Unknowing


Taking up Reena’s Exploration Challenge #74
by Reena Saxena to write based on above images. This is my fictional contribution. Thanks for the mind prompt Reena.

It’s 8:00 p.m. and minus 16 degrees. I make my rounds through all the known haunts trying to entice the wraiths into the warm. The homeless, ghosts of their former selves, clinging to their meagre coverings, shivering on top of subway grates, in doorways and on park benches. I give a cheery smile, with words of allurement. It’s nice and warm at the shelter. Wouldn’t you rather be warm till this cold spell breaks. Try it, just for the night. My words are met with a grunt and they turn their face from me. Just like God has.

I return to the shelter at 10:00 p.m. just before closing. I give my report to the Director, give a cheery wave to the occupants drinking their hot chocolate and start for home. It’s Friday night, two days of oblivion to look forward to.

I arrive home, throw a chicken pot pie into the oven, reach for the whiskey bottle and pour a generous amount into the glass. I savour the flavour, the warmth, the relaxation of my body as it slumps into the chair. I awake an hour later to an empty glass and the smell of burning coming from the oven. A burnt chicken pot pie, three slices of bread and four glasses of whiskey later, I turn to Leonard Cohen for comfort.

Slipping my iPod into the dock, I lay back in the armchair, feet on the coffee table, whiskey in hand and zone into the music. I pause the iPod after listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Window” and replay it over and over. The middle verse touches my soul.

And come forth from the cloud of unknowing
And kiss the cheek of the moon
The New Jerusalem glowing
Why tarry all night in the ruin
And leave no word of discomfort
And leave no observer to mourn
But climb on your tears and be silent
Like a rose on its ladder of thorns

Where had I heard the Cloud of Unknowing before. Was it St. John of the Cross. Yes, one of his poems.

I entered into unknowing,
yet when I saw myself there,
without knowing where I was,
I understood great things;
I will not say what I felt
for I remained in unknowing
transcending all knowledge.

My mind went round and round. Stanzas from The Ascent of Mount Carmel. “One dark night, filled with loves urgent longing, I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled”. How can love and darkness co-exist. Doesn’t the light of love drive out darkness, doesn’t darkness smother the light of love…………..

I awoke the next afternoon to a heavy head and acute indigestion. I drank three cups of water before I reached for the whiskey bottle. My next awareness was late Sunday afternoon. Groaning I staggered to the shower. I let the cleansing waters pour over me, invigorating me, trying to create tomorrows identity.

Later that night I began thinking of my council presentation tomorrow. I thought of Mahendra, a council member who was forever discussing religion with me. My Christian God to his Hindu Gods. I would tell him about the death and resurrection of Christ and he would talk about Shiva, the destroyer who creates. My mind drifted off to sleep with images of death and resurrection, destruction and creation.

The next afternoon I was sitting in the office at the homeless shelter ready to discuss the presentation to council on funding for non-profit housing.

The Director greeted me with a smile “How was your weekend”.

‘ Great “, I replied, returning his smile and then proceeded to discuss funding alternatives for non profits.

Knight Errand


“Defend the weak, protect both young and old, never desert your friends. Give justice to all, be fearless in battle and always ready to defend the right.”

—The law of Badger Lords”
Brian Jacques, Lord Brocktree

” George, George can you run an errand for me “.

It was Mrs. Billings yelling as I was about to exit the building. She lives on the ground floor, closest to the only opening that gives entrance and exit to the building, it was impossible to pass unnoticed.

I turned mid stride and said ” Sure Mrs. Billings, what would you like me to get for you”.

” Go to Tate’s and get me a loaf of bread, 2lb sugar, qtr.lb. of Typhoo tea and a snow cake. Tell Mr. Tate that I won’t get my pension till next week so can he write it in his book till then”.

Mrs.Billings gave me her grocery bag and I took off for the fifteen minute walk to Tate’s. Upon arriving I gave him the order and her instructions, he duly recorded the transaction in his little book. Upon returning to Mrs. Billings apartment I knocked on the door and handed her the groceries.

“Thank you George” she said, ” You are my little knight errand” and gave me two digestive biscuits for my trouble. I nibbled at the biscuits as I puzzled over what she meant by knight errand.

From that day every Tuesday and Friday, without fail, she would corner me and send me on some errand to a store, and would always call me her little knight errand.

Still curious over the meaning of knight errand, I questioned Miss Kelly, my teacher. She laughed and said I think she meant knight errant. Knight errant was a knight who wandered the land in search of adventure and to right the wrongs of the land. He usually performed all his deeds for a lady. She then went on to tell me about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Gawain, Lancelot, Galahad and Percival.

I was enthralled at this idea and from then on imagined myself as a knight wandering the land doing all kinds of good deeds.

