Than your own breath
Is the comfort you seek
In Love do we have our being
Though pain
Our spirits, we reach out and touch
That which is deep within
And find that Love

Dark nights
Of weeping leave
Us weak, our hearts open,
In our weakness we find our true strength
In love
That will never let us go, holds
Us safely in strong arms
Absorbing tears
That fall

You will find rest,
Deep peace beyond measure
It is not far away, but here,
Your heart
Knows it,
Go inside your heart, dear child, lay
Your head down on Love’s breast,
Cry your tears and be soothed,
Trust in this Love,
So deep


No one could ever understand the myriad darknesses I have gone through since going into remission from serious and advanced cancer. I have gone through what I can only describe as a total stripping process. A process whereby I was left naked and bare before the Throne of Grace. If I thought cancer was bad, and the nakedness and stripping that I endured then, this was even more deep and profound. I remember thinking, when I had cancer, “Do I really want to fight this?” And I knew, deep inside myself that truly, I did not want to fight. Heaven beckoned, and it was there that I wanted to go. Had I known what lay ahead, I do not know whether I would have gone ahead and fought or not. I fully expected that if I fought and won, I would be living a ‘normal’ life again. I did not expect what happened.

It was strange – but one day, just after going into remission, I was watching a blind gospel singer and piano player on the television, and something deep inside me said,

“You are going to be blind.”

I did not understand at the time, but I thought that if this was true, I would have the opportunity to use it, and to show people that adversity does not have to destroy you.

Since then, I have gone blind. It happened gradually, and it has been a long process of saying “Goodbye.” Goodby to faces, to the things of nature that I loved, to colours, and to much much more. I am not going to say that the process has been pain free, and indeed, there have been times when I have agonised and cried out. But that is okay. I am not going to say that I am happy to be blind, but that I try to be the best that I can be, as a blind person. I have met much misunderstanding along the way, endured many insults, many rejections, but despite the pain, have lived through them all. It was a shock at first, to be treated in such a way by so many, and it did not help that I am also wheelchair bound. But I have learned a lot.

Blindness is so isolating. Relationships with people change. It is possible to go to a place where there are many people, but to be isolated from them all. When you are blind, you can hear people, but you cannot see where they are, and you cannot therefore go to them and start talking to them. If they do not come to you, which often happens, even in a church, you can leave having spoken to no one. The isolation is the worst thing that a blind person has to bear.

I am not glad that I am blind, but I am glad that I have learned how, more and more, to drink from the well that is deep within me, and that I have discovered the “treasures of the darkness.”


I know today
That I know nothing
And as I shrink,
You grow
Once I could see
Now I am blind
The path ahead was clear
Now I see nothing
If I look forwards
I learn nothing
Except that I am blind
And so I have no choice
Except to look inwards
For in looking inwards
I do not need my eyes
And yet
Without eyes
I see far more looking inwards
Than ever I could with my eyes
And as I travel inwards
I see
That I know nothing
Except that by grace
I will be saved
And what is better
To see the path ahead
And feel sure
Or to travel inwards
And know that I know nothing
At all
And thereby
To find my true self?


I used to be OK with going blind
Was that real?
Or was it because of the pressure
To see things as others wanted me to?
Or was it maybe that I had no choice?
Only the choice to be OK with it
Or to let the pain overtake me
What was the reality?
Was it a game?
How can you make a game of going blind?
Even as a child I learned
To show no emotion
To bear the utmost pain
Without a murmur
It became a habit
A habit I could not break
Crying was not allowed
Violence was normalised
And so, the violence of blindness
Could not be allowed to find acknowledgement
It was OK to go blind
But now I am lost
I was good at seeing with the eyes of the heart
I was good at making the best of it
I was good at smiling when all was not well
I was a good girl
I gave people what they wanted
While inside my heart was breaking
And fear ran riot
Confusion filled my soul
I wanted to do it well you know
To succeed at being blind
Failure was not even on the menu
I could not be seen to stumble
And fall
And now
This taut ball of humanity
Is breaking
I am not brave
This taut ball of humanity
Wants to scream and scream
And cry out
And I know
That even as I scream and cry
The very stones will cry out with me
For all the Universe is groaning
As if in the pangs of childbirth
But oh, what a birthing this is
If indeed it is a birth
And not a death
And as I give birth
To this thing called blindness
That has lain fallow for so long
Will it kill me?
Is it too big for me?
You wave at me and smile
As you watch this birthing
And call me proud
As I do not wave back
And I know that in your eyes
I must go to Confession
For failing to deliver
Because I was too busy
Delivering blindness
And so you beat me with the stick of blame
As the baby was being born
I had held it within me for so long
But now, it is here,
Born upon this earth,
And I cry
“Lord, I am blind.”


