Bucket List #4

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These are the collection buckets we used to raise money for the Hope Foundation.  Gavin, Jerry, Esha and I have variously waved these buckets at the very many generous people of Cashel, Thurles and various Tipperary townlands.  We brought them to Rugby matches in Dublin and Limerick, and to Hurling games in Semple Stadium.  They have seen the warm days of summer and the cold dark days of winter.

They have earned a proud position in my “Bucket List” as they contain many great memories of a good year.

Four years ago my oldest son Jerry participated in the trip to Kolkata with Rockwell College.  He documented his journey on his blog:

https://jerrytocalcutta.wordpress.com/about/

This year it was all about my younger son, Gavin, who made his own trip, which he recorded on wordpress, twitter, snapchat, etc.  His fundraising exploits are on his  wordpress site:

https://gavinclancykolkata.wordpress.com/

PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY.  They have finished their trips and made their visits to Kolkata.  But if you would like to support the fabulous work of the Hope Foundation feel free to do so at their site:

http://www.hopefoundation.ie/

What I like about the Hope Foundation is that it is a charity that strives to make itself useless.  What do I mean by that?

Some charities operate in a way that perpetuates dependency.  Their business is to “help” disadvantaged people.  But if they are “too successful” there will be no poor people left to help and they will effectively be out of business.  Self-perpetuating charities are not things I like, or appreciate.

I am very much of the mind to take people out of dependency.  This is where Hope operate.  They focus on educating kids to escape the cycle of slum living.  They help the parents to escape the cycle by supporting small enterprises, and by freeing up the parents to work by caring for the kids in crèches.  The greatest day for Hope Foundation will be when they can happily close down their facilities in Kolkata because their job is done.

That is not a pipedream.  It can happen.

As my son Jerry reminds me frequently “Give a man a Hamburger and he eats for a day.  Teach him to Hamburger, and that metaphor only works for Fish”.

The Fish:  by William Butler Yeats

Although you hide in the ebb and flow
Of the pale tide when the moon has set,
The people of coming days will know
About the casting out of my net,
And how you have leaped times out of mind
Over the little silver cords,
And think that you were hard and unkind,
And blame you with many bitter words.

Fish

 

 

 

The Hope-Trust Foundation

Stage 1:  Trust V Mistrust

-o0o-

They feed me when I call,

They change me when I bawl,

They hold me when I cramp,

They quickly resolve crises

such as hunger, cold, wind and damp.

I trust these large things

To do what I want

When I want

How I want

For me

Me

I shall be great.

-o0o-

They feed me when I hunger,

They change me when I need,

They hold me when they can,

They deal in time with annoyances,

Such as hunger, cold, damp and wind.

I trust these large things,

To stand beside me,

When I need,

A friend,

With me,

We,

Life shall be great.

-o0o-

They do not feed this thing,

They leave it wet and cold,

They do not pick it up,

however hard it screams,

for food, for warmth, for gentle touch.

Trust no one,

Trust no thing,

Do not hope for things,

Do not hope,

Better to fear,

Don’t care,

Whatever!

-o0o-

D. Clancy, 2015

A candle for hope.

1st Sunday

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the season of discipline preceding the Celebration of Christmas in the Christian calendar.  Traditionally this is marked by the lighting of the first of the purple candles on the advent wreath.  There are four purple candles and one white.  Four weeks of discipline leading to Christmas celebration.

Advent is a time of reflection, introspection, self examination.  But it should never be a time of misery.  Discipline should never be seen as denial – and all too often it is.  The tradition I was raised with in the Catholic church was to deny yourself something you like for Lent.  Give up chocolate!  And so it was generally seen as a time of misery.  But that is simply weak teaching.

Yoga is a discipline, one which makes us stronger, more supple, healthier.  It is an expansive form of discipline.  Learning is another discipline.  When we learn it requires the discipline of time and mind, but the result is to accumulate knowledge and broaden the mind.  Sporting exercise is a discipline that can make you faster, stronger, better.  Charitable acts are a discipline that improves the lives of others.

