Mrs Waplington killed God…

Like most kids I knew at primary school in 1970, I was shipped off to Sunday school each week, it was held in a classroom at our school and I remember how much I resented being there on a weekend.

I didn’t resent the lessons though once I was there. I was peculiarly receptive to the Bible stories we were told, and I suppose it was a precursor to my enjoyment of History lessons in my later school life, because I understood the historic timeline very clearly – and more importantly, I accepted what I was being told as complete fact. I believed in God, I believed in Jesus and when I recited the Lord’s Prayer,  I did it with real conviction.

My parents sent me to Sunday school as a way of getting the kids out the house for a couple hours – we weren’t a religious family, religion and God played no part in my upbringing, no part in our every day lives – there was no sense of religiosity in my entire family and no one had felt it necessary to go through the effort of getting us baptised. In fact up to my early teens  I had never set foot inside a church. And the only time my parents or grandparents had attended church, was to get married.

So they must have wondered what they had done by sending me off to Sunday School, when after I was too old to attend any more, I took the decision to take myself to church – and to organise my own baptism and confirmation.

I remember the first time I walked in to our local church – it was a gothic masterpiece – high pointed ceilings, ornate pews , beautiful stained glass, the heavy smell of incense, benevolent statues of Mary and graphic pictures of the stations of the cross. You could be forgiven for thinking I was Roman Catholic – but you would be slightly wrong, because although I attended an Anglican church and was baptised a Protestant, our church was high Church and was as Catholic as it was possible to be without having a Pope, And I fell in love with the place.

To this day I can’t resist a beautiful church, incense and a sung Eucharist.

I attended an inner city comprehensive secondary school – it was a tough place and not for the faint hearted. Some may say we didn’t exactly attend school but survived it! If I was being charitable I would say that the school did its best to give us a good basic education and was spectacularly successful at crowd control;teachers tended to be appointed not because they were enthusiastic about their subjects but because they didn’t take any crap and knew how to maintain discipline – these were the days when the sports master walked around with a cane and knew how to use it.

I belonged to a small, and often ostracized group of students – the group who were considered worth attempting to educate to O level rather than being left to grapple for a CSE like everyone else. Heady heights indeed.

Key differences in our school day saw us taught a second language, French in our case and instead of taking one general science course we did the individual science subjects – Biology, Physics and Chemistry all separately.

I wasn’t a scientist particularly and there were moments struggling through yet another boring practical making solenoids that I didn’t wish for a spate of generalised science blurb instead.

And then there was the small matter of Mrs Waplington.

My first Biology lesson and I felt I’d drawn the short straw, because Mrs Waplington was taking our class and we were all frightened shitless of her. Undoubtedly a good Biologist, she had long lost the rosy belief she would mould great minds of the future with her enthusiasm and wit. She was shortish  and frumpy and had clipped disinterested tones that said – don’t piss me off! (actually with the hindsight of an adult, I believe that Mrs Waplington was a good and fair woman – she taught us well and was the only science teacher I ever had who got me to not only pass the bloody exam but actually feel I liked and understood it)

But my over riding memory of Mrs Waplington is it was she who killed God.

My first lesson in Biology and Mrs Waplington clearly wanted her point to be understood and she didn’t want to spend too long explaining it and she didn’t want too much in the way of questioning – so she addressed us with unequivocal directness.

‘Whatever you think you know about life and how it originated – forget it. Any childish notions you have left over from primary school about the origin of man – forget them. Today you begin to study science and you will study scientific method. If you intend to do well on this course then you need to understand that there is a difference between what science can tell us and what we think we know from bible stories – today we are going to begin with Mr Charles Darwin, to look at the evolution of man…….’

Honestly I don’t remember her exact words – but that paragraph, is pretty much it. I remember sitting there and thinking I need to pass this exam. But underneath was a disturbing disquiet.

Because I saw in what I was being taught albeit at low level, the unquestionable logic of science – even though I was largely pretty crap at science I learned that science is king – it explains how the world works, it explains there are no eternal mysteries and that the world as we see it works on understood principles and unbreakable laws.

My bible stories couldn’t compete with that.

Given I could never fathom Adam and Eve and where their sons had found handy wives – it was far far easier to see that Mr Darwin with his finches in the Galapagos was altogether more logical and how over millions of years man had dragged himself from the primordial stew.

