspring with whom she was blessed,
In the act of sharing joy and love in times back when Mother knew best.
In lessons and learning, in reading a book, dress-ups and laughter filled play,
In affectionate names for her children, strength in sickness and health every day.

Legacy’s in the traditions Mothers carved out oft before.
In the handbooks and guides, in some doctrines and prides of the ways that her ancestors saw.
Though traditions anew will forge strong modern paths and the practices soften our fear,
Still we learn from their love, even when they’re above, and remember their words, strong and clear.

Legacy’s in the transcending verve more powerful than that which you see.
It connects across thousands and thousands of miles and makes small stuff of just geography.
Conversations and chat – not just something that’s heard – fuel hearts with love so strong:
In our souls, in our spirit, in the essence of us, brings us back to her, where we belong.

Legacy transcends the here and now far beyond that we’ve ever imagined.
It reaches, it touches, it lingers, never fading – though, at times, it will leave us saddened;
If awakened, empowered, it can reach deep within, ignites thoughts that are so worthy of
The legacies that are left behind in the power of a Mother’s love.

Daily inspiration

International Women’s Day 2022

I wrote this poem when I sat with my mother as she approached the end of her life. She had dementia but remained feisty and determined to make a difference, right to the end. The inequity she faced as a woman must have been stifling, and yet she managed to instill in me a sense of power and agency. As we approach 8th March, the designated day for International Women, I invite you to think on my mother’s story and then read a little about what more needs to be done to support ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.’

No Thought

I never thought ‘til now about her era,
Of how men denigrated and dismissed,
In the year that she was born came equal franchise
But alongside men ‘twas hard to coexist.
The privy council classed this lowly status;
Not perceived in her own right til she was one.
Abuse was not a violation til she was over sixty-five,
Inequity for her was just begun.
At twenty-one, there was no other option,
A baby now to nurture and to raise,
Perhaps the wedding more than just a forethought?
A union that would help her pay their ways?
No privilege of lofty education…
No relatives or ancestors of worth…
What chance to chase life filled with pure emotion?
Stamped with this designation by her birth.
Despite the choice to vote for what she wanted,
She couldn’t even earn an equal wage.
For, that prize did not exist ‘til she was forty;
‘Gainst this injustice women round her raged.
She toiled to raise four kids with stoic wisdom!
She fought to give them something she’d not had!
Would they appreciate her dedication?
And understand her choices were not bad?
She was not at the forefront of public suffrage,
She was too young to be called up for conscription,
But she knew her place as mother of her children
And loved them to the ends of all conviction.
She knew she was constrained by patriarchy –
A prodigy of times when women served.
She wrangled with the judgements of society
When offspring’s choices made her feel unnerved.
For she battled twixt the instinct just to love them,
To cushion them and guard them against hate.
No choice but sweet surrender to convention,
Striving to support and influence their fate.
Her lifetime’s seen her through emancipation –
Though prisoner of her mind’s restrictive bars.
I hope she realised her own ambitions,
And felt so proud of all those battle scars.
It is because of her that I have freedom.
And for the world she was no suffragette…
But she laid foundations for a kinder future
And this is her time-honoured epithet.

Although things have moved on since my mother’s era, we have not moved far enough! With our most recent history, I can’t say with any conviction that the human species gets better and better all the time. In fact, I think we are often in a reverse spin. I saw something last week which so strongly endorsed that feeling; it shook me to the core. It was an image of the Munich Security Conference lunch of CEOs, presented on just about every social media platform that I can think of and each time, it was accompanied by the novel suggestion that even the presence of just one woman could reduce the tension and hostility that we have seen escalate beyond what is thinkable for the 21st century.

Munich Security Conference 2022 CEO lunch

Rather than becoming embroiled in speculation, let me present you with something less hypothetical to make this most important point: we really do need to look back at history, in order to make the changes that are essential to securing our future. And we really do need more than a whole month to celebrate the history of women.

Icons was a brilliant TV programme shown just three years ago as an eight-part history series for BBC Two and it celebrated the achievements of some of the greatest figures of the 20th century. At the time, I was captivated by finding out about some of the heroes who changed the shape of the world, making it safer, guiding us through changes and challenges brought about by war or shifts in cultural values, and making great advancements in science and technology. The eventual worthy winner was Alan Turing, nominated for deciphering the Enigma machine and aiding the allied victory in World War II.

