Pppp pick up a pen


Writing can be such a joy, on so many levels. A regular highpoint for me involves getting together with my local writing group, comprised of an inspirational tutor and a number of very different people who write about anything and everything.

There’s always something new to learn and, as ever, inspiration is drawn from listening deeply to, and / or reading others’ work. Often we celebrate this among ourselves and some of us occasionally reflect upon the truth that among the best gifts we humans can give one another is the sharing of our real selves – and allowing others to share themselves, in intentional and purposeful space.

How often I surprise myself when I read what has flowed from my own pen!


Photo at Pixabay

A bibliophile and a lover of words, I also delight in empty new journals of all shapes and sizes. The latter condition probably owes a great deal to the former.

I remember the dry scent of the paper stock room in my primary school more than fifty years ago. The sight of a stack of brand new unmarked exercise books delighted me then, as now. Odd, though, that while my head was full enough of stories, I always wanted to keep a brand new writing book brand new! There was (and is) an instinct for preserving things in me somewhere, together with a distaste for ‘spoiling’ something already beautiful. But such energies conflict – for I also delight in re-reading journal entries years after the writing. A ‘finished’ journal delivers enormous satisfaction and recollection.

Perhaps the psychology is bound with invitation still afforded by blank sheets, where full ones speak of something already done and dusted? Maybe empty journals are a happy call to silence? Or being reminded of long gone days and ways – and the school stock room? But I think blank journals are just plain beautiful too. Do you?

Light behind letters

Photo at Pixabay

Here is light behind letters that turn into words and sentences and paragraphs and chapters and stories. Expressions of my life – or of yours.

That’s why I write. That’s what brings writers back to blank pages every day. The pursuit of illumination beneath letters.

The light behind letters speaks to me of Creation herself. Darkness and light. Something of light inscribed upon dark. Something dark frames light. One does not exist without the other.

As music needs silence to sound its aliveness, so writers paint dark upon light or light upon dark and know that there is a knowing.

Life behind the letters.

At the base of a tree

Photo at Pixabay

A friend has just acquired a book I’ve loved for a long time and – as is the way with such things – her interest in it has me turning the pages of my copy, years after the first of my many readings of it. And I have entranced all over again. Quaker, Palmer J Palmer always hits the spot for me.

The soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek …

… And I hope that the reader who sits with this book can hear the silence that always surrounds us in the writing and reading of words. It is a silence that forever invites us to fathom the meaning of our lives – and forever reminds us of depths of meaning that words will never touch.

Parker J Palmer
Let Your Life Speak

A citizen of the world

I was delighted this evening to encounter the writings of a thoughtful fellow blogger who describes herself as ‘a citizen of the world’. My local (somewhat smaller!) writing group is a forum that seems to me similarly keen to do away with unnecessary walls.

Perhaps my lifelong attraction to care-full writing – the act of writing, and reading that of others – has to do with deep-seated desire to be a ‘citizen of the world’ whilst, at the same time being naturally cautious of imposed noise and hot-house opinions and rhetoric. Many years ago I asked a then-church-attending gentleman how he stayed calm beneath the vigorous protestations of a particular preacher he used to tell me about. ‘I always take a book’, came his peaceable reply.

The wonderful thing about writing is that we’re able to choose, either to ignore, or to come to it quietly, and return to it later, perhaps many times. In unencumbered quietness the writer has tools to hand with which to express depth, and in reading to approach respectfully and openly the expressed inner lives of others.

Conjoined bubbles

I’ve been celebrating the “energy” in a friend – how it alights upon the borders of the lives of others, and also upon their inner lives, and their senses.

Rather like the occasional conjoining of the rainbow-reflective bubbles my grandchildren love to blow on sunny summer days – as their parents did before them, and my siblings and I, and our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents – the energy in us and in all creation is always and everywhere gliding into the orbits of life-energy in others.

