scribbles tagged ‘religion’

mourning of the funeral

Friday, December 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

Poppy checks funeral detailsDad’s funeral was just right for him. The funeral directors were excellent. A man from the funeral directors in a top hat with a silver-tipped long cane walked in front of the hearse as it approached the crematorium. Something wonderfully reverent, respectful, about this little show. I couldn’t deal with the physical presence of Dad’s body. Being in the same room as the body that no longer hosted the dad I knew was overwhelming. From the moment the hearse pulled out in front of our cortege car I was in full mucus-soaked tears, unable to pull words together.

Despite dearly wanting to say some words at the ceremony, I opted put, unable. I hadn’t anticipated being the blubbiest of the family though I was well prepared with multiple thick white cotton handkerchiefs. Everything went smoothly. The funeral was a very traditional, Christian, event. The archaically expressed Christianity didn’t speak to me, the sentiments and shared respectful kind words were good to hear in the company of so many people who’s lives he’d touched. My brother’s tribute was spot-on, as was Dad’s ex-boss’s.

I didn’t wear a hat (Mum’s request), I didn’t wear black. Mum requested that I wear my new dark-blue tailored suit, she wanted me to look good and talk bout my new job with the guests. Only a couple of people wore hats, they looked good.

I wonder how the funeral process will change over time? Live twitter feeds with hashtags projected on the wall relaying condolences from those who can’t be present? Live camera shot of the coffin moving to the incinerator?

The wake made much more sense than the funeral. It was good for me and I hope for the guests. More emphasis on the wake please.



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restless energy

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |


energy saving bulb and cloudsI expected to have difficulty sleeping. 3 nights of gaining consciousness every 90 minutes, looking at the clock then falling back asleep. Only 3 nights?!

There’s a sense of guilt about not being sufficiently disrupted. Tired from reduced sleep,  yet I seem to have so much more energy than normal. Energy that is helpful for thinking through what needs to happen, double checking things after being easily distracted, making arrangements, making lists.

This energy seems to be swept along and shaped by what’s happening around me. My family, and work, are calm so this energy is mainly good but it could easily go off track.


While driving to work I sang along with Joe Jackson’s “Is she really going out with him?”. My emotions so quickly got wrapped up in the anger of the song. I’m not really angry, but I wouldn’t recommend including me in religious or political discussions for a while…

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General cemetery for none-specific cash burials

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

General Cemetery - beautiful on a sunny dayThe Sheffield General cemetery is a registered charity run by trustees, this means it’s a ‘private’ rather than ‘public’ cemetery.  Wild and unkempt, graves unplotted and stones crumbling. It’s one of the earliest commercial cemeteries, and garden cemeteries, in Britain. People paid to be buried here in good company of other wealthy people. They were the new ‘Middle’ class who were mainly ‘Dissenters’, Nonconformists, Protestants who were separate from the Church of England. The cemetery was probably a symbol of the rise of these non-conformists outside of the gentry who inherited their wealth and were mainly Church of England.

The General cemetery is less than 2.5 miles away from the Sheffield City Road cemetery which run by Sheffield local government, a public cemetery. It was built 45 years before the City road cemetery in 1836 because:

“Graveyards were overflowing and there was an urgent need to find more space for the bodies (safe from body snatchers!)…   …where people could be buried in a way that reflected their earthly wealth and status…   …in a ‘remote and undisturbed’ location. It became established as the principal burial ground in Victorian Sheffield containing the graves of 87,000 people…

General Cemetery Grand entrancewayIt took me about 40 minutes to walk the uphill mile from the city centre train station to the General cemetery. Poor people were buried in this private cemetery, but not with individual graves. Their website announces that the General cemetery throws all the bodies of the poor into one plot, it contains:

“the largest single grave plot in the country, holding the bodies of 96 paupers “

This was about making a profit for the private company shareholders, they did it by:

“burying paupers for the Poor Law authorities. They charged five shillings (25 pence) for each pauper. Then they waited until they had a cartful of them and saved space by burying them all in a single plot”

General cemetery for none-specific cash burials
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indignation 1832 Sheffield style

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

A 1832 letter to a Royal commission investigating the Church of England’s revenues:


It is a matter of the deepest regret and surprise that no steps are taking by the Dissenters in England, at this critical juncture, to assert their principles and claim their just rights, when it is generally understood that his Majesty’s ministers, or at least the majority of them, will concede nothing to us which they can possibly avoid; and that they intend to bring forward, next session, their plan of church reform, the tendency of which will be decidedly unfavourable to our interests, and will consolidate the political power and influence of one dominant sect.…

If, then, we owed Earl Grey and his colleagues any debt of gratitude, for doing us an act of justice before they took office, in getting the Test Laws repealed, we have now paid it; and it is time to look to our own interests, in which are involved the best interests of the country.

