Archive for February, 2011

And each man kills the thing he loves

February 27, 2011
The Judas Kiss - Gustave Doré

The Judas Kiss – Gustave Doré

And each man kills the thing he loves
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

— Oscar Wilde

Why is it that we kill that which we love?

That is the task Paulo Coelho is set by his Master J, a Master of The Tradition. These few lines, a slight variance of a verse from The Ballad Of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde is the only help that Paulo Coelho gets.

That we kill that we love is a curse. Paulo Coelho has to break that curse. It is a quest in which he is forced to face his past. The curse can be broken, but only if he completes the task.

It´s for love. For victory. And for the glory of God.

As Paulo learns from the Valkeryies, the only was to break the curse is to: Break a pact. Accept forgiveness. And make a bet.

We all have a pact with defeat. We have to learn to take risks, break the pact with defeat.

– The Valkeryies
Suffering

Top story in PoeticHeart34 Daily (Saturday 12 March 2011)

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Footprints in the Sand

February 24, 2011
footprints in the sand

footprints in the sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

— Mary Stevenson, 1936

‘Footprints in the Sand’ has been seen in print by people the world over since the late 1940s. All that time no author has been credited with this immortal work, only ‘Author Anonymous’ has appeared at the bottom.

For many years handwritten copies were distributed by Mary to those who needed something to give them comfort at a low point in their lives. It was sometime after this that friends of Mary saw it in print and wondered why she wasn’t given credit for writing it. An attorney at that time told her that it would be very hard to prove her the author since it had been used by many publishers of religious materials and greeting cards. Mary wrote ‘Footprints’ in 1936 when she was very young and knew nothing of copyrighting. Discouraged she didn’t pursue it any further.

In 1984 while cleaning out the garage to prepare to move from her house, in a small suitcase, among her other poems, she rediscovered a very old handwritten copy that she thought was lost. It was one of the copies Mary had made and dated 1939, just three years after she wrote the original. Later that year the U.S. copyright office awarded her a copyright for ‘Footprints in the Sand’ 48 years after it was written. It was another 11 years before her handwritten copy was authenticated by a forensic specialist as to its age. Margaret Fishback-Powers and many others have tried to falsely claim authorship, but none can show significant proof such as this.

Many people misunderstand ‘Footprints in the Sand’. They think when the see only one set of footprints in the sand, God has abandoned them during their time of suffering, whereas God is carrying them during their hour of need.

The One Big Question
What’s So Amazing About Grace
The Alchemist
By the River Piedra I sat Down
I have no idea where I am going

The Sin of Pride

February 20, 2011

Plaza de Iglesia

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall — Proverbs 16:18

I was sitting in the Plaza de Iglesia en Puerto de la Cruz when a crazy person, probably high on drugs and drink, came up to me and thumped me hard in the face. No apparent reason for this unprovoked attack.

The side of my face red and swollen. A trip to two police stations to report the assault. It could have have been worse. There were two of them, with at least two more waiting in the wings. I could have been beaten to a pulp, they could have used knifes, they could have seriously injured me, I could have been killed.

Suffering is part of the human condition. It how we handle it that determines us as human beings.

An hour earlier, I had been sat in the same square on the same seat. It is a pleasant place to sit and relax outside the church under the palm trees.

A girl came and joined me. She was living on the streets. She told me she has not eaten for three days. I gave her what I had, the remains of my lunch.

I then went and had a delicious zuma de naranja in nearby El Limon.

I had done my good deed of the day, I felt pleased with myself.

The Sin of Pride?

Later I sat by the sea reflecting upon what had taken place.

One act of kindness, especially by a total stranger who owes us nothing, restores our faith in humanity. One foul deed, and we distrust all humanity.

I had two books with me:

The Alchemist graphic edition – Paulo Coelho
The One Big Question – Bishop Michael Baughen

Both had passages relevant to what had happened.

Santiago sits in the plaza, tries to read a book but is distracted by the Old Man who wishes to talk to him. I was distracted twice, once by the starving girl, second by an elderly German lady who sat next to me.

Bishop Michael Baughen writes of suffering. The passage I read whilst sat in El Limon was of one act of kindness restoring our faith in humanity.

Sadly, when people say, of some act of kindness, “it has restored my faith in human nature”, you know that restoration will not last! Human nature can rise to astonishing heights of good, but also sink to abhorrent depths.

Whilst I sat by the sea, the passage I read in The Alchemist was of Santiago being robbed of his gold, but he decides not to let it destroy his faith in humanity, to distrust those who approach him.

