Wednesday 6 December 2023

Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom

Here is another beautiful snow scene taken by Captain B, though not this year - not yet anyway.  But who knows? My sister posted a very snowy view from her Sheffield window on fb on Monday morning. So it may well be on its way down South.

The brother giving the public talk on Sunday gave us a very simple illustration about knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  It is one I won't forget and so goes to prove that the simplest illustrations are the best.

It goes this way:  If you are standing in the middle of the road and you see a bus heading straight for you, you have the knowledge of your situation.  If you then realise that this bus is going to run you over if you don't get out of the way, you have the understanding of your situation.  If you get yourself off the road and onto the pavement, then you have wisdom - the wisdom to use the knowledge and the understanding that you have.

But, without the wisdom to act on the knowledge and understanding you have, that knowledge and understanding is of no use to you. The bus will hit you. And you will sustain a lot more damage than it will.

The point being that not only do our lives depend on knowing and understanding what our Creator is telling us, but by our acting on it. And promptly.  

And for sure you can know what the Bible says without any understanding, let alone wisdom.   We must have read Jesus' Sermon on the Mount often in my convent schooldays, so we knew that Jesus said "the meek will inherit the earth".  We had the knowledge. But where was the understanding, given we were still believing that the meek would go off to heaven?

Yet Jesus clearly said "the earth", not "heaven".  It wasn't until two Jehovah's Witnesses called at my door, many years later that I got the understanding. And ever since then I have been taught the wisdom to act on the understanding.

Sunday's public talk was part of that teaching.

We had a short meeting after the meeting at the Hall  yesterday, for those of us who have parts in the upcoming Assembly.  So I now know that I will be first on in the Watchtower study, and the question I will be answering is:  What similarities are there between our situation and that of the Jews who returned to Jerusalem? 

And my answer must be one minute, no longer.  So it's not difficult - it's just whether I panic at finding myself on the BIG stage...  I think I may once have appeared as Fourth Toadstool in the back row (or some such) at a nativity play in my convent schooldays, but that is about it. And that was not a speaking part!

Nowadays I don't celebrate Christmas, but back then I longed to be cast as an angel in the nativity plays and have a pair of sparkly silver wings.  Many many years later, I found myself in a Gift Shop in Stratford-on-Avon - probably the very Shoppe where Shakespeare bought his souvenir tea towels - and they had a pair of sparkly wings on sale. And I had a credit card!

"They'll never get you off the ground", Captain B pointed out gloomily, but accurately.  So I didn't buy them.

But I was tempted.

Sunday 3 December 2023

December Calendar

We chose a wintry scene for December in our 2023 calendar - see above. Will we be seeing similar scenes this year, or not? It has suddenly got very cold and there was frost on the cars on Friday morning.

We haven't done a 2024 one yet, and I am not sure we will now. I thought if we do, it could be a fungi calendar, as Col has lots of lovely shots from his Passionate about Photographing all things Mushroom years.  I sorted out a load of pics from his gallery today in the hopes to prompt him.

I had yet another doctor's appointment and Col chauffered me and then we drove to Rustington for the weekly Greengrocery shop. So it involved minimal walking really. But just that has left my left ankle very sore and swollen...   and now, Sunday morning, my right foot is playing up.

On the doubleplusgood side, the Medic checked my heart   - it's still beating! - and found that my bp was fine. Any good health news is welcome these days.   

Saturday morning there was frost on cars and garage roofs.  Col and Jim left well before the crack of dawn to the icy detecting fields of Somewhere Far Away.

Col was at home today. HOLD THE PRESSES - He was not out metal detecting.  And there has been a lot of snow in the Northwest, with people trapped in their cars overnight.  It fell as rain here. So I was very grateful to be chauffered to the meeting and back.

It is going beyond metaphor now as I definitely am in the Winter of my years - my contemporaries, those who are still here, are tumbling around me.  It is so strange. But then, if we accept that Genesis is the true history of us, as Jesus himself did, this was never meant to happen to us. We were made to live forever, not for just a few decades.  And I cannot tell you how quickly three score years and ten (and then some) goes. It is, as the poet said, the flight of the sparrow across the lighted Mead Hall - from darkness into darkness with just the brief interval of life/light in between.