I understood at long last that ‘faith’  in God was not the innocent acceptance of the Bible and the Gospel I had learned but was instead an unshakeable belief in the Almighty and his workings despite the contradictory evidence supplied endlessly by the scientific community, and on that basis I realised I didn’t have faith at all.

Without any great in depth knowledge I was lead by Mrs Waplington & Co. into that great  educational sausage machine, and I was ground out believing what I was told – without question or further thought. After that initial disquiet I never questioned anything I was told again – all my questioning was directed to set books and set knowledge.

My science career was mercifully short – but it’s effect lasted half a life time because I lost faith. For me to have said  I had faith would be to invite ridicule. But to say I had faith would also be a lie – because I no longer believed in anything.

My teen years were busily filled with all the flim flam beloved of teenagers everywhere – music, boys, being rebellious and a bit of study tacked on the end.

But once the teens were past – I was left with what exactly? And so began my adult life and a period of spiritual confusion and loss – and so began my soul searching and its been a long and painfully slow journey…….

I have a dream…I just need a £1000000

I genuinely have a philanthropic dream – I’m almost too gobsmacked to say it – usually I’m the least philanthropic person I know! Largely because my last name isn’t Roundtree or Fry – I don’t have a spare quid right now, let alone a million of ’em!!

But if I did have a spare million I do have a little project that I would sink it in to. So if you have a spare mil – and you fancy doing something lovely – then just drop me a line!

Sadly, I am not anticipating much of a flood and it’s rather a lot for crowd funding – so for now it will have to stay my little dream.

There is a 74 acre woodland for sale near to where I live and has been for sale for a long while – slap bang in the middle is a clapped out old house but it has planning permission for a statement piece house to be developed in the middle.

The woodland is completely private, no rights to roam, no footpaths or bridleways – completely private. It went up for sale months ago for almost £1.5millions – but has steadily come down in price to way under the million mark now – it is going to take a special buyer to want to take on an estate that large especially with nothing but a shack in the middle to start off with.

I would buy it. And my reasons are several-fold.

  1. I would love to manage and improve on a natural woodland
  2. I am constantly saddened to see massive chunks of land on the outskirts of village – prime farm land being – being nibbled away at by property developers who throw up mass produced housing, cramming in more houses than can be possibly healthy, in order to maximise profit.
  3. I am curious as to whether it would be possible to create a truly eco village, that doesn’t end up looking like Steptoe had moved in – that is symbiotic with its surroundings, and brings something wonderful to the community that would be able to live there.

My very own hobbit ‘shire’, a community of eco families who could live affordably and sustainably in a little Eden – a model for a future where land is lived on rather than concreted over.

I was genuinely interested in this Scottish ‘hutting’ project <here> – I had never heard of it until recently, nor the history of the Scottish huts which were envisaged as a retreat for the world weary after the war. I don’t imagine huts on my 74 acres exactly – but the principles of people/land/woodland/and eco simple living is exactly the same.

Wouldn’t it be something though? If it could be done?

 

 

 

 

Back on the road – to fitness

Exercise wise, 2017 has been a disaster.

By this time last year I was already in a very healthy groove of checking my eating habits, I was a budding gym bunny and running was becoming something that I was becoming a bit evangelical about. I had 2 running routes and was really enjoying getting outside and embracing the elements.

Since before Christmas, the broken arm put paid to any activity, and then there was the crippling flu and I’ve just retrieved some mobility having  put my back out moving furniture! 3 months of enforced inactivity, crappy eating habits and just wallowing around – has had a not so positive effect on my weight, my mindset and my overall diet – I have had about 3 aborted attempts to get my Adidas supernova’s back on the road, and each time it was completely scuppered.

Today I did 1km – 1 km?????

It is better than my previous big fat zero km but it sucks to feel this out of shape so soon.

We have moved office (hence the putting my back out moving cabinets!!) – but now my back feels happily better, that means finding new running routes – and although today’s effort was a bit pathetic, it was nice to try out a new route and realise that there are a lot more opportunities for mixing it up a bit than where I was based previously – new views, new challenges. So it isn’t all doom and gloom.