Prior to the final, an hour-long documentary argued the case for nominees representing different fields of human excellence – Leaders, Explorers, Scientists, Entertainers, Activists, Sports Stars, Artists & Writers. The criteria were: positive achievement and legacy, a degree of recognition for a British audience, and a spread of individuals across the century. Expert panels then met to decide on a shortlist of iconic pioneers for each category and eventually the viewers were asked to vote for favourites to decide the greatest icon of them all. The live final was shown on the 5th of February 2019.

Not one woman reached the final!

The panels who shortlisted the nominees were asked to think about legacy, achievement, impact, influence, contribution to the field, and their profile or iconic status. There is no doubt that there are many women who have left a powerful legacy, demonstrated significant achievement, and who have influenced and contributed to the positive transformation of our world. But it is that last category which feeds the continuing, and quite huge inequity where women are still not fully or fairly recognised for their contribution. Our profile and iconic status…

Clare Balding, who was part of the celebrity advocates, offered her thoughts on why women weren’t represented. She described the 20th century as “the history of men told by men” and observed that women were only just starting to be recognised now. She added that you can’t be an icon unless you are allowed to have the limelight. I think its true to state that women have, in the face of enormous challenges and discrimination, had to fight a long way through shadowy dark wings and blackened auditoria to find any light on the world stage, in order to help not only themselves, but the whole of humanity, to flourish.

We are still having to fight our way through to find the light!

I’d like to include Planck’s principle on science and use it to help illustrate why it is important to focus on pioneering women in history; it gives me hope that we can continue to change the world for the better. He took the view that scientific change does not occur because individual scientists change their mind, but rather that successive generations of scientists have different views. A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Think about that! If we can encourage our growing generations of children to be familiarised with equity, diversity and acceptance (not to mention peace and collaboration and love) from the beginning of their education, we can really change the world. Besides our youth activists like Malala and Greta we have more and more examples to show that the secure future of the world lies with an unbiased, informed and critically thinking youth with a firm focus on the efforts and power in all of us – women and girls too. With each generation we can choose to get better and move further and further away from the history or inaccuracies and wild thinking that created the challenging situations that we now face. With each child born, there is an opportunity for a new way of seeing the world. Make sure children recognise their power in it by celebrating women’s history month and learning about the women who changed our path..

Daily inspiration

What Can We Say?

What can we tell our children about this atrocity? There are many times when we have to bear bad news or help children to deal with the trickiest of issues. Despite personal faith or beliefs, or passionate values, none of us has definitive answers to the questions of life and death. But we do have a responsibility to try and help each other find them. And an extra special responsibility to our children to find the balance between protecting them from trauma and equipping them with strategies for a life which, often outside of our immediate control, insists on presenting them with it.

Children born since the turn of this century have not known of a time when countries were not involved in a war. Outside of the arguably ‘natural’ disasters of earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, and pandemics, globally, we have seen terrorist attacks, shootings, bombings. There are ongoing territorial wars and civil conflict. I don’t need to list – as adults, we’re acutely aware of them and remember precisely where we were at 9/11 or when we heard news of the Manchester Arena bombings and our distress at the conflict in Syria and the mass exodus of refugees.

I have personal experience of having to lead in an instance where the impact of terror was fear. As Head of Secondary, my school took a call back in December 2015 from a suspected terrorist group. We had no idea of knowing if it was a hoax or if the threat was real; the events rolled out as if it was. Reports afterwards stated that special forces armed with automatic weapons, accompanied by sniffer dogs ‘stormed’ in and that all students were unharmed. Neither statement was true. And gossip and speculation, and drama and catastrophising added to the ongoing trauma.

It is hard to elucidate but we had to try to minimise the trauma and to encourage understanding. It is difficult to explain away a bombing or a shooting that kills innocent people. Impossible to answer questions about whether another 9/11 could happen again, especially when we have to practise lock down and other safety procedures with impressionable children. But even though these conversations are tough to have, it’s important to have them and to give children age-appropriate information about conflict and oppression.

