Gentle dreams and sacred things … tribute to Michael White 2008

May, 2008

Yesterday I took a very fast train between Basel and Den Haag.  I would like to share with you what came to me on that journey …

I am taking a very fast train from Basel to Den Haag to pursue my cello dreams.  I closed my eyes listening to Kate Bush singing Big Stripey Lie from her Red Shoes album.  Some words jumped out at me,

”your name is being called by sacred things that are not addressed or listened to, sometimes they blow trumpets”

and my thoughts wandered to the voices in our lives – the useful ones and the disturbing ones. Then to people who have difficulty with the voices that disturb their thoughts and that have a grip they can’t seem to break.  I think of the voice in my life that affirms me.  I thought about Michael’s work. (I had the privilege, even pleasure, of sharing a 5 day intensive with Michael White in November, 2007).

I contemplated my life and the other voices that have affirmed me and was taken back to the discussion we had on Imaginary Friends.  The topic in the course facscinated me. I remember Michael asking who had Imaginary Friends and many of us put up our hands.  I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of Imaginary Friends have been marginalised in our society. Their usefulness is suspect, their role possibly destabilising and existance certainly questionable.

I thought of my Imaginary Friends, Peter, Paul and yes, Porgets who I used to greet at the front door and invite inside to play with me when I was a child.  I wondered what role they were playing?  I like to think they were urging me to keep my light alive, to trust myself, to be confident in myself, to believe that I am worth it.

I have read the contributions of all of you who have generously shared your sadness, musings, wistful yearnings and at times anger about the sad news of Michael’s death.  I haven’t had anything to say until now.  But I must share this, because his voice rekindled my flagging spirit and encouraged me to never accept when the still, small voice of hope, joy and love is not addressed or listened to.

As I write this, the tears are streaming with the words and these are finally tears for Michael – the first after a month.  This seems like slow-acting grief.  But the ache that the loss of such a committed human being, carer and activist, is deep.  As I depart Bonn, I know that I will be bonny again and I know that he would be touched that it was a song with poignant words that brought his memory and meaning to me in my life, back to life.  I re-listened to Kate’s song so I could write down the words, and more jumped out at me

 “all young, gentle dreams drowning in life’s grief, can you hang on to me?”

I honour my young gentle dreams and I hang on to them tightly.  As the grip gets stronger, the confidence to follow them gets stronger too. These words, by Kate Bush, great wordsmith, remind me of the wistfulness and curiosity that were rekindled in me during the course, and that Michael had this amazing way of looking at things, with a gentle curiosity, almost amusement.

Quotations provide such a great inspiration to me, and two of my favourite come to mind:

“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.  Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light”.  Albert Schweitzer

and

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born”. Anaïs Nin

I believe that Michael was saying, and is still saying, let us all nuture gentle dreams and sacred things in our own lives and in the lives of others.

With deepest thanks Michael, for your example, your encouragement, and your patience.

Greetings to you all from Den Haag, let us keep Michael’s voice alive in our activities and relationships – work and personal.

Love.