Wednesday, 29 June 2011


A story by Wilf, January 2011, from an original idea by Catriona Campbell.

Once upon a time, God decided to paint a picture. It was a big picture. It went right up into the sky further than you could see, and no-one had managed to find out how wide it was. It is very difficult to describe this picture but it was wonderfully colourful. It had a big swathe running up the middle which was about the size of a motorway but more interesting, and lots of sticky-out lumps of paint, a bit like a Van Gogh; in fact some were as big as Van Gogh himself, mind you he wasn't very tall.

Lots of people came to see it; some loved it, some hated it, and this went on for a long time. Then strange things began to happen. Some of the people who came to see the picture disappeared. No-one knew how or where but they did.

This came to the attention of a group of people called The Society of Religious Experts - s.o.r.e.s for short - who decided it was a bad thing for people to disappear, particularly when they didn’t understand it (they didn’t like anything to do with the picture and had wanted to take it away but being several miles high and of indeterminable width this was difficult). So the s.o.r.e.s decided to station some of their members along the length of the painting to explain to people that it wasn’t a very good piece of art and hopefully to stop people coming to see it. This is where our story begins.

The Arbuckle family was Bert and Lucy and their two kids, Digger and Sprinkle, and they had come to see the picture. They looked in amazement. Bert stood in silence, which was rare, Lucy stood in silence, which was even rarer, Digger jumped up and down and Sprinkle laughed and cried and gurgled with delight.

Nettlebed, the s.o.r.e. on duty, was having none of this. “Ah good morning I can see you think you like this, er, picture.”
“Too right, mate, I am fair stunned,” replied Bert.
“Actually, you are quite wrong sir. It is a poor effort, you just imagine you like it - and you needn't behave like that, madam, it's quite uncalled for,” Nettlebed snapped at Lucy who was swaying dizzily before the miraculous sight.
“I bet you couldn't paint anything that big, mister,” said Digger.
“Or that bootiful,” said Sprinkle, between all the other noises she was making.
“That's quite beside the point,” Nettlebed continued, “All modern critical analysis says ...”
“Is that man alright dad?” interrupted Digger.
“Eh? Oh! I doubt it,” said Bert.
“Now I must explain a few things to you about this, er, installation,” said Nettlebed in a weird fatherly tone that would have given them the creeps if they had been listening. And he explained and explained and explained ...
While this was going on, a strange thing happened. Digger, who was still jumping up and down, finally jumped up but didn't come down; up and up he went until he disappeared at about three quarters of a mile, leaving a beautiful splash of colour where he'd disappeared into the painting. Sprinkle, not to be outdone by her brother, did the same but with somersaults and pirouettes; it was most impressive as she too dived into the picture. Bert and Lucy could hardly turn their attention from the amazing work of art, but the loss of their beloved children did distract them. Bert looked at Lucy with an odd grin. “What do you reckon, love?”
Lucy smiled. “I reckon love.”

With that they held hands and with only the slightest flex of their knees they were flying up and up and dived into the painting near where their children had led the way.

Now I must go back to Nettlebed. He was still droning on as he saw all this happen but because he didn't believe it he simply forgot it and when he came to the end of his lecture on the badness of the painting almost a month later and saw that the family had gone, he actually thought that he had convinced them to stop looking at it and go home! I can't say he went away and lived happily ever after but it lasted about ten minutes which was quite a long time for him. But his imagined success gave him an even bigger head than before, and that was very bad for him.

As for Bert and Lucy, Digger and Sprinkle, that is another story, but whether anyone can tell it I don't know, because where they are everyone is living the best story ever and no one has any desire to break off and write about it.

If you ever get to see the big picture have a look about three quarters of a mile up. On the left a bit there is a great big blob of paint sticking out where the Arbuckles dived in.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Hack it all down


We had a massive tree removed from our garden yesterday morning. I mean, this tree really was big. It was like - big!

