Happy New Year for the start of 2021 and Melkam Genna (Happy Christmas for Ethiopian Christmas 7th January)!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I’m hoping that 2021 is a kinder year to all of us….its not impressing me too much so far and I guess it hasn’t impressed you either, but I’m still holding out for a better one.
I thought, given that its the start of a new year, that we could have a review of the old year together…..it was definitely a year that I wasn’t expecting!
I have been looking back on these letters that I have written to you. I started writing to you all on 24th March and since then I have written 47 letters to you….how on earth have you survived them all?!
Those who have been with me from the start of the letters have had medical dramas, gardening, a holiday, wildlife, lots of reports from the washing basket, science, music, some cats, the night sky, celebrations, Welsh saying and stories, updates from the nest outside my door, history, dogs….LOTS of dogs and some Rastafari stuff too!
That’s been the biggest unexpected part of my year. I’ve been joining your….our!…group for a year and a half before we started this year. I knew some bits and pieces about being Rastafari, the culture, beliefs and heritage but this year, while writing these letters, I have learned so much more. I have searched, researched and increased my overstanding and really enjoyed how you have all been open to sharing Rastafari culture together with my Welshness. I’ve also enjoyed being able to hear it all a bit better now I have my bionic ears!
We have had an odd year of being able to meet, no meetings…only letters, some meeting, meeting again, no meetings….only visits and letters. What has been noticeable about our group, above all other groups, is how much you have remained as part of the group even when you can’t meet…..how you have asked about other members of the group and kept them in your thoughts….as I keep on saying, you are the best group in Berwyn!
I thought for this New Year’s/Ethiopian Christmas letter, rather than the usual format, I would do a recap of some of the best things I think I have found to put into the letter this time. So, here goes…..
This was the psalm I put into the first letter I sent you all. It’s the psalm I think of when I think of our group and I know that is the favourite psalm of some of you……
Praise Jah in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise Jah.
Next I’m going to put in a poem by Marcus Garvey. I have gone back to the words of this poem again and again since I first put it in one of our letters, it is so beautiful! This is more that I have learned this year, about the history around Marcus Garvey’s life….his actions and his powerful words.
Music In My Soul
There’s music in my soul today,
A joy of heart not there before:
This state of conscience I relay
To rich and proud and meek and poor.
There’s music in my happy Soul:
From Heaven’s realm doth truly flow
This music in my happy Soul,
My conscience tells me rightly so.
My song of joy I sing to you:
Let peace and love forever be
Among ye men of every hue,
Of every land and charted sea.
I crave no other fortune great,
But joy to live in peace with God;
My hopes are fixed on His Estate,
In faith so true as prophets had.
This music in my soul today
I spread in truth with love unfurled;
On waves of cheer it goes, I pray,
To reach around the belted world.
Now a description of a faithful Rastafari life…
Rasta Stands For Universal Love
Rasta has firmly established itself as a fierce opponent of colonialism by seeking to overturn the vicious legacy left by the European colonialists. Colonialism has had a grave impact on the psyche of today’s generation; it is a legacy of brutality, discrimination, corruption and a relentless pursuit of material possessions. Rasta has sought to overcome this legacy by standing for and upholding the principles of Maat, which is truth, justice, righteousness and balance.
Rasta stands for universal love, a higher spiritual ideal that is not usually emphasized in the mainstream of Western society. To be a Rasta is to be a righteous person, continuously seeking to improve SELF. This process of self discovery is further clarified by the words of a St Lucian Rasta who said “The word Rasta as I understand it means purely, the power that lies within any man which enables him to do anything he wants… To be a Rasta therefore is to be conscious of that divine power, and to be developing one’s power potential for achievement… Rasta becomes therefore a philosophy of life fulfillment”.
Rasta does not seek to conform to the norms of this society, which are steeped in racism, sexism, neo colonialism and injustice. The norm of this society is the relentless pursuit of carnal gratification and one doesn’t have to look hard to see where all this alcohol, sacredless sex, and materialistic living is taking us. It is taking our people down a wide road of great karmic consequences. Salvation cannot be found in worldly material possessions, but rather by experiences of divine proportions.