The world is fading away. I am not in it any more. I am in another place. A dark place. I can see nothing except blurs. I look at a piece of paper with writing on and it is blank to me. There is no writing on it. I write over the writing that is already there. I cannot see my writing either. I am told I have made a mess.

The world is gone now. I have to say goodbye to it. It is not part of me any more and I am not part if it. I do not hear people speaking to me. I cannot follow a conversation. I am not in this world.

I cannot see faces. I do not know who is who, and they don’t tell me either. I have to guess. They think I know and however many times I tell them that I don’t know who they are they don’t take it in. I apologise to people because I haven’t waved or smiled when they have waved and smiled at me. They say it is ok, but they don’t realise that I want to be in contact with them – that they must come close to me and touch me and say their name. They don’t realise that to then ignore me because I can’t see them cuts me out of human society and makes me isolated and desperately lonely in my world of darkness. I am cut off. Not part of the human race.

I sit. At home I sit. What can I do? Long hours stretch in front of me. I cannot read. I cannot watch television. I cannot take a walk out because I can’t walk. I can’t put a CD on because I can’t see to do it. I can’t ask My husband to do it because he is already too busy or he is watching television or on his computer, or too tired. I sit. In the dark. Doing NOTHING. Nearly going mad. How can I live like this?

I want a drink. I cannot make one. I cannot bother my husband again. I get hungry. I cannot even make a sandwich. I am useless. Helpless, like a baby.

I go to bed. I lie on the bed. In darkness. There is no life. Just darkness. Do I exist?

My body hurts, and my heart hurts too.

I cannot see or feel my clothes. When I try to dress, I cannot find things because I cannot feel. When I do find something I cannot find out which is the right way up or if it is inside out. I cannot find the arms. I cannot dress. I cannot see my hair. Is it ok or not? I cannot see my face in the mirror. I cannot see if I am dressed ok or if I am presentable. I cannot see colours. I don’t know if my colours clash. I cannot see if my clothes are clean. I spill my food down me because I cannot see the food on my plate or my fork and if it is not on my fork properly it goes down me. I am like a baby.

My world has gone. I have no world now. Except darkness.


And what is on the ground?
Mud, dirt, stones,
Your face rubbed in the dirt,
The stones cutting your face,
Until blood runs,
You lie there helpless,
How do you get up?
Your brain crazed,
You see your blood on the ground,
And suddnly it is not yours,
But that of Another,
Two thousand years ago,
And there, on the ground,
You find eternal life


Surrounds the one
Who truly does Love’s will,
Love is not a clanging cymbal,
Announcing your prowess, seeking
For glorification,
I hear it all,
And cringe

Love is
Gentle, seeks not
To boast, nor dwells in pride,
Real love does not attack the weak,
Nor masks
The truth,
But lives in dying to the Self,
Steps back from the limelight,
Silently waits,


What is left deep in my heart
When I am stripped?
I remeber it well,
The day I was on all fours
Drooling at the mouth like an animal,
Playing out some goddamned drama on a bed,
All eyes upon me,
Though naked except for my skin,
And even that was coming off,
I remember you walking away,
You who bore me and saw me naked the day I was born,
But now my skin was open,
Cancer had done its worst,
And your words said it all,
“Where is your God now?”
But inside all of that pain I knew
That it is not the skin that contains God,
But the heart within,
And that day above all
I heard Him cry
From deep within me,
Deep guttural cries,
As if the whole Creation was groaning,
As if in the pangs of childbirth,
Oh what a birthing this was,
For here, now, in this place,
I heard above all the words
“I am with you. I am Suffering itself. You are not alone.”


