Remembering Shirley a year on…

Shirley Waite

19-4-1953 — 9-11-2018

Alphabet letters scatter themselves across my desk.

I tease words into shape, grow lines in perfect fit to

capture the spaces you left behind. Then rearrange

in a rhythm that remembers places we used to go.

And there you are!

In a Cafe, a book shop, the SJT,

at Woodend and Beach Hut

and a walk by the sea.

But Moira’s Den lies empty –

awaiting our next rehearsal.

Though your perfect prose needed no rehearsing.

I watch as you raise your pen, and, with a look of determination,

search your pages. Crossing out here, changing words there,

swapping sense around, conjuring new ideas.

Then, with the flourishing finish of a magician’s wand, your poem emerges

and the words flow from your lips as you recite the creation.

It becomes a beautiful thing.

I write my own words here and, as I fear,

the tear-stained page starts to rage

at the suddenness of death.

I steal the last line from your poem

to sign off and such

as I whisper to myself:

‘Miss you Qwerty. I love you very much.’

(last line from: ‘Heavenly Scrabble’ by Shirley Waite)

God-incident

It’s true what folks say about time going faster as you grow older. It can seem a bit like when you’re nearing the end of the toilet roll. Try tearing two sheets off and, before you can stop it, the remainder of the roll has unravelled and dropped to the floor. I’m not saying you need a toilet roll to mop up stuff that’s happened in your life but it would come in handy if it was that simple. However, it’s the nature of things that we are plunged into pits of despair sometimes in order for us to treasure our moments of mountain-top joy.

I have been in the pits myself lately. So many people I know have passed away this year that I found myself caught up in thinking about my own mortality and this, in turn, led me to withdraw from some of the activities I normally enjoy, resulting in my wallowing in my own misery for a time.

During this dark period I relied on my faith in God to pull me through and was rewarded with affirming glimpses of His glory and His love for mankind. I’d like to share one such glimpse with you and invite you to reflect and consider what it might mean to believe in a loving God.

First a little background.

I am currently attending a series of meditative reflections entitled Deeper into Prayer, the latest one being ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. During one of the meditations, the leader asked whether we thought non-believers who had died were in Heaven. She asked how many of us believed that they were not. She talked of how God had made clothes for Adam and Eve before ordering them to leave the Garden of Eden because they had disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 3:21). If God loved them so much that he did not send them out into the world naked, how could such a God turn anyone away from Heaven?

It’s a thought worth pondering over and I, for one, hope and pray that my own father, who believed there was nothing at all after death, is in Heaven. Maybe it’s enough that my believing that as I pray for him had made it true.

In life, I’ve always said there are no coincidences, only God-incidences, ie, God’s plan for our lives. One such incident unfolded the day after I’d attended this session on prayer when I came across a neighbour as I was entering and she was leaving a supermarket. It was the first time I’d seen her since her husband had died the week before. I gave her a supportive hug. She seemed in a contented state as she spoke of her husband’s release from the pain he’d been suffering. She had sat with him before the end and said it was as though he was watching something as he listened intently. When she spoke to him he said, ‘shush, wait a minute’. A minute later, he turned towards her and said, ‘you can go now.’ She slipped out for a coffee. When she returned he’d passed away. He was smiling.

Had God sent someone to accompany him on his final journey?

Her husband was a devout atheist while she believes in angels. She told me she’d been praying silently to Gabriel for her husband to be taken peacefully. We agreed that Angel Gabriel, in whatever form was unique to her husband, must have been who he had been watching and listening to.

This chance meeting (God-incidence) at the supermarket had brought us together for a reason. To help each other out in our different needs. My neighbour was able to release her tearful emotions as she told me her story. I received the gift of hope that someone had been there to guide my dad to Heaven just as someone had been there for her husband.

‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.’ (Ecclesiastes 3)

I hope you’ll allow these thoughts to soak into your soul for a while rather than reach for the toilet roll to mop them away.

With love and prayers to all.

Julie

The Beast from the East

This idea of the farm and lambs was inspired by the poetry session at Scarborough Writers’ Circle on 14th February, the inspiration behind the snow needs no explanation as it’s currently topical, unfortunately.

This piece was written for the next Scarborough Writers’ Circle on 13th March.

The Beast from the East

Funny how we can remember where we were the moment we heard Elvis had died, or when Kennedy was shot, or even when Diane took her last breath. But it’s only when the icy blast is in our midst that we remember the weather warning about the beast from the East.

We were not prepared for it slapping at our faces with its cold fingers, freezing our bodies to the bone, stopping the traffic, shutting our schools and keeping us prisoners in our homes. As we waited by our fires for the thaw, the snow kept on plummeting.

I was watching the storm from my window.

The birds on the rooftops fled the snowdrifts in chaotic scatterings towards bare-branched trees. They flitted from one leafless home to another, flapping their wings, fluttering for their lives, trying to keep warm. When they returned to their roost they discovered their young had fallen from their nests, and found them lying buried under fresh snowfall.

Surely I would have heeded the weather warning if I knew that this beast from the East would trigger a memory of a March day from my childhood, when we were trapped inside the white-out surrounds of our farm.

I was watching the storm from my window.

My mother scraped a frantic path through the snow with red raw hands and brought the young lambs into the kitchen, one by one, to keep them warm.

Later, she wrapped her own newborn inside a blanket and took him outside to meet an ambulance that didn’t arrive.

I toddled down the path soon after, following her faded footsteps, and found her and my brother lying buried under fresh snowfall.

Julie Fairweather

Perfect Sacrifice (INRI)

One hundred hearts made with loving care and sent out to one hundred artists by Untangled Threads.

The one hundred put their heart and soul into creating statements of themselves within their own concept of the WW1 heart-ship. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination and my vision was far bigger than my ability.

