What a great idea this is, and the fact that it helps both the recipient and the giver! Advent is already several days in but I am going to try and be a Generous Ninja for the rest of Advent, and hopefully, all year round!
I came across John Ruskin’s “therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever” quote recently and, having been taught that if something starts with a “therefore” there must be something that comes before and I should therefore read it, I went looking for a bit more of it’s context. So here it is:
Men cannot benefit those that are with them as they can benefit those who come after them; and of all the pulpits from which human voice is ever sent forth, there is none from which it reaches so far as from the grave.
Nor is there, indeed, any present loss, in such respect, for futurity. Every human action gains in honour, in grace, in all true magnificence, by its regard to things that are to come. It is the far sight, the quiet and confident patience, that, above all other attributes, separate man from man, and near him to his Maker; and there is no action nor art, whose majesty we may not measure by this test. Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ” See! this our fathers did for us.” For, indeed, the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, or in its gold.
Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity. It is in their lasting witness against men, in their quiet contrast with the transitional character of all things, in the strength which, through the lapse of seasons and times, and the decline and birth of dynasties, and the changing of the face of the earth, and of the limits of the sea, maintains its sculptured shapeliness for a time insuperable, connects forgotten and following ages with each other, and half constitutes the identity, as it concentrates the sympathy, of nations: it is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, and colour, and preciousness of architecture; and it is not until a building has assumed this character, till it has been entrusted with the fame, and hallowed by the deeds of men, till its walls have been witnesses of suffering, and its pillars rise out of the shadows of death, that its existence, more lasting as it is than that of the natural objects of the world around it, can be gifted with even so much as these possess, of language and of life.
– John Ruskin in The Seven Lamps of Architecture
I think that if we apply this to our actions then it makes a lot of sense and I want to think this through a bit more but I am not so sure that I agree with him when applied to architecture as a whole.
“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”
– H G Wells
I’m not sure who this saying is attributed to but it’s quite good!
“Democracy is not about changing the people in power but about changing the minds of the people in power.”
It seems to me that, too often, we change one set of people for another set of people who have the same or very similar mindset. Economic growth seems to be more important than people and the planet. Somehow, it must be easier to change the minds of our elected leaders than to find people who think differently and get them elected!
It’s October 14th, I was sat in the garden and I realised how long it is since I last put a post on this blog. It’s probably because I am involved in so many other blogs I keep forgetting to add something to this one. It has been such a busy year so far and a big chunk of it seems to have been taken up with having a hernia operation and recovering from that (more on that another time) but the biggest change in our lives this year (besides our daughter leaving home!) has been the arrival of Buster. In fact it was he that suggested that I should be posting something on this blog.
We were sat in the garden on this lovely sunny morning, I was drinking a cup of tea and he was eyeing up my chocolate biscuit when I realised that I hadn’t taken many photos of him, so out came the phone and I took a photo of him and then he took one of me. What a handsome pair we make!
I am constantly amazed at the parallels I find between my faith as a Christian and Permaculture. In Permaculture and the environmental movement there is the idea that there is a tipping point in time when enough people in the world recognise our destructive ways and start doing something about it so that the environment overall starts to be regenerated rather than destroyed, a point where the good we do starts to outweigh the bad. Christianity, of course, calls this turning from bad to good “repentance”. A traditional Christian viewpoint sees repentance as the point where we realise that we need to turn our life around, away from evil and death and towards goodness and life, away from the “Devil” and towards Christ. But in addition to this, the daily Christian life is about continuous turnings, daily repentance as we turn from the destructive towards the creative and the Creator.
The Greek word used in the Bible is metanoia and this word has been used in many ways but particularly in reference to “a change of mind”. In fact there is a movement of people who use metanoia to mean a turning from our affluent lifestyle to a life of “more with less”, a rejection of consumerism and materialism as the basis of progress.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has brought the Prayer of St Francis back into the news and reflecting on this prayer I realised that here we have a prayer for Christians and for the Permaculture movement. Here is my suggestion for an expanded version:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Where there is greed, sharing;
Where there is violence, peace / shalom;
Where there is brokenness, wholeness and healing;
Where there is shortage, sufficiency;
Where there is scarcity, abundance;
Where there is over-consumption, rebuilding and regeneration;
Where there is sterility, fertility;
Where there is monoculture, biodiversity;
Where there is death, life;
Where there is destruction, creation.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.