There is a misconception that Rastas are against technology and material things. Nothing could be further from the truth and this attempt to misconstrue what Rasta is about is often as deliberate as it is damaging. What Rastas are against is the misuse of technology and the overemphasis on material possessions, which in fact has caused great decadence of modern society
Think Positive To Get Positive
Rasta believe we must see every experience in life as a positive. Every experience. Again we must try to see the lesson in disguise. Sometimes things happen we do not like but we must put a positive spin on it in our minds so that we stay connected to JAH at all times. Negative thinking is separation from the Creator. Think positive at all times about all things.
A quote by Leonard Howell, one of the first Rastafari preachers….
” I am convinced that the children we are teaching today, will become vanguards and guardians to our freedom tomorrow and better citizens to defend our democracy and to ensure that generations to come will learn from the Holocaust of slavery, and keep the flame of remembrance burning. Help them to understand more about the past, that our history NEVER repeats itself so that we can create a better future for all human race.” Leonard Howell
The Wise Words of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
“Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
And now a prayer. I love these words, timeless, strong and secure in a world that seems to be shifting and difficult to live in…
Glory and praises and honour be unto thee the Most High, the Almighty, Jah Rastafari, ever living, ever faithful, ever sure, and let the whole earth know that Jah lives as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever and ever and ever. Amen
Over this year of writing letters to you, it has become clear that actually these letters have a star, a personality who makes these letters interesting……yes, its Lenny the Liability!
I’ve just realised something too. We’ve had him for almost a year….we got him from a rescue centre on the 7th January, so not only is it Ethiopian Christmas , its our family’s Lenny the Liability day. A good day to get him.
⬆️ My favourite doughnut carrying his toy doughnut!
We got him in a terrible state. He is 10 years old and had a life of neglect and cruelty. Now he’s such a clown…a happy, healthy, confident boy who belongs to my 14 years old son. Lenny (and sometimes my son) get into all sorts of mischief.
I thought that I would put in some of Lenny’s best bits in this letter, just as a reminder of what he’s got up to this year…..
This is from May…..
Yesterday there was a whole load of banging and crashing and sploshing from upstairs. I went to check and there was absolute mayhem in the bathroom. My son, in his swimming shorts, and Lenny were taking a bubble bath together…and oh my goodness, were there bubbles! Lenny was as over-excited as a staffy could be, swimming laps of the bath with his tail wagging so fast he was spraying the room with bubbles and my son was trying to wash him with a flannel (which I’m sure I recognised as mine 😐) and slopping gallons of water on the floor. I’m surprised the ceiling didn’t come down! My son said that Lenny had needed a bath because he smelled bad. I swear Lenny said that it was my son that needed the bath. The water was a nasty colour…sort of mud coloured, so they must have both needed it and luckily for me they washed the floor, the walls, the ceiling with muddy water all at the same time. The snorkelling staffy was caught (it took quite a bit…a soapy staffy is not the easiest to catch!), towel dried and returned to calmness. My son was left to clear up the bathroom.
Lenny, my son’s staffy, has started to play a new game.
My son comes down in the morning (hmm, well, more like midday…he’s a teenager) and lets Lenny out into the garden. Before he goes out, he comes to find me for a cuddle, then he trots outside.
After that, my son takes him upstairs for his morning biscuit and Lenny races up the stairs ahead of him. He stands at the top of the stairs, growling like he is going to attack him viciously, all the time dancing and wagging his tail. You should hear it! The first time I did, I thought Lenny had a character change and was seriously going to attack my son. It was only when I saw him dancing like a clown that I realised it was a game.
He’s got such a sense of humour, that dog!
My son has been busy too. I have a rule….I do not go into my childrens’ bedrooms unless I am invited, which is only once or twice a year. I know at times they must look horrific but unless I can smell their rooms (and not in a good way! 🤢) or I have run out of mugs, I leave well alone. I have 3 reasons for this….
1.) they have their own space
2.) I do not feel responsible for tidying after them. If they want to live in a mess, it’s up to them
3.) we get on far better if I don’t feel the need to nag them, shout at them, fall out with them.
This is fine in theory, but most of the time my son’s room smells so bad it attacks you as you walk upstairs. In fact, the local agricultural college has a department that I feel describes my son’s room…it’s called a ‘high welfare pig unit’ and I think this describes my son’s room perfectly!