I don’t know why, but setting  a new running route always causes me some stress – I get angsty until I am familiar with it – even if its an easy one; I don’t know how to pace myself, where the dips and peaks are and letting my body get used to anticipating each challenge along the way. I don’t like that about me, but there is no ducking it – I do it all the time.

So it is going to be a bit of an uphill struggle for me today even on the flat! Getting back in to my stride and liking where I run – but today was a start – I feel well and strong (ish) eventually and that is worth it’s weight in gold.

The gym membership went by the wayside long ago last year, I found it so boring – but I had promised myself at the new year, with all my new resolutions that this would be the year of yoga. That too, like the running has been on a permanent pit stop – but tomorrow that changes too!

And the eating?

I am not liking the enlarged and squishy middle of me at the minute, I feel inflated and it looks as bad as it feels – I think being good is very much the order of my life for some considerable weeks to come.

But it will be worth it.

Bring on the sunshine – I want to get those shorts out again!

How Wolves Change Rivers – the hand of the Creator

On the back of mentioning in my last post, how I came to realise, almost by accident that there is a name for my spiritual beliefs – I am a Deist.

Deism isn’t a religion, there is no holy book to follow – it is a philosophical stance and with all philosophies, there are no boundaries to how a person may choose to personally interpret that in which they believe.

For me – I believe in a creator. I suppose given I grew up in a loosely Christian society – my creator is inevitably Christian God-like overall.

Many years ago I renounced God when I renounced Jesus. But I remained uncomfortable having done it. But I could no longer carry on my spiritual life believing in the Church and I think that was my first mistake.

I embraced paganism – to find my spiritual centre wrapped in what I could see and experience seemed wholly more natural and the more I read the further from Christianity I strayed.

But I also felt a sense of betrayal – because in revering creation, wasn’t I by virtue acknowledging the hand of a creator?

For me the natural world, left to it’s own devices is in perfect balance – a chaotic but perfectly matched dance that is all too often meddled with by humankind.

The more I watched, the more I saw – really saw. It doesn’t take much effort to see how amazing our world is and for me that could not – I could not believe that it was happenchance that everything fit so perfectly.

I reject pure Darwinism – I admit it (sorry but I do)

and in doing so I reconnected with God.

If you have a spare 5 mins – then please watch this rather lovely video – how wolves change rivers – a little cameo story of how our world works in symbiosis and just marvel and it’s wondrousness.

 

 

Being a Deist

I’ll be 55 this year and have just realised that I am a Deist.

I couldn’t have said exactly what I was, up until recently. I could have told you what I find myself believing these days, and I could tell you the convoluted path I have taken to get here – but to have given it a name? I wasn’t exactly sure there was one.

And then by random chance, I was reading an article on an online newspaper and was scrolling through the comments section – and came across a guy who was talking  a bit at a tangent, but he mentioned being a Deist – and I thought – is there such a thing?

Trusty Google suggested there was – and there it was in black and white and I thought, yes random man and thank you – for I too am a Deist it would appear.

I’m not certain I need do anymore than just acknowledge the name – there isn’t a religious group to join, thankfully – but to know that my thoughts have a basis is quite comforting I think 🙂

And I need look no further than Voltaire to bring my thoughts beautifully to life –

One key difference between Deism and the “revealed” religions is that Deists don’t believe faith is required to believe in God. This quote from Voltaire sums it up, “What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”

Ageing – the secret no one talks about

There is a lot of information circling around about the effects of ageing – it isn’t a mystery. – the key is in accepting it with grace. Realising the truth in what  one elderly neighbour once said to me, that ‘getting old wasn’t for wimps.’ This  from an indomitable woman who was undergoing hip replacement, had already had knee replacement and was battling the effects of Parkinson’s disease – no, this woman was no wimp.

But I have come to realise that ageing isn’t just about bionic joints, tena lady products and false teeth – there is a psychological and emotional element to it, that no one seems to talk about nor as with myself (or my friends) appear to be prepared for.

Recently I have been having an ongoing conversation with a dear friend – she has been struggling to raise a new online business and despite the fact she had appointed herself a business coach to help motivate and organise her – she was struggling. But not in all the usual business orientated ways – and this wasn’t something her coach had addressed with previous clients, in fact she was hard pressed to understand the issues my friend was battling. I however, felt deeply connected with my friends’ woes – I understood her issues first hand.