Right now, for sure I feel unnerved, appalled, fearful for the world’s future. War, terrorism and conflict is scary, even to grownups. To a child, who might not understand the facts or understand where the war is actually occurring, it’s terrifying. Many – maybe even most children throughout the UK – are physically far removed from the violence of war. But they are not removed from the coverage or power or influence of it. And perhaps their experience of it is through a literacy curriculum where they have read about evacuation or conscription or labour camps. Imagine their worries and confusion now. You might try to cushion children from seeing the current images, but somehow or other, they’re going to hear of it and that is why we should try to find ways of communicating about it that are helpful to them and which really will lead to history not being allowed to repeat itself.

Children pick up on snippets of information and then struggle to make any sense. They come across media images on low shelves of newsagents – never mind that graphic online content we might be unaware of. Or they hear something that’s wildly misinterpreted. So find out what children think by listening to them. Calmly opening those lines of communication shows children that you respect them and that you’re invested in hearing what they think.

Young children should not be forced into being aware of the world’s dangers especially when many just aren’t ready for it. But be aware that, for some, it cannot be avoided. Be conscious of children’s backgrounds and what they are likely to encounter. Maybe families you know clearly made sacrifices when they were affected by loss during the pandemic; more may now be impacted because family members serve in the military – whilst not immediately directly involved in the conflict, they will present a range of perspectives.

Talking about why some people intentionally hurt others and how that can lead to war is a complex topic. The concepts of resistance and patriots are possibly diametrically opposed to the messages we try to impart to our kids about kindness, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion.

But one objective overrides this complexity. It is more than our job to reassure children that they’re safe; it is vital that they feel secure. A gentle way in, to correct misunderstanding, might be with a statement like, ‘leaders of other countries disagree on what’s important to them, and sometimes war occurs when that happens. The war is not happening near us; we are not in danger.’ It is important to be honest but that doesn’t mean being brutal with truth, or worse, opinion. Keep a balance. Children don’t need to be overwhelmed with unnecessary information or  to see gory detail but, in time, they need to question how it has come about, and to understand the seriousness of war. My Father made wild predictions about how the world was coming to an end during the Vietnam conflicts. I can vividly remember some terrifying rants – none of which came to fruition, all of which filled me with terror and prompted sleepless nights as a six-year-old. It might have been better to be aware of the facts without his speculation about the scope or end result of the impact. Predicting what might happen next is unhelpful and detrimental to influencing the change the world needs. 

We have a prevalence for including swathes of a population or organisation within one capitalised proper noun. Brussels…Buckingham Palace…The West!  Talking about groups of people and specific countries, labelling all with that summative identity and a stereotyped characteristic leads us, children especially, to develop fear and prejudice so we have to work hard to avoid harmful stereotypes. Be cautious with words and statements you use and explicitly teach this idea that a range of individuals aren’t always represented by the proper noun with which they are labelled. Maintain focus on being informed and educated, not dogmatic.

Of course, it is inevitable that we will share opinions but, when we do, talk about feelings in general. Whilst we might not agree with war or vehemently support or oppose the act of military intervention, it’s goes against a code of ethics to teach an opinion as fact. You can share opinion with your children, particularly if you feel that the rationale behind your beliefs is part of your own shared values but make it clear that opinion is  just that.

Give them actions and suggest ways they can help. You can encourage compassion by talking to children about refugees who are fleeing war in other countries and you can donate to causes that support them. If they know there are things that they can do to help, they will feel less helpless, and more powerful with a knowledge that their actions make a difference. Helping every child to appreciate that each act of kindness is like the butterfly effect will increase their conviction that they can impact the world.

And we have seen it time and again – and felt pride and honour when someone comes out of a burning building carrying buckets of water for others! Even this morning, I have been able to find, without any deep searches, good people who are working hard to help others. People right in the midst of the conflict on either side, taking risks to stand up for the world and what is good and right and in the name of peace and love. There are some challenging people in our world; we can use one or two of those proper nouns to name some today. But there are many more kind and loving individuals who are everyday, ordinary empaths doing extraordinary things to ease suffering. Professionals like doctors, nurses, charities and NGO personnel who are working hard to care for others.

Finally, we can soothe ourselves a little by appreciating how best to use the technological innovations at our fingertips. As with every human invention, we have the power to use it for good or for bad. The connections we have through social media can allow us to nurture symbiotic, cooperative relationships with groups who might once have been seen to be our opponents…our adversaries. If we demonstrate to children that we can cultivate empathy, we become less likely to hurt anybody,  because we recognise our connection with the whole world.