We are required to submit to the domination of a corrupt state church; to be governed by bishops; to see £3,5000,000 at the least (but more likely £5,00,000) annually expended in the maintenance of a clergy, of whom a vast majority do not preach the gospel; to see the cure of souls bought and sold in open market; to have the Universities closed against us, and all the iniquities of those degraded places continued; to be taxed, tithed, and rated to the support of a system which we abjure; to be compelled to submit to objectionable rites and ceremonies at marriage, baptism, and burial; – in one word, to be left out of the social compact, and degraded.…

We have hitherto demanded too little; and, consequently, we have been refused everything worth caring about. The bill for relieving places of worship from the poor rates, which was the fruit of the labours of the last session of Parliament, is no boon to us. It applies to churches in the establishment more than to ourselves, and I doubt much whether it will save the Dissenters £50 a year. I fear we have even misled the Government itself by asking for trifles, when we ought to have been contending for great principles. What signifies a small church-rate, when we should be contending against a corrupt state church? What is the trifling amount of procreates levied upon a very few of our chapels, in comparison of millions of pounds annually expended on a secular and dominant clergy? – and all this is done in a country burdened with a debt which grinds all! The real points at issue between the Government and us are very few, and may soon be stated. They are chiefly as follow, viz: –

1st. A total disconnection between church and state, leaving the details consequent thereupon to be dealt with by Parliament.

2nd.The repeal of the Act of Charles II., which enables bishops to sit in the House of Lords.

3rd. The repeal of all laws, which grant compulsory powers to raise money for the support of any church whatever.

4th. The reformation of the Universities, the repeal of all religious tests, and a grant of equal rights in them.

5th. A reformation of the laws relating to marriage and registration with equal rights in places of public burial.

No Government whatever could long resist any of these just and reasonable requirements, if perseveringly demanded; and it is well known that several members of the present administration would gladly and promptly grant all of them.… Our political power is far more justly estimated by our opponents than by ourselves, and few of the members of Parliament would venture to be indifferent or opposed to our wishes. Lord Durham knows us well, and his advice is particularly applicable to us: ‘The power rests with yourselves, now, to instruct your representatives as to the measures which you, the respectability and intelligence of the country, have set your hearts on, and they will inevitably be carried.’

I am, Sir,
Your very obedient servant,
George Hadfield

indignation 1832 Sheffield style
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the unburied are dangerous or injurious to the public health

Sunday, June 9th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

route to CCI 19097Gray graves some falling overThe ‘City Road’ cemetery in Sheffield is well maintained, the grass is cut, fallen stones are repositioned, and mature trees shade the pedestrian walkways through it’s extensive hillside grounds. It has separate Church of England, Nonconformist and Roman Catholic burial grounds. Originally known as the Sheffield Township Burial Ground or Intake Cemetery (City Road was formerly called Intake Road), it was renamed the City Road cemetery when it was taken over by Sheffield City Council in 1900.

It was built because of:

1) the rapidly increasing population in Sheffield.