Tuesday came around, I passed Mrs. Billings house expecting to be sent on my usual knights errand journey to the store. To my surprise she was not outside waiting for me. I wondered if she was sick and so knocked hesitantly at the door. After a few minutes a man came to the door and when I enquired about Mrs. Billings he said she was taking a nap. I thought this was unusual, but nodded my head and walked away. For the next two weeks Mrs. Billings was not to be seen and I always received the same answer when enquiring about her.

There came a time when I saw the man exit Mrs. Billings apartment and when he rounded the corner, out of sight, I tapped on her door. No answer. I knocked louder. Still no answer. I turned the door handle and pushed forward. To my surprise the door opened. I stepped hesitantly inside, searching.

Mrs. Billings voice cried out, ” Is someone there”

“It’s me, George” I replied. “Your knight errand”.

” You are a saviour” she sniffed, ” You have to go and get me help”.

I asked her what was wrong.

“It’s my son Alfie, he needed somewhere to stay as he lost his job and couldn’t pay his rent. So even though he’s given me trouble in the past I reluctantly allowed him to stay. But he’s taken my pension book and locks me in the bedroom every time he leaves the house”.

She cried softly as she pleaded, ” You have to help me get out of here”.

” Don’t worry Mrs. Billings, I’ll rescue you, it may take a little while, but I will free you ” I said as I hurried back out the door.

Mrs. Billings was locked in the dungeon by her dragon of a son and I knew exactly how to rescue her. I ran all the way to Lemon Street Police Station and breathlessly blurted out Mrs. Billings dilemma to the policeman behind the counter.

“Hold your horses lad, slow down a bit, I can’t understand a word you’re saying”. The policeman’s calm tone steadied my nerves, I tried to relax my breathing.

” Mrs. Billings, my neighbour, is being held prisoner by her son Alfie, and he’s stolen her pension book, ” I gasped.

” So that would be Alfie Billings,” the policeman intoned ” We’ve been looking for him for burglary and assaulting a police officer. He escaped from us when we went to question him at his apartment.”

Two hours later I was sitting in Mrs. Billings parlour enjoying a cup of tea and chocolate digestive biscuits. She was thanking me for the hundredth time and calling me her little knight errand for the hundredth time. Shame to say I was basking in her adoration and feeling pretty good about myself. Sir George, Knight Errand Errant, saving damsels from dragons and rescuing fair maidens from imprisonment.

“George,we’ve run out of biscuits, be a good lad and run an errand for me.”

I jumped on my steed to roam the land once again in search of adventure.


The Doomsday Clock


Taking up Reena’s Exploration Challenge #73
by Reena Saxena. The idea was to explore time and in particular one minute of time. Thanks for the mind prompt Reena.

I was born in 1947, the year the Doomsday Clock was instituted.

The Clock represents how close the world is to a global catastrophe. The global catastrophe is set as Midnight, and the current perception of catastrophe as the number of minutes to Midnight. In 1947 the clock was initially set at seven minutes to Midnight. The setting was last changed in January 2018 to two minutes to Midnight, because of the threats of nuclear weapons, climate change and the use of informational warfare to undermine democracies.

I was always resetting my Doomsday Clock growing up in the slums of East London in the 1950’s. Constantly weighing the risk factors of people you met and the streets you walked. Some streets I would stop, take a breath for a minute, count to ten and then run as fast as I could till I reached the end. East London streets in the 1950’s were very territorial. Play time, on occasions, were pitched stone battles between youths. Leading up to Guy Fawkes, November 5th, streets would collect “bonfire wood”, usually from the bombed houses, and stack the wood in a nearby ruin. Every street had its ruin. Rival streets would then raid each other and try to steal the wood. This would lead to pitched battles with stones or catapults as the weapons of choice. Catapults were V shaped pieces of metal taken from bed springs, ammunition U shaped nails. We never understood that we were one minute from Midnight.


“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts On Common Things

Call me an optimist, but I believe in the power and the resilience of the human race to adapt, learn and go forward. It’s only been about a 100 years since industrial/technological revolution has taken us all by storm. We are adapting, we make mistakes but we are learning. This is where we need free speech and free expression of ideas to reason with each other and reach a consensus. We do not need a great divide or dualistic thinking. We need empathy and understanding, mixed in with a great deal of common sense. When we use our democratic powers we should vote for politicians who reason and have worthwhile ideas. We should not give in to following a cult of personality, the charismatic charmer.

Luke 12:48. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

My hope and my dream is that we become more aware of our responsibilities to each other and to our planet. Can we take a minute to pray, reflect and ask ourselves.  

WHAT CAN I DO TO FURTHER MY DREAM, FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS, FOR A BETTER TOMORROW.

The Classroom Circus

This is a prompt by D. Wallace Peach-Myths of the Mirror

The bell rang, and Jeremy exiting his class room seat, bumped into Stella sending her sprawling into Peter, causing triple embarrassment and one hostile glare. Stella, extricating herself from Peter’s embrace, rounded on Jeremy screaming, ” You clumsy elephant, watch where you’re going”. The rest of the class trumpeted their amusement and in that moment Jeremy acquired his new pet name “Clumsy Elephant”.

