I was going to go for something more profound but really, an olive IS a pretty important thing. As I have a particular adoration for them, I did a little research.
The following fascinating facts I’m about to share will undoubtedly convince you of the Importance of Being an Olive.
Firstly, I’m willing to bet that you had no idea that the edible olive seems to have coexisted with humans since the Bronze Age. That’s around 5 to 6 thousand years. We should know each other pretty well.
Second, we’re not exactly forward in appreciating the health properties of the olive. The ancient Greeks used to smear olive oil on their bodies and hair as a matter of grooming and good health. Greasy Greeks are in good nick.
The oil of the olive (considered a fruit btw) also has a long established reputation of being sacred. Used to anoint kings in ancient times (and athletes, oddly) it was also used to burn in temples and fuelled the original Olympic torch, the ‘eternal flame’ (not the one that The Bangles referred to).
Lastly, the sanctity of the olive and its role in religious traditions is something appreciated in both Christianity and Islam, featuring 7 times in the Qur’an and countless times in The Bible. If only we could all focus on the humble olive.
I didn’t imagine I’d ever find myself writing about olives but now I’ve dipped into it, I could well go on to become the world’s leading expert, and write prolifically about this remarkable little fruit. Olives, it turns out, are a rather understated part of world history and civilisation as we know it.
Absolutely NOTHING will pop up in my head when I try to think of an ‘N’ to write a short, imaginative and captivating post about. Why it is that I am so wholly devoid of inspiration I don’t know. It’s possible that a pervasive tiredness bears some responsibility, that and the illness I have tends to hijack the parts of my brain that might be otherwise creatively engaged.
So N is for Nihilism. For the philosophically uninitiated, this is the belief that the world and everything in it, life, values, morals, laws… are meaningless. There is no POINT to anything, nothing has any meaning.
Macbeth sums it up beautifully when he says:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
It’s a painful thought; one which challenges the my Christian faith on a daily basis at the moment. It would be so much easier to believe that life really is just a brief candle which is eventually snuffed out to burn no more. Perhaps owing to the extremist tendencies of Anorexia, nihilism stalks me daily, lightly running cold fingers through my hair. Death-coated whispers trickle through the aural canals, trembling tiny bones and dizzying my stance.
Turns out I have something to write about after all.
It’s what I’m good at, and you honestly won’t hear me use that phrase very often.
As the official leader of The Society of Burnt Out Teachers, I nowadays realise that although my passion for teaching English and English Literature will never waver, the transference of my enthusiasm doesn’t have to be within a classroom. No. In some ways, it’s easier to deliver it within a mentoring relationship. Because, as most good teachers will agree, at a certain age, its RELATIONSHIP which is the single most important factor in the delivery of successful teaching.
Mentoring allows a relationship to flourish (hopefully) and then, once established, it’s an open landscape on which, as a trusted mentor, you can help to build whatever scene and whichever structure, will most benefit and satisfy the mentee.
I’ve mentored a lot of your people, before and during my teaching career. Nothing sparks me like being able to nurture an ambition in someone. I love to help breathe hope into other people’s hearts. Nothing gives me a renewed sense of purpose like showing someone else their purpose.
(I know it’s cheating but sometimes you just have to take a shortcut.)
J is for Jesus. Mostly, if you read the gospels, a very likeable chap. Mystical, yes. Unpredictable, very. Would you have hung out with him? And if you would… for what reason? Because no doubt about it, he was pretty rebellious…and exciting… Would you have enjoyed the drama? Would you have liked it that he caused a stir? Would you have been attracted by the cool magic stuff? Would you have been drawn to his intense love and his wisdom?
C.S Lewis had a lot to say about the matter and I leave his famous quote about Jesus here. It’s a good one to ponder…
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
That fleeting time when the wordless glory of the evening sun dashes against the bricks and the hedges, the streets and the people; firing the land with its last red breaths and, for one trembling moment, the humdrum earth of … Continue reading →
There’s something about a pair of woolly gloves that reminds me of being a child.
Lucky enough to have an anxious mother (flip side reserved for another post!) I braved the cold winter looking like the sporn of Jo Brand and the Michelin Man. I remember shifting around like a gated racehourse as the wool and the thermals and the scarves and the hat were draped around me. Tugged at, squashed down and spun around; my body temperature would reflect a spring holiday on Kefalonia by the time I opened the front door!
Suffice to say, my new gloves remind me of those I’d wear as a kid in the 70s / early 80s.
Slightly retro colours, slightly itchy, and not lined, so that when you try to pull them on, your fingers get tangled on the skeins inside, and your thumb seems to head in the wrong direction, or your little finger gets confused and forgets it has a cover all to itself. Not to be donned in a hurry, my irritation is tempered by an odd feeling of nostalgia.
One difference, these gloves have 3 fingertips with handy touchscreen technology. (Handy. See what I did there? Ho ho.)
Now, if that ‘s not a sign of the times, I don’t know what is!