Thursday, 28 February 2013


Snowdrops in my garden.  If you want to plant snow drops now is the ideal time of year. 

At last the sun is beginning to shine.  The snowdrops are out in the garden.  I managed to grab a few precious minutes and pick a small bunch for my desk to keep me company. It was whilst I was listening to some audio earlier that I was fiddling about looking for a quote and I came across a poem.  It took me a moment to take in what I had read, because I assumed the words had only ever existed on a long wrecked memorial.

At the bottom of the valley betweenBrixworth and Pitsford on the A508 in Northamptonshire there is a memorial that as a young girl I often walked past.  I was told that a local lady died at the spot in a hunting accident and her husband built it in her memory.  When I was about fourteen it was smashed to bits by anti hunt campaigners.  I memorized the words as it was restored.

Not long after it was smashed to bits again. Someone took a sledgehammer to the words for a second time.  I suppose ironically they probably believed that they were carrying out the very advice in the words they were destroying.

It has been over a quarter of a century since I last read the words.  I’ve never needed to read them again because they were etched into me.  I remember deciding with passion and an unwavering belief in human kindness, that these words were the principle foundations upon which to live me life.

I shall pass through this world but once.
If therefore, there be any kindness I can show,
or any good thing I can do, let me do it now.....
For I shall not pass this way again.

So it seems that these are not after all these years the words of the heartbroken husband, but a poem…  with a second verse.  The exact identity of the author is disputed, but Stephen Grellet, an 18th century French/American religious leader has been credited in most references I have now read. In reality I don’t think that who wrote the words changes much.  It is the words themselves that have guided my decisions all through my life. 

The second verse, again is disputed as an add on, but the new words have as much relevance today as they did when they were written in the 18th century and seem to capture something more.

Thinking about it, these words have laid the foundations for my Buddhist practices, and reading them again today was like meeting up with an old friend again. 

2nd verse.

If I can anyway contribute to the diversion
or improvement of the country in which I
live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned
out of it, with the satisfaction of
thinking that I have not lived in vain.

Stephen Grellet, (1773–1855)

1 comment:

If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.