WHERE DID MY TRUE SELF GO?

The end of a year is always a good place to reflect upon where one’s life is at and where it is heading. My problem is that being a thinker is an intrinsic and essential part of who I am . I think too much, too deep, too often. Can’t be helped! When you meditate on things as often and as deeply as I do, you come to realise that when certain thoughts and ideas keep creeping up is because they need to be considered and acted upon, or else they will haunt you and be forever present as painful reminders of your lack of courage and the hope deferred of what could have potentially been a much more fulfilling, purposeful life. There is something in our consciousness, in our spirit that acts like the rudder of our life. We are the ones turning the rudder but ultimately it is most definitely not us at the helm, or at least that is my own personal experience. I am under no false illusion that I direct my steps, but at the end I would like to think that I was able to at least recognise and act wisely, intuitively on those moments in life when I encountered a junction on the road or when a seemingly accidental curve ball was thrown my way to force me into jumping one way or another, to make a choice, to push forward without fear or coercion.

Perhaps what I have been experiencing in these last few months is nothing more than a mid-life crisis; a point in one’s life when you take stock and ponder on all the what-ifs, all the alternative paths one could have taken or may yet still need to take. It is a cliché to state that in the midst of investing one’s life in raising a family and cultivating a marriage with solid roots; in living sacrificially by putting everyone else’s happiness before your own, one can easily loose their identity and simply be identified as the link that keeps different chains together, be it family, work or relationships. Cliché or not, I have most definitely found this is true in my own life.

The recurrent thought or voice echoing on my head as of late has been saying: “Stop hiding behind what you are good at, what is familiar, and go on the journey to discover what it is you are destined to be, what it is you are meant to excel at. Go on a journey of self-discovery. Put for once in your life yourself first and discover what it is that you were made for, what makes your heart sing. I have spent so many years putting everyone else’s needs before my own that I am beginning to feel that my voice, the essence of who I am has got lost in the midst of life’s demands; my voice has been drowned out by those whose voices matter most or so I thought.

I know this will sound heartless and self-absorbed, but I am all about being honest to others and primarily to myself, and so I call it as I see it. Yes, I must say it: I would like to wake up tomorrow and not feel the ongoing, relentless, unforgiving burden of being a mum, a wife, a sister, a daughter or a friend. I want to know what it feels like to be truly free, free from a heavy sense of responsibility, free from the yoke of religion, education, history, expectations and promises, free from the oppressive sense that our life is all panned out for us; from the predictability of what is to come; the barrenness of what will never be. I long for my chains to be broken so that I can walk forward with only one thought in mind: How can I best use my personality, my knowledge and my gifting to be able to claim when it is all said and done that I have lived my life fully, without reservations, fear or regrets; that I have always been true to myself, pursued my truth and no one else’s?

Every fibre of my being assures me that I was meant for more than what I am today, than what I have achieved so far, and I am not talking about a reputation, fame or material success. I am referring solely to a place where my life will finally reach its purpose and full meaning; a point where I can assuredly say: “I have arrived”; a point where there will be no more internal turmoil, wrestling or strife. Perhaps such a place doesn’t exist, but why then be tormented by a void within that no one and nothing can fill? I know I am not alone in feeling this. When you move in Christian circles, you are told that only God can fill that void, but God’s presence is ever beating in my life and yet that void, that call to something more meaningful not only remains but rings louder and clearer each time.

I do not regret the path I have chosen, far from it, but I do not want to resent it because it stopped me from finding out who I am besides Mercedes the mother, the daughter, the sister, the wife. There is so, so much potential in all of us to do extraordinary things. I do not want to short-change myself by hiding behind what it is I am expected to be doing instead of braving it and embarking on the quest of finding what I was truly made to be. I know that longing I feel burning inside of me is a seed that has been planted in my soul. I did not put it there. To ignore that latent undeniable inner call that incites us to discover what is yet to be achieved, what is yet to be fulfilled is to clip the wings of a bald eagle and expect it to still dazzle us with its majestic presence and skill.

There must be more than this. I know there is!

Seeds planted deep into our DNA were meant to grow into fruitful mighty trees

Screenshot (757)Screenshot (758)Dear Richard,

Your Christmas message on twitter moved me so deeply and struck a vulnerable chord in the fabric of my being. I am a foreigner living in the UK. In the current climate, not a day goes by when I don’t give thanks for the opportunity to live in a country which is not my own, to have been welcomed with open arms and to be able to immerse myself in another culture, learn and hopefully give something back too. My folks are all in Spain and though I do not see them as often as I wish to, this is due to the life I chose and not a set of depleting circumstances forced upon me, beyond my control. To think that things could so easily change and I could be forced out from my own home, family, friends and livelihood here in the UK shakes me up to the core.

