At Waitrose Morningside

How many cloudscapes have calmed and steadied your life’s racing?

only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in is wider than that.
And anyway, what’s wrong with Maybe?
You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen.
I’ll just tell you this: only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one.

Mary Oliver, The World I Live In. Felicity: Poems | Penguin Publishing Group, 2015

How many poems have given your imagination a much-needed workout? The world of the ‘ordinary’ is actually extraordinary. And life is an invitation to see extraordinary ordinary everywhere. In front of you, around and behind. ‘You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen.’ And in this afternoon alone I’m expecting to see more. Life is an open door …

How many shopping carts might be needed to transport the groceries of angels-in-ordinary?
How many life-and-love-stories are playing out behind every window and door, and on every floor of the architecture of existence, all around you now?

archive – a list of all earlier posts

Human connection

it will be our faces you will see, not our backs

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine 🇺🇦

Whoever we are, wherever we are, wherever we came from, wherever we hope to go – and especially today if we’re fearful, or feeling helpless – make eye contact.

It doesn’t matter with whom. All that’s needed is that they’re willing to gaze too. Let us learn to set words aside for a space, as often as may be, and simply to hold one another’s gaze. What we identify through the ‘windows of the soul’ is beyond words.

We turn from the windows to open doors and borders – and oddly, what we thought we saw in another we recognise, maybe for the first time in a long time, in ourselves.


Photo by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

Design your life to minimise reliance on willpower – B J Fogg

Yesterday’s ‘where we deliberately and carefully choose to place ourselves’ thoughts have stayed with me, and B J Fogg’s presence in my daily journal firms up a bit more on what I’ve been mulling. Living – or ‘designing’ – our lives deliberately and purposely doesn’t have to involve huge effort and strength all the time. It’s potentially more about a sort of cheerful mental paintbrush and canvas, architect’s desk and drawing pen, meditation stool and silence, list of chapters / book outline. Maybe a listening to what’s going on inside without comment, coupled with making little decisions in the moment: ‘where would be the right place to give this some more thought?’ or ‘would a change of window be a good thing right now?’

I shall be deliberate about where and when I place myself today, without resort to determined willpower, better aligned with flow …

The colour in reflections

screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop
screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop
screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop

Edinburgh is a city with whom I am engaged in perpetual discussion! – with architecture, with colour and line, with suddenly come upon and breathtakingly startling vistas, with bookshops, with birdsong, with history (mine and the city’s), with music (I’ll walk a quartermile out of my way to trace the source of the sound of the Pipes), with poetry, wind, hills, coastline – and anticipated conversations with others who are haunted and delighted and vivified by it as well.

Engaged too with the reflection that settles in one’s soul’s having been calmed, and drawn, and enchanted by her colours and her reflections. Edinburgh may certainly be spoken to, but there’s immeasurable benefit to be celebrated in deeply listening to her too. Hers is a hard won, long won, weft and wisdom. And in such slow contemplation there’s a seeing sunrise, sunlight, sunset, moon and starlit spaces behind – whilst simultaneously seeing sunrise, sunlight, sunset, moon and starlit spaces ahead.

Windows into the soul are so important. Here we find ourselves sustained by what’s behind us, and by what is – here in this city, in this ‘window’, right now, and by the light that calls us forward. All this, so often seen in one and the same windowpane. In a bookshop, or a stationers, or our own home, or our own dreams, or – most beautiful among the firmament of the windows of the soul – the eyes of family or friend or beloved.

All this discussion, contemplation and reflection steadily leads us inexorably to metamorphosis – gives wings to ‘The Extraordinary Life,’ to ‘The Boy (or Girl) Who Loved,’ to what ‘Bunheads’ might think of as the Dance of Life. And a certain being at home with oneself, be the days warm or cold, happy or sad: all the while growing …

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For twenty-five days we’ve loved opening windows upon a vista of nature through the gift of a perfectly beautiful Advent calendar – and here renew our thanks to the lovely givers.

Bare branches, badgers, berries, cottage in the woods, deer, dogs, festal tree, foxes, hare, hedgehog, jackdaws, mice, owls, robin, snow blanketed fields, sparrows, squirrels, Christmas roses, winter walkers …

And daily mind’s eye transport through it all – to cows and sheep and donkey, and to “oxen lowing”, and a natal celebration, just beyond the window, in an animal shelter, long ago.

This Christmas morning we spoke of how we’ll miss the happy daily ritual – though the artwork itself will remain in honoured place for the forseeable future. And then our talk received an answer.

Just inches beyond the kitchen screen a perfectly splendid pheasant strolled into our own garden and was delicately helping himself to seed mixture – perfectly placed in the feeder so that no more than the gentlest of stretches was required for his convenient reach. We were enchanted.

Iridescent copper-coloured plumage. Head, small ear tufts and neck of green, throat and cheeks in glossed purple. Face and wattle of splendid red. Calendar advent come alive: “great and mighty Wonder” – past, present and future. And praise. Happy Christmas.