Only Connect

I have been reflecting, a lot, recently particularly about connections, serendipity, and how, perhaps, there are no such things as coincidences. Then yesterday and today I took part in a series of discussions and its New Year: both Jewish and Muslim.

“Only connect” is a concept I first came across in my A level English Class at School. This particular subject was taught at the neighbouring boys’ sixth form because the teacher, Mr Mathews taught there, but all the students were girls: none of the boys seemed to like reading! The other subject taught there was Geography which made Thursday’s a little unusual because, as the only girl who did both subjects, I was the one girl in that building over lunch.

Anyway, we were studying EM Foster’s, A passage to India and Mr Mathews explained Godbole’s, world-view, which emphasizes the unity of all things: that is there are lines that connect us all from one part of the planet to another. This may be easier to grasp now but we had no concept of the internet, at the time. In 2011, I contributed to a book (Spirituality and Mental Health ed. Peter Gilbert) and used a quote from another of Forster’s books Howard’s End:

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect …

I have seen connections that, I do not wish to make too much of but, seem worthy of consideration even if it is just to make us stop, breathe and reflect.

I spent a lovely afternoon in London yesterday with a friend and ended up taking part in a service at Westminster Cathedral and moaning about the difference in people’s proclaimed values, beliefs and how they choose to live their lives. Another set of friends had been talking about the Cathedral and shared a picture on social media and then this morning we both shared quotes:

“You (Prophet) cannot guide everyone you love to the Truth; it is God who guides whoever He/She wills: He knows best who will follow Guidance (Quran Surah 28 v 56)

“In matters of faith, He/She has ordained for you that which He had enjoined upon Noah — and into which We gave thee [O Muhammad] insight through revelation — as well as that which We had enjoined upon Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus: Steadfastly uphold the [true] faith, and do not break up your unity therein. [And even though] that [unity of faith] to which thou callest them appears oppressive to those who are wont to ascribe to other beings or forces a share in His divinity, God draws unto Himself everyone who is willing, and guides unto Himself everyone who turns unto Him. (Quran 42:13)

Then I learn it is both Jewish and Muslim New Year today.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year festival. It lasts two days. It commemorates the creation of the world. It’s a time for people to think about their priorities in life and to reflect on what has been achieved in the past year. It’s a time of asking for forgiveness for wrongdoings (sins). It’s a chance for Jews to ask questions about their actions throughout the year. Questions considered during Rosh Hashanah include:

  • What’s the most meaningful thing in my life?
  • Who in my life means the most to me? How often do I let them know this?
  • What are the most significant things I’ve achieved in the past year?
  • What do I hope to achieve next year and in my life generally?

The sound of the shofar starts a ten-day period known as the ‘Days of Awe’, which ends with the solemn festival of Yom Kippur. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/judaism/rosh_hashanah.shtml)

Al-Hijra (1 Muharram): Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, is the first day of the month of Muharram. It marks the Hijra (or Hegira) in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina. Muharram is also time when one of the prohet’s grandson’s and others were murdered at Kerbala, so their is a 10 day period of mourning which culminates on the The day of Ashura.

A coincidence, happenstance. sependipty, covergance which should provide at least a moments pause.

Another thing that definitely made me stop this morning is a friend posted the following “Watch our video filmed at the Queen Mary’s Family Fun and Open Day / official re-launch of Queen Marys Hospital, Sidcup: http://oxleas.nhs.uk/qmh-100-film”. A big stop, pause, re-post and write:

“My father had his final (earthly) journey at this hospital. The staff were excellent: I particularly recall a team leader telling someone to support me when I was taken aback at seeing my father being prepared for the mortuary. She then walked besides us through the mortuary and, I thought left, when we met my brothers and funeral directors at exit. As we walked away, I saw that she was showing care, support and respect from a distance. May all who work at the hospital, patients’ carers and their families be well, healthy and strong: happy, abide in peace, feel safe and secure, and be loved and cared for.”

Lots of memories, connections and a cousin of mine has just sent me this message “I find your presence very soothing as you remind me so much of your dad xx” My mum always told me that a daughter who looks like her father is lucky.

I feel luck today and wish everyone happy New Year, reflections, prayers meditations, blessings and may “human love … be seen at its height”.

May we all be well, healthy and strong:

May we all be happy.

May we all abide in peace

May we all feel safe and secure

May we all feel loved and cared for.

Postscript: It seems it is also;

Navaratri (nine nights) is one of the greatest Hindu festivals. It symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Navratri takes place at the beginning of October around harvest time and, as the name implies, this festival is celebrated for nine days. Navratri is also known as Durga Puja.

Autumn Equinox (Mabon) is celebrated by when day and night are of equal length, and is the final festival of the harvest season. The activity of the summer months slows down, the Wheel of the Year has turned, and summer is making way for winter once again.

International Day of Peace http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

Interesting article on BBC “The F-word: How important is forgiveness to faith?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zsrx6sg

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