That showery morning when I met Father Christmas... And his name was Lawrence!

Paphos, Cyprus, December 2016

I love so very much speaking with those who live on the borders listening to their revelations and have some humorous but also some devastatingly sad stories to tell. Many of these stories touch on the fantastical. It is where I find most of my angels and where the ‘old man’ will mostly live. It is there where feather and flesh, flesh and feather, meet on the margins of the long narrow streets, and around ancient churches whose bell-towers are about to collapse, in the ghostly sounds of trains which rush towards their final destination, in out-of-town petrol stations, in the entrances to hospitals. And in that place where the Moon is pregnant with the light of the Sun.

This Father Christmas was a little less animated. Peyia, Paphos. Photo: MG Michael (2016)

This Father Christmas was a little less animated. Peyia, Paphos. Photo: MG Michael (2016)

This story belongs to the lighter side of these encounters. It was the day before Christmas. In Kato Paphos I would visit a café bar by the harbour whose crystal blue waters course in from the Mediterranean Sea. I would come here every morning to have breakfast, to check my email, and to work on some drafts. This café [like most cafés] had a story of its own, with its ffamous resident Coco the African grey and the expat former middleweight Englishman boxer the proud owner. This tall gentleman with the broad Yorkshire accent was one time bodyguard and confidant to the likes of Tom Jones and Demis Roussos. But on this particular showery morning the attention of the patrons was drawn to a bellowing voice across the street to the promenade. From what we could see it was a bearded old man with a large red Father Christmas stocking cap atop his head. Some of the patrons thought he was being a nuisance, while others preferred to concentrate on their old-school ‘full English’. But some of us did enjoy the grace and joie de vivre of the old man. I must admit I found his repertoire rather strange but on hindsight it was entirely symbolic. Until this day I had never before heard Father Christmas belt out “My Way” and “A Girl Called Maria”. Followed by “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”! A huge pretend pine tree was decorated to the hilt and proudly set up in the middle of the square. Late morning of the 24th both to my surprise and merriment, I discovered over four short blacks that my new bushie acquaintance was Jewish, his name was Lawrence, and that as a little boy he was a gofer for a stock exchange company in the centre of London. He loved to sing and was a member of a number of choirs, but like me I would suppose, he much preferred going rogue. And then we slapped each other on the back and sung “Hava Nagila”.

And for some reason I would remember my dearly loved Viktor Frankl to whom I have oftentimes turned for “meaning” who somewhere said that Jews and Christians would in many instances hold each other’s hands to pray together before being led into the darkest places of Auschwitz.

Some fragments from a diary

When the delivery truck arrived (November, 1990) 

Members of the monastic community Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, England. In the centre the beloved Elder Sophrony Sakharov, 1990. Courtesy: Michael Family Archives.

On a cold and wet Essex afternoon a delivery truck arrived with the Elder’s celebrated masterpiece, Saint Silouan the Athonite,[1] his book on the life and teachings of his spiritual father, Saint Silouan of Athos. The books were arranged in a number of large cardboard boxes, Father Sophrony asked me to open one of these boxes and to present him with a copy. I can still see him bent over his walking stick in his overlong cassock with his face radiant as ever. He asked me to take out a second copy which he straightaway placed back into my gloved hands. This volume was to be mine. To this day it remains one of my most treasured possessions and there have been mornings when I have woken up from sleep with this book resting on my chest. Prayer and the practise of love as revealed through the incarnation of the GodMan, two of the vital teachings which are exemplified in this modern-day spiritual classic, are not idle forces however we might define or understand them. It would be a mistake to underestimate their inherent potential, like solar super storms which take out power grids they can be responsible for seismic shifts in our life. This lifelong dedication to prayer and the divine love emanating from Jesus Christ were two of the enduring lessons from the blessed lives of Saint Silouan (1866-1938) and his disciple in Christ, the Elder Sophrony (1896-1993).[2] And that they would pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18), like the great John Coltrane from another world of whom it was said would never take the horn out of his mouth.