How would I feel now if I did not know the hope the Bible holds out?   So I must get on and keep extending that hope to others, while there is still time.

I talked to Bea and Jacks on Saturday, both are coping with these difficult times.  

Thursday 30 November 2023

The Feathers of the Willow

The Feathers of the Willow
by  Richard Watson Dixon

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
Above the swelling stream; And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
His head is white as snow; The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
The robin pipeth now.

The above photo is of a Willow moth, taken, of course, by Captain Butterfly.

Suddenly it is late November, rainy on Monday, sunny on Tuesday morning, with a moody sky holding off, and a line of clouds low on the horizon. On mornings like that I like to imagine that we are living on the banks of a mighty river and I am looking across to a range of snow covered mountains on the far side.

What would the river be called - and the mountains? I wonder what the Latin word for "torrent" is - assuming that torrent isn't the Latin word for torrent - only that might work. And would "the High Downland Range" make sense?

Anyway, given that no such river and mountains exist, I should not be wasting my precious energy reserves wondering what they would be called.

But it seems well worth thinking about "the new earth". What will the earth be like after Armageddon? Will it have involved some powerful disturbances of the earth, new seas, new mountain ranges?

I ask because when Noah and his family - from whom we are all descended - set foot on dry land after the Deluge, wouldn't it have been a completely new earth, a changed earth? The familiar landmarks would have gone.  If we will only listen to our Creator, Jehovah, now, then we will be able to ask Noah and his family ourselves one day, as they will be resurrected, woken from the dreamless sleep of death, during the Thousand Years.

On Monday us siblings Zoomed together from our various locations in Oz and Yorkshire and the English Channel. All seems well with everyone. And long may that last in these "difficult times, hard to deal with". John posted a lovely video of a little wallaby in the reserve behind their house. In our travelling days, we always used to go for a twilight walk in that reserve, me being careful to walk behind my brother as he is tall - spiders, large huntsmen spiders, webs across path - shudder.

In the afternoon I made an apple crumble for Himself, and began my studying for the Thursday night meeting. The crumble turned out well, though I say it myself. But once again, it is a reliable recipe, provided - and here is a tip surely worthy of a place in Masterchef - provided that you don't use salt instead of sugar in the crumble.

Believe me. Or rather, believe Captain Butterfly who took a confident dessert spoon of the salt version, before the disaster came to light. Anyway, on the doubleplusgood side, it does give me an excuse to try out each new crumble before I serve it.  I give it a comprehensive test.

The banging upstairs restarted on Tuesday morning... it was heard again intermittently during Wednesday and Thursday, and as yet I do not know what will happen today. It is very early as I finish this blog - the Captain and Jim left ages ago for the Detecting Fields - and it is  a grey and rainy morning.

Monday 27 November 2023

Turtle Doves

How precious your loyal love is, O God!  In the shadow of your wings, the sons of men take refuge. - Psalm 36:7

This was Thursday's Scriptural thought - and one so well worth meditating on.  And the metaphor of sheltering wings inspired the choice of the Turtle Dove above - taken by Captain Butterfly of course.  (I can use one of my photos if and when the subject of my blog is: lens caps, my thumb, or the strange tilting of the horizon.)

Jehovah not only has loyal love, he is "abundant" in it. He overflows with it.  Think of the generosity of the sunrises and the sunsets - every one a masterpiece and every one different. 

I slept very badly on Wednesday night, so set myself some targets for Thursday, namely to change the bedding and wash the sheets, otherwise I might have done nothing at all.  The struggle with the duvet cover alone exhausts me and I have to lie down afterwards.  And I also made the second fruitcake, this one for Captain B and his lunchboxes.  

The banging and crashing upstairs has started again. We thought we were in for a few months peace as our upstairs neighbours have left for their other home in the sub-continent - they do not like the English winter.  Nor do most people to be fair. I seem to be strange in my love of rain and snow and mist, and all the seasons.

I think their son must have come over to continue the work... Thursday and Friday were days of constant hammering...  Well, at least he is a good son, a loyal one - something precious in this current system of things.  

