So many things going round in my mind.
Thinking mainly about social traditions and expectations, the status quo.
Divorce and remarriage have moved the points on the tracks of our social interactions, so that unspoken rules now have to be abandoned in favour of discussion and negotiation, often painful and messy. Things that were once the subject of tacit understanding now must be aired, and what came out of the box will not always go back in.
In similar vein, the global changes brought about by consumerism and growth economy – the voracity inherent in our financial systems that try to demand infinite expansion from a finite ecological system – are just now on the verge of tipping us into territory for which we have no maps and nothing can prepare us.
The terrible hardships of the 1930s Economic Depression offered the kind of challenge I think I might be equipped to face – a question of sticking together and somehow getting through. At times in my life I have been terrified, at my wits’ end, not knowing how to provide or where to find resources. But we kept on, and Providence never failed us; and in the end we got through.
The scenario unfolding post-peak-oil is the beginning of terminal decline; it is not the kind of thing one can get through. The prospect of water wars and food wars fills me with dread. In these last years, watching Afghanistan . . . Libya . . . Darfur . . . Sierra Leone . . . Zimbabwe . . . Iraq . . . Israel and Palestine . . . and so many others, my soul fills up with black floodwater of sorrow and horror. Even in my own country, the endless spiteful carping of racism – what the Scots have to say about the English, what the English have to say about the French, what black folk have to say about white folk, Muslim about Christian; how can it come to any good?
In our garden there are patches of ground elder, a determined, prolific, creeping weed, almost impossible to eradicate. And in the tubs we have vine weevil, a beetle whose maggots eat the roots of pot plants so that everything seems fine until the flourishing plant suddenly keels over and dies – and you see there is no root beneath the leaves and the flower.
So it is with our society – the top is all colour and gaiety, and underneath the roots have all been eaten away. Meanwhile the seeds and roots of war are so endemic, have such a root-system riddling through every corner of the garden, that I cannot see how we would ever begin to get it out. The more you dig the more you propagate.
I am grieving for this world, and for the blind and greedy soul of man that eats away at the roots of things, insatiably, until all the beauty, the flower of creation, has no sustenance any more and life is cut off.
Response in me is withered. I can see no remedy. Perhaps if the whole human race returned right now to radical simplicity, complete catastrophe might somehow be gentled, slowed down. But when we will not even sacrifice a holiday, a car choice, a preference for bloody chunks of animal flesh, the luxury of tender salads flown from overseas protected by the packaging of plastic boxes – what hope is there?
Humanity is violent to the core.
On a brighter note, my friend Gail mentioned a book she had recently read and enjoyed, Mark Boyle's The Moneyless Man. I got it for my Kindle and am finding it engaging and inspiring and fascinating. Managing on little money is a challenge I welcome and enjoy; I cannot begin to imagine how I would manage as Mark Boyle did, a whole year with no money at all. Riveting reading, and very well-written.
A question it raises for me, in re-visioning economy in terms of community and sharing rather than transaction, is how those of us who are basically solitary fit in. This is a knotty one for me in church too - that without question social engagement and interaction are encouraged and embraced; groups helping groups in groups in a group setting - AAAAGH! Is there no alternative?
Well. You will be pleased to learn that tomorrow will be my last post here for a week, as I am going to Spring Harvest with the Badger. Yes, it is a mega-group, a Group to the power of ten infinitely self-multiplying with compound interest. How do I survive it? Simples. I don't attend anything. I just waft through, enjoying the privilege of living for a week in a village of people for whom faith is a prime motivator. It makes a vibe as gentle as a fragrance.
On the way home I am hoping we can call in and catch up with my good friend Teresa whom I haven't seen in ages. She lives in Bridgewater, just a few miles down the road. The snag is I haven't been able to make myself phone her to let her know we shall be there. I do have trouble making phone calls. The spirit is willing and then I just . . . somehow . . . don't. I think the Badger might call her for me. He laughs at phones.
We stay in a shared chalet at Spring H, and I find the simplicity of them as pleasing as the lack of privacy is terrifying - this is not a chalet just for me and the Badger, you understand, but will be shared with our dear friends John and Rosanna. Now I love these friends very much. But the chalets - we all share a bathroom and the year before last, sharing a chalet for 6 with a posse of strangers and their many visiting teenage friends drifting in and out unannounced was an experience that I can only describe as "enhanced" by discovering the door of our solitary bathroom had no lock. Luxury and sophistication I do not require; privacy I do. Gulp.
Even in spite of this, I am looking forward to the unusual opportunity of actually spending some time with my husband, and John and Rosanna whom I have not seen for far too long, and also catching up with Rosie Humphrey and her family, another good friend I haven't seen in a while.
You may notice a theme emerging here: I do love my friends, but one of them did once describe me as "a cat that walks alone". . . "Haven't seen in a long while" applies to virtually everyone!
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
A rainhood that came right down over the face. Jolly good for keeping out the rain. Lethal for onward progress.