I miss my large family back in Spain terribly at times but I am blessed and lucky enough to be able to get on a plane at the drop of a hat and go and see them, just like you do. I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like to feel such terror and threat of staying in your own home that you feel you have no other choice but to drop everything and everyone and flee for your life into the unknown and sadly sometimes into a worse fate than the alternative.

I was out at a Christmas party on Friday night and there I chatted to a Belgian guy who visited Syria many years ago. He told me about this stunningly beautiful country where people used to enjoy the affluence you speak off. Many lived in villas with swimming pools and enjoyed the luxuries and comfort that so many of us take for granted and feel a sense of entitlement to in the West today. And then he told me about the Evil that hit and tore this country apart, the rapes, the violence, the cruelty, the utter annihilation that has engulfed this nation. These people and anyone fleeing their own countries are no more deserving of this hell on earth than you and I, but they sure deserve our compassion and empathy, our love and support. It could just as easily be us having to face, for whatever reason, displacement from our homes and a total alienation from or being robbed off the life that we have always known and enjoyed. Suggesting closing our doors, borders and hearts to those in need is not progress but regressing into a mentality of the survival of the strongest, where the humane part of us is gobbled up by our animal instincts. It is regressing into a primitive state of ignorance and savagery, of dominance and control, a state of staleness and blind spots where cultures and races can no longer learn from each other and enrich each other’s points of view and gifting, be it intellectual, artistic, or even humanitarian. Closing our borders, hearts and minds is regressing back into chapters in history of oppression, annihilation, fear, dominance, holocaust, suspicion and stagnation, creating the perfect environment for yet more radical and extreme individuals to thrive in and take away the core values so many fought so valiantly and sacrificed so much to give us today.

Richard, you are absolutely right. Who are we to judge who can and cannot have what we enjoy every single day? What sets us apart from others to feel with such pride that we’ve earned a life of freedom, civil rights, choice and affluence? Absolutely nought. What makes us so darn special and sets us apart from those who live in the Kibera Slums of Nairobi or the Favelas of Brazil, those who are persecuted for their faith or discriminated against because of their race or religion? Absolutely nought! It is mere chance that has placed each and every one of us in the place we live in, to be born within a particular race or colour and to be brought up to be guided by a certain creed. To think otherwise is to lead humanity into a dangerous downward spiral of selfishness, self-centeredness, narrow-mindednes, greed and success at the expense of innocent people’s suffering and destruction; the most despicable legacy or lack of anyone could leave behind.

There is, however, a point in which I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Your profession as an actor not only does not automatically discount you from voicing your opinion in these matters, but rather places a heavy responsibility on you to do so. Whether you recognise it or not your celebrity status, your reputation and outstanding work as an artist precedes you and makes you into an exemplary role model to thousands of people out there. You have an exclusive and unique platform to not only vent your opinions but to stand up and be counted as a person who will use their influence and global presence to make a vital difference in the course of events in this turbulent world we live in. God forbid we leave the fate of this planet solely to politicians. It is specially people like you who through artistry but also through the multitudinous following you enjoy in today’s most powerful tool, social media, can actively fight the threat posed by the far right views you refer to and challenge the views and opinions of those who blinded by their own egos and agendas are willing to sell their soul to the highest bidder, even when that means putting at risk the lives of millions of innocent individuals.

My wish for this Christmas and indeed for the year ahead is a wish for more courageous men and women like you in advantageous and strategic places in society to follow their true calling or the fire in their belly, the flame that burns within at the core of their being to come forth and challenge relentlessly radical and extremists views at the hands of those who can do the most damage to democratic multi-culturally, intellectually and artistically rich and vibrant societies. I am a great believer in investing my life in exploring and pursuing without fear those little nudges we all get, the quiet small voice in our head that is telling us to push forward in certain areas, to go beyond what we are good at and into what ignites us, what we are most passionate and uncompromising about. Everything about you, starting with the name you have been given, shouts out leadership, righteousness, courage, sincerity and above all an incandescent and latent social and moral consciousness, an unwavering determination to fight for what is right. Yes, you are an actor, but I see another side of you coming through, striving to make itself heard, burning up in everything you do and say. I see a man with remarkable, exceptional qualities, qualities which are not only required but which are essential to fight the good fight, to fight to the end for the things that truly matter in this precarious world we live in.

 May the force be with you! God knows I am.

