Tag Archives: peace

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy

  • The ApothecaryStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: YES
  • Age range: 8-12 (although for younger readers you can skip the soppy stuff!! and maybe the ocassional “bl**dy”)

I picked up this book in the library to read with SC. The cover looked pretty and the blurb on the back had me thinking it could be quite a good page-turner of a book.

“Janie Scott has just moved to London from sunny LA, and she’s finding it forbidding, dreary and cold. That is until she meets Benjamin Burrows who dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father – a mysterious apothecary – is kidnapped, he entrusts Janie and Benjamin with a powerful book, full of ancient spells and magical potions.

But there are others who seek the book’s secrets – spies in possession of nuclear weapons that could destroy the world …”

Oh my goodness!

We were not disappointed – and I will try not to give away any spoilers.

This book is a fabulous story.  It has it all love, adventure, excitement, magic, history and above all the idea of keeping your mind open to the possibility that anything is possible!

It created quite a bit of discussion in this house, and me having to hark back to school and remembering my History classes about the aftermath of World War 2. I had to explain about the McCarthy Witch Hunts that took place in the States, what the Cold War was, why there was a theoretical “iron curtain” hanging down the middle of Europe and the fact you couldn’t cross over it and even nuclear weapons and how they worked in theory – my goodness my brain got quite a workout – although I think I may have to do a bit of reading up on nuclear physics (it was never my strongest subject at school)

So, on top of all that background history going on throughout the story, there was an exciting adventure and a race against time, intertwined with alchemy, magic and herbal lore.

When you reach the end of the book it does leave a few questions unanswered, but thankfully having look up on the internet there are 2 more books that are sequels to this one – so thankfully we will be able to read on and see what happens 😉

So that’s a quick run-down on what the book has inside without mentioning anything specific about the plot.

There’s just one quote from the book that struck a chord with me:

“… we should not stop at our desire to protect our own children in their immediate world. we want the streets they walk to be safe, and the walls around them to be sound, and we want to be able to put food in their bellies. These are natural desires.

But if we truly want them to be safe and well, we must make the greater world a different place. As it stands, we are all threatened, at every moment, and nothing we do to lock our own doors and earn our pay and tuck our children in bed will make the slightest difference.”

As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child from harm. You will move heaven and earth to keep them safe. Sometimes, our best endeavours are not enough and the unimaginable becomes reality. I cannot comprehend how that must feel and I can only imagine that such an awful reality must leave a huge hole in a parent’s life that can never heal.

But I think the above quote cuts deeper than just that of being a parent, and that is being a human being.

This story is about the Cold War, nuclear weapons and the power of fear. However relevant the quote is for that period in time, it is also extremely relevant in today’s world.

There may not be an Iron Curtain, and the Cold War may well have thawed somewhat over the years, but nowadays the threats come from other sources – so how can we protect our children and each other?

It has been said that in order to change the world, we must start with ourselves and become the embodiment of what we want the world to be.

If we fight hate with hate, hate wins. But can we fight hate with love? And if so, how?

So let’s all try to make the greater world a different place – maybe all it takes to start is a smile – it can’t hurt, right?

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Poem – A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou

In honour of the amazing poet, Maya Angelou, who died today. Not possibly one of her most famous ones, but a beautiful poem nonetheless.

A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favour,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labour
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

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Friday Poem – The Genius of the Crowd

An AMAZING poem by the American poet Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)crowds

What do you think?

The Genius of the Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

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Out of the Mouthes of Babes – Fame

“Mummy,” said SC this morning over breakfast, “B in my class is quite famous, because she stroked a polar bear!”

OK, so it was quite early this morning, so it didn’t really register what he had actually said she had done!

Anyway, he carried on, “that’s a silly thing to be sort-of famous for isn’t it?”

“Mmmm,” said I, “so what do you think would be a good thing to be famous for?”

And do you know what, I was amazed at his reply.

“Well, designing a time machine is a good one, then you could go back and forward in time like Doctor Who [note. he has never watched Doctor Who, but obviously knows about it from the playground]

Pause.

“Going into space and walking on the moon, would be good. Being an artist, a perfect one and creating lovely things. Nelson Mandela he brought peace to the world.”

Silence!

“Mummy.”

“Yes.”

“Was anyone in our family alive when Nelson Mandela was born, he was 95.”

“No darling, there wasn’t and although mummy’s back sometimes feels like it is 95 years old, she most definitely isn’t!”

“Silly mummy, I know that!”

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Remembrance Day

There are so many wonderful poems that describe the horrors of war, and more especially of World War I, but I stumbled across this one today, by someone I have neverpoppies heard of, and yet its words are as poignant with all the horror in the world today as it was when it was written.

