This is not a Christmas Post.

There are Christmas lights everywhere. The tree is up and decorated, and despite my multiple pleas and threats, it is still lurching towards the fireplace at a rakish angle as if it’s trying to leap inside. Last night I curled up in front of the fire with a glass of Christmas Spirit and a bowl of peanuts and watched the flames flicker in the hearth and the lights twinkle on the tree. But between you, me and the next WordPress post, my heart’s just not in it this year.

Warning: If you are looking for a happy smiley post for Christmas, please stop reading after the photos – this is a “getting something of my chest” post. But rest assured, this is not the final post of the year. 

….So.  As the rest of blogdom posts twinkling lights on Christmas trees and illuminated public places, here are pictures I took of my favourite baubles, kindly provided by Mother Nature a few months ago on a dewy morning in the Alsace. The spider had caught nothing but humidity, which had formed perfect spheres of water, heavy yet strangely delicate on the intricate, perfect web. In each one I could see the upturned image of the world around us – distorted and replicated in each and every bead.

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The spider had taken time and energy to painstakingly construct its web. Instinct and determination had driven it to create an intricate structure. Did it know how fragile its creation was compared to the force of the wind or a passing animal? One movement of my hand would have sufficed to tear a hole in the perfect wholeness of this delicate frame for miniature, crystalline globes. To destroy the entire edifice, sparkling baubles and all. Yet the ephemeral perfection created by nature demanded respect.

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Much in the same way, life is fragile yet sacred. When a child is born, we tend to our offspring, nurture them and use all our forces of persuasion and encouragement to help them shape a fulfilling existence. We discover that love sparks off a reflex to put this small being first, a reflex that awakens us, shaking with fury and adrenalin, when we dream that our child is in danger. Because we are painfully aware that like the spider’s web, all life is fragile and can be destroyed in the blink of an eye.

Today, I look at these photographs in the light of current events that have shocked humanity to its very core and think of the song “Spider’s Web”, by Katie Melua. In it, she sings:

“The line between wrong and right

is the width of a thread on a spider’s web”

This line has been crossed again and again this year, as the world looks on in horror. Along this thread, there are the tears shed across the world for innocent victims of terrorism, executed in cold blood by fanatical murderers who ripped apart the fragile, sacred creation that we call life. Cowards who took up weapons to fire at children as they screamed the name of their God. I cannot help wondering if they recognized real courage as it stared them in the face – the unarmed teachers who stood between these killers and their pupils.

The terrorists no doubt see submission and fragility in the tears that have flowed. They are wrong.

 There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

Washington Irving

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60 thoughts on “This is not a Christmas Post.

  1. Your collaboration between the web and the fragility of life is breath taking. The way you write and the photo are stunning. More so however is your passion for life and humanity you’re right it is unbelievable the atrocities that happen day in day out and this one you speak of causes me to have those tears. Tears mourning the loss of God’s creations xxx thank you for writing this xxx

  2. The value of individual human life is not held in regard by many ethnic or religious factions in war torn Middle East and Africa. They could not so readily teach outright hatred and annihilation in madrases nor rape and murder innocent civilians were the sanctity of individual life held dear. Until that changes, the atrocities that have manifested for centuries will continue unabated.

    Man’s inhumanity to man seemingly knows no bounds.

    • Hi Sammy, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment 🙂 I can’t find a logical explanation for the disregard for human life – I ‘m no doubt naïve and immature, but surely whatever your religion or your origin, once you have been loved, or loved, you can understand that other people are also loved and should therefore be spared? And what about instinct to protect and nurture? I just don’t get it.

      • I think repressive regimes and centuries of children living/dying with little but strife and conflict must harden sensibilities even though they are loved within their own families. It breaks my heart that we can progress in so many ways except humanity to others.

        It does leave one quite disconsolate, but we must embrace the goodness and kindness that also abounds in our daily lives.

        Merry Christmas!

  3. The lives of others are worthless to some. It’s been the same throughout history, and nothing seems to change this catastrophic human trait. You can have all the progress, technology, and means of communication you like, the psychopaths, fanatics and murderers will still be plotting to kill; the worst being those who do it in the name of a god.

    Lovely macro photography of the web. That’s one nifty lens you’ve got there. 🙂

    • I find the coexistence of technology and evil a real cause for concern – trying to impose medeival desiderata using cutting age military technology and social networking. I am curious to know who funds them, and who bought the oil that IS was selling in Iraq.
      As for the photos, yep, it’s a Canon macro lense. My baby. 🙂

    • I was reminded of that Greek myth with the old hags ready to cut the thread of life. I can’t stand the idea of one human playing God for another. Particularly when it is to further his own means. Surely religion has a different purpose.

