People generally agree that exercise, like meditation, is a good thing. Physically and mentally we feel better for regular physical exercise. Depending on our personal temperament we may struggle to keep a daily exercise discipline and look for every excuse to avoid it even though we know we will feel better for doing it. Or, given a more compulsive personality, we might get so fixated on the exercise that we overdo it and so make it play a more dominant role in our lives than it merits. Enough is never enough. You can always be fitter than someone else.
When winter comes to the Arctic the solitary polar bears scoop themselves a bed in the ice and curl up for their long hibernation. Then snow comes and covers them keeping them alive in the frigid desert, the cold insulation preserving them from a fatal cold. The female bears give birth during their long deep sleep. The squealing of the tiny cubs activates her milk supply, seven times richer than human milk; and her maternal instinct proves stronger than the most powerful sleepiness. In Spring she goes forth, with the cubs tumbling at her heels, in search of solid food but keeps an eye open for hungry males for whom her babies would provide an irresistible snack.
And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.
He had always yearned to please his father and win his approval. Long into his maturity, after he was married with children of his own, his father held back from him that final seal of approval and affection which he longed for. As his father reached a significant birthday he bought his father what he knew he had always wanted, a Harley Davidson.
The Feast of the Annunciation, when the young Mary, mother to be learns her destiny. The imperceptible moment of conception recalled as the horizon of life becomes frighteningly visible. No wonder the old lose their short term memory but recall early life vividly. The young look forward, thinking of the decisions they have to take and the potential they are anxious not to lose. The old learn to synchronise the way things actually turned out, never quite fulfilling potential perhaps, as their experience fills up more and more of the canvas of their lives.
On a beautiful Highland day with a sky as clear as a child’s eye we laid Rosie into the ground beside her husband and the sons who had preceded her. A piper led the way from the church door to the grave. The rituals were familiar, part of the family’s experience of faith beyond belief and so did not need to be self-consciously explained. The words and gestures meant more than they literally said. For a few brief moments a space was opened which allowed death and life to intertwine and it was possible if you looked carefully in the clear light to see what lay on the other side.
So there was a division among the people over him… They went each to his own house.
When people come up to receive communion at Mass their way of doing so often illustrates the nature of the church they belong to as well as expressing their individual character in a few revealing moments.
Younger people tend to make eye contact and often smile, looking for a personal connection. Then there are other usually older communicants who come as if they have a gun in their back or that God will be striking them dead for receiving communion
The body does not lie and it never forgets. The mind – it’s hard to say what it really thinks as it works at so many levels that barely communicate with each other. And the mind, as we see in those slipping away from us in dementia, can easily and rapidly become mindless.
So why do we assume the mind can take us further towards the truth than the body? Only the illusion that truth is abstract, disembodied. Bethlehem and the Desert of Jesus’ temptation, the Cross and the Resurrection disabuse us of that idea.
If I bear witness to myself my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true.
Humility is a curious virtue because the real thing never looks humble. Putting yourself down, self-consciously letting others dominate, seeking humiliation, may all earn you the approval of others - usually the hypocritically inclined religious types. Those who are always playing a game and don’t know what real life is.
I realised recently that people who live on small islands have a low rating on punctuality. I think this is due to the fact that given the short distances involved they don't think they will be late as long as they set out before the time of their appointment. This philosophy of time doesn't work so well in the big world.
Then there are personalities who can never keep a deadline and live in a time dimension of ever-melting horizons.
There are black and white days and days of full glorious colour. Weather. The one thing we can say about weather is that it is always there. Basically there is nothing we can do about it; it has to be accepted. Oscar Wilde said everyone in England complains about the weather but no one does anything about it. Drizzly days, halcyon days.. also tsunamis and hurricanes.