And sometimes the connection raises a smile, a sudden awareness, an appreciation. Even where eye-contact is ordinarily avoided. Even in the rush and tumble of the steep-rising elevator in the London Underground station I rose upwards and out of the other day there is, sometimes, marvellously if fleetingly, a deep, deep recognition of a oneness, a unity in and amongst extraordinary diversity. In the sense of poetry’s meaning “to make something” every expression of life is a unique and distinctive contribution to the richness and precision of the poetic.

In the process of writing, your energy gradually begins appearing in every line; eventually the lines don’t resemble anyone else’s because they are all composed of your energy

Robert Bly

Your energy – which is also shared energy – variously expressed, through you and through me, underground, and upwards and onwards, to the highway and the light.

The heart and hearth of things


a writing retreat

Fourteen quietly beating hearts – each possessed of a lifetime’s strength and quiet perseverance. How can we not love the courage that mines and ferries the marvellous and extraordinary giftedness that gathers around the reaching, scented, aspiring tree of life?

Ours is to honour and to cherish the spirit that illuminates kind eyes, the interested, generous leaning inwards to charism-in-otherness. Ours is to marvel – and long to reflect – upon the always-surprised joy of finding one’s own heart amongst these fourteen life-sustaining pilgrims.

Acer unfolding in the poet’s garden above the lake. The learned and earthy experience of our guide visibly quickening response in all of us up there on the Mount. Open air glory, up and down and down and up and on to encounter with intimacy inside. Robert Burns meets again the hearth of Wordsworth, and Nepalese earthquake features in poetry beneath his study. Precisely. And as David would have it – serendipitously …

A budding writer

Our latest grandchild was born in October 2014 so was a tiny babe in arms last Christmas. Now, at fourteen months, she’s crawling around her home as though it were a racetrack, shouts out for Mum, Dad, or anyone else on hand to stagger behind her – supporting – so that she can stay upright on tiny – though fast-moving feet. She’s a wonder and a delight in every way, of course, but what I’m surprised about most of all is her early fascination with – and frequent calling out for – a notebook and a pen! Already.

Perhaps she’ll follow in her agronomist / journalist daddy’s footsteps? My memory is doubtless that of a grandfather – not as sharp as it was, if it ever was, but I’m as certain as can be that, at the same age, I didn’t bypass other toys in pursuit of a pad of paper and a pen. What might have happened, how might life have turned out differently, had I done so, then?

Pen strokes paint

Light oak polished
floor, mantel-shelf,
hundreds of books
lining walls each side
small tables, reading
lamps, wall lights – four

modest tv, and film
collection, clicking
knitting needles, coffee
cups, pens, inks, paper
iPad, Mac, iPhone
Bethle’m nativity scene
star above stable door

bright Persian rug
set centred on the
floor – Libertino’s
Italian magic carpet
rides to places
unheard of heretofore.

Beige leather sofa
and chairs, black
stove warming
hearts and home
low round table
books, journals, arts

Zbigniew Herbert poems
Thomas Merton, Thomas Mann
watercolours, Richard Rohr
Rabindranath Tagore
Ken Wilber, Austin Farrer’s
The End of Man

Rembrandt’s The Artist
in his Studio
has inward
looking eyes – painted-out
dulled and black. His
great paintings seen
in mind’s eye and

nothing did they
lack. So from my
mind’s eye in a
favourite room at
home, pen strokes
paint – in words


Simon Marsh

An interior place

You make a poem with words – but you also build an interior place when you write …

John Fox
Poetic Medicine

A few days ago we were delighted to receive a handwritten letter from one of our most thoughtful and imaginative friends. We’ve kept many of his letters for years and always look forward to them. I’m thinking of Robert this evening whilst mulling over John Fox’s “interior place”.

Robert told us that he’d attended a creative writing course a decade or so ago, at which time  a number of mind’s eye characters were brought to life by his pen. Wonderfully, he finds himself still wondering about them – how they’re getting along, what’s next in their lives?

Yes, indeed, you “build an interior place when you write”.