The Child Divine in us All

When we say we have faith in God, and pray to our Father who art in heaven –  Abba, The Word, Our Lord, or other reference to the energy of the universe –  are we not really praying to connect with the divine inside us all?

When we look at Jesus Christ many if not most are drawn to the man; perhaps though, we might better think of the Christ-like qualities within us, rather than the robed rebel who seemed to cause trouble as much as he did good?

Jesus spread glad tidings to men; trying to tell us that the kingdom of heaven is here on earth, right now in this very present moment. Yet  then, as today, we choose daily to see only the bad in the world, to be tempted to see worst around us. The devil within and without, if you will.

Our newspapers and televisions are full of these horrors.

But where are the millions of happy stories, the countless smiling faces, the daily miracles in our news? Too few to give us the courage we need to know that ‘everything will be just fine, just as it should be’.

Perhaps we should take more care of the Christ in us? By doing so, we will start to acknowledge these divine qualities in others: the kindness in human hearts, the goodness, the shining energetic part of their being that gives us Life as we know it.

Is maybe the Christ figure and his stories and the words of how he was made man and sacrificed himself for our sins, not really about one man? But a tale for us all to learn from? A story about us all? A figurative, a myth on some level, a fairy tale for us to remember the helpless child, born ultimately alone and severed in sharp shock from its source; and yet also the magic and God-like in the miracle of any child’s birth and incarnation in to our reality?

That tiny child that as a baby feels rather than thinks – in fact can only feel, can only be in the present for it has no past and cannot know what the future means. Scientific studies indeed show that it is at leas 18 months before infants start to discern themselves as separate from the world around them; and a few months later enter ‘the terrible twos’ (as so many parents can attest to) as the infant child starts to test the boundaries of its growing awareness and reality.

And then, as that child as it grows, he or she can lead us to laugh deep within us at their naïve but deep powerful wisdom of simple matters we too often forget as adults.

This is the child in us all that also has felt abandoned for so, so long, that needs the love of a parent more than can ever be given by human endeavour, no matter how hard the parent tries. That is that fatal wound of being human; of suffering as much as we experience joy; perhaps of us actually being that living sacrifice? Maybe this is what is meant when Jesus spoke of these words?

I do not believe in religion, but I believe in the power of stories: the countless words that at times have been wickedly twisted to keep ourselves from touching the God within us and the love of the Christ that is there too – in each and every one of us. This is the world’s shame – both by those who keep the power of enlightenment from us in the manipulation of one true and perfect answer to contentment; and the sadness of so many who lack courage to challenge what we are fed daily by our media and others.

It is nothing to do with literal words as some will often cry out with regards to religious texts. The bible are the words of man, not the words of God. It has had many translations, much is relevant as much many will find irrelevant. But there is a divine and simple message within its pages, despite the best efforts of revisionists or just as guiltily those to try to take it so very literally.

The words are there to provide a story, a setting. The bible is a set of stories; fairy tales if you will. There is nothing wrong with that. Fairy tales do not always have happy endings outside of Disneyland, but they do provide a compass through the brambles and thorns of our lives. We love them as children for they touch the inner truth within us. This is why they are so powerful and still so loved.

And so loved are we, if we but open our eyes around us.

Breath in all of life, all of the moments of the universe in one breath. Live without thinking, feeling our heart bound in our chests and in that moment reach out our arms to the world. To embrace it all – the love, the beauty, the crisp nature of living. And yes, the sadness and sacrifice that comes with being incarnate human. As Christ tried to explain two thousand years ago and as others around us – friends, family, strangers – try to show us each and every day in the here and now.

I have no answers to how we can do this. But it felt important enough to write, even with my eyes half open, brain half asleep, temptations of wine and fags before me, but fingers typing what my heart and soul wanted to say above all:

“Embrace the Christ within. You are your own mother and father. You are whole. You are perfect. You are a living sacrifice. There is something truly powerful above all else in the universe with the nature of our very existence. We must just find our faith, through tears, through pain, through laughter, through love.