However, I am a Christian and I like to provide sacred spaces for prayer and contemplation. With this in mind, my inspiration – to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of WW1 – was inspired by the analogy of sacrifice that the soldiers made for our freedom and God’s sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, for the sake of mankind.

The significance of the heart being emptied of its sawdust represents God’s love pouring out for us at the cross of crucifixion (and the blood-shed of the soldiers). The pink scrolls (containing scripture verses) placed in the sawdust around the cross represent hope (God’s promises to mankind).

The miniature booklet that accompanies the work was created using the image from the St John’s Gospel Bible, which each soldier was issued with, to provide them the comfort of God’s promises during the war.

A copy of the prayer/contemplation booklet is free to take home with you from the exhibition and contains the following text:

‘There is no greater love than this; that a man would lay down his life for his friends.’ (paraphrase John 15v3)

A crown of thorns,

a pain-pierced side,

hands and feet impaled;

the blood poured from his body

as his precious love unveiled.

(Julie Fairweather)

‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ (1 John 4:11-12)

Brothers and Sisters,

when we are stripped of our selves,

of our expectations

and others’ expectations

of what we are or should be,

God’s grace will flow down

into our empty vessels

and fill us with the love He intended

for His purpose. His plan.

Not mine. Not yours.

Then God’s glory will shine from within us

to radiate this love we have received

and Mankind will rejoice in knowing

they are in the presence of love

because love is the essence of us.

(Julie Fairweather)

INRI: The sign used to mock Jesus at his crucifixion “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” would have been written, “Iesus Nazarenes Rex Iudaeorum.” Abbreviated, this phrase results in “INRI.” (John 19:19)

Replica WWI Active Service Saint John’s Gospels available free here.

All Shall Be Well

I’ve not posted on my blog since August 10, the reason being that I’ve been trying to make a decision about accepting a ‘goodwill’ offer regarding an unexpected inheritance. In my sub-conscience, I believe this is the foundation of my memoir in progress because the story it contains in its context is about my relationship with my father. I need to come to terms with that relationship’s effects on family and this, in turn, has become a stumbling block in the process and progress of my memoir writing project. I am paralysed. But at least I’ve identified the problem.

The money would fulfil the memoir ambition by providing the tools and resources I need to complete it and, once complete, it will be a great tribute to my dad, if I could just take the plunge with the decision and let go of the emotional memory attachment.

During my ‘time off blog’ I did manage to send off a 2,500 word entry to the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for short fiction (cafe theme) so fingers’ crossed for that one, though I would have liked to add an extra section to the story, I ran out of time. All is not lost though as it can be resurrected, rewritten and recycled to another competition. Or even a short stories self-published collection. See? Already I’m expecting it to be a non-winning entry. I must think positive now we are moving out of the darkness towards the light again. SAD is such a crippling condition.

I also enjoyed a visit to see my son Graeme in Brno, Czek Republic with hubby ’Ric and daughter Gaynor (I do love flying!). This was followed by a long weekend away to Eastbourne with Mum-in-Law and ’Ric.

Taking the above into consideration along with the usual things I attend such as: writer’s circle; singing and dancing groups; WOTL (Writers on the Loose – trio of performers); running a card group; going to the gym, walking around the beautiful North Yorkshire Coast, getting involved in church-related events, and the glorious run up to Christmas with community festivities, I have been quite busy. Such is the wonderful world of retirement.

In 2018, I will endeavour to make time to update my blog monthly, continue to write regular journal entries and, my number one priority, organise my memoir once and for all.

The end of the year is full of hope and promise for answered prayer and I thank God that there are people with fire in their belly enough to fight for the rights of those rendered helpless by their situation as they wait in their worlds of pain for a fair and just outcome.

Wishing you all love and light for Christmas and the New Year whilst taking heart that, in the words of Julian of Norwich, all shall be well.

Learning Curves: Writing My Memoir

I’m circling the edges of memory as I wake from a dream that seems to allude an important message that I can’t grasp. Maybe writing it down here will help.

The woman looked familiar as she attempted to speak. She came rushing towards me mouthing her words then faded out again before I could understand what she was trying to say.

She rummaged around on the ground digging up clumps of earth with her hands. I held out my upturned palms and she poured the soil into them. As she poured, I noticed tiny crystals shining through the soil, like glitter on a Christmas card. We sifted through it together, choosing which of the crystals we wanted to keep and tossed those we didn’t back onto the ground. It’s as if we were sharing our memories as we looked through the dirt of our past.

She disappeared.

When I called out for her to come back into the dream she revealed herself to me as my mother and smiled. She gave me a piece of crystal, the final memory from her life and said.

‘This is your life, not mine. It’s time to stop raking around in the past and live your own story to write down.’

Then she was gone and I’m left with an unfinished story of her life.

But I think I get the message now.

Someone else’s memories have no place in my life story.

I need to write my own truth, find my own way home.

Stone Soldiers

Gallery

This gallery contains 1 photo.

I heard a fascinating talk recently by Deacon Andrew Carter, a member of the Methodist Diaconal Order who shared, in word and image, from his own recent experiences of a journey millions of pilgrims have completed over thousands of years … Continue reading

Race4Life 2017

Racing for the life of someone I love who could be saved by Cancer Research

On 18th December 2015, the news that she had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer stunned me. It felt somewhat surreal that The Northern Lights decided to make a rare appearance over Scarborough Bay on the evening of the 20th and the memory of that beautiful sight was lost as my world began to fall apart when the word ‘terminal’ was used on 24th December.

Sister

Your diagnosis floored me.

SORRY, THE REST OF THE POST HAS BEEN REMOVED AND SUBMITTED ELSEWHERE. 31.1.19