Thursday, 10 January 2019

More domestic detail

I wanted to show you a few other bits and pieces from my pared-down life.

In the modern world (have you noticed?) we have electronics. These bring great blessing. Because of the internet, I can work from home, and live the secluded and quiet life I longed for, and I am grateful for it. I can also connect with people all over the world, whose friendship brings me joy and delight, and I am grateful for that, too. I love that my camera, my torch, my files, my music collection and my book collection all fit tidily into a smart phone, a Kindle and a small lightweight laptop that even with my floppy wrists I can lift in one hand, easily. I love that my bedroom lamps are cordless, so I can charge them from the solar panels during the day, and carry them wherever I need them in the dark hours — which means I need only two lamps, an angled one for close work and a general-purpose lantern. The blessings of electronics are manifold and I am profoundly grateful. However, I dislike the sight of trailing cables.

So I keep my charging station —

— down at the foot of the bed, out of sight.

I don't even like the sight of wall sockets —

— so our Tony kindly make me a little cover to hide them.

That writing there is in the language of Tibet — Buddhist words to keep Sticky Buddha company: Om Mani Padme Hum (I think; I don't really know, because I don't speak that language, but I do think the culture of Buddhist thought is beautiful. Ladakh, Tibet, especially). Sticky Buddha is also in charge of my oil diffuser — its a really good one that I got from NHR Oils in Brighton.

And I have a small folder to keep my earplugs and all my household, personal and professional files tucked away.

I really love my lantern —

— and look, you can see my rosary reflected in the mirror! That rosary was made by the Carmelite nuns in Notting Hill, and has a little picture of Teresa of Avila on it.

The lantern is by TaoTronics, which makes me happy. They have a little logo of the Tao on the things they make and sell. I love the Tao Te Ching, which has influenced and shaped my thinking over four decades, and I like to have the mark of it there on my lantern.

On my shelf there by the lantern and the mirror is my comb. It's a really special one, very beautiful. It's made of pear wood.

The Sikhs — who surely know all about long hair — say a wooden comb is best; it protects the hair against damage. I don't know for sure if this is so, but I respect their judgement.

By the lantern and the comb I keep this tiny jug (Judith Rowe's work) and bowl —

— which I use when I Hopi-candle my ears, or fetch water to top up the oil diffuser.

I wanted to show you my hankies too —

— because I am a firm believer in bathroom cloths and coffee-straining cloths and washing/drying-up cloths and nose blowing cloths that are not the disposable sort but the washable sort. The years of menses have long since ceased for me, thank the Lord, but the younger women in my house have washable, not disposable sanitary cloths. They do that because they love the Earth and they love trees, and want to honour that love.

I have an altar in my room, up on the wall —

I have some permanent intentions on it, and then sometimes if I have a formal request to make of the Ancient of Days, I add them on.

This is the main theme of my altar —

This calligraphy was made for me a couple of decades ago by our Rosie, and has travelled with me everywhere. It's the second verse of Charles Wesley's hymn Captain of Israel's host

When John Wesley died, on his death bed he told his friends over and over how much he loved them, and bade them farewell, but his very last words were, "The best of all is, God is with us." These words that dominate my altar express that view.

Next to it is this little druidic prayer —

The honest truth is that I put it there because I tore the wallpaper taking down a redundant plastic stick-on hook badly. But I do love the prayer.

Then, actually on my altar are these things —

— I'll tell you what they are. The sign at the back left is a prayer protecting the Earth against the evil of fracking. The one on the right is the sign of God-rays, the Light of the holy Trinity that protects and empowers us, the Light of God's countenance shining down on us.

Near the front is my wedding ring. I don't wear it because my fingers swell and shrink easily, and I lose rings in the frozen food compartment in the supermarket and then they get unbearably tight on hot days. But it's my way of lifting my marriage into the light of God.

On the left there is a lovely bangle. It is made of three metals and has Sanskrit words on it — Om Namaha Shivaya — which is an ancient Hindu prayer expressing the manifestation of, and immersion into, devotion to the Absolute Reality from which all life emerges. 

That particular bangle was given me by our Fi when she was about seven. We went to the Big Green Gathering in the West Country, and gave each of our children ten pounds (which did not buy much even back then, about twenty-five years ago) to buy whatever they wanted on the lovely stalls. On one stall I saw these bangles, and loved them because I love the Om Namaha Shivaya mantra; and our little Fi immediately spent nearly all her money (the bangle cost about seven pounds) buying one as a gift for me. I have not kept many things in my life, but I keep this as the treasured memory of a little girl who gave everything she had as a gift of love to her mother. It stands for what is precious in this world, and that's why I have it on my altar — a symbol of generous, unhesitating, lavish, childlike love.

