There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Sunday, 1 November 2015

An All Hallows Eve Walk

Shadows of a thousand 
years rise again unseen, 
Voices whisper in the trees, 
"Tonight is Halloween!" 
~Dexter Kozen
Max (L) & Jack (R)

Every day in the late afternoon Max, Jack and I take a walk in the day's waning light. This time of year it's my favourite time of day, when the setting sun casts golden shadows over everything--the magic hour.

Leaf covered paths lead
around the cemetery.

Sometimes we walk through the University Parks, sometimes around Christ Church meadow, but since yesterday was Halloween, of course we had to walk through a cemetery. Holywell Cemetery, just around the corner from us, is a perfect dog-walking spot. It's enclosed so it's safe for puppy Jack, there are winding paths leading all around it so I can keep track of them easily, and it's full of smells and nooks and crannies for investigative noses.

As we walked into the cemetery, familiar 
gravestones met us and the leads came off.

A month ago the maple tree below was full of 
leaves, but now they've all fallen and the branches are bare--
and Jack has finally stopped trying to pick up every last leaf.

"From ghoulies and ghosties,
 And long-leggedy beasties,
 And things that go bump in the night,
 Good Lord, deliver us!"
~Scottish Saying

"People living deeply 
have no fear of death." 
~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1967

"He who has gone, 
so we but cherish his memory, 
abides with us, more potent, nay, 
more present than the living man."
 ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

We stopped to say hello to Kenneth Grahame,
author of  'The Wind in the Willows'. 

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless 
and intense, vivid on the morning sky; 
and still, as he looked, he lived; 
and still, as he lived, he wondered.”
~'The Wind in the Willows'

The gravestone of Kenneth Grahame, just
 to the right as you come into the cemetery.

We also passed by beloved Inkling,
Hugo Dyson and as always, said hello.
He was known to be the most fun-loving
of the Inklings and is quoted as exclaiming
as he read 'The Lord of the Rings',
"By God! Not another bloody elf!" 

For some reason Jack loves the grave of poet and Inkling, Charles Williams. It's the only grave he'll run up to and stand on for some time--and he does it every single time we walk in the cemetery. He stands almost as though he's listening to someone and will spend up to five minutes with Charles Williams, before moving on to investigate the next smell, the next tree.                                                                                                              
“Nothing was certain, but everything was safe - that was part of the mystery of Love.” 
~C.W.S. Williams

Jack and poet Charles Williams..........I don't know if
Charles Williams was a dog lover, but I know he was a 
lover, and that love must shine through the veil to Jack.....

.......and then he's off, following the scent of a deer or fox.

The light usually starts to fade near the end of our walk, yet I still never 
feel afraid--how could I, with valiant souls like Hugo Dyson and 
Charles Williams so close by. I also don't think of Holywell Cemetery
 as a place of death; I walk and only think of life. I think of the 
brilliance of the light that shone from so many people buried there.

Even though Stuart and I have actually seen a ghost in the cemetery, 
I'm still not afraid. Yes, we really did see a ghost..........we think.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able
 to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Stuart and I both saw a formed, dense, white mist hovering 
over this gravestone. It was there for a few moments and then gone.

We were walking with Max on a late September afternoon. The air was still, there was no fog or haze, and it hadn't rained for some time. As we walked on the path, I just happened to look to my left and noticed a formed, thick, white mist hovering over one of the gravestones. I didn't think anything of it, other than perhaps the gardener was burning leaves and debris. But then as I thought, I realized it wasn't trailing up into the sky as smoke does, it was stationary and still--so I quickly looked over again and it was gone. Not a trace of it remained. I hesitated and then asked Stuart, "Did you see that?", and he answered, "Yes! You saw it too?!" We walked over to the stone and looked all around it. We couldn't find a trace of any fire, there was no mist in the air, and there was no one there--we found nothing but stillness and quiet. We've never seen anything like that since, but I'm always looking--especially yesterday on Halloween! 

Shadows of a thousand 
years rise again unseen,
 voices whisper in the trees, 
"Tonight is Halloween!" 
~Dexter Kozen

As we left the cemetery, shadows deepend on the gravestones,
while the brilliant sunset glinted off the tower of St. Cross Church.

We stopped to say hello to a small robin perched on a headstone.
He wasn't in any hurry, just sitting, watching the sunset.
So we watched it with him.

As we walked home down Jowett Walk, the evening had turned to bronze.

I looked over and saw that the branches of our enormous 
walnut tree are now mostly bare -- and most of those leaves are
 sitting on our garden lawn, waiting for me to rake them up.

"Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky, How beautiful it is?
 All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness there is a poem, there is a song. 
 Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring. When the spring comes, it again 
fills the tree with the music of many leaves, Which in due season fall and are blown away. And this is the way of life."  ~Krishnamurti

By the time we arrived back home it was nearly 
dark, the air was cold and crisp, it smelled of leaves
 and smoke, and it felt like Halloween.........

...........And then Halloween was over for another year
 and All Saints Day dawned, bright and clear.

Our walk through Holywell Cemetery today, on All Saints Day,
was even better than our Halloween walk--sunshine and saints 
make far better companions.

"Be who God meant you to be and 
you will set the world on fire!" 
~ St. Catherine of Siena

And now we move into November, autumn deepens
 into winter, days shorten, nights lengthen and soon 
Christmas lights will welcome November!

"In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is 
making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and 
small creatures. The bed is white and silent, 
and much life can 'hide beneath its blankets.' " 
~Cynthia Rylant, 'In November'


  1. This is lovely. I've spent the last few weeks reliving our wonderful trip last year and wishing we could return.Thanks for sharing. ~ Jennifer Starrett

    1. Hi Jennifer~So glad you could relive your wonderful stay in Oxford--Oxford has a way of getting under your skin. :-) It was such a pleasure having you both stay and hope to see you again one day--and I'll always be grateful for the pumpkin spice lattes you brought me! xxoo

  2. Just wonderful, Carrie! The perfect Halloween story, and complete with a "real" ghost!! Perhaps my favorite post of all. I felt the mystery and "haunting" feeling of Halloween -- All Hallow's Eve right along with you; and then give way to the sunny and uplifting of All Saints Day! I agree! The Saints of God and being in His Presence, the best of all!! Your quotes are perfect for each photo, and to have such illustrious literary figures for your companions! How wonderful indeed! I especially love St. Catherine of Siena's quote -- "Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire!" Indeed!! Your post comes at the end of a perfunctory and necessary day of financial record keeping and bill paying. I've saved the best (your post) til last! And I was well rewarded!! Thank you for posting this!! And give our love to Jack and Max and Stuart! Jane xo

    1. Thank you Jane for such kind words. Thank you too for taking the time to share your thoughts, and I'm so glad it brightened your day. Stuart, Jack and Max are all well--and we're really welcoming this quieter time in Oxford, away from a busy summer and into quieter winter days. Hope all is well with you and many blessings. xxooCarrie