 Know that we do not have to loiter in the darker and more painful parts of our live; if we only dare to look behind us we will not find the monster we so fear, but our Lord God, our spirit, and us. Always loved, always cared for and far, far stronger than we ever really can believe.”

And so this, my friends, is the mystery of my faith and my love.

God bless us all.

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The Fire and the Rain

These were words that came to me after listening on repeat to Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

Part-inspiration and part ‘re-imagining’ of the melody and words  of the original song. They reflect my thoughts last year when I moved back to the countryside, after a catastrophic house fire I survived in Brighto; this is the point where I decided to move to the wonders of Hay-on-Wye here in Wales.

THE FIRE AND THE RAIN.

Just a few months ago, I knew I would be gone.
Brighton, the plans they made put an end to you,
I drove away from the city and wrote down some words,
I just don’t know who to send them all to.

Oh, I’ve seen the fire and I’ve seen the rain…
I now see sunny days that feel they will never end.
I’ve felt lonely times… but I always had a friend
And I always knew that I’d see the fields again.

You embrace me, sweet spirit of Hay,
You just helped me make a stand,
You’ve helped me see it through another day.
My heart runs free, as you hold my hand
And I won’t have it any other way.

So dear sweet Hay I always knew that I’d see you again.

Been walking my mind to an easy time, my body warmed by the sun.
If when the cold wind blows it’ll sweep my spirit up and along.
Well, there’s hours of time and years of happiness to come,
Sweet dreams, beautiful friends and heaven all around.

Oh, I’ve seen the fire and I’ve seen the rain…
I now see sunny days that feel they will never end.
I’ve felt lonely times… but I always had a friend
And I always knew that I’d see the fields again.

Now Brighton, oh I might see you one more time again.
There’s just a few things to do this time around, now.
Thought I’d see you, thought I might walk by the sea in the rain.
There are struggles there I need to set free, I just don’t know how.

You embrace me, sweet spirit of Hay,
You just helped me make a stand.
You’ve helped me see it through another day.
My heart runs free as you hold my hand
And I won’t have it any other way.

Hay, you are now where my heart lives and reigns once again.

The Hangover Martini

It seems from the social media frenzy among my friends that many fine souls are suffering from hangovers following their post-Valentine’s excitements/drowning of sorrows.

Perhaps today is appropriate timing, then, to reveal my worst-kept-secret martini recipe to the world…

THE HANGOVER MARTINI

Juice of two good quality limes, freshly squeezed.
2 measures of Lucozade Sport Orange or Tropical flavour (or any ‘Sports’-style drink)
2 measures of vodka
1 measure of Martini Bianco
Salt

It’s pretty simple really, just gather all the above (bar the salt) and pour into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake until ice cold.

For notes on what my measures are (and general tips for perfecting the art of mixing cocktails) see: //theonlywayishay.com/2014/12/04/breakfast-martinis-and-battlements/

Forget about the niceties of straining the limes. What you need is vitamin C and fast… Thus, it’s function over style with this martini. Also a little sweetness with the Martini Bianco helps me personally, though you could go for a drier and less aromatic taste (subject to how delicate your senses are) by using a dry vermouth and perhaps a touch of sugar syrup – though the latter shouldn’t be necessary given the sugars in the optimistically-termed ‘sports’ drinks.

Rim the glasses by crushing up rock or sea salt with a mortar and pestle and lay out on a plate (or again just use cheap cooking salt – time is of the essence here). To rim, wipe the edge of the chilled martini glasses with a slither of lime. Place the martini glass top down on the salt and twist gently to get an even rim of salt all the way round.

Pour in the ice cold contents from the shaker in to the glasses and garnish by floating a circular slice of lime on the top of the libation. Drink immediately. If one doesn’t work, then have another. If you need three then you will likely need to see a doctor fairly quickly and also be very drunk.

The above should make two decent-sized portions. They are tried and trusted revivers at Leir Towers. Good luck!

