Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Little Eight Year Old Bones

On Friday 19th September, like so many other rebellious butterflies, my heart finally gave way to the sadness welling up inside and I took to my bed to sob in broken exhaustion. I can never express how grateful I am to the many friends from across the world, of all political persuasions and none, who sent emails, messages or picked up the phone to tell me simply that they were thinking of me. It really helped and I am sure every person involved in the campaign had that same heartache and has been renewed by someone special who allowed them to feel love amid despair.
One message broke my heart though. For lying in my bed, a little line came through from my precious Amelie who used her mum's old phone to send a bbm. It simply read: 
 "Mum, I'm so sorry that it's a No and I don't want you to feel sad about it. Love Amelie, the Ninja! xxxx

Nothing could have meant more to me but as she came later to try to stop my tears, I felt a new pain. I only hope that she does not understand its truth.

Little Eight Year Old Bones

I cannot look in the eyes
Of those arms which come to comfort
Her mother, so broken
From dreams, early wakings stole.

Though for me she tenders, to
Wipe away my sorrow,
I must conceal the agony,
That it is for her I weep.

Little eight year old bones,
Your heart would stretch them to infinity,
Your courage and compassion
Will always make me proud.

But we failed you. I know
Such cruel feelings will not leave me.
No blame, fault or explanation
Can un-sing September’s song.

If I could bury a seed
Far away from germination,
Hide it blindly from your heart,
That no roots would there entwine.

I do not want your childhood to
Rue this misadventure.
Though your future may be stolen,
MY task it is, to steal it back.

It must not be yours.
Nor to your generation,
Can we leave this un-won legacy
Dearest innocent and friend.

Cocoon yourself my comforter,
Feed on your mother’s hope not tears,
When we have swallowed up our sorrow,
Our wings again will conquer fear.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

While butterflies sleep, there are moths to be woken…

The butterfly rebellion is not dead. Through the hope and activity that has sprung in the early days of the ’45, only the most foolish of foppish unionists could believe it to be so.

Hope over Fear Rally, George Square 12/10/14
Yet, although it is not dead, in its current incarnation, it did not work either. The beauty of our inspiring and empowering movement may have won the hearts, minds and admiration of the many, but it did not win their votes. - At least not in sufficient quantity to effect the change in our country we all wished to see.

On the day of reckoning we turned out not to be a thousand butterflies, but 1.6million, strong beating, determined hearts, raising our voices high in defiance – but it was not a gun they sent against us - it was a cold arctic wind of fear and doom. We knew well how it would blow, but in truth we did not understand the grip of its cruel cold fingers on the hopes and dreams of those who were not yet ready to spread their wings, and join our journey.

So we must look, and look again. Not only at those who wished to extinguish our candle of hope but at ourselves – at the very nature even of what we understood ourselves to be. 

Perhaps, we are not butterflies at all – not yet at least. Perhaps that cold, cruel arctic wind has a lesson for us. Perhaps, the winter approaching is a chance for us to look north once more.

For as we feed furiously on the fallen fruits of our autumn harvest, as nights darken upon us - in the cold dark deserts of the arctic winter, it is not a butterfly, but a caterpillar that slows down its struggle and comes to rest. Despite its best efforts, its frantic foraging, its hopeful intentions, the unforgiving northern summer was not long enough for it to achieve its goal. 
<p><a href=""><img alt="IC Pyrrharctia isabella caterpillar.JPG" src=""></a><br>"<a href="">IC Pyrrharctia isabella caterpillar</a>" by <a href="//" title="User:IronChris">IronChris</a> - <span class="int-own-work">Own work</span>. Licensed under <a title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0" href="">CC BY-SA 3.0</a> via <a href="//">Wikimedia Commons</a>.</p>
The Wooly Bear Caterpillar

The ‘Woolly Bear Caterpillar’ remains un-cocooned, not yet ready to fulfil its purpose. The winter that now approaches will stop its heart and freeze its blood, but in the dying days of a gathering autumn, there is still time yet to find shelter from the harshest winds. Under a rock it will stay, more dead than alive through the darkness, ‘til in the spring it awakens once more - one more miracle in a world that gives up on its dreams too fast.

In its young state it will go again to the fight, feeding on whatever it finds, fuelling itself to face fire or thunder - but still when autumn approaches, its offensive will not be enough. Once more it will seek out its sleep. Once more it will silence death through slumber and once more it will surface in spring to strive again. 

How many times this brave little caterpillar launches itself against the war of the arctic seasons, is impossible to tell.  Perhaps a decade, perhaps more, but its struggle is remarkable. Against all odds - against cold and dark and near death itself - one spring morning when the time is right it will pull all the strength it has gathered through many hopeful summers and spin its cocoon. For it is not a butterfly, but a moth. An Isabella Tiger Moth, that once it is ready to hatch must act quickly to secure the success of the next generation.

"<a href="">Pyrrharctia isabella</a>" by <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Steve Jurvetson</a> from Menlo Park, USA - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">A Moth is Born</a>. Licensed under <a title="Creative Commons Attribution 2.0" href="">CC BY 2.0</a> via <a href="//">Wikimedia Commons</a>.
Isabella Tiger Moth
So too, must we be ready - but first we need to ask ourselves if we were truly ripe to hatch at all. Our preparedness to spin that cocoon had nothing to do with how hard we foraged and grew over our summers of exertion. Neither did the mighty strength of the unionist storm provide an impossible foe that we can never defeat. We can defeat it and we will - but our greatest test is yet to come.

We must not judge those whose hearts were touched by the icy grip of fear. For it is not our place to judge but to understand. Only then will we find a way to thaw that grasp, to send spores of hope into the wind that blows against us and bring the others we need to the fertile meadows of aspiration.
The winter which closes in now is not the end of our rebellion. It may freeze us, but not to death. The frenzied gathering underway in the galvanising of our movement will see us through to the spring we long for - but it may take many winters yet before we are strong enough to pupate.

Still -  it is not time to sleep just yet. Before the sun fades, let us waste none of its warmth in the sorrowful truth that we must winter once more with our wings not grown. Let us sprout to our last breath before our slumber. For with each new member, we feed a new dream. 

Let us be tigers, moths, butterflies and cocoons unspun.
Let us sleep nourished - that when we wake, we may rise ready to live what we dream at last.

Our own special and very hungry caterpillars. Not yet grown but feeding on the hope that those around them have determination to create a better world in which they can spread their wings and truly fly.