Alexander Averin

Thursday 1 October 2009


Dear Diary,

I think it would be a good idea.

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization
1869 - 1948)
It would have been Gandhi's birthday today, I found it hard to pick a quote by him as there are so many absolute gems. There is to be a programme about his life on TV this weekend. That I must not miss.

I have a feast of books to read at the moment and as the hibernation season is not too far off I am looking forward to cosy days and nights of self-indulgence when I can curl up round the hearth or snuggle down under the duvet and simply lose myself. You can see what awaits me on my bedside table in the side panel of this blog. I am only too happy to escape the world sometimes, especially when I accidentally catch the TV news (I have in fact given up watching it).

I have just finished reading Home by the American writer Marilynne Robinson for our book group and I am very grateful to the group member who suggested it. If you haven’t read it, it is one of those titles that I would force upon you. I have been more than touched by it, it has left me with a chasm of sadness, a deeply felt sorrow for all the characters within its pages. Yet still I urge you to read it because it is brilliant and it will set you thinking.

When I began the book I thought Oh my God this is so slow - I don’t mind a slow pace, don’t get me wrong but this seemed painstakingly so. But I gradually got into it and adapted to its pace, I began to love it and in a strange way I felt myself become part of the home about which Marilynne was writing, it was quite a weird feeling - it seemed as if I too was a member of the family and was emotionally involved. It did make me weep and I know I am not the only one. This woman is a writer of very high calibre. Somewhere I read in a review that her prose has a musical quality, I understand what they mean; it is not exactly poetic prose or even lyrical but it has a steady rhythm and a beautiful melody within it. I am going to read her other titles Gilead and Housekeeping and will report back on those.

I have treated myself to the new book, the volume of poems which is Echoes of Memory by the dear, departed and very much missed John O’Donohue, I also bought a copy for my sister for her birthday, I hope she will love it. Here is a poem by him, not one from his new collection but one I hope you will appreciate.

John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry, [TRADITION SUB2] poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry

Original Language


When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The ride you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

John O'Donohue

-- from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue

I have even more to look forward to. David Gray’s new CD Draw the Line is on its way to me in the post as is Mark Knopfler’s CD Get Lucky.

So life is good, I can read and listen to music in the background. I can also write along to music, do you ever do that? What do you listen to?

And what are you reading at the moment? Do tell.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Anonymous said...

Hi Cait. I've never seen that quote of Gandhi's before, so thank you for sharing it - it's wonderful.At the moment I'm reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (fascinating)at the same time as Grow with Your Plants the Mother Earth Hassle-Free Way,a great book by Lynn and Joel Rapp, a $2 charity shop find published in 1974,with delightful quirky illustrations. I very much enjoyed the poem in this post, beautifully expressed and touching.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Like you, I am a fan of David Gray. I've been listening to his new recording this week and enjoying it very much. I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Excellent new writer. I too have a stack by my bedside just waiting for that colder, snuggle-down weather to arrive! Bliss.

ds said...

What a beautiful, beautiful poem. I will be looking for John O'Donohue's poems. Thank you for the introduction.

Kim said...

Marilynne Robinson! You'll enjoy each one of those titles. My personal favorite is "Gilead". Part of the beauty of her prose is its simplicity. It's almost austere, but still rich. It seems like a contradiction, but it is true. So glad someone pointed you in her direction.

pinkfairygran said...

Whether or not I have music playing as I write, depends on what I am writing, and the mood I am in. Sometimes I will have classical playing quietly, or Michael Buble, though I find songs distracting as I get into the words and they take over from the words I am trying to create on paper, on line, whatever.
As for reading... I have just re-read TELLING LIDDY by Anne Fine, about four sisters, whose lives happily overflow, one into the other, until something is found out by three of them, about the man the other one is planning to marry. Should they tell? Well, I know what happens as I've read it of course, and what happens when the same situation arises again. Great writing, makes me sad though for not having siblings.

Carah Boden said...

Hi Cait - I've been away from your blog too long - always a joy to come back to.

Love that poem - it pretty much sums up my journey through depression and all the things I knew, in my heart, that I needed to do to recover myself.

Am reading 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' by E.M. Delafield (marvellous) and often write along to music (have a 'Smooth Jazz' collection on right now.)

Have a good weekend.

DAB said...

Oh Cait, love that poem. What is it called? please TFx

The bike shed said...

I like to write in silence, or outdoors where the wind and birds are the only sounds.

I'm reading the new collection of twentieth century Welsh Poetry published by Parthian. And I've just bought -long overdue - the Kite Runner.

Chris Stovell said...

Ah, Cait - just popped back quickly to thank you for your kind comment. Life has been very hectic here too so I empathise with what you're saying. I know you're there and I love your thoughtful, reflective posts - and I enjoy catching up with the variety of music. We're not always able to catch up with old friends but we know they're there. Cx

Margie’s daughter Leiny said...

Hi Cait, Thank you for visiting Margie's Crafts and leaving your lovely comment....J O' D's poem is sad, I never read any of his before. I am currently reading "The Lollipop Shoes" by Joanne Harris, it is the a second book about some of the characters from "chocolat". Hugs Margie.

Norma Murray said...

Bother Cait, now I've got to add 'Home' to my already extensive list of books to read. perhaps we should add it to the list for our next 'Purple Coo Book Group List'

Tattieweasle said...

I hope you enjoyed teh programme on Ghandi - I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next.
I aklways feel he had a great sense of humour and your quote certainly confirmed that!

Nan said...

Oh Cait, I began to cry as I read the poem. I've never read anything like it. And then to find out the author wasn't alive, and wondering if he knew he was going when he wrote this. I'll have to go look him up. Your blog never fails to reach into the depths, Cait. There is no surface here; it is always meaningful. Thanks, as always.

Nan said...

Me again, I just did some reading about this amazing man. He died peacefully in his sleep. Lucky man. There are some wonderful sites about him. Thanks again, Cait.