Don’t see Advent as a time of less.  See it as a time of more.  More of the right kind of thing.

Purple is the colour of discipline in the Catholic church.  The first purple candle is called Hope.  So today we light a beacon for hope.  First poem that came to mind was “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson, but I have used that in my blog before.  So here is a poem about another beacon.  It is also a poem of the sea and the mind, so it belongs on Mindship.

Burning Drift-Wood; by John Greenleaf Whittier

Before my drift-wood fire I sit,
And see, with every waif I burn,
Old dreams and fancies coloring it,
And folly’s unlaid ghosts return.

O ships of mine, whose swift keels cleft
The enchanted sea on which they sailed,
Are these poor fragments only left
Of vain desires and hopes that failed?

Did I not watch from them the light
Of sunset on my towers in Spain,
And see, far off, uploom in sight
The Fortunate Isles I might not gain?

Did sudden lift of fog reveal
Arcadia’s vales of song and spring,
And did I pass, with grazing keel,
The rocks whereon the sirens sing?

Have I not drifted hard upon
The unmapped regions lost to man,
The cloud-pitched tents of Prester John,
The palace domes of Kubla Khan?

Did land winds blow from jasmine flowers,
Where Youth the ageless Fountain fills?
Did Love make sign from rose blown bowers,
And gold from Eldorado’s hills?

Alas! the gallant ships, that sailed
On blind Adventure’s errand sent,
Howe’er they laid their courses, failed
To reach the haven of Content.

And of my ventures, those alone
Which Love had freighted, safely sped,
Seeking a good beyond my own,
By clear-eyed Duty piloted.

O mariners, hoping still to meet
The luck Arabian voyagers met,
And find in Bagdad’s moonlit street,
Haroun al Raschid walking yet,

Take with you, on your Sea of Dreams,
The fair, fond fancies dear to youth.
I turn from all that only seems,
And seek the sober grounds of truth.

What matter that it is not May,
That birds have flown, and trees are bare,
That darker grows the shortening day,
And colder blows the wintry air!

The wrecks of passion and desire,
The castles I no more rebuild,
May fitly feed my drift-wood fire,
And warm the hands that age has chilled.

Whatever perished with my ships,
I only know the best remains;
A song of praise is on my lips
For losses which are now my gains.

Heap high my hearth! No worth is lost;
No wisdom with the folly dies.
Burn on, poor shreds, your holocaust
Shall be my evening sacrifice!

Far more than all I dared to dream,
Unsought before my door I see;
On wings of fire and steeds of steam
The world’s great wonders come to me,

And holier signs, unmarked before,
Of Love to seek and Power to save,—
The righting of the wronged and poor,
The man evolving from the slave;

And life, no longer chance or fate,
Safe in the gracious Fatherhood.
I fold o’er-wearied hands and wait,
In full assurance of the good.

And well the waiting time must be,
Though brief or long its granted days,
If Faith and Hope and Charity
Sit by my evening hearth-fire’s blaze.

And with them, friends whom Heaven has spared,
Whose love my heart has comforted,
And, sharing all my joys, has shared
My tender memories of the dead,—

Dear souls who left us lonely here,
Bound on their last, long voyage, to whom
We, day by day, are drawing near,
Where every bark has sailing room.

I know the solemn monotone
Of waters calling unto me;
I know from whence the airs have blown
That whisper of the Eternal Sea.

As low my fires of drift-wood burn,
I hear that sea’s deep sounds increase,
And, fair in sunset light, discern
Its mirage-lifted Isles of Peace.

First impressions

You know the old saying, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!  Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to win friends and influence people” figured we interact with the world in four ways.  What we do.  What we say.  How we say it, and How we dress.