A short side-note on the salt: if you crush rock salt with a little of very finely chopped dry chillies, you will help add a reviving kick to this morning reviver. Having a small emergency stash ready prepared is always a good idea.

REFRESHMENTS FOR THE SOUL  

After falling asleep after a particularly fine luncheon and missing most of the hilarious ‘Get Him To The Greek’ – a film that is a dangerously accurate reflection of parts of my life – I woke with a thirst and vague hangover that only a martini could cure.

So, with love and the joy of sharing still pumping through my heart, here are two fresh new cocktail recipes to try in the safety of your own homes:

POMEGRANATE MARTINI

– Juice of half of one pomegranate
– Four measures of Tanqueray gin*
– Juice of one lime
– One measure of Martini Extra Dry
– One measure of Martini Rosso
– Sugar syrup measured to match the lime juice

Now the worst bit of this Sunday sharpener is actually juicing the half the pomegranate left in the fridge, alone and with not enough love on its own to justify taking apart to brighten up an imagined fruit salad.

Trust me, though; it’s well worth the effort.

Juice the illicit fruit as best as possible using a simple juicer; press and squeeze hard; filter the juice twice. You will get enough for two cocktails if you are ardent in your enthusiasm for this un-Godly task.

Now place the juices, Martinis and gin in to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake until you feel your hands go numb.

Pour in to two ice cold martini glasses and garnish with a sliver of lime. Make sure you filter the juice. Elegance has no price and is worth the effort. Promise!

Relax, enjoy and feel the smile broaden immediately upon imbibing.

As the locals say here: “It’s lush” and as I usually say, “More please…”

pomegranate martini

Now, happy and in need of further merriment, but lacking neither another pomegranate, nor any countryside shops open selling such items on Sunday afternoon, inventiveness was called for.

As it happens  there was a Sicilian lemon that looked rather forlorn after being de-robed of its zest for the earlier apple and pear crumble for lunch. What better way to make use of a sad lemon than the…

APPLE CINNAMON GIN FIZZ

– Juice of one Sicilian lemon (don’t waste the zest of these beauties – they make a Sunday-lunch pudding zing)
– Sugar syrup measured to match the lemon juice
– Four measures of Tanqueray gin
– White of one large fresh free-range egg
– A slug of fresh squeezed apple juice [you can cheat like I did and use bottled stuff from the, ahem, supermarket over the border in England].

The secret here is to mix the egg white, sugar syrup and lemon juice in the cocktail shaker first. An electric hand whisk is ideal, unless you really need the exercise. Make sure you get a good froth. This is important.

Add plenty of ice, straight from the freezer (you don’t want ice melting, the temperature of which will be dangerously warm even a few minutes out of the freezer).  Now add the gin and apple juice. Shake vigorously, as though your very life depended on the success of the froth and mix (one day it might – you never know…).

Pour entire contents (including the ice cubes) evenly in to two glasses. Sprinkle or grind some cinnamon on top.

Now smile again and unless you are writing a blog post so as to immortalise these fine creations, put some cheesy 1980s pop on and dance around the kitchen.

Enjoy irresponsibly. Drinking is much more fun that way.

*see my guide to measures and martini-style drinks here: https://theonlywayishay.com/2014/12/04/breakfast-martinis-and-battlements/

Simple Faith

Many think of ‘faith’ as the underlying belief in an all-powerful entity, intelligent design or some form of religion.

But what if faith is just  the simple trust in the blessings of life, even (or especially) when it feels like there are none?

Or what of the faith that, in their hearts, our fellow man is doing their best, even if that best doesn’t seem like it; and they unwittingly hurt us in their own painful struggle for survival?

Perhaps we need nothing more than the courage to trust in our own innate kindness and compassion so that we can then see this reflected back in our own lives and existence?

What and how then would the world be if we all realised this?

Maybe then we may reach a place of heavenly peace on earth.

It’s not about religion. It’s about being who we really are, despite everything and despite the pain that the sometimes cursed blessing of our existence bestows upon us.

Then, finally,. we may see ourselves as the angels we all are inside, walking this earth in human form.