  4. Hi, followed the link from Electicoddsnsods to your blog. Your comparison of the fragility of life and a spider’s web is so true. Sadly, not all hold the same views on life, and that makes it even more fragile. Well written, and your photos are superb.

  5. Atrocities are atrocities nomatter the background of those who commit them….we see and hear more of them now, with the spread of access to information, but they are not a new phenomenon.

    As your analogy of the web with life…so much effort to build…a second to destroy.

    It is never unseasonable to speak of what matters, what is important…we are about to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – a good time to make people ask why there is so much destruction, hurt and sheer wickedness in our world.

    • I completely agree. What is more, they use the information technology to further their “cause” and get “publicity” for their acts.
      I would love to think that an international reflection about the matter would result in these monsters being brought to justice, but I have a feeling that Christmas does not mean the same thing now as it did before for many.

  6. There is a horror in striking against the most innocent with such brutality that speaks of absolute cowardice. Unfortunately it’s not the first time nor will it be the last. That is the way of cowards and bullies. It goes beyond words.
    Your analogy of the beautiful but fragile spider’s web is a good one. I share your sadness.

    • Hey up, Joanne. Thanks for popping by – hope you are well. Cowards and bullies, I agree… The Western idea of the bully often being a victim doesn’t seem appropriate in the case of the Talibans, huh. Hugs xx

      • I don’t think of bullies as victims. Ultimately they can make a choice … especially when they reached an age of relative maturity. Bullies prey on the weak which makes them cowards.

        Rant over 🙂 Hugs back to you!

  7. Oh, my. Yes.
    Thank you for so eloquently laying out the futility and the pain.
    I’ve not found the words to do so; so for now, if it’s ok, I’ll simply carry yours in my heart.
    And know that I’m not alone in asking ‘how’ and ‘why’?
    If, as science claims, water pre-dates the sun, then our tears for mankind and the life & lives behind those tears will far outlive the tyrannical and heartless acts of mere misguided and spineless mortals.

    • Gyspy! I hope that Christmas in the ME is revving up nicely. What you said is beautiful – you sure have a good way with words, girl. I have a feeling that our tears will outlive the monstrosities committed. Take care of yourself and your family. Big hugs xxxx

  8. You said that this was not a Christmas post, but I believe that it was at it’s heart because Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. It is about celebrating life and this post celebrates life as well as mourns the necessary actions of bravery that is in each person as they look at children in their care and put themselves between them and the cruelty of the world that refuses to acknowledge the beauty in the life of a child. Whether that child be the newborn Savior or the students in a school.

    • Hello, Martha, and welcome to the blog!
      When I wrote the post, I was kind of irritated with myself for feeling all sad when I should have been writing about Christmas carols, fun, preparation, gifts and how we’d fit Santa down the chimney flu now that we’ve put a tube down it.
      Then, once I’d written it, I realized that it IS a Christmas post, in the sense that it talks about the sacred nature of life, the protection of the weak and self-sacrifice in the most noble sense of the word.

  9. Beautifully written and profoundly true, MM and your photos are exquisite. To me this post isn’t unseasonable at all. We’re about to celebrate the birth of one who became a refugee and in pursuit of whom innocent children were slaughtered by the cruelty of power, as the church commemorates only 3 days after Christmas Day.

  10. What an amazing post and such breathtaking photos to accompany it. The way you wove a web between your pix and modern day was stunning. I’m so glad you recognized and gave voice to the brave teachers. Also your use of the Irving quote at the end left me with gooseflesh! Well done all the way around.

  11. Beautiful MM just beautiful. Christmas is also the time think about others and pray for them. God Bless you and your family this holiday season:)

  12. Merry Christmas MM. It’s been a year of great loss for us, and sometimes it can be hard to see the Merry, but in the end I think our lost loved ones would want nothing from us but that we appreciate the moment we are in, in all its failings and its glory. Hugs to you and yours. Xox

  13. I’m only now able to come around to read your pre-Christmas “not a Christmas” post. It’s beautifully written and very thoughtfully composed. I certainly agree that recent world events have been horribly shocking and painful to contemplate. For those of us who do believe in the interconnectedness of all life the implications are very heavy. But the human soul is resilient, and in time, grief quiets down so that we can move on. It doesn’t mean we have to turn away from suffering, just perhaps channel some of the awareness into supporting those who grieve. I appreciate your “Christmas justice.” ox

    • Hi honey 🙂 Hope you’re well. That was a lovely reflection on the subject. It’s the fact that we are so resilient that is worrying, in a way – we manage to accept all kinds of atrocities, again and again. I suppose that the only way to hope we can get out of it is to do good around us to whomever we can – what was that quote.. Oh, yeah. R. Reagan. “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”. Big hugs to you xxx

  14. So beautifully expressed. I too am horrified by these atrocities but I try my best to continue to trust in humanity, and thankfully I usually find tremendous good around me.

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