It is by a poet called Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929), an Anglican priest and poet nicknamed “Woodbine Willie” during WWI.

Whatever our personal views, soldiers risk their lives daily to try to make the world a better place, and we should all ask ourselves if we would be prepared to do the same!

I know not where they have laid him.

I wouldn’t mind if I only knowed
The spot where they’d laid my lad;
If I could see where they’d buried ‘im,
It wouldn’t be arf so bad.
But they do say some’s not buried at all,
Left to the maggots and flies,
Rottin’ out there in that no man’s land,
Just where they falls — they lies.
Parson ‘e says as it makes no odds,
‘Cause the soul o’ the lad goes on,
‘Is spirit ‘as gorn to ‘is Gawd, ‘e says,
Wherever ‘is body ‘as gorn.
But Parson ain’t never ‘ad no child,
‘E’s a man, not a woman, see?
‘Ow can he know what a woman feels,
And what it can mean to me?
For my boy’s body were mine — my own,
I bore it in bitter pain,
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,
It lies and rots in the rain.
Parson ain’t never suckled a child
Nor broken ‘is nights o’ rest,
To ‘ush it to sleep in ‘is aching arms,
While it drew life from ‘is breast.
‘E ain’t never watched by a sick child’s bed
Nor seed it fightin’ for life,
A man don’t know what a mother knows,
‘E leaves all that to ‘is wife.
I minds that chapter as Parson read
When poor little Jenny died,
And I were feeling as I feel now,
Wiv this emptiness inside.
Thou fool — it said — thou Fool — for to ask
And ‘ow do the dead arise?
What is the body that they shall wear
Up there in God’s Paradise?
I may be a fool, but that’s just it,
That’s just what I wants to know,
What is the body my boy shall bear,
And ‘ow does that body grow?
I reckons as ‘ow that Scripture piece
Were writ by a single man,
They never knows what a body costs
And I don’t see ‘ow they can.
A married man ‘as a bit ov sense
If ‘e’s been and stood wiv ‘is wife,
‘E knows the body ‘is baby wears
‘As cost ‘er all but ‘er life.

But even a Father never knows
The ache in a Mother’s ‘eart,
When she and the body ‘er body bore
Are severed and torn apart.
The men wouldn’t make these cursed wars
If they knowed of a body’s worth,
They wouldn’t be blowin’ ’em all to bits
If they ‘ad the pains ov birth.
But bless ye—the men don’t know they’re born,
For they gets away scot free.
‘Ow can they know what their cruel wars
Is costin’ the likes ov me?
I were proud to give, I’d give again
If I knowed the cause were right,
For I wouldn’t keep no son of mine
When ‘is dooty called to fight.
But I’d like to know just where it’s laid,
That body my body bore,
And I’d like to know who’ll mother ‘im
Out there on that other shore,
Who will be bearin’ the mother’s part
And be makin’ your body, boy?
Who will be ‘avin’ the mother’s pain,
And feelin’ the mother’s joy?

Gawd, is it you? Then bow you down
And ‘ark to a Mother’s prayer.
Don’t keep it all to yourself, Good Lord,
But give ‘is old Mother a share.
Gimme a share of the travail pain
Of my own son’s second birth,
Double the pain if you double the joy
That a mother feels on earth.
Gimme the sorrow and not the joy
If that ‘as to be your will,
Gimme the labour and not the pride,
But make me ‘is mother still.
Maybe the body as ‘e shall wear
Is born of my breaking heart,
Maybe these pains are the new birth pangs
What’ll give my laddie ‘is start.
Then I’d not trouble ‘ow hard they was,
I’d gladly go through the mill,
If that noo body ‘e wore were mine,
And I were ‘is mother still.

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Friday Poem – Life’s Most Important Treasures

A little late, but a lovely poem by Maureen Doan

Life’s Most Important Treasures

Joy

in your heart,

your mind,

your soul.

Peace

with yourself

and with the universe.

Harmony.

Courage

to feel, to need,

to reach out.

Freedom

to let yourself

be bound by love.

Friendship.

Wisdom

to learn, to change,

to let go.

Acceptance

of the truth

and beauty within yourself.

Growth.

Pleasure

in all that you see,

and touch,

and do.

Happiness

with yourself

and with the world.

Love.

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Friday Poem – Desiderata

I stumbled across this poem in a shop the other day.magic

It was written by Max Ehrmann, an American writer, in 1927, but only became popular in the 1970s.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;  for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

 

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

 

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

 

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

 

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

You have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

 

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

 

Be careful.

Strive to be happy.

 

 

Desiderata – desired things – what do you desire?

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