When I had my sheep I was happy, and I made those around me happy, people saw me coming and welcomed me.

But now I am sad and alone. I´m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me.

Santiago learns to overcome what happened to him. He wanted adventure and this is the start of a new adventure.

It is the human condition to suffer. It is to test us. It is what we make of it that determines what we become. It is what both Paulo Coelho and Bishop Michael Baughen in their different ways show us.

Things happen for a reason.

The One Big Question
What’s So Amazing About Grace

Suffering

February 17, 2011

The One Big Question - Bishop Michael Baughen

The One Big Question - Bishop Michael Baughen

Suffering is part of the human condition. — Bishop Michael Baughen

Why do we suffer? Why is there suffering in the world?

In The Alchemist, Santigo learns that people suffer when they do not follow their dream, they listen to people around them rather than listen to what their heart tells them. [see The Alchemist]

People who fail to follow their dreams eventually learn to accept their lot, eventually they even forget their dreams, forget they ever had dreams, but their lives is the worse because of it.

In The Zahir, Paulo Coelho puts into words how you feel when the one you love, who you thought loved you, leaves. Having felt that pain, his words describe what I could not.

Why are there people starving in the world whilst others have obscene amounts of wealth? Why did the thug security in Bahrain fire on unarmed protesters? Why twenty years ago on St Valentine’s Day did the Americans bomb a shelter in Baghdad? Why is it that the decent people seem to suffer whilst the evil ones prosper?

If there is a just God, why does he allow these things to happen?

It was to address these issues, maybe the most difficult issue for people who want believe in a just and loving God, that Bishop Michael Baughen (former Bishop of Chester and Rector of All Souls Langham Place) gave a talk at St Peter’s Church.

Suffering is the BIG question. It is the killer question. Why? Why? Why?

Suffering is the great divider. It either drives us into the hands of God or makes us hate God. There is no sitting on the fence.

Why did my brother die before me, die a very painful death?

We pray to God, please God, make it a nice sunny day, I am having a picnic. Please let me pass my exams. Please get me a sexy girlfriend.

God is not a kindly old man, handing out the sweets.

Why did God not intervene when something bad was going to happen?

God is not a control freak. But let us assume God did intevene. What then? Something worse may then happen, we have set in motion a different path, the law of unintended connsequences.

In The Valkyries, Paulo Colho describes a different path being set in motion. We should pause and reflect, it happened for a reason.

The trenches in the First World War, is that not a good reason not to believe in God?

No, it is a reason not to believe in Man. It was Man in the form of Generals and Politicians who sent men in their hundreds of thousands to their deaths.

God gave us free will. Or would we rather be robots or automatons?

In My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk the devil says he is bored. There is little for him to do, as Man can do evil without his intervention.

Many people died in Haiti. That was due to an earthquake yes, but is was also due to bad housing. People were killed by houses collapsing, not by the earthquake.

A ship is safe when it remains in a port, but that is not why we build ships.

Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Without the movement of these tectonic plates and various other Gaian control mechanisms there would be no life on Earth.

Why am I being punished? What have I done wrong?

Why am I not being healed? Is that not the power of prayer?

Man sets up God in his own image, then uses that image to deny the existence of God as God does not fullfil his expectations.

To suffer is part of the Human Condition. It is what we do, how we handle suffering, that determines the depth of our faith.

A sword is tempered by going through fire.

The One Big Question
– ‘I Thirst’
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations
What’s So Amazing About Grace

Mike Dawes – So Long Michael – Pierre Bensusan

February 17, 2011

Lord Pierre Bensusan’s ‘So Long Michael’ performed by Mike Dawes on Nick Benjamin’s 100th guitar.

This song features on Pierre’s fantastic ‘Intuite’ album and is a tribute to Michael Hedges, one of the most innovative and influential guitar players.

Mike Dawes is one half of Mike Dawes and Amy Turk.

For Jane, Elaine and Sian.

Nothingness

February 16, 2011

What does it mean to know and experience my own “nothingness?” It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as if I were someone other than myself. This kind of self-annihilation is only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility which, by saying “I am nothing” I mean in effect “I wish I were not what I am.

— Thomas Merton

I have always been impressed by Thomas Merton, although I have never read any of his works. I find him quoted by other people. I always think of Thomas Merton as a deep ecologist, more Zen Buddhist than Christian monk.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) Anglo-American Catholic writer, Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion.