The letter from the Patriarchate

Two weeks after my arrival here at the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights,[3] the old monk Procopius whose visible saintliness was an example in itself of the transfigured life, informed me in his customary understated way, there was a “big envelope” waiting for to me at the Old Rectory. Hearing the news I instinctively knew. I doubled over as my body collapsed from under me and started to sob like a small child. Father Procopius lifted me without saying much, but his encouraging embrace and quiet invocation of “Gospodi Pomiluj” was enough to keep me steady on my feet. The mail was indeed from Australia, posted by the Orthodox Archdiocese, but the letter inside was from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was as I had straightaway thought, a copy of the official documents confirming my petition of “re-entry into the ranks of the lay persons.”[4] The reason for this appeal to be relieved of my clerical orders was correctly stated as being of my own request but also to do with issues of “mental health”. This additional explanation surprised me. I had never mentioned mental health as a ‘reason’ and if I had spoken of my battle with depression which I had, it was during confession to my spiritual father who at the time was His Eminence back home. Already I had clearly understood that anybody who had a confrontation with the Archdiocese whether be it clergy or lay person was said to have had issues of “mental health”. We were all insane or ‘mad’ except for the ‘kings’ who were governed by ‘sanity’ and ‘reason’. This is a silencing technique practised by most powerful institutions to protect themselves and if need be, to be able to promptly discredit any potential adversary. Especially sad to say this is an art brought close to perfection by some church communities who have ‘God’ and ‘authority’ on their side. It is very hard to argue against any perceived notions of infallibility.

Even to that moment in the Old Rectory, I was still not sure whether I had rushed into this irreversible decision of asking for my own ‘defrocking’ or what is more commonly known as voluntary laicization. Not yet thirty and everything that I had worked towards, all the dreams which I had aspired to, and the sacrifices (perhaps not for others but for me that is what they were) appeared at that very instant to have come to a fast and dishonourable conclusion. It was all deemed “over” with the signatures of a group of distant bishops presiding in Constantinople with no idea of who I was. And then the sinking, awful realization, that not long from now I would have to return to Australia and would have to explain to friends and acquaintances, why I had committed the unpardonable sin of walking away from the priesthood. After all, was it not I, who was known for the ‘all or nothing’ altar cry: “…everything, all for Jesus.” Why did I do this when I had a good understanding of what I had given up and where this would probably lead? My mind kept going back to Christ’s hard words, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:62)

It is tempting to make all this sound too deeply meaningful and complex, to launch into an impassioned pro vita sua. Yet it was relatively simple. Things did not work out. I did not like what I found. Certainly not in the Church herself, but in the church governance. And I was not in any way saintly enough to remain given my own weaknesses and to endure. I had made a serious vocational mistake, but one I had to make and to live through. And therein would be found the truth of my redemption. That is, as Father Zacharias of Essex has oftentimes said, “to find the deep heart.” Later on I would begin to complicate things and make life more difficult for myself by going in search for some sort of justification which I felt compelled to share with the ‘outside world’. Guilt, or even misplaced guilt, when it is not accepted as a corrective force or as an opportunity for change is a catalyst to self-absorbed shame and a quick path to self-destruction. It is exactly right what Watchman Nee has said, “[a]n unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally.” I was at the same time convinced that I could not live as a celibate without becoming bitter and resentful. Additionally, my ego was way too strong for me to be humble (in the way which I had understood ‘humility’ from my reading of spiritual texts), to be ‘worthy’ or capable of bearing any high clerical office that might have come my way. I realized early enough that if I was not cut out to make the grade as one of the Church’s holy pastors I was certainly not going to take the risk of becoming one of its closet devils. And the truth was I had it in my flesh to be more devil than holy.

Father Jeremiah (MG) in the Essex snow. Courtesy: Michael Family Archives.

Father Jeremiah (MG) in the Essex snow. Courtesy: Michael Family Archives.

My priesthood, however weak or strong it might have been, was the keystone of my life. Everything I did, or thought, or believed in, revolved around it. Importantly, it was the outward symbol of my faith. It identified me. A keystone is the wedge-shaped embellished voussoir at the crown of an arch, serving to lock the other voussoirs in place. Remove it and everything falls to pieces. It all becomes a pile of stone. Often too, I would think on the potter and clay imagery in the Old Testament and what it might now mean when I turned to God in prayer (Isa 29:16). Would He turn His face away from me? One of the challenges for the potter in using pattern on three-dimensional form we are told by those who have mastered the craft, are that of marrying the relationship of interior to exterior and the association that exists between them. What would now be my connection, not only between my interior and exterior life-worlds, but also with my Maker? This is one of the great temptations that we have to face as human beings, that we too readily identify ourselves and others with the brokenness. And playing on the inside of my head as if on a continual loop, [something not uncommon for an OCD], Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater to which I had become transfixed a few months earlier during my night drives out to the Cronulla sand dunes.

