I greet 2016 in the light – waking late after an evening watching old Morse films and Endeavour. The need for story that absorbs and fills the mind helps to block out the coming three weeks that I will spend first in the Clinique de Notre Dame having my hip replaced and after in Vire Hopital Re-Education Unit – which my lovely doctor cheerily tells me is for ‘old people’. 2016 seems to be the year to disprove the adjective and to step resolutely forward.
Well here I need to stop because the quotation is dimly resonating but I can’t catch it. ‘Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man…’ catches I guess the spirit but maybe not where the power lies. Perhaps more ‘the native hue of resolution..sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’ is in keeping with the day. New Year is the time for resolutions to be written in the new notebooks, whether they’re strong or sickly, but it is odd to be in the position of not knowing what the next swathe of time/journey is going to be like.
I have been reading Maitreyabandhu’s book ‘The Journey and the Guide’ which is a course of Buddhist reflections, nudges and map references for taking the journey of life. I am very resistant to this kind of vocabulary but serendipity has been at it again dropping into my lap all kinds of journey-like readings. Maitreyabandhu’s ‘Yarn’ has been a beautiful, down to earth and humane view of life through the eyes of followers of Buddha and those, and others, met on the road, all wrapped up in the clear and succinct words that I love in his poetry. Then Clive James and Jenny Diski are writing with insight about the end of life and all kinds of poems in recent magazines seem to be about borders and passings.
What such reflection does, of course, is to focus the mind – not ‘hanging in a fortnight’ quite, but making real what matters in my life. Many things that I usually maunder on about seem suddenly quite irrelevant. Resolutions to send out poems more frequently, to keep up with the ironing in tandem with the washing, to plan meals ahead and keep the kitchen floor clean. Instead I consider how many times the sunrise brings the distance into focus – I love ‘the turned year on its one foot’ that I am certain has already brought more light into the orchard in the mornings since the solstice.
There is a Quaker saying about standing in the light which brings everything clearly into truth – there seems to have been much darkness and horror in the year that is now behind us. There is ‘an ocean of darkness and death,’ says George Fox but ‘there is an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness’. Here’s something to hold onto then. To stand in a place of light and not be afraid, to give up that need to control one’s destiny, to find the beauty of the world in the moment of light.
Our little Quaker group is meeting early this Sunday to sit together in silence, waiting on the light, and to send me off, after a meal together, to resolution, patience and positive anticipation of a better, more mobile but focused 2016.
How lucky I am.
Orchards in Skardu and at Le Marais, Normandie.