Sunday, 15 November 2020

The lost Granny

 It is obvious to you and to me that when a Granny becomes lost it is a matter of utmost urgency that she be found and re-united with her family, because that is where she belongs. 

Well — some Grannies are not very keen on their families and don’t care if they never see them again, but that is not usual. The one in our story — the Anawim Granny — had not (as far as anyone knew) wandered away on purpose in the hope of shaking off her family and vanishing. Some Grannies might, but not this one.

So it was immediately apparent to everyone that a search party must be organised with the utmost despatch (that means Very Quickly). 

Who should go and look for the Granny, and who should stay safely in the garden? A brief discussion ensued to sort this out.

The party of Anawim who had surprisingly arrived in the garden included a Grandad who went with the Granny. Understandably he was anxious to look for his wife. There were four grown-ups among these Anawim, and one of them — the one who had stepped forward bravely to greet everyone, saying “Namaste” — was the son of the Granny and Grandad. All these people have names, and we’ll get to that eventually. So naturally he also wanted to hurry off and look for his mother. 

It was a matter of agreement that children who have travelled so far (these ones had come a long and perilous way) should be given some supper and brought inside where it is warm and dry, and allowed to watch telly then snuggle down and go to sleep. I mean, you wouldn’t make a child sleep out in the rain and wind and say they couldn’t come in — would you? Who would do that? You’d have to be mad, or at least very cruel.

So the Anawim children didn’t go looking for their Granny, though some of them wanted to because they were worried about her.

And everyone agreed that if the children were not going, then their mother should stay with them and not go looking for Granny. Besides which, someone had to keep an eye on the Haffenhaff now she was here in the garden.

So that was settled.

Of the animals, the Great Bear was the most obvious person to go looking for Granny, because she is a star. 

I must pause to explain something here.

When I say the Great Bear is a star, I mean, really.

Sometimes there are people who have been in movies or become famous for singing or working in television programmes, and we say they are stars. This is a good description; they move in their own firmament remote from our lives, where we can see them but not reach them. They appear very shiny and marvellous to our eyes. A lot of them seem mainly to come out at night. But of course, they are not really stars. Although they have white teeth and expensive clothes, and somebody to carefully do their hair and spray them with fake suntan, underneath all that they are just people who eat and sleep and sometimes find life a struggle, just like you and me.

But the Great Bear really is a star.

There are two bears among the stars in the night sky. There is Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, a constellation in the Northern Sky, who looks like this.

Her tail looks a bit like the handle of a ladle, so they also call her the Little Dipper.

Standing near her is Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

She is the biggest constellation in the Northern Sky and her brightest stars form the shape we call the Plough (or the Big Dipper).

Here they are, the Little Bear and the Great Bear, standing near each other in the sky.

The northern axis of the Earth points directly towards the Northern Star — the Pole Star. So if you are facing the Northern Star, you have found true north. Then West is on your left, East is on your right, and South is behind you. Knowing how to find the Northern Star in the night sky is an essential survival skill. If you can do that, you can find your direction even in the darkest night. In the olden days, people relied on the Northern Star to find their way through the wilderness.

To find the North Star, first you look for the Plough, the seven bright stars in the constellation of the Great Bear. You imagine a line pointing through the two stars on the edge of the Plough towards the brightest star at the end of the tail of the Little Bear. That’s Polaris, the Northern Star. Once you’ve found that, you can find your way.

So the Great Bear holds the secret to finding your way. Everyone agreed she should go with the two Anawim men to look for the lost Granny.

George Fox has clear sight and a good nose for the truth. If you are unsure and searching, consulting George Fox is a good plan. So he went with them.

Nimby wouldn’t come out of the compost bin, and I’m sorry to have to tell you he didn’t even care if the Granny was lost for ever and died of starvation or a broken heart — one Anawim less was a Good Thing in Nimby’s opinion, and he didn’t much care where she was so long as that place was not the garden where he lived in such peace and contentment. So he didn’t go and look for her, as I expect you’ve gathered.

Irusu — well, a dog is good at finding things and people, but first you have to find the dog. 

They looked on the deck.

They looked in the yard.

They looked in the woodpile.

They looked in the vegetable garden.

They looked in the shrubbery.

They couldn’t find her anywhere. Can you?

So the long and the short of it is, they didn’t take Irusu.

At this point, Yūgen the sheep wandered onto the scene, and Danshari hurriedly explained who all these new people were and what was going on. Yūgen understood. 

Yūgen has a feeling for life that is both subtle and profound, a sense of the oneness of all life, the universality of being. This is remarkably helpful in seeing how everything fits together and helping reality come home. 

When the Anawim described to her their lost Granny, with her cloud of white hair, she felt an immediate affinity for her. Even though the island is heavily populated with such Grannies, Yūgen felt confident she would be able to find her. 

Ebenezer looked worried. “Yūgen,” she said — “you will only bring one Granny home, won’t you? Don’t bring a selection.”

“It’s okay,” Yūgen reassured her; “I have a feeling for where each one belongs.”

So Yūgen went with the search party. Before they set out, she asked the Anawim Grandad, “What is the Granny’s name?”

“Her name is Shanti,” he said. 

Yūgen nodded. “Shanti is a beautiful name,” she says. 

“She is a beautiful person,” the Anawim Grandad answers her quietly.

“Well, we will find her,” says Yūgen.

And off they go, seeking True North, on the trail of the Missing Granny.

Danshari’s mission in life is more to do with sorting things out and throwing them away than herding them up and bringing them home, so everyone decided he didn’t have the skills required for finding a roving Granny, and he took the Anawim mother and all the Anawim children inside where Ebenezer had gone to put the kettle on and look for orange juice and biscuits. The Haffenhaff was allowed to stay outside and play in the garden, with strict instructions not to wander off too far — one Displaced Person is surely enough for one day.

“Come and meet Hanafubuki,” said Danshari to the Anawim. “Come in and make yourselves at home. Let’s light the fire.” He added, reassuringly, “I’m sure everything will be all right. We’ll find your Granny and bring her back to you. It’ll all be okay in the end.”

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