Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A weekend of Passion (or lack of it)

Joe and I managed to get away for a weekend! Joe had been down in Edinburgh at a Trade Union Conference and decided pop over to Glasgow for the weekend and visit his mum. I joined him in Glasgow.

While doing the rounds of the shops on the way to the Barras we came across a new art gallery called "The Third Step"“. It is a charity based gallery, the proceeds going towards helping recovering alcoholics. What drew my attention was they were showing paintings by Peter Howson. He was featured in an Easter documentary. As a recovering alcoholic he has discovered faith in Jesus and paints pictures of the Passion. He paints lots of pictures of the passion – lots!

When I write a poem I tend to write just one poem on one topic and then move on to another. The thinking is that “I’ve done it.” Peter Howson never says, “I’ve done it.” because the story of the passion of Christ never stops being an inspiration to him. I like that and I am challenged by it.

The pictures are very flesh and blood and not pretty. They are vibrant pictures, painted with passion. There were a series of pencil or charcoal drawings on the “Stations of the Cross”. Joe was very taken with them. Had we a spare couple of thousands of pounds I am sure we would have purchased them!

In the afternoon we visited Joe’s mum in her new nursing home. I have to admit to being very shocked by her appearance. I think, even just seeing Alice wearing trousers was a shock. She had lost a lot or weight, but she had lost much more than that. She had always been a very vibrant woman, involved in life and interested in people. This was not that woman. She looked lost and alone and unconnected to real life. I know that there are different levels of care when it comes to elderly people. I suppose it must be a challenge to stimulate people who have lost their connection to real life.

Joe and I talked for a while. Because of where I was sitting, in her line of vision, she looked at me often, but mostly without recognition. The times that she smiled at me almost broke my heart – very child like. It was only just before we left that she spoke like the old Alice to Joe, “How long have you been here?”

Alice’s sister, Betty, visited her a few weeks ago travelling all the way from Canada!

The deterioration in Alice has been swift. Eighteen months ago she was fine. How fragile life seems. Sometimes all that is left is just a shadow of what used to be. Scripture says that we are like grass, here one day and gone the next. I guess you need to learn to make the most of every opportunity. How often have I thought that I will wait until I retire to do something like writing a book, thinking I will have time and no distractions then? Leaving things for the future assumes that there is a future, when there might not be.

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