Joy as a flash mob

Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.

I thought of these words by Eckhart Tolle as I watched the wonderful video below. I thought that the fabulous flash mob, appearing unbidden and as if from nowhere, illustrates the nature of joy itself.

Perhaps this is why my little daughter, now nearly ten months old, is such a constant source of joy. I suppose that she did, literally, ‘arise from within’ – in that I grew her in my body. She is now and forever a part of my body, just one that happens to walk around outside it. Makes for a rather finely-tuned life, when her every cry of distress registers in your bones like an electric flicker. But the anxiety of parenthood is a whole other story. And it’s nothing compared to the joy. The joy plugs you into something huge.

As I watch her, I can’t help but surrender happily and unconsciously to nothing more than the present moment. The way her eyelashes are golden in the sunlight. The slow spread of her smile, as delight radiates outward from the centre of her little body. The way she holds herself still, as we listen to the soft squeaking murmur of the ducks. Nothing more than that. And yet in those moments, where I treasure the very breath that leaves my lungs because it is rooting me in this glorious, golden present, it is everything. Because those are the moments when joy floods my whole being.

No wonder they say that children are a gift from God. It is hard, so hard, to find the inner stillness that we need to access the joy of just being, or to hold it for more than a few moments. And so He gave us children, to show us the way.

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Here’s to finding joy in life’s smallest moments. And also to flash mobs. Because they are awesome.

x Cesca

An English song for the English countryside

Cow parsley and hawthornCheery, hopeful cow parsley. Bouncing in these early sumer breezes, making my heart sing. Penelope Lively, who in her wonderful novel Heat Wave describes these mid-June days in the English countryside as,

… A landscape of exuberance. The verge alongside the track is lush, brimming with red campion, knapweed, foaming drifts of cow parsley. The hedges are studded with creamy plates of elder. There is a feeling of completion – that the surging growth of May has peaked, is suspended now in its abundance.

Hawthorn treeThere is no more perfect song for this time of year than ‘Silent Noon’. It’s a beautiful sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which was set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I’ve had it in my head for the last few weeks.

The House of Life: 19. Silent Noon

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
‘Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
‘Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:—
So this wing’d hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.

It is so moving as a piece of music, particularly as sung by the marvellous Kathleen Ferrier. Happy listening, and I hope you are enjoying the beautiful changing seasons, wherever you are.

Cow parsley close up

x Cesca

Oh my dear heart


The singular and cheerful life
of any flower
in anyone’s garden
or any still unowned field-

if there are any-
catches me
by the heart,
by its color

by its obedience
to the holiest of laws:
be alive
until you are not.

Those princes of everything green-
the grasses
of which there are truly
an uncountable company,

each on its singular stem
striving
to rise and ripen.

What, in the earth world,
is there not to be amazed by
and to be steadied by
and to cherish?

Oh, my dear heart,
my own dear heart,
full of hesitations,
questions, choice of directions,

look at the world.
Behold the morning glory,
the meanest flower, the ragweed, the thistle.
Look at the grass.

– Mary Oliver

Mothers Day

My first Mothers Day as an actual mum! Would liked to spend the day at home cuddling my teething daughter and watching The Night Manager on catch-up. But alas we are piled into the car and getting lost in West London, spectacularly late for lunch.