With the light, the bird song. The dawn brings life. You remind me to step outside to listen. When we were wildlife we too would have stirred on our earthen beds and looked out at the silhouette of the thorn tree, the morning shadow. The hearth, the only smouldering. The baby crying and snuggling closer to her mother’s warmth. These are the early years of flight or fight, our Stone Age brains, keeping us safe. Now our ancient memories, which the body remembers, are caged in modernity. Today we live without the sabre-toothed tigers, but it is scarier still – existential almost – in deep thought with our children – how they manage, navigate their lives and the tightrope walk. I know if my son were born black, I would be having another kind of conversation altogether.


It’s not even two twenty. There are hours to go before life stirs and the sun hops into view, framing the curtains. Not sure if it hops. It does something, thankfully. It means life and breath. It means May mornings, warmth like opening a chocolate box. I like the caramel ones. Winter, now a memory, is no competition, with sunshine shortages, like rations. Just a few hours away, we will be washed in it, lightly cold at first, birdsong playing on wildlife radio. What’s there not to like about these days? The answer is not entirely straightforward, is it, – some rascal went and ruined everything – so we go back to the warmth of light, the early morning, windless. Like holding its breath. Like seventy five years ago. The guns silent at last and today our streets join in, empty of sound.

VE Day, 08.05.2020

This Second of May

The first morning shadows touch the newly mown green, and tree outlines dancing, they scribble the wall. It’s almost like an early morning safari drive – without the big five and the open sightseeing truck, of course – with the dawn chorus of birds, using the wind like a bird gym. The chime of the six o’clock brings the other time to life. You’d be forgiven if you thought that this second of May was just like every other one, but even in the blue sky that wraps us up this morning, the big drop of blue over there, the menace does a different kind of drop in, like a thrown stone, splintering the window of the morning, shards everywhere. And the shadow of light moves on, like it has somewhere to go.

Not knowing

It will take several lifetimes to understand the mystery that is us, I thought and, even then, it is uncertain. Even if we travelled to the nearest star we would not know.

Perhaps some kind of answer is closer than we think. Looking out across the night autumn sunset, I could feel the mystery wrap itself up in wonder. The evening sky breaks the blue. Birds fly into it, wings of flight, skydive.

The release of the clenched fist of the mind. It’s okay to have the don’t know mind and not know what is going to happen tomorrow. Like the wise man asked: how did you get into that body?

Not knowing is difficult. But who ever learned anything when things were easy? The poet said that it is in the no longer knowing what to do, when there is sheer bafflement, then you will be fully employed.

This is the invitation to mystery. In the darkness there is light. Here you can stop. Remind yourself of the beginner’s mind. Here there is a secret beauty. The possibilities of our indigenous nature. A seed awake.


Inspired by Wendell Berry, TS Eliot and most of all Jack Kornfield.