I produced this as a blog today for LifeWise – a brilliant, innovative online PSHE company for whom I help to produce content…but I thought it may also assist the families of other children, who don’t have access to this resource in having some strategies to handle this difficult time…
Peace and love 

Daily inspiration

The Freaky Friday before Blue Monday!

I’m having a freakily bleak day…and was on the verge of freaking out. What with the weather, the time of year, the long, cold, dark nights, the timely pronouncement that the most depressing day of the year is scheduled for Monday, I was on edge. I’ve had a litter of last minute cancellations and negativity from other quarters, and some harsh and unkind judgements, all of which has added to the challenge.

As if I needed any more reasons to feel miserable, this idea that feelings are dictated by a date isn’t helpful. Momentarily, it left me thinking I have no choice but to be down, and then feeling guilty because those who suffer with depression have it trivialised by such silly speculation.

And then, this appeared, as if by magic and it has lifted my spirits soaring again. So…if by any chance you too are caught up in the notion of psychological formulas, and being stuck with them, read this beautiful poem by Becky Hemsley ‘Talking to the Wild’ and remember where your power lies.

She sat at the back and they said she was shy,
She led from the front and they hated her pride,
They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,
They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,
When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,
So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,
They told her they’d listen, then covered their ears,
And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,
And she listened to all of it thinking she should,
Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,
But one day she asked what was best for herself,
Instead of trying to please everyone else,
So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,
She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,
She spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine,
And she told them what she’d been told time after time,
She told them she felt she was never enough,
She was either too little or far far too much,
Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,
Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,
Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs,
And she stopped…and she heard what the trees said to her,
And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,
For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe.’

Author : Becky Hemsley – Talking to the Wild

Daily inspiration


I haven’t experienced a year yet (that I can remember) in these three score years on this planet, that has been without monumental challenges. Some of them instigated, deliberately, by myself as a means to uplift, shape or soothe my soul; some instigated deliberately by others as a means to sharpen or seduce, sedate or seize it; and many from varied external forces. Forces that are often hurled by self-appointed hierarchical commanders who try to sap the power to make independent choices; many seem frustratingly beyond our immediate sphere of influence.

2021 had a few of those…

But I also haven’t experienced a year yet where there has not been immense joy, mountains climbed, challenges met, some very real moments of achievement and fulfilment and a comforting sense that the continuing expansion of consciousness, exposes the insignificance of these challenges!

Let’s not just climb mountains in 2022.

In this long, evolutionary journey of soul-making, where consciousness is more fundamental than space, time or matter…let us universally understand something…

We can actually move them!

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A selfless love…

I love watching Married At First Sight! I am thoroughly addicted to it.

I am not sure this is healthy, for a celebrant who’s role in weddings is to support couples in announcing and celebrating their sacred union and to highlight the solemnity, sanctity and honour of pursuing matrimony. And I’m pretty certain that I would turn down the offer to officiate at one of the ceremonies. So what’s the attraction?

It’s certainly not pretty (or even realistic) when such a contrived and ‘grotesque escapism’ (according to the media) displays overtly toxic alphas, exchanging lies, betrayals and manufactured dramas. Instead of highlighting sacred honour, the ‘made for TV’ shenanigans highlight the most extreme gender stereotypes – catty, vindictive women pitting themselves against each other whilst spouting the ‘girl code’; and misognynistic men, gaslighting their spouses and evidencing that conscious and unconscious gender bias is still mind-blowingly rampant.

And it’s no longer the social experiment that it once billed itself when the creative editing and ‘spliced’ scenes show how incompatible from the outset some are – matching a guy who desperately wants children with a woman who clearly states she doesn’t? That’s not sharing values! The ‘experts’ seem to have used their insider knowledge to deliberately mis-match couples to increase TV ratings and I’m sure that most of the partners we see aren’t entering the experiment for love – at least not the ‘Pragma’ of the unique bond that develops over years and is everlasting. Rather, some are pursuing fame and the adoration of a couple of million social media fans.

But it is addictive!

I was trying to figure out into which category of addicted viewers I belonged…there is a certain element of ‘I told you so schadenfreude’ when I observe the most shallow of them being made to accept responsibility, being forced to sit – cringing or preening – on the couch while the ‘experts’ pass judgement and encourage them to address their issues in order to love and respect themselves wholly, before seeking it elsewhere. Then there’s the fact that I am genuinely invested in some of them – I have a childlike hope that couples will find their happy-ever-after and that love at first sight is a possibility.