An experience that I had yesterday. Another wilderness one

Except for the
Creaking of my wheelchair
I make my way tortuously
The aisle
Of the church where the Holy One
Dwells in majesty, light
In my dark night,
I tap

with my
Stick, shattering
the cold silence, no one
Helps though I scatter the pews, bump
Them all
I am left alone in darkness
Bruised and beaten, reeling
From the cold shock
Of ice

I reach
The front battered
By the rods of ice, sit
Confused, bewildered, paralysed,
I don’t
Know where
To turn,
Hitting pews, I find no space, turn,
Halting, painfully, make
Make my shocked way back
All eyes on me

I squirm crying,
I find the back, someone comes now,
“Stay here
They say,”
I am relegated to the
Outer limits, alone,
I am broken,
Like Him


Another poem about HOME

Inextricably I was drawn,
Like a homing pigeon
To this place,
It was meant for this time,
All through the years it had waited for me,
And I for it,
Though far distant, connected
By some silken strand,

And now, in my time of sorrow and weeping,
In my darkest of all nights,
The evening of my life,
I return to meditate, to think, to pray,
While the wood pigeons call,
And the rowan fruits, splashing its blood red berries in darkening sky,
Standing timeless,
Guarding the souls that have gone before,
Passed this way
As I did too

In the darkened night,
I remember,
And laugh,
And weep,
For what has gone
And never can be again.

Always this place was home,
I returned here again and again,
In darkest nights of childhood,
When my world rocked
In time with the boat shaped swings at the fairground
In the cold of the night
As together we swung dizzily
From high to low, low to high,
Face turned up to the sky,
Seeing stars,
Squealing with joy,
Tinged with fear.

And now,
My world again is marked by joy,
Tinged with fear,
My dark night has come again,
My world is rocked,
I know not which way it will go,
Up or down, or maybe both all at once

For now I am blind,
Now my steps are halting,
Balance gone,
And in the chaos of cancer,
I find peace here,
In the place I call home,
Under the sturdy rowan tree


This poem was written sitting under the rowan tree in the village where I was born. We left when I was a small child, but I am called back there again and again, searching for home. In our wilderness experiences of pain and suffering and turmoil, we long for home. This is just a little poem on that theme

Can I claim the land where I am now a foreigner,
And maybe always was,
As I sit beneath the rowan tree
That sturdily guards all souls?

This place was always their home,
The home I wanted for myself
For all eternity,
That never in time was mine,
Though when always so far away
I yearned for this place that always I called home

I heard so many names,
Knew the folks from stories told,
And through such tales felt one of them,
And now I sit here, read their names,
And long to claim this land


Today she ran out of ink
Her well had dried up
Her hand lay limp at her side
Just like the brain in her head
Who was going to fill her well?
Her gaze hit the floor

Her dreams lay on the floor
Pictures not drawn in ink
Her life had not gone well
How could those dreams rise up?
What could she do with her head
Put everything aside?

She had nothing left inside
But plenty on the floor
Looking up at her head
Thirsty for some ink
Didn’t the devil do well?
How could the fragments get up?

Something told her she had to buck up
Lift her hand up from her side
Take a drink from the well
Picking things up from the floor
Riding on the fountain’s head
Ready to write in ink

Things have to be written ink
In letters that stand up
Words not just from the head
But from the heart that beats inside
Refreshed by the drink from the well
Rising up from the floor

Now there is nothing on the floor
Not even spilled ink
Magical was the well
Lifting her spirits up
Now she’s back on the right side
Everything’s right in her head

The fountain’s head gives life to the ink
That once was on the floor looking up
At the hand lying limp at her side unaware of the well


Never ending
The path that we tread
Beset with perils,
Darkest nights
We lose our bearings,
Stretch out our hands,
Feel our way,
Terror strikes us,
In fear we fall,
But there on the ground we find
Bright gems,
Again we rise,
Like gold,
In the fires of life



I speak from a different place than most people. My voice is often not heard, because it is drowned out by the masses. But my voice is just as important and valid as anyone else’s.