Of these I have no doubt that the most important is what we do.  We are what we do.  Look it up at wearewhatwedo.org if you don’t believe me.  Change the world for a fiver 🙂

My son flew out to Kolkata this week and it is very funny to read the first impressions of a 16 year old upon reaching a third world environment.  Here it is (edited for punctuation).  It took two flights to get there, stopping in Dubai:

I didnt get any sleep on either flight so I’m exhausted now.  Today we did loads.  On the first plane, I sat just a couple of rows behind first class so lots of leftover luxuries (biscuits, drinks etc) were given to me.  Dubai airport was huge but we were only there for an hour.  The next plane was horrible!  It was dirty, the seats were smaller and were really uncomfortable compared to the earlier flight and we couldn’t watch anything we wanted on demand, there were 20 channels with different things on. Calcutta airport was shabby and dirty.  On the flight to Calcutta they had to fumigate the plane during the flight so they sprayed chemicals throughout the plane.  I also had to fill in a card saying what I had to declare ( fish, seeds etc) it was the same as Australia on tv.  The hotel is great and everyone gets their own bed.  Calcutta is much worse than you could imagine.  There are slums next to skyscrapers and half of the city is under construction!  Instead of scaffolding they use bamboo.  Every car is honking its horn all the time and today we saw the aftermath of a car that went up in flames after tonnes of fire burst out of a manhole!!!  We visited a school for young girls whose parents can’t take care of them.  They were very excited and they performed plays, skits and dances for us.  Cows wander through the city and people take no notice of them.  Tomorrow we will be visiting a home for boys and on Sunday will will be given a full tour of Calcutta.  The food isn’t great.  It was nicer on the plane.”

The Cow; by Robert Louis Stephenson

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

 

Wings

pandoras-box

Happy Birthday to Emily Dickinson, December 10th 1830! Woody Allen wrote a book called “Without Feathers”. It was an homage to Dickinsons poem on Hope. Was Woody suggesting he was hopeless? If you haven’t read “Without Feathers” then you are in for a real treat. It is fantastic.

I once acted in the play “God” from the book “Without Feathers”. I don’t know if we were any good, but it was a lot of fun. I laughed a lot.

And so to Hope. Hope is the thing with feathers. It is also a charity.  Give freely for Christmas, or for not Christmas, either will be welcome;  Hope Foundation Ireland

Hope is also the thing that emerged last from Pandoras box. Another great story!

Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Lighting Up

I spent the weekend ferrying my son Jerry up and down to Clonmel, where he was packing bags in Tesco for his charity drive.  You can check out his progress here, http://www.mycharity.ie/event/raiseforcalcutta/  and he also has a blog on wordpress to track his fundraising and the trip to Calcutta.  If you are feeling all Christmassy and want to give him something you can donate as little as €2 on the website, and genuinely, all donations are very much appreciated.  OK, begging bowl away….

For those of you who don’t live in Ireland, the 8th of December is THE shopping day for Christmas.  In the Catholic Calendar it is the feast of the immaculate conception.  According to the church authorities in the middle ages, it was not enough that Jesus was born of an immaculate conception.  The vessel of his birth, the womb of the Virgin Mary, had to be as pure as driven snow, so she was also accorded an immaculate conception.  What this means for children in Ireland is……a day off school.

So traditionally Mammy packed the kids down to the drapery and fitted them out with new duds for Christmas on the 8th.  The tree arrived in the house, the lights went up and everything started to feel a lot like Christmas.

In the city the relevance of the 8th has declined, but down here in rural Tipperary it remains the big day heralding the Christmas season.  If you don’t buy your tree on the 8th you will be left with one of the lame, the asymmetrical, the mangy, the bald, the withered or the stunted specimens rejected by the early bird buyers.

And so it is that I was climing the ladder first thing this morning to festoon the front of the house with lights.  The tree is up and dressed, the star is attached, the ultimate christmas album is in the CD player.

So it feels like a night for Frost.  That would be Robert Frost rather than Jack Frost

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.