I have no idea where I am going

February 16, 2011
winding road

winding road

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

From Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

I have always been impressed by Thomas Merton, although I have never read any of his works. I find him quoted by other people. I always think of Thomas Merton as a deep ecologist, more Zen Buddhist than Christian monk.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) Anglo-American Catholic writer, Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion.

For my lovely friend Sian.

Widespread public opposition to sell-off of public woods and forests

February 15, 2011
Hawley Wood

Hawley Wood

fungi in Hawley Wood

fungi in Hawley Wood

fungi in Hawley Wood

fungi in Hawley Wood

Who owns the public woods and forests in England? We do, that is the public do. Who says they should not be sold? We do, that is the public do.

Britain’s woods and forests for sale
For sale: all of our forests. Not some of them, nor most of them – the whole lot

This therefore begs the question: Why are these woods and forests up for sale?

Why is the government not listening? It is not only in the Middle East that there is a lack of democracy, there is a lack in our own back yard, or at least in our woods and forests. A YouGov poll last month found 84% of the British public wanted to see woods and forests kept in public ownership for future generations, ie they did not support the sell-off.

Huge majority oppose England forest sell-off
Survey finds opposition to privatisation of forest

The government is fast backpeddling. They are now saying not all will be sold, that some will be leased. But none of this is good enough. Leased, sold, these woods and forest should be taken off the market.

David Cameron ‘listening to all the arguments’ on forest sell-off
Has the government done U-turns on forest and nature reserves sell-off?
English forest sell-off put on hold

The amount of money that will be raised is trivial. It may even turn into a loss!

Privatising English forests could ‘cost millions in lost tax revenues’

You do not engage in ‘consultation’ when legislation is part-way through Parliament, and yet that is what is happening.

Consultation: Future of the public forest estate

A red herring, if not an outright lie, is now being peddled by the government. Look, we are told, at the decades of mismangement by the Forestry Commission, look at the serried rows of dank conifer plantations, look at the destruction of our native decidous woodlands.

All of which is true, or was true. Much of which was driven by tax breaks in the private sector. None has fought harder than I against such a policy. But the Forestry Commission has learnt over the last couple of decades, forestry is no longer seen as the extraction of timber from a conifer monoculture. Forestry is now seen as woodland and forest management, the importance of the wood and forest as habitat, the importance of biodiversity, the importance of recreation. And now the importance as a carbon sink.

Zero Carbon by 2030

The other argument peddled is that the forests and woods will be more efficiently managed in the private sector. What does this word ‘efficiency’ mean? It means profit, it means maximising short-term profit. This means serried rows of conifers, it means chip and burn, it means exclusion of the public, or restricted to defined routes not free to wander. If no money to be made from the trees, it means leisure parks, holiday camps, it means golf courses, it means car rallies, it means housing and warehouses.

From a biodiversity perspective, efficency means maximisng the biodiversity, but there is no profit in that.

We even have the Orwellian straight out of Nineteen Eighty-Four we are selling the woods and forests to ‘protect’ them!

The opposition is not coming from the mainsteam environmental groups, whose deafening silence or worse tacit support has been a disgrace, but has at least exposed their lack of genuine concern for the environment. This is a grassroots campaign. It has upset the public the thought of their favourite haunt being sold to some private corporation whose only interest will be what profit can be wrung out of the wood.

Fears over the future of Somerset forests
Forest of Dean selloff angers locals
Lean Dean Fighting Machine
Cameron faces the other countryside alliance in Grizedale forest

There is no surprise in this. The big groups are businesses, their business is campaigning. Campaigns are PR stunts to raise money. Many simply see the sell-off as an opportunity to expand their real estate, empire building.

Jonathon Porritt attacks conservation groups for stance on forests sell-off

I stuck two fingers up to the Woodland Trust years ago. They used to push out leaflets showing their rapidly expanding forestry estate. But that was all it showed. It did not mean these woods had been ‘saved’ as unless they were under threat, what were they being saved from? All that had happend was that the ownership had changed as the Woodland Trust lacked the resources then and I doubt it has the resources now to manage their woodland estate.

Similarly the National Trust. It owns large tracts of the English Countryside. But what in practice does this mean? I used to walk along the south west coast, the Welsh Borders, the Shropshire Hills. The despoilt parts I came across were those owned by the National Trust. I would see signs saying beauty spot, hoardes of grockles, ugly footpaths, car parks, litter, toilet blocks, tea shops. I recall the one valley in the Shropshire Hills the NT owned, the burbling stream was full of coke cans. I remember when Maggie Thatcher wanted to build a nuclear bunker in a woodland, the NT rolled over and gave in. More recently they have sold off land from an estate for housing.

