Eastering and pottering

Following a serious illness, I’ve been recovering- the Covid19 pandemic with its enforced separation, has been a gift although I miss not socialising (as I’m very much an extrovert). But the days of being alone and silent, reading, and resting have been worthwhile. I’ve managed to work, mainly via online platforms but any form of external visits have not happened.

But being at home, doesn’t mean end of creativity. So I’ve been able to do creative things such as writing and crafting. This was a recent creative endeavour during Easter, colouring boiled eggs with natural materials such as turmeric, onion skins, and coffee with layering on bits of leaves, flour paste and skin to create texture and decorations. In times of stress, any bit of creativity will enable healing. I also created a painting out of bits of used ‘Over head transparencies’- remember those? and odds and ends on a bit of discarded empty picture frame (without glass) found on the street. Even frozen water bubbles became an idea for musing about the passage of time. Cooking became a very creative pastime. I realised that anything can be creative if you want to make it so.

Easter eggs
A postcard using my image of frozen bubbles in water
My artwork using odds and ends found at home or discarded on the street

Pottering about is an art. Being creative is about being healing yourself- it is a magic!

We are all Quasimodos

There is a Buddhist story about a simple man called ‘Never disparaging’ who seeks the good in all but people chase him away, throwing rocks and sticks at him.  However, he continues and in the end, becomes the Buddha, an enlightened soul.  In the novel ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ by Victor Hugo is Quasimodo, a deformed ugly man with a heart of gold, who is reviled by all yet comes out as the best of all.  Quasimodo is also a simple soul but his generosity and bravery make him worthy of praise.  Both Never disparaging and Quasimodo are not clever but good.  What they teach us is goodness is better than cleverness.  Also, they are not good looking on the outside but from the inside, they are good.  So they teach us that it is better to be good inside than outside.  Nature makes sure that no one is perfect, even the most beautiful person has some physical defect, one side of our body is slightly different from the other.  Quasimodo’s hunch signifies the baggage we all carry- whether inside or outside.  So we are all Quasimodos in that respect but just like him, we also have that goodness.  To recognise that quality in ourselves and others all the time is the most difficult part.  And that is the struggle of everyday- to be kind, compassionate and good, not matter what.

The empty space in the walled garden- chance, failure and hope

Image(the walled garden, Ravenscourt Park, London– photo by author)

Today was a ‘nothing day’- a day of doing nothing much but achieving a lot.  I went to a talk about gardens at my local garden centre.  The speaker described herself as a ‘lazy gardener‘.  But she is not lazy at all- she is of course a self taught gardener, the author of two best selling gardening books, a mother with a houseful of dogs and a small daughter and, judging from the wonderful cupcakes she brought, an amazing cook!  And she said one of the most wonderfully simple things I have heard for a long time- “When you are happy, things just happen!”  Heavily pregnant and glowing, she was an embodiment of that infectious joy as she described how her gardening happened through chance, failure and hope.

On the way back, I sat in the walled garden near the garden centre, taking in the beauty of wildflowers growing through chance, failure and hope.  In the centre of this garden is an empty pedestal- might have had a sun dial in the past but now it was empty.  I thought about how there might be nothing visible in the long winter and then suddenly these beautiful verdant shoots push through the earth or the dry boughs of the tree in the spring, taking a chance at life, unfazed by failure and unfailing in their hope in life.   Nichiren said about nature and life- “Winter always turns to spring.”  Hope is a part of nature- it must be ours too.

I reflected on how, like that empty space in the walled garden, we must have an empty space in our lives too, a day of doing nothing in order to appreciate this bounty that nature gives us every year.  As William Henry Davies told us,

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”