The Freshly Waxed Sled

We were treated to a heavy snowfall. It stayed for a week, but now is gone. It was a nice lead up to the seasonal festival here in the hills, where the soundless blanket of frozen crystals fell from the air. It seemed as if we were living in a scene from a Christmas card.

I am old enough to remember snowfalls that almost completely buried the houses where I lived, and which endured for many months. Temporary ski slopes were created in the unlikeliest of places, and I used to go sledding almost every day. Most of the roads were impassable for traffic, so walking to school and back was akin to embarking on an arctic expedition, which came complete with freezing flurries, and howling winds. Also ambushes, and pitched snowball battles with rivals from other schools. That was 62/3. Winters have never been so good since.

One day, I was having a go on my best friend’s freshly waxed sled on the street where he lived. Face first, and like a torpedo, I flew down the hill unstoppably towards the junction at the end, accompanied only by the cold wind singing in my ears. The road down there must have been gritted that morning, because I realised suddenly as I cleared the street, that my head was about to collide with the front wheel of a moving car. He must have been the first driver on that road in months. I just glimpsed the shock on his face, when at the instant his wheel should have crushed my head, I was lifted up by the collar of my coat, still clutching the sled, and was placed standing safely on the side of the icy road. This all happened in the blink of an eye. Thinking that my friend had somehow rescued me, I turned and shouted a heartfelt thanks, but there was nobody there. My friend was a quarter of a mile away. The car slid to a halt, and the driver got out. He said nothing, just gawked at me in what looked like complete disbelief, tinged perhaps with a little bit of fear. Cognitive dissonance, I suppose. Then he drove away, and I never saw him again.

My friend was greatly puzzled, but after an excited debriefing session, we agreed that for us, angels are proven, and nothing would ever take that knowledge away from us. We were nine.

Countless, I’m sure, are the numbers of people, who have, and who will experience such things, and although we live in a world that prefers us to keep it all to ourselves, we will alway know what is really true – and so will our angels. And that has to be a blessing.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas, and a safe and holy season in the arms of the giver of life. Let us remember in our hearts, all those who will not have it so good, and perhaps find time to reflect on the ebb and flow of things that cannot be quantified by any organ other than the heart.

On the Eve of the Winter Solstice, Peace from Amras.

Soundlessly they go,
the herons passing by:
arrows of snow
filling the sky.


Yamazaki Sōkan (1464-1552), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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Brushing the Leaves

With fondest regards to all our readers. This is another guest post from Chris, featuring pics taken during his recent trip to Dodona, Greece, and the exciting tale of his adventures at this remote location. Take it away Chris.

This has been a place of the oracle for thousands of years. The oldest of the oracle sites by far. Its origins spring from the divine 
feminine and Gaia millennia ago. I sat with my hands brushing the leaves of the sacred oak (long since gone of course but now replaced) as the wind rustled the tree. The oracle it seems spoke to the priestess in exactly this way.

The journey was its own tale. We set out the day before, following a straightforward route on good roads. One wrong turn will take a traveller onto boulder rivers that run for miles. And so for us. Here we collected two punctures. The car abandoned, we walked for miles without meeting a soul. Except one wild bearded man whose clothes seemed to be from a another age. He walked with bearing and indifference.

He reminded me of a Sarkatsan, as described by Patrick Leigh Fermor in his book ‘Roumeli’.
The wanderings of Patrick Leigh Fermor, have panache and romance and were always conducted with a deep respect for ancient peoples and cultures. 
His first honour as a human being was bestowed upon him when he was expelled from Kings College Canterbury. At the age of 18, he walked from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. From here various adventures in Macedonia and Greece, where in Athens he met Balasha Cantacuzène, a Romanian Phanariote noblewoman. They fell in love and set up home in an old watermill outside the city. The couple stayed together till he returned to England at the outbreak of war. He was sent to Crete during the war, and after the end of the war, continued travelling and writing.

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s travels are remarkable enough (and pretty much impossible now), but as a writer he was unsurpassed. He died in 2011. It was said in his obituaries, he was the best writer of his time.
 Patrick Leigh Fermor spoke ancient and modern Greek and eventually learned Sarkatsan. That the Sarkatsans recognised him was unusual. Outside of a keen watchfulness of current ‘goings on’, enough to preserve their safety, Sarkatsans do not recognise or give attention to the values of modern Greece, modern living or the ways of foreigners. (Fermor was then writing of mid 20th century Greece). Sarkatsan rituals, dress code and nomadic way of life have remained unchanged for perhaps 3000 years and maybe longer. Well that’s how PLF described them in the 1940s and 50s. I have no idea how they have fared in the sixty odd years since. Our mountain route crossed areas that have fed and watered Sarkatsan animals for millennia. So I like to think the man we encountered was Sarkatsan.