“1736 Sheffield and its surrounding hamlets held about 7000 people, in 1801 there were around 60,000 inhabitants, and by 1901, the population had grown to 451,195” (Wikipedia)

“By 1841 there would be 110,000 people within its [Sheffield town] boundaries, and hardly any sanitation…   …disease was common and people did not live long. At this time the citizens of Sheffield died at an average age of just 27…   …The huge number of deaths at this time” (Sheffield General cemetery website)

2) the rapidly dying population in Sheffield due to a cholera epidemic that started in the town during 1832:

“meant that the churchyards in Sheffield were becoming full to overflowing. The dead were often kept under the floor of the church, and sometimes in these places you could really smell death…   …it was not unknown to see bits of corpses sticking out from the overfilled graves” (Sheffield General cemetery website)

3) and the introduction of ‘Burial Act’s which still apply today. These Acts required that dead people are buried, even the poor who can’t afford to pay for burial, because of the health risk associated with their lying unburied.  The local parish is required to fund the burial of the poor:

“persons as may have the care of any vaults or places of burial, for preventing them from becoming or continuing dangerous or injurious to the public health; . . . and such . . . persons shall do or cause to be done all acts ordered as aforesaid, and the expenses incurred in and about the doing thereof shall be paid out of the poor rates of the parish”

City Road cemetery is the largest cemetery in Sheffield:

“opened in 1881…  …It covers 100 acres, and is the largest owned by Sheffield City Council…   …By September 2005 almost 163,000 people had been buried within the cemetery occupying over 20,000 graves; some having as many as 8 or 9 bodies in them”

Entrance viewed From the CrematoriumSoon after the cemetery opened Sheffield was granted a charter to become a city in 1893. This garden cemetery was  commissioned and funded by the “Sheffield Township Burial Board”.   Their visits to Birmingham’s Whitton cemetery and Liverpool’s Anfield Cemetery probably influenced their  decisions about the lay-out and running of the cemetery. In 1878 the land for the cemetery was purchased from the fifteenth Duke of Norfolk for £13,625. A requirement of the purchase was that a proportion of the ground would be allocated for Roman Catholic burial. This requirement suggests to me that Catholics in England still suffered from discrimination. That is, the Duke of Norfolk didn’t expect a burial ground to automatically include Catholics, he felt the need to specify that the should be included to avoid them being excluded.

Hillside graves of many shapes and sizesLocal architects Messrs M E Hadfield and Son designed it to include Church of England and Nonconformist chapels. A catholic chapel was added in 1889. As-if the designers planned without including a Catholic area and had to retrospectively add it because of the purchase agreement.

the unburied are dangerous or injurious to the public health
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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

St Margarets churchSt Margarets churchI’m in Swinton to look for the burial plot of Peter (1873) and Mary (1870) Robertson in St. Margaret’s church.

St Margaret’s Church is a large parish church, suggesting the town was wealthy when it was last built, following a fire, in 1899. The walls of the church are puritanically plain with a simple wall hanging between each window marking the stations of the cross, from the passion. I associate the 14 stations of the cross with Catholicism.

Some gravestones mark burials as early as 1843. The earlier graves are closer to the church. Many of the grave markers are missing. Once there would have been neat rows of east-west facing stones. It looks like nearly half of the stones in this early part of the graveyard have gone. Fallen. When I asked the Verger about the missing stones she said it was due to ‘Subsidence’, quite literally fallen. There are no maps of the burial plot, she doesn’t know of any records. I suspect they were lost in the fire of 1897, I’ll ask the vicar.

St Margarets graveyardSt Margarets bluebells in the graveyardI’d emailed the Vicar 2 weeks before visiting, he hadn’t acknowledged receiving my email. He must be a very busy man.  Two hours carefully uncovering, reading, the names on all the headstones in the older part of the graveyard, I regret not having  phoned the Vicar before I visited.

While I search the graveyard children run through, it’s a through-route to the local park. Elderly people carry shopping through the graveyard, it’s a through route between social housing bungalows and the main shopping high street. This place is alive with people.  Most passers-by say hello and comment on the lovely weather.

This is a warm, friendly place

The Verger explained that the Vicar is very busy.  The Verger looks busy. She is here. The Vicar only answers the phone in his office, in the church, but he’s rarely there. I wonder what keeps the vicar so busy away from the home of his congregation.  The Verger suggests that I visit the church on a Monday night between 6.30 and 7pm, that’s when the Vicar comes to meet the public and deal with things like arranging weddings. But not this Monday because he’s very busy with Whitsun.  Again, I wonder how this vicar spends his time caring for his living flock.

Alas, I didn’t find Peter (1873) and Mary (1870) Robertson’s burial plot. I did spend a very pleasant afternoon looking.