Sitting inside the bangle is a tiny brass Ganesh that our Alice gave me — a Hindu expression of the creativity, playfulness and inspiration of God, the part of God that is expressed in art and poetry and writing. Ganesh sits on my altar as a prayer to the Ancient of days that through me the creativity of the Spirit may be manifested, making Jesus known and loved in the hearts of everyone who reads my work.

There's a purse on my altar, expressing my belief in flow — as Jesus said, "Freely you have received, freely give." It has a little money in it, not much but some, because of the words in the book of Proverbs (30.7-9, GNT): I ask you, God, to let me have two things before I die: keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace upon my God.

Only this last year, I parted company from a publisher who required that I suppress truth, and this was a very serious thing, because I was writing about the Scriptures. So without hesitation I parted at once from that source of income. It is God, not the commercial forces of Mammon, who supplies my need and is my master. The purse on my altar keeps my financial priority in mind, and respectfully reminds my Lord of my daily need for his sustaining.

And the last thing on my altar is a frog. The thing about frogs is that they always come home. I keep it on my altar for my tribe, my kindred, that we will always find each other in this wide world, and also for my soul, that it will safely return to the God who made me, the Christ to whom I belong.

So that's my altar. And one last thing I wanted to show you today is my curtain —

I used to have white, gauzy curtains  . . . er . . . these (that photo was taken in the summer. That's Cyan; he's out on loan) —

— but I keep my window open most of the year, and my window looks out on the street and we live by a bus depot, so the air can be grimy despite the best efforts of the sea and the trees to keep it clean. So my curtains got grubby and I am not enthusiastic about housework. So I took them down and washed them, then used them to swaddle the Christmas-time baby Jesus (I must show you him at some point). So I didn't have any curtains but, as my room is small, when I get undressed I am very visible from the street. Therefore I hung up this lovely shawl Buzzfloyd gave me for my birthday, to be a cheerful curtain lending privacy, and easy to take down and wash.

So — waving from Hastings in England's East Sussex. Be blessed today. xx


greta said...

thank you for sharing all this loveliness. it is fascinating. i'm such a snoop and i love seeing what other folks have in their homes. cordless lamps? please enlighten (ha, ha, ha!) the druidic prayer is going to be written out and displayed an honoured place near my kitchen window. and the bangle with om namaha shivaya provoked a very interesting reaction. as i read the words, immediately a melody flooded into my mind that i haven't thought of in years. so i sang the words out loud, sending them across the ocean to you as a blessing! i'm still singing them and they are bringing peace and joy. thank you, thank you!

Pen Wilcock said...

Namaste! Thank you for your blessing.

If you go on Amazon and search for "cordless lamps", you'll see loads of examples. They do actually have cords, but the cords plug in to the base at on end and into a USB socket at the other, so you can charge the lamp from a computer or a USB mains plug, then when the lamp is all charged up you take the cord out and put it away and you have a lamp you can put anywhere you like with no trailing cord.

Oh look, here's one of mine:

Sandra Ann said...

Will be writing out some of those prayers! Thank you for sharing a window on your world and I have no doubt God will bless you for standing by biblical truths.

San xx

Pen Wilcock said...



GerriHultgren said...

Everything you have has meaning and,so lovely. I don't think I'll ever quite get pared down as far but I'm working on it.My biggest obstacles is my yarn stash ( which gives me joy) and my pattern books ( ditto on the joy),

Pen Wilcock said...

I'm lucky Gerri, because I'm a writer — so my toolbox in essentially in my head; words, thoughts, reflections, observation. Nothing external. Alice and Hebe, with whom I live, are artists and craftspeople, and Tony works in wood — he needs a shed and they need a studio. In similar wise, if you work with yarn, you need somewhere to put it — and it is of itself a thing of value and beauty, a treasure. x

Suzan said...

Ember the story of the bracelet is joy filled and brought back a special memory. I sent my boy on a Pan Pacific Boys Brigade camp. I had saved and saved and even managed to save him a reasonable amount of spending money. Just as they left the dreadful tsunami hit Banda Achai (the spelling is wrong). He came home with one cd. It took along time for him to tell me had put all but $10 in the find for the boys that never came because their homes were washed away.

God bless you.

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh, God bless him — that must have made you so proud.

Anonymous said...

I was astounded at his gentle and giving heart.

Pen Wilcock said...


Julie B. said...

I'm with Greta -- I find that I'm a snoop when it comes to your home and life. :) Do you pray the rosary, Ember? Traditionally or with your own prayers?

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Julie B — I only very rarely pray the rosary. Sometimes, if I am really desperate or depressed, I find it a restful and comforting form of prayer. In the past, because I so rarely pray the rosary I've given my rosary away, then found after a long time elapsed I wished I had one again. As it's easy to store and feels like a happy link with monastic friends, I just keep it now.