Taking my cassock off for the last time

Now there was the hard practical matter that would soon also face me, taking my cassock off for the last time. Afterwards in a little poem I would speak of it as the painful process of “scraping” it off my back. This I would put off until a few weeks later, when I found myself in Madrid. Here too in ‘the city that never sleeps’, as was happening throughout the world, the question on everyone’s lips was whether Israel had “responded” to the missile attacks from Iraq and what it would mean if they were drawn into the developing military crisis in the Gulf. I was in Europe during the early stages of Operation Desert Shield (August 1990-January 1991). It was an apropos ‘soundtrack’ to my own private war which I was waging secretly within. One thing would remain certain, that I would never forget having served at the altar of Christ and this would forever mark my life. Some experiences will burn us irrevocably. And all you can do is learn to live with them.

Had I been older and blessed with a lot more wisdom I would have transitioned back into lay life quite differently but often I felt like one of those animals in the night, startled by that sudden flash of headlight from an oncoming vehicle. I know from experience that I am not the only one in such a position who has felt this overwhelming brutalized emotion. There are a number of things I could have handled better. Later I would read the autobiography of my brilliant teacher who was very much responsible for instilling in me the love of philosophy and my lifelong interest in existentialism, the gentleman scholar Paul Crittenden. A catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney, he had left his own clerical orders to continue with his professorial teaching in the most seamless and dignified of ways.[5]

I wonder if I am for all time lost

This would not happen to me. Nothing was going to come between me and my love for the Nazarene. Now everything is different. I wonder if I am for all time lost. I had been a conscientious student of the church fathers and especially of some of the harder hitters like Chrysostom and Augustine. Their collective voices which would later once again soothe and lift me up would now seem to be relentlessly condemning me. Kafka’s travelling salesman Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself a bug and I too suddenly find myself in the middle of something that I was not prepared for. And I feel ugly. I wanted to hide, to examine my hideousness in the privacy of my own world. In the end, a lot of what was happening to me after my departure from Tolleshunt Knights and then upon my arrival in Madrid where I learnt more on the meaning of La noche oscura del alma, had to do with a word in spiritual literature which has been much misunderstood, surrender. It means to “give up, deliver over”. It does not stand for giving up on the fight which are the battles of the soul. At a certain point we need to let go of the driftwood and give ourselves over to the tide. Years on the wisdom of a leathery trucker, someone I would befriend at the markets in Flemington where I used to work, would have been good advice: downshift when going down the ice.

Concerning Spiritual Warfare

“Everyone who would follow our Lord Jesus Christ is engaged in spiritual warfare. The Saints by long experience learned from the grace of the Holy Spirit how to wage this war. The Holy Spirit appointed their footsteps and gave them understanding and the strength to overcome the enemy; but without the Holy Spirit the soul is incapable even of embarking on the struggle, for she neither knows nor understands who and where her enemies are.”[6]

 

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Saint-Silouan-Athonite-Archimandrite-Sophrony/dp/0881411957

[2] https://orthodoxwiki.org/Sophrony_(Sakharov)

[3] http://www.thyateira.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=373&Itemid=1

[4]

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Orders-Scenes-Clerical-Academic/dp/1876040866