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passed and past

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

planted crossThe graveyard at Cemetery junction in Reading town is a ‘Garden Cemetery’, designed and planted to enable visitors to promenade.

Most weekends I’ll take a stroll around the cemetery, enjoying the natural peace and beauty and the wonderful sculptural art placed there as remembrances to people….

passed and past

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as we know it

Friday, December 21st, 2012 | tags:  |

For p7 day forecastosterity.  Today’s popular  memes.

the end of the world as we know it

as we know it
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on not taking things literally

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 | tags: ,  |

Vineyard Christian (VC): Can you speak in tongues?

I can speak conversational french, but given the context I don’t think that’s what he meant, he might find this  comment flippent or sarcastic and definitely inappropriate for such a serious question

wendy: I don’t think so

VC: let me pray for you

wendy: sure, thanks

I listened to his words as he easily chose things to say to me, a stranger. Words and thoughts as gifts through his language of prayer

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welcoming the green man

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Early morning climbing the steep hillside at Streatley to the Ridgeway with friends.  We watched the solstice sun rise  in the distance. Toasting the arrival of the green man with mead, elderflower champagne, and sloe gin made with sloes from a nearby tree. Then cleansing each other with some homegrown sage smudging

After some dancing around local labyrinths and rambling through forests we made our way home for fried-egg sandwiches all around. An excellent start to the new year…

Solstice Sunrise Long shadows

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top of the word

Monday, October 31st, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Virgin me!

Never been on the roof of a Catholic Cathedral…until….NOW!

on the roof of the cathedral

 Watching the mason’s cut stone, in-situ, to fit windows. Clouds of stone-dust swirling into the air. Orange roofs, the mediterranean, in the distance. Being on top of a Cathedral gives you all sorts of new perspectives and an appetite for Paella…

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one small letter can mean so much

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The wedding practice-party mingle in the sunshine outside St James and St William of York church. I skirt the party and slip into the substantial entrance porch of Pugin‘s psuedo Norman church. A handsome young man in the porch is talking on his mobile phone:

I’d just like you to take the “a” off the end of my name. At the moment it looks like two girls are getting married – Nicola and Alexa. My  name is Alex not Alexa. Please just put it right

I imagine the wedding with the grooms name miss-spelt as a girls name. If they are having the rehearsal, the wedding is probably fairly soon, I am impressed at how well the groom maintains a semblance of calm as he delivers his plea


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a girl, swan, and a monk

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Reading town has many sculptures, often hidden in unobrusive places where you stumble across them. Suprises in unexpected places.Very pleasing

Girl and SwanA girl and a swan

Sculpture by:  Lorne McKean

The girl and swan are easily found at the front of Arundel House, downtown. on Kings Road. I love the way the swan attached to the wall looks like it’s light, it’s flying. I find the seemingly nude, pre-pubescent female figue slightly disturbing


Sculpture by: Elizabeth Frink

A fully covered, adult, standing monk has raised his left arm as if about to gesture. Less than 1,000 feet from the girl and the swan it is more difficult to find. Not on a main thoroughfair. In a garden on a quiet walkway within the ruins of Reading Abbey alongside Reading Gaol

I wonder why he’s raised his arm, is it a greeting or the natural swing as he walks?


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inspirational places

Saturday, September 17th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

The sound of christian church bells calling people to prayer cheerfully echos around the Wendy House garden on a Sunday morning. In April London Road, Wokingham Road, Cumberland Road, adjoining streets and park come alive with orange clad Sikh’s singing and sharing goodwill in the streets for Nagar Kirtan

MosqueUntil recently there were only a couple of Mosques in Reading town. Converted buildings rather than purpose built. Can you imagine approximately 10,000 local Muslims using a couple of tiny converted buildings?