Saturday I made some veggie curries - I am trying to get back to cooking, but everything is so exhausting now.  On the doubleplusgood side, I got my containers and bag back at the Hall on Sunday, all emptied of cake, and with a thank you card, plus a p.s. that said The marmalade muffins were a particularly big hit!

Really pleased about that as they look so plain, but they are delicious. And they are made, from a Cranks recipe,  with Col's homemade marmalade too.  It is good to be able to give a small something back to the congregation elders, who take such good care of us.

The Kingdom of God is a government that knows and cares for every one of its subjects.  It cares for us and teaches us with loyal love. And it is inviting everyone to come in under the shelter of its loving wings before the moment comes when Jehovah will "bring to ruin those ruining the earth".

Saturday 25 November 2023

Precious Lives

At day-close in November
Thomas Hardy

The ten hours’ light is abating,
And a late bird wings across,       
Where the pines, like waltzers waiting,
Give their black heads a toss.

Beech leaves, that yellow the noontime,
Float past like specks in the eye;
I set every tree in my June time,
And now they obscure the sky.

And the children who ramble through here
Conceive that there never has been
A time when no tall trees grew here,
That none will in time be seen.

The seasons do not seem so well differentiated now. This November has been stormy and rainy, but not misty.  It has been beautiful though - the various greys of sky and sea highlighting the Autumn colours. And wonderful sunrises of course.  I will see if I can find a Captain B photo of a recent one to head this blog.

I wish I could manage a poem... especially one that reflected both the sadness that belongs to the world, (Janet Frame), but also the certain hope that we are not abandoned to this.

It is hard not to keep thinking of the tragedy that befell four young lads - so young - who were just off for a weekend's camping trip in Wales.

Jevon Hirst, Harvey Owen, Wilf Henderson and Hugo Morris were four precious sons, who leave devastated families behind them.  They are a loss to all of us.  They set off, happily, up a steep and winding country road, in very bad weather, to their campsite, but skidded and came off the road at what is apparently just the one point where there were no trees to halt their fall, and ended up upside down in a water-filled ditch. The ditch was unusually full because of the heavy rain, the rain which I assume caused the skid in the first place.

There was a silence from then on. No activity on their phones, no activity in cyberspace, which these days is very alarming.  But of course the parents and friends assumed they had found a remote camping spot which did not link up to the internet. But when they did not return on Monday, they hit the panic button.

And the tragedy was discovered.  We heard first that  their car had been found - we assumed parked - but then we heard the air ambulance had gone up. And so we knew it was a crash. And a very very bad one considering the complete silence that had followed it.

It was as bad as it could be.

I only wish that their parents, and all the bereaved parents in a world system that is so full of tragedies and loss could know, will come to know, what Jesus said and did when he met up with a mother who had lost her son.

Soon afterward he (Jesus) traveled to a city called NaŹ¹in, and his disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him.  As he got near the gate of the city, why look! there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother. Besides, she was a widow. A considerable crowd from the city was also with her. When the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her, and he said to her: “Stop weeping.” With that he approached and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. Then he said: “Young man, I say to you, get up!" And the dead man sat up and started to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. - Luke 7:11-15

Jesus gave him back to his mother, here on the earth, alive.

And I hope you will notice what Jesus did NOT say to this bereaved mother.  He did not say: "God wanted another little angel in heaven, so he took your son."  He did not say: "But your son is now happy in heaven."

No. He gave that mother exactly what she wanted, her living son, back in her arms, right here on the earth.  And when he did this, he was showing us what he can and will do for us once he is ruling over the earth as the King of Jehovah's Kingdom.  He will resurrect the dead, and re-unite us with those we have lost.

It will be such a joyful awakening.

The beauty of the world, the sunrise and sunsets for example, always lovely, always different, can provide us with powerful reassurance of Jehovah's love and care for us - as will a close study of the Inspired Scriptures, in their accuracy, their harmony, and their beauty.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

A Cake Anchor

In my book Disraeli Hall (plug plug) I invented a device called a Cake Anchor that the Victorians used to hold down the wonderfully light sponges they had at their elaborate afternoon teas - to stop them floating off to their ornate ceilings.  It was of no importance to the plot, just a self-indulgent detail that you can allow yourself in a novel, but not in a short story.

