Monday, 20 May 2019

Mind conflation

Good morning.

Well, it might not be morning where you are at the moment, but it is right here right now. It's post bath and ante breakfast time. And here I am because I was thinking in the bath. Most of the thoughts have annoyingly eluded me because I didn't look at them hard and nail them down. Oh — I was thinking about — no . . . never mind.

One thing that began in my head (but wait — is my mind in my head? Maybe it is somewhere else) last night, is the odd effect of mental conflation. Let me explain what I mean.

In the morning yesterday I was the designated preacher for our little chapel at Pett. The last time was only a couple of weeks ago (so both occasions within Eastertide) when we thought about the concept of holding space, and how Jesus held space for Peter in that lakeside encounter at the end of John's gospel, to help him restore himself to goodness and friendship and being Peter (as opposed to Simon) and standing in faith. All of that.

Then this week, moving on from thinking about holding space for one another, we thought about showing up (for one another), and the difference we make when we show up, or equally when we don't — when we fail to. 

My input yesterday morning included some details from my personal life, particularly some occasions when people (knowingly or not) failed to show up for me, and the difference that made and the struggle it imposed. And we thought about ways of showing up for each other and people who have done this. 

The foundation stone of our thoughts was this quotation from Stephen Gaskin:

And we thought about how his faithfulness in showing up as a teacher inspired his wife Ina May Gaskin to create and shape her Spiritual Midwifery initiative, which was transformative for women giving birth around the world — not only in America, back then in the 1970s it reached and profoundly influenced me (and many others) here in England too. All this she did from a bus in the US. Who'd have thought it? She was one of this season's people all right, and was enabled to be so by her husband.

So that was yesterday morning. Came home from chapel, had lunch, and then in the afternoon went on a girly outing with my daughters to see The Hustle, which I found good, but not amazing. Amusing, absorbing, and I like Rebel Wilson a lot. We had a nice time. 

Stories engage my imagination which is my creative wellspring that determines how I see the world — as yours is. So I came away from the cinema with my imaginative field flooded with the input of the movie story. The conflation began here.

Preaching places a strong demand on energy. If I had one of those smart meters installed in my interior being, it would be well up into the red when I preach. I'm tired afterwards. So I went to the cinema tired, which always allows more pervasive ingress of the story into my imaginative field.

This meant that somehow my output in the morning, which had not yet properly shut down (I'd need to go to sleep for that) merged with the new input from the movie, and I became convinced that I had been attempting to con the congregation with false information and done something morally wrong at a profound level — misled them, duped them — and ceased to be a good person. Especially because one of the con-women in the movies (Rebel Wilson's character) is called Penny, which is what a lot of people call me. I hate it, but they do.

So anyway, we got home, to be greeted by our Tony in a rather excitable manner with the news that we had a swarm of bees on our chimney.

We have two chimney stacks to our house. One is in constant use for the wood stove and (in the adjacent room) open fire. The other used to be for the kitchen fireplace and (sadly) had the lower portion of the stack removed entirely by former occupants of the house. So the chimney pots are capped, and the stack is closed, ending in the room where our Hebe lives, in a cupboard where a fireplace used to be, wherein a board with air holes (well big enough for a bee to crawl through) sits beneath the aperture into the defunct chimney. The bees had swarmed on the closed chimney that stops at the bottom end in Hebe's room.

So our Alice and Hebe went out into the garden and looked thoughtfully at the chimney stack while Tony carried on painting the sitting room walls (he's been doing this all week — it's a huge room and a lighter colour had to cover darker), then they went up into the attic to look at the chimney stack from that angle. No swarm. But yes, there was an unusually large number of bees floating in and out of the air spaces at the top of the capped chimney, which will make — as I'm sure you'll agree — an absolutely perfect hive. Uh-oh.

So I googled about bees in chimneys, and apparently they live there for years without causing structural damage, and the only alternative is to get a chimney sweep to go up to the top of the stack, uncap it, and either suck them out (by a machine into a bag, I mean, not with his massive mouth) or kill them all. We are not into killing bees, and by the unfortunate influence of the personal preferences of some of our household (not mine, as you'll rightly guess) we live in a very tall Victorian house and would have to pay several hundred pounds to erect a scaffold if we wanted a sweep to go up there and get those bees out. We don't have several hundred pounds, our money is allocated to the very bottom of our rather shallow pockets, thank you. So . . . that means the bees get to stay there, I guess. For as long as they want. And when they eventually go, in years to come, should we ever wish to rebuild the bottom of the stack and use that chimney again (we had planned to at some point), we shall have an almighty bung of very sticky wax and propolis and ancient honey to deal with. Oy vey. Hebe got a piece of fine fabric that will allow passage of air but not bees, and stuck it down firmly over the board inside the top of her cupboard at the foot of the chimbley.

This mini drama got into my headspace and merged in my still not shut down imaginative field with con artists and preaching and convinced me that not only was I a predatory and deceiving preacher and a wicked woman but furthermore disaster was about to befall me, my house would collapse and my family be stung to death.

I did the only sensible thing. I closed my curtain, went to bed, watched a short calming feature about a dear little tiny house (the one Mairin linked us to), and went to sleep for a very long time.

The world looks less threatening this morning.


Anonymous said...

Hi Penelope, I had read the above just before I logged onto to this blog post! Perhaps some beekeepers could be of help?

Bean said...

busy days, mentally taxing days, seem to put the imagination into overdrive. amazing how restorative a good night of sleep is for mind, body and soul.

Have a blessed day,


Pen Wilcock said...

Blessings on your day too, Bean! Waving!

DMW — bees are amazing! The bee man is coming today to advise us if there's anything we need to know about hosting a wild swarm; we are pleased they have chosen this as their home and don't want to harm them or drive them away, but we certainly will welcome his advice if he has anything to say once he's seen our house and garden.

Bethany said...

Oh, I can so relate! My book launch was Saturday and I also had (ill-advisedly, I'm sure) agreed to bring a small bit of Sunday's service and it was almost laughable the way the monkey mind was spitting out the stress through every possible negative neural pathway.
All the typical shame-voices and some new creative ones lit up and yelled at me, but I knew it would be a riot in there after all the prep and vulnerability, so I put myself down for a Sunday afternoon nap and I ate healthy things and took a walk with my love in the spring air today and tonight, the riot has dispersed and the streets are clear again.
I'm hoping the calm has continued for you and this week brings much peace and delight.

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh, how very interesting. God bless your book's journey through the world.

Here's Bethany's book, everybody — it's really, really good!

Pen Wilcock said...

Anekha — thank you for your messages! I wasn't sure if both or just the first were intended to be private, so I went on the safe side and have not left either up for people to read.
These days Google Blogger doesn't send messages to my email, I need to come and check here, and if it is a long message I can only read the first part of it before publishing it. To read the message in its entirety I have to publish it, and then I can see it when it comes up in the comments. For this reason, if you want to send a private message the best thing is to post a comment that says who you are (so I know it's not a phishing scam) and gives me an email address to contact you. I will be able to see the whole of a short message like that without needing to publish it. Then I can contact you by email and we can have a private correspondence.
In the case of the messages you sent me, I published them so I could copy them to paste and read elsewhere, then immediately deleted them from the comments. I hope they will not have been relayed into followers' notification feeds; at least no one randomly coming by will be able to see what you wrote — though it was just interesting and nice, not plans to rob a bank or anything!!
xx Waving!

anekha said...

* waves back*
sorry i didn't mean to complicate things so much, i had no idea! its okay, nothing intensely private, just a little off topic...

Pen Wilcock said...


It's always lovely to hear from you! x