We were blocked from Dodona that day, but the next day’s journey was error free and effortless. An air-conditioned tarmac smooth 90 minutes. Disgorging from a tin can is an odd way to encounter this place.
 To show some perspective of the site, there is a photograph of me, leaning against one of the massive supporting walls that surround the amphitheatre. For the purpose of scale, note the man walking towards the front of the amphitheatre. The  supporting wall (where I was photographed) is the second tier above him. You could not get a Euro note between those massive stones.

Yet the scale of the amphitheatre was no preparation for the energy at the place of the oracle and sacred oak. The smell of wild thyme, a warm breeze and the sound of bees. I did not want to leave this place. It is with me now. 
As for Sarkatsans; these people have a living memory of Dodona as the preeminent oracle of the ancient world. Through their oral  tradition and way of life, unchanged for millennia, Dodona breathes its spirit into the world.

 

Dodona small

 

Wasn’t that great? I hope you found it inspiring. Thanks are due again to Chris, and to all you good readers and followers. I have been very unwell again of late, If any kind soul wishes to say a little prayer for me, it will be truly appreciated. My sincere thanks in advance.

Until next time, may we know peace; and may we all come to enjoy the priceless blessing of possessing a clear conscience.

 

[I have] a heavenly vase full of autumn leaves.

They look so beautiful.

How much closer to God can one get?

Lotte Lenya.

 

Photography ©Christopher Hammond.

Set Sail for The Sun

Liverpool Sunset

Hello readers. We’re back with a quick post, and a lovely pic of a serene sunset. It was taken in Liverpool by one of Amanda’s sisters, and I think it’s beautiful.

The last time I visited Liverpool was over twenty years ago. I was on business. I arrived very early, and went in search of breakfast. The only place I could find open was one of Ronald’s notorious eateries. Having never used one before, I was curious. In I went, and ordered a meat free meal; payed for it, looked at it, and left it. I went instead to the news agents next door, where I bought a Mars Bar. One of life’s little lessons, I suppose.

We will have more from Liverpool soon. In the meantime, may you be at peace with yourself, with your friends, and with your neighbours.

Farewell from Amras.

 

May my thoughts be ever pure,

from true love my actions spring,

may my ways be strong and sure,

and my heart life’s praises sing.

 

 

Photography ©Jayne Perry.

Nocturne

That night

Greetings, I hope you are keeping well. The artwork above was inspired by a photograph taken over a decade ago. What I have done is process it to resemble an oil painting, using software that employs a remote pad and stylus to imitate canvas and brushes. It makes for a very pleasing effect I think.

The night the pic was taken, I was visiting a local lake, supported by Luke, a strapping teenager at the time. When we got there, there was mud underfoot, the surrounding trees stood black against the sky, and glowing faintly, just above the lake, hung a tiny will-o’-the-wisp.

The quote below the title is from one of my martial arts teachers, and feels right for this post.

I want to thank all you kind readers who support this blog, with your uplifting comments, your likes, and your own highly inspiring blogs; so well worth every visit. Simply, thank you.

I hope to return soon. Until then, may the rain fall gently on your fields.

Peace from Amras.

“Finally, may we indeed, keep in our hearts, that our humble blogs are the spirits that keep the World Wide Web humane. Let us use this gift to flourish as people! Let us cherish one another! And be thankful for one another, because at some point, we touch our respective lives.”  ~ Aina Balagtas https://poemsmelodiesandme.wordpress.com

Photo Art © Francis Moloney.

 

As Hot as June

 

Continuing our marathon picture posting period, this time at our local garden centre. It was a March day, as hot as June, and time to pick some garden blooms. With its friendly tea shop, and pleasing atmosphere, our time in the see through nursery was well-spent.

As you can see, while Amanda was busy, choosing flowers, I was relaxed, sampling tea.

So, until next time, I will raise my cup and say a hearty cheers to all our readers.

 

Those whose eyes are open do not need to go to a church and look at a picture or statue of the Lord. In the eyes of every infant, in the smile of every innocent child, they receive the blessing of Christ.

Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan

 

 

 

 

Photography ©Amanda Moloney.