[6] Sophrony op. cit., p. 423

Charmian Clift a distinguished Kiama offspring

Kiama, NSW

In times to come I would also discover my distinguished ‘neighbour’ with whom I shared not only the nearness of our south coast harbour communities but also our love of Greece. She was from Kiama the pristine seaside township distinguished by its great Norfolk Pines, the Lighthouse, and the famous Blowhole. I was ten minutes down the Princes Highway, turning left onto Fern Street, in the quieter but equally beautiful Gerringong. The strikingly looking Charmian Clift, born in 1923, with that equally distinct first name from Greek provenance, belonged to that strain of author who lived and breathed to write. Henry Miller could well have had Charmian in mind when he opined, “[w]riting is its own reward.” The only fact which would make her- who did things which ‘nice’ Kiama girls didn’t do “or at least didn’t do it openly”- reveal her true age to me was that she was born one year before my own father. Charmian also loved Greece and together with her well-known husband George Johnston (the iconoclastic journalist and author of My Brother Jack) she would spend around nine creative years on the island of Hydra moving there in 1955. “One of the recurring reference points” in Clift’s writings Nadia Wheatley tells us in her giant seven-hundred page biography of the writer and newspaper columnist “is the song of the sea.” Clift’s collaboration with Johnston on Mermaid Singing, a memoir of the one year they spent on Kalymnos in the south-eastern Aegean Sea, speaks clearly to these reference points. Her suicide on the 8th of July in 1969 at the age of 45, despite her melancholic episodes did surprise her friends and the broader journalistic community and is still a topic of intrigue for those who continue to explore her multifarious life. Might well Wheatley title her book The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift (2001).[1] Twelve days later on the 20th of July man first walked on the Moon. Charmian would probably have considered that awesome event quite ironic being the intrepid traveller and chronicler herself.

George Johnston and Charmian Clift in an eastern orthodox church on Hydra (1956).

George Johnston and Charmian Clift in an eastern orthodox church on Hydra (1956).

Many Greek-Australians of the latter generations would not know of her commitment to the Greek community here in Australia when she returned home, and of her passionate efforts to inform the Australian public of the horrors of the 1967 ‘Colonels coup’ in Greece. To paraphrase an old friend of mine the playwright Sophia Catharios, when Greeks in Australia remember the dead in their churches they would do good to add the name of Charmian Clift to the list. Incredibly, there is also the connection to her indefatigable biographer as well. For some years Nadia Wheatley, whose own life is not without its own absorbing history, lived in Newtown, the place where I grew up and skinned my knees. She also lived in Greece, on the isle of Crete, with the eldest of Clift’s and Johnston’s three children, the poet and journalist also gone too soon, Martin Johnston.

As one well-informed online writer has put it Charmian Clift was “[b]eautiful, smart, and talented.” But now also too long neglected and waiting to be rediscovered.[2] Like that lyrical memoir, to cite just one notable example, of her little tribe’s encounter with the sponge-diving community of Kalymnos, Mermaid Singing (1956):

“We came to the island of Kalymnos in a small grey caique Angellico, belting in around Point Cali with a sirocco screaming in from the south-west, a black patched triangle of sail thrumming over our heads, and a cargo of turkeys, tangerines, earthenware water jars, market baskets, and the inevitable old black-shawled women who form part of the furnishings of all Aegean caiques.”

And incidentally, what is not so well known is the close friendship established on Hydra by Clift and Johnston with Leonard Cohen.[3]

 

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Life-Myth-Charmian-Clift-ebook/dp/B00K4LUI4S

[2] http://neglectedbooks.com/?p=4122

[3] https://www.leonardcohenonhydra.com.au/the-story-of-george-johnston-and-charmian-clift/