Reading town’s first purpose built Abu Bakr Masjid Islamic centre is part of the solution, and nearly complete. It adds wonderful colour, spirituality and architectural interest to the already diverse and vibrant Oxford Road

It’s on the outstanding Number 17 bus route. Alas, it’s not big enough for 10,000 muslims

Another beautifully architected Mosque is now planned for East Reading, also on the awesome Number 17 bus route

Reading town feels multi-cultrual and as-if people care about more than just the acquisitiveness of capitalism


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Quaker principles driving the abolition of slavery

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Pottering around the internet sorting through descriptions of Reading town’s Quaker history I stumbled across this beautiful piece of trivia:

The first petition to the UK Parliament for the abolition of slavery was prodcued by the Quakers in 1783.  Looking at the photo of the actual petition gives an insight into the scale of this exercise at a logistical level, before even considering the other difficulties. Despite believing in human equality, none of the signatures are from women. Though some ground has been gained we are still fighting for equality, slavery still exists – mainly women. The second most profitable organised criminal industry, after Drug trafficking

Quaker principles driving the abolition of slavery
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ways of describing the vernal equinox

Sunday, March 20th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Ostara, in the form of a hare is cohorting around the garden today, delighting the local adult children (Sampo and I) celebrating the shift from more than 12 hours of night to more than 12 hours of daylight.

With a clear view of the sky, in the Wendy House orangerie, the circular dining table has taken the role of an altar dressed in green cloth, laid with candles, flowers, seeds, pen and paper. Drinking large mugs of hot spiced apple juice from the caldron on the woodburner. Yummy. In a small celebration we’ve danced a clockwise circle round the table, written our hopes and desires on the paper, burnt the paper. Tomorrow I’ll put the ashes in the garden, plant the seeds where the growing daylight will nourish and draw them towards the sky

That’s the vernal equinox described in story form. The focus is on the people words that draw images and emotions, describing what people do and how they do it. This writing style is traditionally the domain  and humanities.

I find the scientific style of writing which often deliberately excludes explicit reference to people and beliefs fascinating in itself. Some ‘social sciences’ have included people by treating them as the objects to be studied, for example psychology that conducts research with human participants (not called people) and produces research papers written in the scientific tradition of the passive 3rd person. Wikipedia articles are examples of writing in the 3rd person passive, which I understand as core to the current scientific style. Wikipedia describes the vernal equinox in detail.

Here’s a few things I found out written in a more scientific style:

The word “vernal” is of Latin origin and refers to the season – spring. The word “equinox” is another word of Latin origin that means “equal night”. The vernal Equinox is a time when day and night are of nearly equal length, 12 hours, across the world. Today is the March equinox, which is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere.

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more boxes

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

mausoleumsRecently we’ve considered telephone boxes and police boxes.

These boxes are for another form of communication. Can you see the resemblance?

These boxes house the remains of deceased family members, momentos of the lives of those people. People visit them to talk to their spirits, and their gods

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‘peeling church bells

Sunday, October 31st, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Why I love England #15:  ‘peeling church bells

Seattle Sunday and Saturday felt interchangeable. The main percievable difference was that Saturday night heralded a sleep-in while Sunday night heralded the start of the working week. Saturday and Sunday were both filled with open, buzzing, malls, bowling alleys, ski-slopes and roads. Returning to England returned my beautiful Sundays.

English Sundays start well with a warm, naturally slow, awakening. Things just keep getting better from there. Whether sunshine, rain, fog, drizzle… going out in it or staying in, the choice is mine and the doing is free from shopping. Then comes the distant peal of church bells. Sunday gives time to be with beautiful people; to do nothing or something. Perhaps a spot of painting, a walk in the park, pull weeds from the garden, talk, listen.

On colder days a log fire fills the house with the gentle scent of warm woodsmoke, the clicking of the Stove as it warms, the sparking of logs and roaring of flames.  Lashings of tea, Sunday lunch followed by lashings more tea.

An evening amble to a pub quiz, real ale, laughter, debates and arguments in the company of friends.

Sunday draws to a close with me all wrapped up in sweet smell of fresh laundry and crisp, silence, of the white cotton sheets. They engulf me as I contentedly fall into deep sleep.

‘peeling church bells
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be aware

Sunday, August 8th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Many is the time when a rogue glass door has given me a nose bleed.

Looks like the Pope will be visiting to sort-out this door’s naughtiness. Meanwhile the glass door’s nefaious intentions have been temporarily quashed by the addition of instructions, at nose height, to BE AWARE.

I am loving the message to ‘Be Aware’ on the entrance to a church.

