Thursday, 14 July 2016

Coming Home


I was going to write a post about the intensification of the situation in Russia – the accumulating of Nato troops on the border, the UK and US provocation and acts of aggression, the dangers this poses to the lives of all of us. If you want to read about it – and I recommend you do – there are articles here and here and here and here and here and here.

I’ve been putting it off, putting it off – and in the end I just knew I couldn’t write it. I am so heart-sick right now, so grieved, at the foul stench of Mammon coming off British politics. The unprincipled, two-faced, back-stabbing jostling for supremacy and position. The unaccountability, irresponsibility, the disregard for the poor and vulnerable, the greed for money and power. It wrings me through and through every day. It breaks my heart. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I am grieved and ashamed, and so sad. I came to the place where my mind is just slipping off it all out of simple self-preservation.

So I thought I’d tell you about this instead.

In September I’m offering another Quiet Day at peaceful and beautiful Penhurst Place, deep in the Sussex countryside. A place to heal and find your sanity, if ever there was one!

It’s on September 9th, running from 10.00am to 4.00pm, and our subject this time is “Coming Home”.

In Buddhist spirituality, “Leaving Home” is the term applied to what I think Western psychologist would term individuation. When we leave behind all we have been taught, all that has been instilled in us, to make our own personal journey of discovery – to make up our own minds and go our own way.

The Buddha was a prince. As a boy, his father kept him very sheltered in the confines of his palace, knowing nothing of poverty, sickness, old age or death. He left home to satisfy his intense curiosity about the world, and learned about its sorrows.

Then he had to do the long, patient soul work of evolving his response.

As well as “Leaving Home”, Buddhists talk about “Coming Home” – when you return to where you started from, but everything is different because you yourself are different now. You have changed, and cannot see things as you did when you set out on your journey.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me that the Prodigal Son made this exact journey – of Leaving Home and Coming Home; of discovering his true priorities, in the face of the sorrow and sufferings life brings.

So I thought it would be interesting to explore Leaving Home and Coming Home in our own lives. What is “home” to you, and to me? In what senses have we “left home” in our own lives, setting out from the security of the familiar to find our own path in life? What were the sorrows and sufferings we encountered on the way? Where are we right now on that journey? And what does it mean to “come home”? Where is home now, for you, and for me, if it is true that “here we have no abiding city”, how can we come home to ourselves, to God?

So that’s what we’ll be thinking about; and you will be most welcome to join us. Just get in touch with Storm and Richard at Penhurst if you think you’d like to be part of that conversation.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Hunting through the archives on a data stick – came across this poem I wrote a few years ago.

Slip sideways into my soul almost unnoticed the world’s cry

A t-shirt thin from years of wear and washing.
Defeat sagging his shoulders.
Fat (shameful, embarrassing): no-one wants to be fat.
Sitting on the bench with his small son on his knee, his hands gentle around the child,
holding him safe,
his face held tenderly against his boy’s head;
both of them looking towards the horizon, across the inscrutable beauty of the ocean, its body of unfathomable mystery defying imagination.
At the moment I pass, the wind carries his words to me; the wisdom of his generation, father to son, the answer of his soul
for his child’s questioning. 
‘Dunno,’ he is saying.

Slip sideways into my soul almost unnoticed the world’s cry

Another day, cold and tempestuous,
the clouds tossing and the spray flying;
at the roadside,
watching the bus ticket
the wind snatched out of his hand
blow through the relentless traffic
across the road and away.
Beyond dignity, reduced to childhood
 ‘It’s not fair!’ he cries out and stamps in rage; tries desperately to thread the indifferent stream of cars and chase the wind for its prey.

Slip sideways into my soul almost unnoticed the world’s cry

Bleak morning of deluging rain
Everyone is shivering, faces like masks
As the hearse draws up
One teenage girl clutches crazy
Burying her face in his shoulder, crying out
 ‘I can’t do this! I can’t! I can’t do this!’
The anguish wraps tightly round us
like barbed wire.

Slip sideways into my soul almost unnoticed the world’s cry

I think maybe they do not feel
your quiet eyes beholding,
your listening to the voice of the world;
taking them seriously.

Slip sideways into my soul almost unnoticed the world’s cry

© Penelope Wilcock 2008

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Quiet Day

Short notice, I realize – but if you’re at a loose end on Wednesday and fancy coming to a quiet day in the Sussex countryside, I think there are still some spaces here.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

You might like to wear a safety pin

A new campaign asking people to wear an empty safety pin as a badge to symbolise solidarity against racism - and let any potential targets know that the wearer is a friendly face. The idea was to find something that could be worn by anyone anywhere, to pin on their jacket or coat to signify that they are an ally.

The literal 'safety' pin is inspired by the 'I'll ride with you' campaign against Islamophobia in Australia following the Sydney cafe shootings in 2014.

Hundreds of people have gotten on board with #safetypin so far – but raising awareness is key.
Community centres such as mosques have been contacted to let them know about the plan and there’s a move to get some big names to help – so far, Nadiya Hussein of the Great British Bake Off has provided a signal post with a retweet to her 95,000 followers.
"Thousands of people who voted both ways have been horrified by this," she said. "Regular people need to know that they can do something small about it."