National Trust enters English forest sell-off row

This is not the first time the public has been roused to protect its forests. Around 150 years ago there was a big campaign to save Epping Forest. It was saved by being bought by the City of London and brought into public ownership.

Many of our forests are Royal hunting grounds. The New Forest was established by William the Conquerer.

Our woods and forests are part of our cultural heritage.

Beware the forest fairies

We must stop this crass policy dead in its tracks!

Do your bit. Join the facebook group, sign the petition, sign the letter to David Cameron. If there is a rally to protect your local woods and forests get on down there. If not, organise one.

Fight the government’s forest sell-off
Britain’s woods and forests for sale

Il Divo – Nights In White Satin (Notte Di Luce)

February 15, 2011

Having said Il Divo had bastardised Nights in White Satin, this version is quite good, but I still prefer the Moody Blues.

This is like watching an up market clone of Take That!

Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin

How i met Paulo Coelho

February 15, 2011
Mari Martins

Mari Martins

I started reading PAULO when I was 22 … In that time I was a very insecure girl, and my self-estime was very low back then, I think because I had a very sad childhood, my father was a very violent man and I grew up watching him beating my mother and beating us.

Paulo Words came directly to my heart, I could feel that I could dream, that if I would believe in me i my dreams would become true. In each book i started to see myself, and it was a light in the tunel for me, Paulo became my inspiration , my whole world , I felt each word each story, I was not ALONE anymore.

I started to email him, most of the times asking for some advices, and his answers even small made all the difference, that emails made me believe in myself and gain trust in me. It could be only a quote but was the push I needed to start dreaming and following my heart.

One day Marcia from Brazilian fan club wrote me an email telling me that Paulo was going to be in Portugal May 2006, but I already had booked my holidays to Italy so theres no way I could change it …

Meeting Paulo became my biggest dream … I used to tell to myself … “Wake up Mari do u know how many people dream with that?????”

Well i continue my chasing, trying to make my dream come true.

May 2007 i went i went to Paris, i was happy i never been in Paris so i would see with my own eyes the love city!!!

One morning i was walKing down the Champes Elisees, when i notice a huge picture of Paulo Coelho outside the Virgin Records, back then i didnt understand anything in French, so i asked my friend to tell me what it was…when she told me that Paulo Coelho would be there to sign some books, i looked to her thinking that she was joking with me,when she ask the man was at the door, he said yes, that Paulo would be there …

Can you all imagne what i felt? finding him there in Paris without no explanation … ????

Well i had to wait some time to see him, meanwhile we went to the Louvre, but I must confess you my thoughts were in the moment i was about to live, i cried so much while i was waiting for him, after the Louvre we went to the virgin records, i was one of the first people to be in the Line, i bought one of Paulo’s books The witch of Portobello for him to sign it.

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho


My god my heart was beating too fast, tears were faling down my face, i couldnt believe it…
Then i saw Paulo … even if i try i cannot describe what i felt, that day was the happiest day in my life.

He look at the people and talked iin french, i look at him and said..” You dont need to speak French im Portuguse””””””

There were some people ahead of me … i couldn’t control my heart beat … my God i would i say ….

It was my turn!!!!! oh my god I just cried in front of him i started to tell him “One day i wrote to you telling you that one day i would look into you’re eyes and tell how much u mean to me …”

Paulo was touched by my words, i told him also that he was my light, my whole world, i grab his hands and told him “God bless you and thank you for changing my life”.

He look at me and he said “you are invited to have dinner with me tonight” i couldnt believe it, i was crying so much i was so happy, i felt that i could do anything … i couldnt be happier!!!!

I got lost in the crowd there were hundreds of people there … so i miss the dinner …

i spent weeks looking at the video and I couldnt believe that was me …

A week after i met him i had another invitation to see him but i was in Amsterdam flying to Portugal.

That moment with Paulo changed my life forever …

Its never too late to make all you’re dreams come true. If you dont find your dreams they will find you …i t happen with me .. the universe conspired to make me meet my angel the one that makes me be a better person everyday … Paulo Coelho.

Thanks to him i found a new family, friends that share their dreams with mine.

I was not lucky to have a father that loved me, but i was lucky to find so many people that believe in me, most of you my friends i dont know in person, but you all are so special to me, you are my family, my brothers and sisters, thank you al for loving me .. i love you too.

This heart-warming tale was posted by Mari Martins on St Valentine’s Day as a facebook note.