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campfire cowboy ministries

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Kevin,  a thoughtful minister from the campfire cowboy ministries kindly asked to use a Wendy House photograph of a Beartrap in a post about Beartraps for cowboys to avoid on the trail.

How excellent is that?!   Real cowboys!  

I said ‘yes of course’,   while thinking YEE-HAW!

Modern Cowboys use pick-up trucks and big trailers

Modern Cowboys use pick-up trucks and big trailers

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super being service

Monday, March 15th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

 a very busy hotline,   very personal service, hot and personal

Jonny Cash sang  personal jesus

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kings and queens

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

of the office Christmas party

Elvis & paper crowns

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Sunday, December 13th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

you’re the only girl for me

We laughed together at his assertion.    It was one of the most honest expressions of closeness I’d heard then or since.

After two weeks of dating that involved lots of

  • laughter,
  • sleeplessness,
    loud singing after dark,
    passionate debating of  the relative efficacies of pychological theories,
    burning of incence, nicotene and canabis

He dumped me.

Easing the suprise with the phrase ‘you’re the only girl for me’ and  explaining that he preferred boys.   With hindsight, this explained the dearth in exchanges of bodily fluids.

20 years later. He’s still passionate, humourful, debating, smoking, prefering boys and I’m still the only girl for him.   Only now there is even  less excahniging of bodily fluids because the boy’s grown into a christian


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night felucca in Cairo

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

.Listen to the city at night while I watch this sail boat, felucca, cross the Nile after sunset.  

Later that evening I experienced the rare treat of watching a whirling dervish.   The whirling Dervish are traditionally Sufi people and the dance takes them to another plain of consciousness.   Kiddies often discover whirling without any input from religious organisation.   Whirling is a natural way of connecting with the earth,   in my case normally by falling over.   I loved their outfits, the music, the balance, skill and peace.

The sounds of Egypt were so much more beautiful than the sounds of western cities.

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bringing home the bacon

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Friend in Cairo:   we’re meeting a man on the street corner to pick up some bacon

DowntownWe loitered on a street corner.   An old mecedes pulled up,   a Egyptain looking man wearing very dark sunglasses,   smoking a cigarette, got out of the car holding an unmarked white bag.   He looked at us, at my blonde friend and called her name.   She walked over.

As a muslim country,  rearing pigs, slaughtering them and distributing thier meat is not a high demand business.   Listening to my friend and the man talk I heard the fear of the non-muslim.

Friend in Cairo: the children at my school think that you catch swine-flu from pigs,   they don’t realise that you catch it from people

The Christians keep pigs,   eat pigs.    Pig farming in Egypt has stopped.   My friend’s  bacon supplier talked about how his pig farms used to be hidden in the heart of christian areas,   or ex-pat communities (Americans) where the locals don’t worry about them.   But now, since swine flu,   it’s not safe, people break into the farms and kill the pigs.   Now he imports his bacon from other countries.

The man offered us a lift to our next stop, the Cairo antiquities Museum.   As he drove he told us his story.   He was a native born  Egyptian.   He left Egypt at 19 to live in the US.   There for 20 years.   His Egyptain wife missed home so they moved back in 2008.   He misses America.   He misses the way people drive. Business is getting tougher.   He talked to my friend about how she managed to find him.   They shared names and places, they were friends of friends in the community of non-muslims.

Picking up the Bacon was so much more symbolic than simply putting food on the table.

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coptic Cairo

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

hanging church wall decorationThe word ‘Coptic’ appears to refer to an Egyptian language spoken in Pharonic times  and currently written with the Greek alphabet

The language is now used in the Coptic church,   a christian church with it’s own Pope (not the  Catholic one).    The apostle Mark reputedly bought christianity to Egypt  in the first century AD when Egypt was governed by Rome, Emperor Nero

The Copts seceded from the other Christian churches in the 5th century  because they rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon (451)  that Christ had a dual nature, both human and divine, believing instead that he had a single, divine nature

Christianity is now the largest minority Religion in Egypt.   About 95% of Egyptians are Muslim.   The christains have a difficult relationship with the state, government and some Muslims

hanging church wall paintingThe external architecture of the christain churches was such that I found them difficult to spot.   The give-away sign was a cross,   normally on a dome

I visited the 7th century St. Mary’s hanging church in Coptic Ciaro.   Called the ‘hanging’ church because it  is built overhanging the Roman gatehouse of old Cairo.    This church was increadibly beautiful.   Painted walls with motif’s that often looked celtic, arabic writing, gold-leaf

Wall panels were delicately carved wood inlaid with ivory in regular geometric designs.   Often straight lines constructed to enable you to see circles and curves.    The colours created a warm celebratory atmosphere,   very different from the white-washed  walls of many Church of England churches.   This celebration in art appeals to me.