It seems to me that the general belief is that we all share the same world – that we all live in the same world. Much of what is said/presented in this world is addressed to a predominant group of people. I have become acutely aware of this in the past couple of years or so, since I became blind and wheelchair bound. More and more I have become aware of the fact that people like me are excluded and pushed onto the sidelines of life. More and more I have become aware of the grief that is engendered by the isolation that so many people like me, feel. Not only do we have the grief of going through losing so much in physical terms, but also we have the grief of being cut out of things by the thoughtless words and actions of others. We become isolated not because we want to be, or because we bring about our own isolation in some way, but because others have no understanding of what they are doing to us. There is a very real need for education concerning disabled people.

In writing this, I am speaking not only for myself, but for thousands of other people too. I am being their voice too. It is possible that my voice may not be listened to or heard. But it does not stop me speaking anyway.

Most of us who find ourselves in the position of suddenly becoming disabled in any way, do not wake up miserable, grumpy, or wanting to find fault with those who are more fortunate than us. We wake up simply wanting to live our luves as best we can. We want to be included. We do not want to be faced with “No Entry” signs wherever we go. And I do not mean just physical “No Entry” signs, but unseen ones as well. Day by day, we meet these signs all the time, until we become exhausted with just trying to live. We become grief stricken because our loss is so much greater than physical loss. We lose our connection with society at large. We lose relationships with people.

So often, the responsibility is put onto us totally for our own wellbeing. And yet the ability to live as normal a life as possible is taken from us by those who are in positions of dominance.

I think I speak for most disabled people in saying, “We just want to LIVE. Allow us to live.”

I and most disabled people have met patronising attitudes. We are patted on the head like little children, by those who are more dominant than we are, as if to say, “There, there now.”

We are not children. We are fully grown adults, who in many cases once had lives like yours. Who once contributed to society in many different ways. I cannot count the number of times that I have been patted on the head and treated like a child.

But that is not all. Often, we are treated cruelly as well. For instance, one time I was trying to make my way through a set if heavy wooden double doors, in my power chair, guiding my chair with one hand and feeling my way with my white blind stick, or cane, and a man came up behind me and said, “Get a move on or I will beat you with my stick.”

I feel that it is time, now, to write about these things. To make our plight known, and to try to redress the balance in some way. It may not work. But I can try.


I don’t remember which I saw first,
Your centre, bright yellow, open to the world,
Or your petals, wafer thin, deep in blue,
But as I looked I saw that you
Stood erect and proud,
Opening your heart to the world,
Offering pure yellow,
The sky darkened as I stood,
And a chill filled the air and my heart,
You closed your petals,
Covering over the bright yellow,
Now you were sad,
Now you needed to protect yourself against every blow,
I saw, as I watched, how easily you could be crushed,
Yet how strong you were,
In that moment
You offered yourself
And your truth to me


I used
To be able
To tie up my own belt
But now I’m in a place chosen
Not by
But a dark place where I am bound
I cannot tie my belt
Reliant now
On You
This place
I would not go
Freely unless You called
Allowing me to be helpless
My voice
But even if perchance my voice
Is never heard again
The stones cry out
Is this dark place
For in it grow the seeds
Of life eternal, watch them grow
The soil
Is rich
The treasures of the darkness shine
And so for you my friend
May the light shine
Seeds grow

“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21 verse 8 )!


I was listening to a radio programme the other day, and the Presenter was talking to a man in Fort William in Scotland. He asked him if he could see BEN NEVIS. The reason he asked was that he had been there many times but had never been able to see it as it had been obliterated by the FOG. He then made the comment, “I didn’t believe it existed.” It DID exist, but he just could not see it.

We once went camping in the Lake District for three weeks, and it did nothing but rain, the whole time we were there. The rain obliterated absolutely everything. We just couldn’t see the mountains or hills at all, and if we hadn’t known better, we would have thought that they didn’t exist. But we had been to the Lake District many times before, and seen how beautiful and how glorious they really were.

