I just went searching for a quote I half-remembered. I found it when I was living through difficult times (aren’t we always?) Reverend Master Daishin said it. It is this:
“What comes is a gift, as it shows us what we need to offer.”
Today I am thinking, this quote could turn my entire life upside down.
Not, I need more, but, what do I already have more than enough of that others might need? Not, I am suffering, but, how might my suffering illuminate the suffering of others? Not, how can I sell more books, but, how might my writing be helpful to others?
What comes shows us what we need to offer.
The painting is by Lino Mannocci, who made the beautiful monotypes I fell in love with at the weekend. Here is some more of his work, and look at this. The titles of the monotypes were poetry – especially the ones in Italian, but the English ones too: ‘And the nursling of the sky’, ‘Nobody else was there’, ‘I change but I cannot die’. Even his name is music. As Esther and me looked and looked, they infused us with something like a deep cherishing. I wish you could have been there.
Two bananas have been blackening on my kitchen table all week. I’ve looked at them daily, and thought ‘I should put them in the compost’. Last night I read in ‘Hand Wash Cold’ that Karen Maezen Miller makes banana pancakes for her daughter with blackened bananas. I offered myself banana pancakes this morning, fluffy and sweet, drizzled with honey and eaten in the sunshine. I wish you’d been here and I could have made some for you too.
A final reminder from Karen.
“Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What we pay attention to thrives. What we do not pay attention to withers and dies. What will you pay attention to today?”
Pay attention to your blackened bananas, to the weeds on the path, and to the cat winding around your ankles. What comes is a gift, as it shows us what we need to offer. In lieu of actual pancakes, this is my offering to you today.
After circling the one way system a few times, I parked Rosie in a random car park and struck out into the city. After a few seconds a young homeless man with no front teeth approached me and started his spiel – he needed £8.80 for…
I interrupted with a pound, and asked if he knew where Cafe Royale was. He said he could show me the way, and I followed.
Whilst we were in a particularly dark and deserted alleyway I did wonder about how sensible I was to follow this strange man in a strange city, but he delivered me safely to my destination, having told me all about his son in Ireland and showed me his injured finger (he was concerned it had gone yellow – I reassured him that iodine did that).
The waiter in the cafe recommended us an Indian restaurant, and told us to tell him he’d sent us.
A girl from Hungary insisted on walking us (out of her way) from Cafe Royale to the Indian. She told us she liked England. People did what they said they were going to do.
The waiter in the Indian recommended a restaurant in Bromsgrove, and told us to tell them he’d sent us. Then he gave us a free Baileys each, ‘because it’s Sunday’. The curry was AMAZING, and ridiculously cheap.
Two men gave us perfect directions back to Rosie. The Christmas lights twinkled merrily, and I circled the one way system several times again, and all was well with the world.
The people of Worcester all turned out in force to help our evening run more smoothly. I think this is how people are. I think we like to help people. I think if we expect the world to help us, and ask it nicely, it will.