The point being that, as I struggled to get my large sackload of cakes to the Hall on Sunday, it occurred to me that I am not the sort of baker who would need a cake anchor in her kitchen - more a heavy duty cake crane.

IF I ever manage another novel, maybe I could invent a Cake Crane, for Victorian ladies who employed incompetent cooks in their stately homes?

Anyway it gives me an idea for a pic for this blog.  It can't be one of a cake anchor of course, as they have not actually been invented. So the pic above is yet another plug for my second book.

And talking of shameless self-promotion, I have another lovely review for Umbrellas of Hamelin, from a real author, who is also a fan of the short story.

She says:

The short story is a genre that has rather gone out of fashion which is a pity, as this collection demonstrates very well its strength as a medium of story telling. Sue Knight demonstrates skill across the range from the very short Talky Tin to the novella length Till They Dropped.

Talky Tin is the perfect short story, a piece of fiction that turns itself upside down at the end. The Martian Goes to a Party and Has a Nice Day is a wonderful example of 'making strange', as we look at our world through the eyes of a Martian visitor who is struggling with the social minefield of a party he can barely comprehend.

Klook and Plukey is a story that seems apparently gentle as two old schoolfriends meet again after a long time, but as with all good monologue-style narratives, the truth about the speaker gradually emerges, a truth that she seems barely able to recognise, but is all too clear to the reader.

Each of these stories is a gem. Highly recommended.

I haven't as yet had a bad review. For which I am very grateful.  But that is probably because I don't sell that many books.  IF I ever become a best-seller, then things might be different. And I reckon the best thing to do, what I ought to do,  would be to take any criticism on board, and learn from it.

We have all got plenty to learn, no matter what age we are. And the Book of Revelation tells us that it will take a thousand years for the earth to be restored to the paradise it was always meant to be, and for obedient humankind to be restored to the life and perfection that our first parents so tragically threw away.

But the Bible also tells us that with Jehovah, our Creator, a thousand years is as a day.  And as I am already past - ("well past" I seem to hear Captain Butterfly murmuring from the kitchen where he is flying the coffee machine) - my three score years and ten, I know just how quickly even a hundred years will fly by.  The Thousand Years will go by so quickly - and so happily too. And then our real lives will begin. Our lives were meant to start in perfection, not be the struggle they are now.

I hope I am there to find out how wonderful it will be.  I hope we all are.

Saturday 18 November 2023


Thursday morning was very rainy - and I began my cake cookery, making the first stage of the fruit cake. You boil up fruit, sugar and other things and then have to leave it to cool before adding the eggs and dry ingredients.  It is for the Elders School next week. Quite a few of us are providing cakes and biscuits for their tea breaks  - while others are making lunch for them. They work so hard caring for us all - plus they have to earn a living and care for their families - so I hope my cakes turn out really well.   That is, I hope they are tasty. They never look all that wonderful.

I made the second batch of marmalade muffins in the early hours of Saturday morning, as I couldn't sleep and I decided I might as well do something useful.  We tested one - half each - with our lunch.  A very early lunch as we had to get to the AGM.

I dare not let a cake go out untested since the Great Rhubarb Crumble Disaster of 2023 when I used salt instead of sugar in the crumble.  Mind you, it wasn't me who put a large unmarked bag of salt in the cupboard where I keep the sugar...

Today was the AGM of Sussex Butterfly Conservation, where we met up with some old friends, had tea and - cake again. A very small piece for me, as I should not be having cake at all.

And then Cake Saturation Point was reached when we won a Butterfly madeira cake in the raffle!  It is beautifully decorated with sugar butterflies.  So I will donate it tomorrow when I take my homemade offerings to the Kingdom Hall.  "Here is one I made earlier" I could say as I hand the exquisite creation over. But given that Jehovah is the God of truth and straightforwardness, I had better not.

The News is so awful that I watch and read little beyond the headlines.  Brother killing brother the world over, as the disaster set in train in Eden heads to its climax - and, thank God, to its end.

This is the darkest hour before the dawn. And it will be such a wonderful dawn when it comes.  Our elders will be learning how to care for us as the troubles intensify. And, I hope, they will be enjoying all the food we, their grateful congregation, have made for them.