Friday, 6 April 2018

Skin Fur Light

In 2008 I made a resolution (which I have kept) never again to do anything but what I was sent here to do. 

The question was, what might that be? It began an ongoing exploration into why I am here.

I asked a similar question back in 2002 — "What is the purpose of my life?" I knew from my Anglican childhood that the purpose of humankind was to love and serve God for ever, of course, but that held for me a pious falsity that didn't quite cut the mustard. Tentatively, I found a workable answer in my family — to be specific, my children — that doing the best I could for them felt my nearest to an authentic sense of purpose. But I held in mind the observation David Whiteland made in his brilliant Book of Pages — that having a purpose is the difference between a machine and a living being. A being is simply (gloriously) alive. It needs no purpose. Purpose is derivative — secondary to a user. Perhaps I didn't need a purpose (?)

As I've thought about what I came here to do, the answers that rang true have become less and less moral, dutiful and institutional.

Today, watching TV, for no reason at all, I rested the flat of my hand on the skin at the top of my chest beneath my throat, and it struck me how soft it felt.

I am glad I had the chance to live in a physical body and feel that particular sensation of softness.

Watching my body age intrigues me. The skin where my forearm comes to the inner side of my elbow is crepey now.

The skin of my face is lined and lived-in.

How interesting, how physical and earthly, is skin.

I came here to experience skin.

I am also thankful I had the chance to stroke fur.

To look at the noses of animals.

To watch light move through the house, interacting with everything as it falls and glances, making glints and shadows, mystery and glory. Light is the nearest thing I know to holiness made visible.

I am not sure I wholly get the hang of loving. Truth ebbs and flows like the sea, and is equally elusive to my grasp. I am the most useless person I know (in the strictest sense); reclusive, uncooperative, hard to see. I won't even answer the phone. It seems that was not what I came here to do.

But to see and to touch and to listen — to open my senses unto full stretch, allowing the inflooding of music flying up and up like a skylark rising — Mozart, Handel — or hear a nightingale or watch the colours of the dawn and the moon on a winter night. To behold the amber gaze of a vixen and engage in conversation with a crow. For these I am glad with the whole of my being that I had the chance to be here. To feast my eyes with ravenous joy on the sundance sparkling surface of the ocean.  

That's what I came here to do.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow. And if we all did just this, ironically, I think there might be a lot more love in the world :)

Pen Wilcock said...



Elin said...

I share your fascination with aging. I am only 35 but I love my gray hairs and the way my stomach looks from having babies. The latter is of course not only aging but a sign of growing from being just a person and becoming a parent which I guess is also a form of aging or at least growing.

sandra said...

I really like your blog. I like your spirituality and simplicity. I am trying to be simple but I am a quilter and have a lit of fabric! I have read lots of your books. The Hawk and the Dove ones and the Clear light of Day. I love Peregrine Tom and Jabez .Is there going to be more books on the Clear Light of Day? I am reading the Road of Blessing now.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Elin — that post-baby belly is a badge of honour to wear with pride! x

Hi Sandra — Thank you! I'm glad you like the blog and books. That makes me happy. The Clear Light of Day sales were not high enough to interest the publisher in a sequel, but I put many of the ideas I had planned for it into a book I wrote called 52 Original Wisdom Stories. If you enjoyed The Clear Light Of Day you might like that one as well.,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Ros said...

'In 2008 I made a resolution (which I have kept) never again to do anything but what I was sent here to do.'

Wow! What a resolution! I don't think I would ever dare make a resolution like that because I know that with every day that passes I fall short of such an ideal.

However, that said, 'to see, to touch and to listen' as a reason for being is something I could certainly get on board with. The older I get, the more it seems to me that I am called simply to 'be' and that when I can do that, everything else falls into place.

Pen Wilcock said...

That sounds good to me!

rebecca said...

I think this is quite profound.
With this understanding there is freedom to BE!
Performing has lost its luster for me.
I much prefer this way of living--sometimes initiating but mostly responding to the sometimes overlooked, sometimes obvious that calls for my attention, enjoyment, and engagement...

Pen Wilcock said...

"Performing has lost its luster". Yes, indeed. x

Suzy Kopliku said...

Beautiful. I love this.

Pen Wilcock said...