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Paper Clips of Life

When paper clips go missing
‘t may seem a trivial thing
But after weeks and months of it
The loss will start to sting.

Like tiny drops of water
For ever dripping, so
In years to come the subtle wear
Is more than one great blow.

As the years are rolling,
The petty acts of strife;
The paper clips gone missing,
Write the story of my life

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As a rather weird side effect of email not working, I found myself browsing through my old website. And found the following:

Genetics on Ararat

In order to avoid the nuclear fallout from world war III, Mr Noah took his wife and the four little Noahs onto the spaceship Ark. As his purpose was the preservation of the human race he also chose four of his children’s playmates who would eventually become his sons and daughters in law. After many years floating around in space they landed on the planet Ararat, held a quadruple wedding and settled down to colonize the planet.

One of the strange things about life on Ararat was that every family always had two boys and two girls. Soon there were sixteen healthy little Araratians making the planet a joyful place. As they reached their teens it was agreed that they should be allowed to choose their own marriage partners from amongst their cousins provided they did so in such a way that no-one got left with a brother or sister. In successive generations the brother/sister taboo remained but no differentiation was made between degrees of cousinship.

Now all ten of the original settlers had brown eyes as did all the first generation Araratians. What was not known at the time was that whilst Mr Noah and his four in-laws each carried two genes for brown eyes (BB) Mrs Noah carried a recessive gene for blue eyes (Bb). According to Mendelian laws this recessive gene has a 50% chance of being passed to each of the carrier’s offspring. As this is Ararat, we can assume that the same influence that produces uniform families will distribute the gene to one son and one daughter of each affected family.

Eventually two carriers will marry and, to the great consternation of the whole community, produce a blue eyed baby.

What is the probability of the first blue eyed baby being:

  • a second generation Araratian?

  • belonging to each successive generation?

In which generation does it become more likely that there will be one or more blue eyed people than none?

I made up the story when I was attempting to teach myself statistics and got a bit sidetracked with an interest in genetics. But I never managed to solve it. I seem to recall covering sheets and sheets of paper with workings that got longer and longer but the business about brothers and sisters makes it a whole lot more complicated than just saying how many different ways can you match eight girls with eight boys.

Any mathematicians out there who can throw any light on the problem?

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Who calls?

I walk through life
No, I run, I hop, I skip
However, I travel
I am no longer where I was
But sometimes I sit
And time just passes by
In my mind
Or in my heart
I can return and see
Recall where once I’ve been
And question
What called me on?
What brought me where I am?
The voice that bids me
Time to go
Is that the voice of my creator
Still making me who
I am to be?

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What defines you?

Walking along, thinking of someone I know
Wondering, what would they say
Was the most important thing about them?
If they had to decide what one fact defined them
What would it be?
One thing, they talk about
Over and over
Would that be it?
Imagine a grand encyclopaedia
Of everyone on earth
One brief fact beside each name
What would yours be?

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What if?

W is for What if?

What if the Emperor’s new clothes were real
But invisible to those who didn’t believe?
What if the ‘enlightening’ words were not truth
But ignorance?
What if we all ran after the ‘new wisdom’
But lost sight of sacred reality?
What if we all have the eye of faith
But cover it with a blindfold?
What if we dare to peek from behind it?

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Persistence, providence and prayer

Lucy’s P is persist. I quote:

I can’t let go.
I must persist with this.
Some small part of me believes that in some small way it might be what I’m made for.

I never so much persisted with writing as it persisted with me. Every few years it would return and claim my attention, my time. For writing is s a very time consuming activity. It started when I was eight and I won’t bore you with attempts to identify how often it has returned in various guises over the years.

One summer I did persist for some months and finish the book I’d been playing at writing for several years. And I still write a monthly piece for our parish magazine. But, somehow that doesn’t feel like persistence so much as something which just happens.

Which brings me to my second P, providence; a word with a whole spectrum of meaning. Akin to fate, something that just happens to be, the way things are. Or people might give it a capital P, Providence, a personification of some sort of guiding power working for our good. A kind of guardian angel, perhaps?

I ponder how Lucy’s phrase, ‘it might be what I’m made for’ fits into this perspective of thinking. Of course, her phrase could be understood more literally taking us into the sphere of Divine purpose or even God’s will.

My preference is to think in terms of God’s providence which to me is more specific and less wishy washy or evasive than Divine purpose without being as arrogantly dogmatic God’s will. But I quite accept that any of these terms will speak differently to different people depending on the contexts in which they have previously been encountered.

When you mix ideas of persisting, of working to make our plan come about with ideas of providence, of understanding that we are part of some bigger plan, then you come to a point of negotiation; the point of prayer.

So forget, for a minute, the idea of prayer being something stuffy and boring that religious people do; forget it being a shopping list that you email to heaven rather than the supermarket and think instead along the lines of the currently popular concept of mindfulness.

Think of sitting in the crossroads of persistence and providence; how does my plan for a piece of writing, my plot for a story fit with God’s plan for the history of humankind, the plot for the story of life? Is it a vital clue subtly woven into the fabric of life, a red herring, a delightful bit of background, an ill-placed word that upsets the flow of the narrative?

There’s no doubt that to make a career of writing takes persistence but to persist with our own plans in the face of providence is not constructive. Better to stop for a while, bask in the face of providence and see where we are led.



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