After a few hours in Wollongong

Wollongong, NSW

Where have I seen these faces before; in a dream after I had prayed the Akathyst to the Holy Mother; in an aeroplane on my way to Estonia; double espresso; vegetable fritters with corn salsa; a small glass of cold water; Katina and the little ones in Tathra; I miss them after an hour; but now I can write one-hundred and forty-four words; a dark haired woman with a column of silver rings rubs her left eye; Geraldine is that you; a little child is crying; a young Mother bends down to whisper into her big ear; it doesn’t help; keep focused Michael, confess to the black wall; “[w]e need to search for our soul” (Carl Jung); the people’s heads are bent like a crooked elbow; mesmerized by their gleaming mobiles; wasting hours which turn into lost years; “I won’t have coffee with you,” Sophia once said to me; “you can’t kill time”; she was usually right; I will need to start for home soon; it is still raining; “Here Comes the Rain Again (Eurythmics); thirst will never lie; “I thirst” the GodMan cries out (Jn. 19:28); dig for water and not for oil; I should translate Stephen’s poem; all in good time; we must keep our promises; a girl in white jeans runs across to the escalator; a good metaphor to note down; she has forgotten her name somewhere on the floor below; where have I seen these faces before; candles and waxes; boiled cinnamon; paraffin; let him who is without song cast the first stone; Josephine Baker, the Black Pearl; “Art Deco”; playing truant in the spaces between the parables; you needn’t have taken from me; freely I’d given to you; your response in expanses of pain; a long walk into the nearest city; press your bleeding nose on the window pane; “But the beauty is in the walking, we are betrayed by destinations” (Gwyn Thomas); Wollongong Central; His Boy Elroy; Jamaica Blue; Max Brenner; a handsome old man with an aluminium walking cane; he is taking his first steps; not long from now he will be born again; I still miss you Father; I wish we had kissed one last time; I was in the clouds when you were treading earth; “It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason” (Pascal, Pensees); Kant from the purely rational structure to actual moral content; has it anything to do with thinking about one’s own thinking; surveillance cameras everywhere; who doesn’t understand; Big Brother inside your head coming soon; DARPA brain implant program; Eric Arthur Blair; Philip Kindred Dick; Margaret Eleanor Atwood; you are one of the latter day prophets Roger Clarke; the young man with the spiky hair behind the counter calls for Tony; we all know what he likes to drink; anonymity lost for the pleasure of a coffee; Argus Panoptes; a heavy-duty headache like a tight tourniquet; Panadeine Forte versus Panamax; too much noise everywhere; but sometimes it can be soothing; like the white noise in the Kiama Leisure Centre; during the Paleozoic era dragonflies grew to ‘monster size’; if a dragonfly cannot fly it will starve; dragonflies mate in mid-air like the clouds; they will divide us into groups; the poets will have to be silenced; only they know the real names behind things; “It’s the words that sing, they soar and descend” (Pablo Neruda); another drink please; a long black; and a banana & coconut crepe; I am still here; where have I seen these faces before; they ricochet like a Jack Storm reflective mirror; hackers breach US nuclear plants; Battle for Mosul; G20 Hamburg; “Round/ Like a circle in a spiral/ Like a wheel within a wheel”  (Bergman & Bergman); The Persuaders; Hawaii Five-0; Mission Impossible; in Greece when I was a little boy they were repeats; like the regime of the Colonels; dictatorships same old, same old; truth and political realism not compatible; Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527);  there was nothing new to ‘shock and awe’; except for the finger on the button; make sure there is petrol in the car; petroleum from the Greek “rock” and “oil”; separation technology; philosophers must keep their feet warm; Schopenhauer wearing a wool beanie with earflaps; my Mother-in-Law knits fabulous woollen jumpers; a family of four sit at the next table; the Father staring into space; the Mother trying to get his attention; I smile; life continues; joyful sorrow; a group of grandmothers; a wisdom; once they too, played with baby dolls; King Arthur; the wizard Merlin; Geoffrey of Monmouth; my little Jeremy is so brave; our Eleni sings like a nightingale; George is capable of so much he needs to find his way; “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or to usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky” (Rabindranath Tagore); where have I seen these faces before; 3.49 PM; in an hour or so they will close; I love you Katina; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnpRZHqqPq8; you are my enduring truth; I have lost so many friends; where have they gone; we must allow each other to grow; I am a stranger here; I have always been a stranger; what does ‘perfect stranger’ mean; sometimes our cherished Dylan T., repetition is fine; you were too harsh on Tennyson; stress, accentuation, force; we are all Pentecostal to one degree or another; we speak in tongues; “mia pista apo fwsforo me dwdeka diadromous” (Lina Nikolakopoulou); you make me smile when I could almost split my sides; don’t confuse the Jesus Prayer with OCD; Saint Sophrony thank you for caring after me; Tolleshunt Knights; Tiptree the scent of jams trapped in rimed snowflakes; the tongue is a mighty organ; “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts” (James 3:5); it begins as a bud; Powell & Pressburger; The Tales of Hoffmann (1951); Offenbach would have been pleased, methinks; the family next to me still here; the Father like those above, bent over the mobile; the Mother comforting the infant; life goes on; I smile, once again; my long black done; fractal patterns; the Mandelbrot set; Zeno of Elea; Lake Baikal; southern Siberia; largest freshwater lake in the world; Blade Runner (1982); Ridley Scott; genetically engineered humanoid replicants; Archytas of Tarentum; architect of robotics; the bird and the rattle; 64 squares in an 8x8 grid; opening, middlegame, endgame; Benjamin Franklin “The Morals of Chess” (1786); will the bookstores be open; how beautiful a real book between the hands; at home beneath my lamp Dumas’ The Three Musketeers; I catch another name Bethany; it is a wonderful name; she has ordered a mocaccino; they have a picture of my pelican at the fish shop down by the Kiama wharf; such a proud and beautiful animal it was; the last picture I took before the camera dropped into the water; Henri Cartier-Bresson; Steve McCurry; Diane Arbus; two young friends walk past hand-in-hand; they are laughing and licking on ice creams; one is a girl with a short haircut and a large green bag; idealism for a season is good; [Donald] Bruce Dawe; “I would never want to come back, knowing I could never be this lucky twice”; Australian poets have always been so hugely underrated; 25 minutes have passed; it is all relative like an itch behind the ear; the days go quicker now; the nights can take a little longer; “Only because you loved me I was born, so my life was given” (Maria Polydouri); triptychs; Francis Bacon (1909-1992); images reveal themselves “in series” he said;  titles from Ballarat International Foto Biennale (2017); Bones: A Body Of Work; Peaches And Scream; Hidden In Plain Sight;  Edmund de Waal; my third reading of The White Road a pilgrimage of sorts; “[t]o make something so white and true and perfect, that the world around it is thrown into shadows”; 200 Crown Street; Princes Hwy; Smith Street; writing is difficult; poetry is even more difficult; committing oneself to reality and not to the absurd, even harder; identity and language are never too far one from the other; like Duchamp and modern art; greatly misunderstood [he was] and for this reason, the cult of vulgarity; shadows are difficult to escape; like fingers dipped deep in honey; all surfaces are covered; I must not drink alcohol today; “[w]hat begins with pain, ends with pain”; a great truth dear Gabor M.; we all lead double lives; that’s not the real problem; the only thing which really matters is the outcome of this titanic tension; look for saints in their eyes; ignore the devils for now; Hannibal ante portas; okay, that’s it; pay the bill; and make sure to wipe your mouth; goodnight, Little Briar Rose.