How often have we heard someone say that they don’t believe God exists, because of all the suffering that they see in the world? Or that they don’t believe He exists because of their OWN suffering? Their view of God has been obliterated by the fog that has developed around them, and they can no longer see His FACE.

That’s what suffering and pain can do to us –by its very nature, it can make us feel cut off from God, and even from other people. Suffering is a fact of life, and unfortunately it comes to us all at some time. We don’t like it, but it is the most challenging time of our lives. It is also the time when we feel the most alone – when we are at our most vulnerable. It is the time when we most need God, but the time when we most often feel that He is not there.

The fog obscured our view if the mountains for three weeks once, when we were in the Lake District. It was almost as if they were not there. But they WERE. On the last day of our holiday, the sun shone, and the mountains were revealed again in all their glory. They were there all the time. We just couldn’t see them. One day, we WILL see the face of God and behold His glory, and on that day all tears will be wiped from our eyes and all suffering cease. Something to hold onto.


A Sestina, written at the estuary of the River Humber in England

DUSK (written at the estuary of the River Humber)
The sun was dying in the sky,
Reflecting on the water,
The trees turned golden in the light,
On the banks of the river’s mouth,
Everything this night was calm,
As the water ran out to the sea.
So often I’d looked at the waves of the sea,
Thrashing in the darkening sky,
My spirit then was far from calm,
I was drawn towards the water,
I sensed the salt taste in my mouth,
At the dying of the light.
But now as night comes I can see light,
Calm now is the sea,
A sweeter taste is in my mouth,
A brilliance in the sky,
I am at peace looking at the water,
Within me a mystical calm.
The way I have walked has not been calm,
Deep pain obscured the light,
For so long I floundered on the rough water,
Tossed around on the sea,
Loud thundering in the sky,
A bitter taste in my mouth.
But then I tasted sweet Bread in my mouth,
All was still and calm,
Heavenly Hosts filled the sky,
All I could see was light,
I was no longer tossed on the sea,
I floated on the water.
Once from Your wounded side flowed water,
Lovesongs fell from Your mouth,
So often You’d walked beside the sea,
Made rough waters calm,
Suddenly all around was light,
Dark turned to radiance in the sky.
As the sky brightened songs were in my mouth,
The waters of the earth were calm,
The Universe was filled with light, glassy was the sea.


Today we thought of those who had died
The Church was full of people
To me, everyone was just a black shape
As I sat on my own at the back
I was on the outside, not part of the whole
I felt that I too was dead

How can we honour those who are dead?
Inside myself I have died
Can our souls ever be whole?
I am lost, not connected with people
I sense them pass behind my back
I do not recognise their shape

I do not feel in very good shape
Though physically I am not dead
If only I could have my life back
My old life now has died
I long to talk with other people
But they don’t see me as whole

They don’t see that they are not whole
But think that they are in good shape
Trying to keep up with other people
While honouring the dead
Don’t they know that I have died
All on my own at the back

I begin to move away from the back
Outside I might be made whole
Far too many people have died
For want of being in good shape
Now it’s too late, for they are quite dead
Invisible amongst so many fine people

Outside I find so many people
There is no turning back
I want to be brought back from the dead
Recreated, whole
Out here I can be in much better shape
In there I thought I had died

While sitting at the back I thought I’d died
Invisible to other people, who seemingly are whole
Somehow I can sense their shape and know that they are dead

Sent from my iPad

ARE YOU A SAINT? (For All Saints Day)

Are you a saint, my friend?
I hear you saying “No”
I too would say the same,
I am no saint, but wait,
Does perfection define a saint?
No, it is the love that’s borne within
That makes a saint
The ones whom we pass by
Sitting in the streets,
Pleading to be loved,
Pleading for life,
They are the saints
For when we look into their eyes
We look into the eyes of Jesus,
When feed them, feeding Him,
When love them, loving Him,
Saints are wounded, bearing battle scars,
Torn by life’s dark vagaries,
Crucified by those who judge,
Who bear hostility,
Crucified by cruel blows,
Yet still living on,
We cannot judge who is a saint,
But bear to each one love,
It is love that makes a saint