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    Stephen Evans

    High praise! Thank you.

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    Beckett would be envious.

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor created a new blog post, Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday

    Posted in Blogs on Sunday, 18 February 2018

    Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam. Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo munda me.   The voices gently rise to the stone vaults and fill the 12th-century church, one of London's oldest.  The congregation forms a queue.  Slowly, everybody advances towards the altar steps.     Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco: et peccatum meum contra me est semper. Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum judicaris. Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea. Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.   The rector's expression is stern, menacing almost.  I think I am supposed to look down in humility.  Instead, I stare straight into his eyes, searching for an echo to my thought.  "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return,"  he says as his thumb traces a black cross of ash on my forehead.   I am thinking of the phoenix.  Of what happens after the return to dust.   Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata. Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele. Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis. Ne proiicias me a facie tua: et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.   The soprano pierces through the semi-darkness, and lingers high up before fluttering downwards, graceful, having made her plea for us all.   I return to the wooden pew, kneel, close my eyes and breathe in the frankincense.  Yesterday, Shrove Tuesday, I ate pancakes.  I realise that I haven't decided on what I will give up for Lent.  I remember those friends who will probably give up chocolate, or alcohol, or both.  Not eating chocolate is easy for me, and, since I hardly drink, renouncing alcohol would hardly constitute a sacrifice.  Now cheese, on the other hand... Could I manage a whole forty days without cheese?   The futility of my thoughts suddenly makes me sad.   Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui: et spiritu principali confirma me. Docebo iniquos vias tuas: et impii ad te convertentur. Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae: et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam. Domine, labia mea aperies: et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam. What's the point of giving something up that you know you will go back to on Easter Sunday? Doesn't knowing a privation is temporary make it too easy? Easy and pointless? Isn't the true purpose of Lent to cleanse your soul for Easter? Will my soul really be purer without cheese or olives or whatever other anodyne habit I decide to break?    For Lent, why don't we give up something less tangible and yet destructive to us and to others? Something we would work on eradicating from our minds and washing from our souls?   Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis. Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies. Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem. Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos. How about we pledge to give up resentment? We could train ourselves, little by little, to replace resentment with responsibility and forgiveness.  Turn the other cheek.  No, not to ask for another slap, but to remove whoever has struck us from our field of vision, from our thoughts, from our world.  To set ourselves free. When someone upsets us, we could indulge in making up a story about something that just might have happened to this person that would explain his or her unpleasant attitude.  It doesn't have to be true, only plausible.  And the self-storytelling might make us feel better.   How about we give up gossiping?  We could try never speaking of a third person except to praise at least one aspect of him or her.  Is there nothing good to say about him or her? There must be something, however small.  We could avoid divulging personal information about others.  Instead of using what we know about them as social currency, we could cherish it as a secret treasure.   How about giving up sadness? We could choose an image, a tune or a thought that makes us smile and summon it whenever we feel the clouds gathering in our minds.   How about giving up fear? We could try to imagine that we are safe.  Just making believe at first, until it becomes reality.  After all, we can't make it real if we don't imagine it first.  And if we can imagine it, then perhaps we can create it.   Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis. Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies. Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem. Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.   How about we monitor the words that leave our lips and give up using them irresponsibly? We could replace "Filthy weather, today" with the more accurate "It's cold" or "It's very wet" or "It's very grey". When someone asks us how we are, we could discard "Not too bad" in favour of "Very well, thank you".  It may not be true at the time, but people mostly don't ask because they really want to know.  And "well" might make us feel better.   How about we give up believing we can't and, at least for a while, try to imagine we can?   How about we give up the familiar comfort of darkness? There is a lot of darkness, I know. Just one candle.  It's surprising how much light just one little flame gives.   ScribeDoll

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    Stephen Evans

    I just realized that the last two posts were plays. How true to the spirit of The Green Room!

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    Rosy Cole

    Interesting dynamic. Reflects the popular conception of 'democracy'. (Look at it this way, the US is approaching halfway through the term. You can hope for an overwhelming turnout come the next election. The Russians...well who knows?)

    But there is an overriding context. The 'alien' here might be understood as God. And when he is an alien, we are.

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    A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play

    Posted in Blogs on Saturday, 03 February 2018

    At Rise:    A man is doing something. An alien enters and watches him. Alien:       Why are you doing that? Man:        Needs doing. Alien:       How do you know? Man:        It’s my work. Alien:       What is work? Man:        What needs doing. Alien:       I’m asking you. Man:        I’m telling you. Alien:       What is my work? Man:        Asking questions. Alien:       That is my work! Man:        You’re good at your job.                 (Long pause) Alien:       I am a visitor to your planet.                 (Long pause) Man         Aren’t we all.

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke commented on the blog post, Flipping the Omelet

    One word: Fritatta

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke commented on the blog post, I am Anchored in the River

    I think you are right, Rosy. I find that there is a missing quality of curiosity among some younger people. I kept my guardian angel very busy as a child -- hardly a moment's rest. That doesn't seem to be how things are today unless a parent or adult inspires curiosity and a sense of engagement. There seems to be something missing.

    A week or so ago I was berated by a forty-year-old over my preferences in music. He (wrongly) assumed that I was unfamiliar with modern music, especially some experimental jazz artists he follows. Our conversation continued for a while on different topics and eventually I recommended a book that I thought he would find interesting. "Oh, I don't read" was his response. Reading is hard work...requires engagement. . Listening to music is a little easier. I wrote the name of the book and author on a slip of paper and gave it to him anyway. Maybe he will look for it. Maybe not.

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, I am Anchored in the River

    The way we respond to landscape is enlightening and tells as much about ourselves as the objective world. I like the immersive approach, at least when it's not Shelley, who strikes me as somewhat self-indulgent since he too often projected his emotions outside, but this a lovely evocation any reader can enjoy. It shares a world of innocence and wonder that is fast vanishing. Virtual reality has turned newer generations inwards. Many children now have no idea how food is grown, for instance, and not just those from inner cities.

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    These days, I think he'd be considered politically incorrect.

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    Where's Hemingway when you need him?

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    [heart sinks] There's a Russian expression that goes something like "My ears began to shrivel".

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    Sounds like a great party. :)

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    That bad, eh?

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, Flipping the Omelet

    It's an aesthetic choice I think. :)

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    That's enough to drive you to drink...if you can find a place to park.

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke commented on the blog post, I am Anchored in the River

    The constancy is reassuring.

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social
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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, A Writers' Social

    And they say the art of conversation is dead! :-)

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    Katherine Gregor

    I really enjoyed your piece. Rivers have had a big impact on my psyche and imagination, too. I love rivers. First, I had the Tiber, then the Cam, then the Wear, and now Wensum and Yare.

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Latest Comments

Stephen Evans A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play
19 February 2018
High praise! Thank you.
Katherine Gregor A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play
18 February 2018
Beckett would be envious.
Stephen Evans A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play
05 February 2018
I just realized that the last two posts were plays. How true to the spirit of The Green Room!
Rosy Cole A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play
04 February 2018
Interesting dynamic. Reflects the popular conception of 'democracy'. (Look at it this way, the US is...
Ken Hartke Flipping the Omelet
01 February 2018
One word: Fritatta

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