Life changing talks with a song and a poem to boot

Used discerningly YouTube, the video-sharing website founded in 2005, is a truly incredible reservoir of stockpiled knowledge no more than a click away. The vital thing is discerningly for like many things in the online world this too can become quickly addictive. It is not difficult to stray in this electronically fuelled atmosphere, particularly with such a visual and captivating medium as film. It can become overwhelmingly seductive. Otherwise it is indeed a marvellous place to visit. And so what we hear about “the good and bad sides of YouTube” is without doubt true.

Elsewhere I have shared some favourite pieces of music. Here I would like to share a sample of life changing talks I will turn to. I will visit these downloads when I need an additional reminder that tomorrow is another day where new and exceptional things can happen. That even the next hour is full of great possibilities and salvation from despair. I am sure you will find some of these very special YouTube talks helpful if not for yourselves, then at least for someone near and dear to you. These profound presentations touch on various dimensions of life and the shared wisdom of the presenters can benefit us even if this might only mean becoming a little more compassionate and understanding ourselves. The presentations below have at least some very significant things in common: (i) The speakers have themselves experienced the deepest aspects of the journey which they describe and [like all “wounded healers”] have experienced the ‘wound’ themselves, (ii) they are not asking for your money or selling you a ‘secret’, (iii) self-realization and affirmative behaviour begin with a brutal self-assessment of why we find ourselves engaging in destructive behaviour; (iv) once the problem which is hurting us is realized there is set into action a hard-nosed plan and a fierce determination to see the resolution for change through.

These points are summarised best perhaps by the physician and addiction expert, the Hungarian-born Canadian Gabor Maté: “Something else is possible and you are worth that possibility.” Muniba Mazari, the inspirational Pakistani artist and motivational speaker, tells us how that possibility might be entered into: “Behind every inspirational picture there is an untold story of constant pain, persistent effort, and determination.” We do not have to agree with everything we hear in these talks, and in some places we might noticeably diverge, but there is too much truth and loads of sweet honey here to at least not stop for a while and to consider both the implications and the possibilities.[1]

 

[1] In all these testimonies we will find in the words of Jerry Long, a logotherapist in the tradition of Frankl and someone who had his own great challenges to overcome, “the defiant power of the human spirit” (Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl, Simon & Schuster: New York, 1984, p. 171).

And a song and a poem, Leonard Cohen, Constantine P. Cavafy