Jeremy was a big boy, he hated exercise and enjoyed his food. He preferred eating chocolate chip cookies to conversation and was more comfortable with his pet mice than his class mates. He was teased a little, because of his weight, but he never let it bother him. But that changed the day he was given his pet name. Whenever he entered class he was greeted with a trumpeting call and laughter. The first time he just smiled and waved his hand graciously, but over time he became irritated at the immaturity of his class mates and was determined to put a stop to it. So he conferred with his teacher and they came up with a plan.

The next morning, as class attendance was called, there was no affirmative answer from Jeremy. A few of his classmates assumed it was because of the snow falling outside. Soon the morning’s math lesson started and the students settled down to puzzling over arithmetical problems. At the end of the lesson the teacher announced to the class that she had a surprise for them and loudly clapped her hands. The classroom door opened and in walked Jeremy dressed in a circus ringmasters costume, carrying a large object covered with cloth .

Jeremy, entered the classroom, placing the large cloth covered object on top of the teachers desk. He then turned to the class proclaiming in a loud voice ” Ladies and gentleman I am delighted to introduce to you the Clumsy Elephant”, here he made a sweeping bow to his audience, ” and his charismatic mice”. With that he swept away the cloth to reveal a doll house with four little mice scurrying inside. Jeremy proceeded to entertain the students with all kinds of tricks performed by his amazing mice. They chased each other in a circle, did cartwheels on mini trampolines, went up and down on a teeter and totter and rode a tiny skateboard around the house. For the grand finale the mice ran up the stairs to the bedroom, slid gracefully down a slide and repeated this process over and over. The end of the performance was met with a great cheer from the students and Jeremy beamed with delight.

Jeremy gave another great, sweeping bow to his class mates. In doing so, he swept his arms a little too wide and knocked the dolls house from the table, sending it crashing to the floor, with the mice escaping and scurrying all around the classroom. Great hilarity ensued with the boys chasing the mice and some of the more timid girls screaming and jumping on top of their desks. It was quite a while before order was restored and the mice returned safely to the doll house. The whole class was abuzz and gave a tremendous cheer to Jeremy for the mornings entertainment. Jeremy gratefully acknowledged the accolades from his class mates and from that day on was known as ” Jeremy the Magnificent “.

The Weeping Willow



Taking up Reena’s Exploration Challenge #72
by Reena Saxena. Thanks for the mind prompt Reena and for introducing me to Arthur Rackham illustrations.

The Weeping Willow stood twenty feet south of the meandering stream that ran through the middle of Lord Covington’s estate. On a sunny day, in late Spring, the trees awareness was drawn to a squirrel scrambling along its branches and so he failed to notice the arrival of the young girl. She stood in front of the tree, admiring his shape and luxurious foliage, ” My, you are a handsome fellow” she exclaimed. She started climbing, nesting comfortably in his branches, about eight feet from the ground, sighing contentedly she dreamed her dreams.

She would visit the tree everyday and they quickly became old friends. Some days she would dance around the tree, on others she climbed as high as she dared, but mostly she was content to nest in his branches and dream. As she got older she loved to bring her books and sit at the tree’s base and let her imagination carry her to all kinds of adventures. She always sat alone, sheltered from the world, in her little oasis. Content.

As time went by the tree noticed a shift in the girl’s manner. She would often come to him crying and water his leaves with her tears. She would stare wistfully into space, shake her head and the tears would continue to fall. Then she stopped coming.

The cycles of the seasons turned and the Weeping Willow would change from it’s silver tinged catkins in the Spring to its glorious golden hue in the Fall. Years went by and he found his vigour and awareness diminishing. His leaves would bud later in the year and they would fall earlier. He was becoming very weary of life and then, one day, unexpectedly, she was there. Not a girl but a grown woman.

She rushed to the tree and laid her cheek against his trunk, her hands caressed his leaves. ” How I’ve missed you” she said, and once more she climbed to nest in his branches, closed her eyes and felt the trees embrace. The next day she arrived with a sharp knife and cut a branch from the willow tree. She chose a spot further down the bank of the stream and planted the branch into the rich soil. She closed her eyes and said a quick prayer for God to preserve the tree and nourish its growth. The Weeping Willow felt his awareness shift from his dying form to the freshly planted branch and the beginning of renewal. The woman visited daily nurturing the new growth on the branch and protecting it from the woodland creatures. Soon the branch was well established and started to grow quickly. The woman’s visits became less frequent but the tree continued to flourish.

And so the seasons continued to turn, a time for every purpose under heaven.

It was a bright fall day and the Weeping Willow looked his best, clothed in golden radiance. It was on that day she came to visit for the last time. She came aided by a companion who helped her to approach the tree. She smiled and held on to the tree so she wouldn’t fall. She leaned into the tree and smiled, ” My dearest love, you have been with me through all my joys and sorrows and pain, you have never deserted me, but have been my strength to lean upon, I will wait for you in Heaven”.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1.