Mary and Jesus - Coptic churchI was suprised to find the paintings of people (Mary, Jesus, Saints) depicted very pale-skinned people that looked like North Europeans,    an over-emphasis on pale skins given the likely colouring of the people portrayed.   They were at least portrayed with brown-eyes and dark hair

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Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque

Above Cairo, within the Saladin citadel, sits the Ottoman style  Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque  (1848).   An ornate structure that provides water for washing before prayer sits in the centre of an quadrangle.   The huge prayer room is lit by hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in glass jars that may once have held candles.   Tourists  glide around using flash photography with blue plastic boots covering their shoes.    I followed my muslim guide’s example and removed my shoes.

Outside the mosque is a panorama across the city.   If you listen carefully you can hear the peep-peep-peeping of the traffic below….

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little and large

Saturday, June 13th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

On a sunny Saturday morning the front door is wide open, birdsong, breeze and buzzy-things float in and out. I hear footsteps on the gravel drive, the garden gate open and close then a cautious voice calls out:

knock knock

At the door a petite, dapper, elderly anglo-saxon lady and a tall stout lady of colour are soaking up the ambience of my garden. The elderly lady, Barbara, smiles and announces

I didn’t know this was here, its lovely, its a hidden garden

I smile and lean against the door frame, considering the ladies semi-formal dress and wondering who they are and why they are here

Barbara: don’t you find that people have very little faith these days?
Wendy: I have faith

Barbara reaches into her big, old-person’s handbag and pulls out a copy of Watchtower. Ah, Jehovah’s witnesses spreading the word and recruiting. The aptly named Gloria stands behind Barbara, her substantial, boxer-like, stature makes her visible both above and around Barbara. Barbara nervously explains how informative and useful the ‘Awake’ pamphlet, within watchtower, is. It has information about prescription drug addicition and about woolly mammoths. She flicks through the pamphet showing me the pictures while trying not to drop the pamphlet or her handbag. I smile.

Barbara: would you like one?
Wendy: I have faith, but if you want to give me one of those I will look at it

Barbara looks surprised, hands me the Watchtower, glances around my garden

Barbara: it’s very nice here
Wendy: yes, especially the nieghbours, the lady who lives in that house was born in it, when she got married her husband moved into the house with her and they both looked after her elderly parents. Isn’t that awesome?! I love it here.
Barbara: can we come back and call again?
Wendy: yeah, sure, have a nice day…

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Friday, May 22nd, 2009 | tags:  |

Westminster Cathedral, Victoria


A most reverend, new  Archbishop,  version 11 was successfully downloaded and installed in westminster cathedral yesterday.


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friendly society

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wedding CertificateQuaker weddings.   Highly recommended.

The couple marry each other.  No third party symbolic proxy as a represenative  of a god.   No-one gives the bride away.   The couple make a public commitment to each other in a way that suits their own personal relationship with their god.   Everyone shares meditative silence, interspersed with thoughts, poems  and music as the spirit provides,  followed by tea and cake.      Then  all the guests sign a wedding certificate for the couple to keep.

There is a fabulous peacefulness, equality and equanimity about the occassion.


Reception venue  The couple used a classic VW camper van to take them from the ceremony to the field that hosted the reception.   The same camper van  provided the bride and groom with a place to spend their wedding  night.

Wedding Car

In the reception field,   a marquee tent hosted a blue grass band,   bands with brass sections, inflatable chairs,   and oodles of wedding guests.   The field also hosted the guests tents,   fireworks, fire and pathways of candles carved through the grass.  During the fireworks I snuck off to keep warm by a fire where I was leant a  much needed  pair of long,   black, thermal leg warmers.   All around excellentness.


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