He plays ice hockey. I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled old ice hockey kit?!? I’m told that it makes it less safe to wash it. It loses its strength & support. Well, it smells like he’s being supported by a whole fan club of bacterias. The most nastiest, hardest, greenest, toughest bacterias in the world.
I had this theory that I’ve been holding onto for many years now….I thought if I ignored it long enough he would get sick of living in a stink and clean it. I was beginning to lose faith in my theory….and then he got Lenny.
Lenny is into feng shui. He doesn’t feel the room is comfortable unless he’s tipped the bin upside down. He feels that the decor isn’t quite right unless he’s taken all the bedding off the bed and the cushions off the chair….and generally rampaged round, snorting, wagging his tail and causing havoc. Every single time Lenny was left in my son’s room on his own, it looked like several chemical reactions happened and the room imploded.
So my son had to go minimal….no more dirty dishes, no extra piles of dirty washing (cos Lenny has unusual taste, he chews dirty socks), no extra rubbish at all.
He started by cleaning his room. About 70 bin bags of rubbish later, he then emptied his room of dirty washing (the washing machine nearly fainted at the sight). He’s been using his wages from his building job to buy new furniture, lighting, storage, technology.
His room is now spotlessly clean and is so technologied up that it looks like he could land aeroplanes from it….it’s got LED strips round the bed, smart lighting, a desk that lights up, a new settee for him and Lenny to sit on, and most importantly of all, a bin with a lock!
And lastly, Lenny’s best episode…..
So, we are on holiday….it’s in such a beautiful place, it’s supposed to be relaxing buuuuut….we brought Lenny the Liability!
You are not going to believe what he’s done this time!
This is Lenny’s first holiday away with us. My son let him out in the garden of the holiday cottage. We’ve been here a few times and none of the dogs have ever got out of the garden. Lenny has never even thought about escaping at home. We thought he was safe.
Two minutes after he had been let out, my son wandered out into the garden….Lenny wasn’t there! My son called us, we all pulled on our boots to go look for him, sure he would just be under one of the hedges.
So we checked in the next door garden….then down the road…then the cafe (as you know, he’s food obsessed & a thief…I was sure he was going to be helping himself to some old lady’s dinner). We asked the lady at the shop who put it on the village social media group, a group of bikers at the cafe got onto their bikes to help us search, a man got his car out to help us look…no Lenny!
Pete and my middle daughter were searching the gardens close by. My son and I checked the play park, the recycling area, the school playing fields….no Lenny!
No-one had seen him. We asked everyone we saw if they had seen a black & white staffy & no-one had, so we started to worry that he had been stolen. My son was almost in tears, in complete panic. Lenny is a very very loved staffy and we couldn’t find him anywhere.
We were searching gardens, the river, the churchyard, the fields, up and down the roads….absolutely no Lenny!
Pete met a lady walking into the village…he was obviously looking for something and she asked if he was looking for a black and white dog….YES!!!
She got in my car and we drove to find him. He was about a mile and a half away. He had found a campsite where a group of men on a stag party were camping and having a barbecue. He’d joined them, had shared their barbecue (!!), had a drink (I don’t think it was beer, like they were drinking, but I didn’t like to ask) and was now playing a game of fetch and hanging out with the lads. They had even re-named him in the short time he had been with them. They told me he was now called John F. Kennedy!?
He was very pleased to see me…he’d obviously eaten his fill of barbecue food and was quite happy to go home to sleep it off. He got into the passenger seat of the car and sat like he was my co-pilot all the way home, greeted my son, flopped onto his bed and snored away his afternoon.
Only Lenny the Liability could run away and join a stag party.
The only mystery left was…why call him John F. Kennedy? I do wish I had asked them.
I think, so that I can have the rest of my holiday in peace, I’m going to have to get Lenny fitted for a pair of concrete boots!
There we go, a review of this year for our group and my favourite liability! It’s quite impressive to manage to run away and get invited to a stag do!
I’m hoping that this year will bring with it more opportunities for the group to run, that the virus will be held in check by the new vaccines, that we can return to a more normal life. I’m hoping that we all can carry on learning. I am praying that you are all safe and well, mentally and physically. I will carry on writing to you and I will carry on praying for you.