Friday, 6 February 2009

Brothers


I had my little brother to stay this week, and didn't get time for things like blog writing. There were other things to be done: motorcycle shops to be visited and sofas to be sat on and words to be spoken. Lots and lots of words. Since I have been ill, all my brothers have come to see me, and my sister too for that matter, and all in their own way have brought me something to move me along the path of wholeness. I'm not sure that it was planned that way, but all my familial visits seemed to bring the right person to me at the right time. Now, the radiotherapy has only another week to run: I am nearly out the other side of this process and am feeling ridiculously fit and well. In about two months time there will be another blood test and it will tell me whether the deep fryer has dealt to this thing for good or whether there are several more exciting chapters in the cancer story to unfold over the next few years. Either way, I'm not unduly worried and it was helpful to see Murray as I move back out of the shadows and into the light again.

Guhyavajra (Murray) is two years younger than me, and as we shared most closely the experiences of childhood, we have a deeply and finely honed mutual understanding. He has been living in the UK for years now, so he's a fund of useful information about travelling there and to Europe. More importantly, over the years there has been a strange parallelism in our spiritual lives. He is Buddhist and has spent most of his adult life serving in and with a spiritual community.It's interesting how similarly churches and Buddhist men's communities operate. Over many years of conversation we have tested out the boundaries of Christianity and Buddhism, and we know where we agree and where we differ with equal clarity. Consequently, I find him far safer to talk to than most Christians. About ten minutes into a conversation with Christians, and most are either treating me as some sort of guru or are wanting to correct and/or save me. In Christian company I usually have to measure what I say; with Guhyavajra I can say what I bloody well like and know it will be thoughfully and honestly and intelligently reflected back to me without fear and without judgement. So we spoke of our shared childhood and the adolescence where our paths began to markedly differ. We spoke of the challenging but joyous present and the uncertain future. We pontificated about the nature of reality and the meaning of the universe. And then, too soon, he was gone.

I'll see him in June when we will stay with him in Norwich and where the conversation no doubt will pick up where it left off, as it has done so many times in the last few decades. And for him, and for Alistair and Val and Stuart I return thanks to the Father from whom every family on heaven and on earth takes its name.


11 comments:

Alden said...

Always nice to see brothers with their arms around one another - and the photo proves that there is someone else who can take very good photographs besides your good self. Well done Clemency???

Anonymous said...

Kelvin,

You wrote, "About ten minutes into a conversation with Christians, and most are either treating me as some sort of guru or are wanting to correct and/or save me. In Christian company I usually have to measure what I say"

Snap.

I have been in this Diocese for ten years. During those ten years I have told no one what I believe. I don't intend to begin. A year ago I was given title "Vicar" which included spiritual direction. I was disturbed by this expectation, I have learned to avoid vulnerability like that. After a long search, and much checking, I found someone who I felt could trust (incidentally ordained, not Anglican). And that person agreed. I don't need to be criticised, I don't need to be jumped on. And while someone may feel the need to bring me up I don't feel the corresponding need to be brought up.

But why is this? How did it happen? What are the forces, historical circumstances, etc. which have created this extraordinary caution in what we say to each other? I am interested in your thoughts about how this came about.

Bill Schroeder

Kathryn said...

So nice to see you both together & to recognise the family likeness. Amazing how your spiritual lives are so different and yet so alike. And that you can speak so freely with each other.
It is really great that Murray was able to make the trip from the UK to visit you.

I think I remember Murray when he was about 13? :-)

Janice said...

Kelvin, I want to go on record as saying that when I said you were my guru, I didn't mean it. Honestly. I had a guru once, very briefly, in my 30's, and I got over that very quickly. With the help of my chosen guru, who turned out to be human after all, and no smarter or wiser, or more spiritual than I was; my motto now is Trust God, and Trust Yourself, and all will be well. I'm sorry i was so flippant with you, as I do respect you, but that's a whole different thing. Won't happen again!

Besides that, I'm glad you feel so good, you don't look much like your brother, and there's nothing like family, if you've got a good one. And there's also your good friend Alden, who's always willing to bully you into shape: hey Alden!
Well, I must away to my bed; still praying for you without ceasing!

Alden said...

Yes he needs his butt kicked every now and then - but generally I sit musing in my philosophy chair while he sits cross legged, busily scribbling notes - he's a quick learner I'll give him that, but he still keeps failing Mamma Mia 101.

VenDr said...

I have one Indian parishioner in her 80s who (at least half seriously) calls me her beloved guru. She kisses my hand when she sees me. I love her dearly and it's all part of the little mutual admiration society we have going. That's OK. I know exactly where I stand with her, and accept the responsibility she lays on me.She is a person of the most extraordinary grace and depth and it's quite humbling to be treated with such respect by her. It's also OK when Janice calls me her guru, as a sort of light hearted way of saying that she has gained some benefit from something or other I might have said at some stage. What I was referring to in the post was the sort of deep and meaningful conversations I have with people where I expect the flow to be two way and suddenly find that it's not. In that context I get uncomfortable when my half baked notions get picked up as authoritative; or when the person gets all twitchy because I have departed from the orthodox line at some point.

It's the inherent defensiveness and insecurity in much Christian conversation that I'm wary of. It's very hard to be truly open around that.

VenDr said...

Mama Mia 101? Plot development for preschoolers, more likely. Or acting in the junior school. Or singing and dancing for the auditorially and kinesthetically impaired.

VenDr said...

And yes Kathryn, I guess Murray would have been early teens when you knew him. Little blonde guy with glasses and a cricket bat. I think probably the last time you saw him would have been at a party at my parent's house in Brown's Rd when my parents weren't home. I certainly remember that evening very clearly. I was 17 then, so he would have been 15. A long long lifetime ago.

Mr. Kinder said...

I've just run across your blog, via Alden's, from the comment you left there.

How wonderful you've got a brother with whom you can talk so intimately!

I wonder if you've read Forrest Church's book, Love and Death? He's in a situation similar to yours and he offers a wonderful perspective. I'll review it in a couple of days on my blog, Mindful Heart, but of course you can read about it online.

BTW, I'm listening to, and enjoying, your most recent sermon on death.

I'll visit your blog regularly.

VenDr said...

Thanks for dropping by. I've had a look at your blog:a very nice site and some interesting things you have on it. I'll certainly be back. That's a nice picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. Is it your photo? Is that where you live? I went the the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo at one time. San Francisco is my favourite city. An absolutely stunning place.

Anonymous said...

Dear B.K.W.,

This entire series of posts is outstanding. I do get what you are saying. I'm very Christian but do appreciate many aspects of Buddhist thinking on dependent arising and the nature of reality "as it is" and the way we conflate our own projections onto objects, ideas, paradigms and constructs even.

Very Best,

J.