My friend is complaining about finding it hard to feel motivated because she feels at 55 she has far more yesterdays behind her than she has tomorrows  to play with and whilst that might seem obvious numeric logic – the key is, it is that actual moment when your ever shortening future really becomes a reality to you, it’s like having  a blinding wake up call.

Suddenly you wistfully look back over all those opportunities that slipped away, those wasted projects and the disgraceful wasted time you have squandered because it seemed that there was  ‘always tomorrow’,

The fact is, that whilst women’s magazines can claim that 50 is the new 30 – once you get passed the big 5-0, you start to creep toward the bigger 6-0 and the door is wide open for reflection on what has been; regrets start to filter in and panic bubbles up that there is little room to manouvre in this shortened future line.

It isn’t that this becomes an enormous preoccupation, but it quietly nibbles at the edges of your consciousness – and it becomes something to dwell on. should have done that differently or I ought not to have done that or why did I waste time.

What has struck me and my good friend is that whilst we are well aware of the mid life crisis – we weren’t expecting this emotional crisis that seems to have started as a gentle swell of uncertainty and become a tsunami of regrets and anxiety.

I personally have come to the conclusion that reviewing my past and regretting decisions is pretty pointless and have suggested my pal take the same view- a bit like a history book, the story can’t be rewritten.

In terms of my future, well yes I can’t deny the clock is ticking fast, and having grandiose plans and schemes like I did when I was 20, may well be a dream to far – I don’t like it, I would dearly love to wind my clock back, give myself a few extra precious years to play with – but that is silly. Better still is coming to terms with my life, making the most of my time now, enjoying the here and now.

A bit new agey perhaps, but there is no point in panicking life is suddenly too short, no point in over planning a future I can’t possibly deliver on – the key, is having joy in my here and now and live it to the max.

 

 

Accepting Death

My Mother phoned me last night.

My Father is ill. He’s 78, just this week. And he isn’t hale and hearty, far from it.

My Father led a raucous youth -and looking back as a little girl, I can only remember him with cigarette in hand or a pint of something. That was the 60s for you.

By the time he reached early 50s – he was having a triple heart by-pass.

Over the years there have been a few set backs, medical interventions, but he has lead a good retirement – played golf & bowls and learned Tai Chi. Spent time with Mum in the their garden and generally enjoyed a relaxed and happy retirement.

Lately, he hasn’t been well.

Initially given 15 years with the by pass – he has done very well – he is 20 years post op.

But his heart is failing him. He knows it, we know it and more importantly his medical team know it.

He has been passed around from one set of docs to another over the last 6 months and in that time, there has been noise, talk, tests but nothing has been done  – and he has steadily deteriorated. They are now all but admitting out right there is very little to be done for him

I’m not even convinced he has the physical strength to undergo any difficult surgery even if they felt something could be done – and they aren’t!

I have thought a lot about how I personally might face my own death, but in my thinking, it is always a long way off in the future, something I can ponder academically. But for my Father, the reality of his death is by his side – he is beset with issues every day, dizziness, pain, indigestion, palpitations – the effects of a defective heart are making themselves so known to him – he can’t escape the ‘in your faceness’ of what everyone now feels is his imminent demise.

And I can feel the panic – not just in him but my mother too. She isn’t a flakey sort of woman, but even she is feeling the strain of the constant worry – would it be today? tonight?

Just last night, trying to arrange a not so future family event, I could feel her real prevarication  – what if? hung in the air.

Speaking the truth – being up front and not speaking in euphemism – always my preferred way to deal with matters, suddenly feels way way too blunt, too harsh, too uncaring. They are already panicked witless.

But where is the peace and acceptance  – the going lightly to your good night? There is none of that. And I find myself googling the ways in which people might expire from heart failure, so better able to help my Mum in the event. And some of the stores are frightening.

I think I imagined peaceful sleep and then gone.

But instead, I am confronting a frantic and painful struggle to the end.

And at 78 I would like for them something altogether more calm.

I wish they were more spiritual people, that they might glean real comfort from a belief in something, but in being salt of the earth types – their understanding of life and death is altogether more salty – and frightening. And for once, I can find nothing comforting or useful to say to either of them.