But I think that mostly I am addicted because of the lessons in love that I can learn from it – this albeit myopic perlustration, looks at the complexities that affect all relationships, and makes me think about what efforts are required to take the erotic love of Eros or the playful love of Ludus into the realms of an unconditional and selfless ‘Agape.’

If you both want it, you have to stick at it.

Daily inspiration

Even ducks drown!

Oh my!

Will this clownish, nightmare Covid circus ever end? Or have we just got to get used to the incessant bad news on the merry go round of life in, around and after (or under) the pandemic? In all honesty, I think not … but I think that presently life is one rather long round of loss, with the occasional merry win. And this week, as usual, I was thinking that there is some desperate meaning that I have to find in amongst all of this trauma and turbulence in order to swim into calmer waters. If – please forgive the mixed metaphors – if I keep working hard and shaking it off, a bit like water off a duck’s back, the meaning will come to me. I’ll learn from this test, I’ll shake the water off, I can stay afloat. Well, sure enough, I learned it…even ducks drown!

So…this week has seen me desperately preening those feathers, making sure they’re clean and well oiled, pristine and waterproof so that I could swim through some choppy waters over the coming weeks safely. I’ve got a house move scheduled (no…the sale still hasn’t gone through), a farewell dinner with some old, reliable and honest school friends; I should have been leading a funeral for the father in law of another dear friend and singing lead vocals at the first gig not to be rained off since restrictions were eased.

But…first I had some babysitting duties to see to – for sure, that’s one of those merry wins – until Covid struck, and the whole household, including the baby, are really sick. Except for me, with a double vaccination, and a feathery, downy coat preened to perfection…or not, as it may seem!

Those preening behaviours common to many birds, keeping their feathers clean, waterproof, and well groomed? It’s an essential task, not just to repel water from their feathers, but to enable them to stay afloat in order to feed and live. The oil glands at the base of their tails and under their wings secrete a waxy sheen that ducks use to groom themselves, and by scratching with their bills to pick up oil from those glands, they maintain the feathers’ waterproof properties – it is vital for them not to become waterlogged or, just like a stone, they plummet and drown. Of course, you have seen plenty of ducks swimming across a pond, but did you ever wonder what it is that helps to keep them afloat? Why it is that they don’t just drown?

It’s the social interaction that protects them.

Ducks in a flock fastidiously preen themselves – they’re in it together! But a solitary duck, one without companionship, gives up on itself and does nothing to maintain its feathers. It gives up on basic self-care…at first becoming scruffy and a bit disheveled and then reaching the point that those feathers can no longer do their job; they start to absorb water – and they will no longer float. A healthy, socialised duck rides high in the water, maintaining watertight integrity but a lonely duck plummets.

As you might guess, there’s not much social interaction in a house crammed full with plague! And in one where the water has been allowed to become muddy because of some unresolved differences and perspectives, it is hard not to plummet.

Yes, I’m like a lone duck, dependent on my relationships to keep afloat. It’s easy to turn inward, or away; its easy to neglect myself, and then to become unhealthy, even physically ill. It isn’t easy to escape a Covid household and it’s very easy to reach an unhealthy state of mental absorption. Especially when the water outside is so muddied and sullied.

So…what to do?

Well…I guess it is helpful firstly to remember that ducks swim in the water, but they are not affected by the water and that’s the same way that we are in the world but don’t have to be affected by the world. And then it’s helpful to consider how we should resolve issues as they crop up because we need – it is absolutely essential – to engage in a social community that encourages us to keep grooming.

How else can we sustain social buoyancy?

Daily inspiration

The Shape of Her

A little Sunday morning poem for you…

She was born a whole circle but they wanted a hole. Twisted into a square but required to roll, she became a cute oval then none got her point. Triangle was next – she was forced to disjoint.

She became a trapezium with sides ne’er to meet then squeezed into a rhombus to make her complete; Next came a hex, a sept and an oct…hammering at edges despite them being locked. So a dodecahedron was next in the frame and, of course, this shape was wholly to blame for not fitting the space or filling the gap. The triskaidecagon just stole all her sap.