Anyway, it's got me thinking, like these things do. This tree had taken over our garden without me really noticing. You see the trunk when you walk past on the way to the prayer shed and you hardly look up. Next time you go out, you see the trunk again, and above your head the tree has grown a little higher but you don't see it 'cos you hardly look up.

The other day, I stood by the pond and looked up.

It's was big. Nothing in the garden, or in anyone else's garden as far as the eye could see, is as big as our rogue sycamore. When you look up.

Things grow. Things get taller, wider. Things take hold, dig in, creep up. They take over, they loom over, they press down; they fester, they intimidate, they dominate. And we hardly look up.

We see the trunk as it always has been at eye level and we walk on by. Not seeing. Not looking.

There are parallels.

"He said this or that to me all those years ago." - and we don't look up.
"I can't talk to him about it." - I won't look up.
"She hurt me bad when she did that." - we don't look up.
"I've never said anything to her - how could I? What's the point, it won't change anything." - it's not worth looking up.

"She's a bitch," we say in our head, in our heart.
"I wish I'd never known him," or even, "I wish he were dead." Yet we smile when we see him. We greet him or her as a friend. But we never look them in the eye. That would be too painful, too impossible. We don't look up and see the fact that a hurt unexpressed, an unspoken offence has become a massive dominating tree of an issue. A grasping, clasping, creeping, crawling, root of an issue. We can't. It's too painful, and of course we have to protect ourselves above all other things 'cos we're selfish when it comes to this, blinded by our own shortcomings and inability to build strong, true, loving friendship. We're cowards who won't look up.

Let's call in the tree surgeons! Let's deal with the beasts of issues that dominate the garden, choking all the other plants. Let's be courageous and express the things we left unsaid.

No, let's rip up the germinating roots before they become a tree. Let's love.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I live in a universe
where wonder is a must

I live in a universe
where stars are made from dust

I live in a universe

where bees are kept
and birds are fed
and lilies tell your story if they’re read

where rain shines blue
and sun pours down
and light and life surround you when you frown

where breath’s a gift
and dreams come true
and the day’s a special treat designed for you

I live in a universe
where things aren’t quite
how they’re supposed to seem

where one thing doesn’t
necessarily lead to another
a bit like a dream

where you’re the lover
and we walk in wonder

s0upy – April 2009

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A marriage, a vow, and a new love is born

My brother got married over the weekend.

His fiancée is no longer his fiancée. His future, his present, his life, is now tied up with his wife in an inseparable, irrevocable way. They are one.

The legal bit, including the bare essential parts of the marriage vow, with the exchanging of rings, happened on the Friday. It was a short service, as is the way of the Registry Office, but it was deep and it touched the hearts of the close family gathered with them as they made their vows and were joined in the eyes of the law.

The more full ceremony happened on the Saturday in a meadow before all their friends and family, and this was what they saw as the main part of their marriage. They made deep, heart-rendering vows; exchanged their rings, having them first blessed by their mums; and, before being pronounced Husband and Wife, they had their hands bound together, tying to them all that had been promised, all the dreams and desires of those present, and of themselves, for as long as they both should live. This wild, unconventional ceremony, witnessed by family, by friends, by the trees, by the waters, by the very earth, witnessed by the angels, seen and smiled upon by God himself, culminated in a picnic to be enjoyed by all.

What an honour to be there. And what an honour to have had a hand in helping to officiate the proceedings. I now have a sister-in-law (and a beautiful one at that - well done, bro!) and a whole host of new family and friends to enjoy.

The strange, but quite pleasing, thing is that I'm feeling a new love for my new sister and her family, and for the friends that they share together, many of whom I met for the first time over the weekend. It's got me wondering where this new love has come from. When did it first appear in my heart and feelings? Could it be when they made their vows? It wasn't there before.

Can a vow birth love in the hearts of those who make it, and even in the hearts of those who hear it? Can a promise create love, or is it the other way round?