Help out


As Easter comes to a close here is a photograph of some Samaritans on Mount Gerizim in the West Bank overlooking Nablus.  I’m not sure how you tell the good Samaritans from the other ones.  I think there is a bit of good in all of us, if we choose to root it out.  Do something good for someone today.  If it makes you feel good try it again tomorrow!



On His Blindness; by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”






I was too busy this Easter to blog.  So here is an Easter Egg for everyone out there.  A bit late, but it’s a good one.  Two pieces of advice hard won for your life, if you will listen.  Don’t force kids to eat what they don’t want, it only turns food into a battleground.  Food should be wrapped in memories of love, not war.  And don’t shout at them for dropping stuff.

Eggs; by Susan Wood

Morning broke like an egg
on the kitchen floor and I hated
them, too, eggs, how easily they broke
and ran, yellow insides spilling out, oozing

and staining, the flawed
beneath what’s beautiful. And I hated
my father, the one ****
in the henhouse, who laid the plate

on the table and made me
eat, who told me not to get up
until I was done, every
bite. And I hated how I gagged and cried, day

after day, until there was no time
left and he’d give in and I’d go off
to school like that, again, hungry.
But why did I hate eggs

so much? Freud, old banty rooster, who
knew a thing or two about such things, might say
I hated my self, hated the egg
growing in secret deep inside my body,

the secret about to be spilled
to the world, and maybe I did.
Or maybe it’s the way the egg
repeats itself again and again, a perfect

oval every time, the way I found myself
furious, standing by my own child’s bed
holding a belt, and hit, and saw her face
dissolve in yolk. But that doesn’t say

enough about why we hoard
our hurts like golden eggs and foolishly
wait for them to hatch, why
we faced each other across the table,

my father and I, and fought
our battles over eggs and never fought
with them, never once picked up
those perfect ovals and sent them singing

back and forth across the room, the spell
broken like shells, until we were
covered with them, our faces golden
and laughing, both of us beautiful and flawed.

Vernal Equinox


March approaches equinox.  Indeed today, March 20th, is when the day equals the night. 

There are various ways of measuring the “rebirth” of the year.  Our most common in the modern world seems to be the Winter Solstice, when the nights are at their longest and days at their shortest.  Once we have passed that point and the sun shines a little longer every day it seems that the worst is over.

For the Celts the “Cross-quarter days” were significant.  So Imbolc (Feb 1st) the feast of St Brigid, was seen as the start of spring.

For many primitive peoples the spring equinox was more important.  This is why Easter is a time of rebirth in many religions, Christian and pre-Christian.  At the Spring equinox day and night battle and the Sun emerges victorious, to grow stronger than the night with each passing day.

The victory of the Sun God became the victory of the Son of God in Christianity, when the Crucified Christ rose from the dead.

Since I started rising with the farmers and commuting to work in the early hours I can understand the significance of the equinox.   Spring bears a heavy workload of ploughing and planting and there are simply not enough hours in the day.  Each day gives you a little more time, and it feels you are winning.

Soon we will enter summertime and I will be plunged back into early morning darkness for a time.  The evenings will be brighter.  Light at 6am is useful for farmers, but not for many others.  Most of us get the value from the longer evenings.

I’d say that guy in Thurles who rises at 6 every morning to walk his dog so he doesn’t have to pick up the shit is feeling very exposed at the moment.  I’d bet good cash that he can’t wait for the hour to go back so he can skulk in the shadows for a while longer.

Anyway, here’s an ode to another early riser.

THE WINDHOVER  (To Christ our Lord): by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Paskha , Paskha, Ptichka


Paskha is the Russian word for Easter.  It is also the word for a cheesy pyramid shaped treat food consumed at Easter.  It also sounds a lot like Ptichka, which means “little bird”.  We all know that eggs are a symbol of Easter.

But Eggs predate Christianity.  Oester was a germanic fertility goddess represented by a Hare (hence the Easter Bunny).  From the word Oester we get oestrus and oestroegen.  The feast of Oester was aligned with the vernal equinox and was a time of planting, lambing, calving and egg laying as the days grew longer.

Eggs, therefore, were one symbol of birth, and were appropriated by the Christian church as a symbol of rebirth as the Christian church appropriated the earlier pagan festivals.

In Russia there is a peasant tradition of setting a little bird (the ptichka) free and I wonder is this why the Russian for a little bird looks very like the word for Easter?  Someone who knows something about Russia will probably disabuse me of the notion.  Until then, here is a poem about a little bird by one of the greats of golden age Russian poetry.

A Little Bird ; by A.S. Pushkin

In alien lands devoutly clinging
To age-old rites of Russian earth,
I let a captive bird go winging
To greet the radiant spring’s rebirth.
My heart grew lighter then: why mutter
Against God’s providence, and rage,
When I was free to set aflutter
But one poor captive from his cage!

A. Pushkin