She moved on til she reached hexacontadigon. Sixty two edges! You’d think it was strong. But the facets were weaker, her chiliagon(e) ‘long with form and all love for this freak polygon.

For a while she was broken, became a flatline. It fit where it touched and it towed the line…It was easy to walk on, it slid down the cracks – it could morph into nothing, avoiding attacks. The line it got shorter, it almost withdrew…

And then oddly from nowhere a small wind blew…

into a chink and the shape became space. A dot became bubble, and bubble embraced

The fine air within and the new strengthened boundaries that were cast in the heat of life’s troublesome foundries.

It’s wholly the time to love this old ellipse for its shape can withstand the odd solar eclipse.

It’s the shape of the world, of the moon and the sun and the circle of life, once more, newly begun.

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I vow to thee…

I have spent rather a lot of actual physical time in the company of couples lately; couples who have been together for as long as fifty years. At the time when they made those vows, standing face to face, half a century ago, they could not possibly have known what roads they were destined to travel together – either privately or publicly, uniquely or universally.

Since those days when they made those vows, there’ve been so many social changes: religious attachment has waned, interracial and same sex marriages have gained acceptance, pre-marital sex is no more a taboo, home-making is not necessarily a woman’s preferred vocation or domain. And the idea that men should shoulder full responsibility for assuming the archetypal hunter gatherer role is the stuff of seventies sit-coms. Back then, blue-collar workers may have been able to quickly step on a property ladder and support a whole family a half a century ago, but that’s becoming increasingly hard to do and both partners are required to make a financial contribution to maintain any reasonable standard of living.

People, including acquaintances and work bosses or colleagues, are connected twenty four seven and it’s not out of the question to have the most intimate of moments interrupted as you hear from them at midnight or on a weekend or a holiday just because something sprung to their mind. Texting has shifted talking into a whole new dimension.

Back then, there were three television networks! Yes…just three and they actually stopped broadcasting at a scheduled time, meaning that your insomniac spouse’s only option was to stare at the test card for a few hours. Now, we have thousands of channels at our fingertips and can take our sport or our drama or our horror or hilarity to any location, even the loo, thanks to our phones, tablets, and laptops. 

The global population has doubled in those fifty years, yet couples in developed countries are now considering smaller families or none at all; perhaps we can attribute the steady decline of these birth rates to greater knowledge about the world and the issues which threaten its existence. Back then, any attempt to protect the earth would have you labelled (not trolled) as a hippy or a beatnik or a tree-hugger – someone so alternative as to be weird and definitely not mainstream. Today, if you’re not recycling, upcycling or bicycling, you’re being irresponsible and selfish. And being a parent is much more a matter of personal choice, linked to the myriad options for birth control with equitable responsibility, providing more than one reason why the milkman can no longer be held accountable in any way, shape or form. He no longer delivers!

There’s a voyeuristic view on how relationships are going – social media watchers keenly assessing where you go on holidays, how often one partner is away from the other, and even what you consume for each meal. Now those people you invite to your ceremony and reception see far more than they possibly could have, unless you were all having to live together, where they’re able to observe the nuances and foibles of the most intimate of relationships by being in that close-up and personal space.

When you choose to marry today in a public arena, whether in a church or a woodland glade, in the same way couples have for decades, you’re still inviting those you love to witness your commitment. And it’s still a wonderful option to call upon them to support you in honouring those vows, especially as the challenges of marriage have taken on all of these new dimensions. It is an idea to acknowledge that all of these changes will impact your relationship and its potential longevity in a way that no-one has ever experienced before. And that’s why its worth spending some focused time on deciding what you include in your promises to each other. To have and to hold whilst pledging your troth, loving and cherishing, is perhaps not enough of a commitment these days. Being able to say ‘I love you’ is much easier than accepting that marriage is built upon patience, empathy, and an ability to see that other person’s different perspectives.

Traditional religious vows all mention love, responsibility and oneness but not all of them pay heed to the adversity – so as well as sharing the joys of how you first met, what made you fall in love and when you knew that all roads would lead to this moment, ask yourself why you decided to get married, what challenges you envision for your future, and what you want to accomplish together.

In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. Difficult times will come as surely as the night. Be as conscious about the ways you want your vows to come across as you are about the way you want your marriage to progress and you will be certain to get off to the best start.