With love,

Mercedes

WOULD YOU PLEASE SUPPORT ME IN RAISING MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH? UPDATE

Just wanted to leave an update here on how I am getting on with my Dryathlon to raise funds for Cancer Research. This is my first ever fundraiser. Please don’t think I am in the habit of asking people for donations. It is not in my nature to ask people for anything, so I embark on this plea with much apprehension and fully aware of how irritating it can be to be made to feel like you are not worth your salt unless you part with your cash to support the millions of amazing charitable causes happening today all around the planet.

I am not the adventurous type or maybe I am, but perhaps not in the thrill-seeking sense that motivates so many to challenge themselves with mammoth tasks such as triathlons, marathons, mountain climbing, parachuting and the like. My courage and adventurous spirit are definitely there but shape up in a much more “behind the scenes”, “mingling in the background”, demure way. I am an introvert and don’t fare well at all when I mingle with lots of people all at once or when the limelight is on me, so seen but not heard is how I like to do things, at least when it comes to my achievements. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that with regards to my convictions and the principles I stand by, I make a point of being heard or at least of trying to. Some things are just too important, too essential to who I am to succumb to holding back for the sake of peace keeping and compromise.

I am really pleased to say that so far I have raised, including gift aid, a total of £400. Not bad for a month of giving up alcohol, but I know I can do better, and so I have now upped the ante and committed to giving up alcohol for three months if I reach £500 and for 6 months if I raise £1000, which means I may have an alcohol-free Christmas and that is going to be the toughest challenge of all.

I realise when you compare my challenge with the mighty physical and mental battles others take on for charity, what I am doing is nothing to shout about, but I am a great believer in small beginnings and humble efforts. I am convinced that if every single person who is able, used what they have to improve another person’s life, be it directly or indirectly, this world would be a much more balanced and healthy place.

Besides, it is not just cancer which affects so many of us but alcoholism too. You must be wondering at this point whether I am an alcoholic myself. No, I am not, but I do like my wine and if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I could easily be one. I am doing this as a change in my personal lifestyle, but much more so in honour and remembrance of those whose life has been lost to either of these two awful illnesses or to those whose life has been affected in some detrimental way by them.

I hope that if you fall into either category and can spare some change, you can make a donation no matter how small. Who knows? If I was to reach £1000, I may have to consider remaining apart from my dear old friends Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for even a year. Now, that would be a Marathon worth shouting about, wouldn’t it?

Cancer and alcoholism have been in the scene for far too long. I’d say they have definitely overstayed their welcome. Will you stand with me to bid them farewell? If you are a bit cynical and are thinking right now: That will never happen just as “The poor will always be with us..”, I put it to you:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

http://www.justgiving.com/Mercedes-Underwood-dryathlete2015

FEEDING ON THE VERY EVILS WE CLAIM TO HATE IS LIKE TRYING TO CURE A CANCER WHILST WE GO ON SMOKING – Part 3

You have probably guessed by now that my two previous posts were referring to Richard Armitage’s recent choice of role in the third Season of the TV Series  Hannibal directed by Bryan Fuller, which is, it seems, extremely popular in the United States. Please believe me when I say that I have never before opposed something without actually having experienced it first, apart from the obvious pits such as drugs, binge drinking, promiscuity to name but a few. It is with great reluctance and much apprehension that I embark on this seemingly unjustified rant, as I have nothing but sheer admiration for Richard Armitage the actor but more so the person, but try as I may, I cannot bring myself to watch anything related to this series, beyond trailers, short YouTube videos of the two previous seasons, scenes from the film Red Dragon, or to read sections of the book it is based on by the same title written by Thomas Harris.

Let me put my reluctance into context. When I first started researching on this, the first thing that came up was a video which described Hannibal, the TV series,  as “Disturbingly Delicious”: disturbing referring to the stark, vivid,  shocking imagery related to the crimes committed by some of the characters, and delicious because there is this kind of generally accepted vibe going on in social media amongst many supporters of this series, including its producers, that murderers who torture, mutilate & eat their victims, is  fair game as the subject of laughter and banter. If you don’t believe me or think  I exaggerate, look no further than on #Hannibal, the twitter feed of the program, or google reviews such as this one which says, I quote,  “See, the trick is to hide all your gore and carnage within a pristine baroque palate of gorgeousness. And then make people want to vomit.”

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/06/05/hannibal-8-12-extremely-disturbing-moments

Personally, I think that although the Horror Genre is not for me, it is valid and an art form in its own right, and I appreciate that some enjoy it as a way of escapism; can’t quite bring myself to describe it as entertainment. Maybe if as a society we begin to ask ourselves the tough questions such as why do we live in a world where people get such a kick out of watching the most violent of murders and even cannibalism, we will begin to be able to tackle the problem of violence, suicide and even terrorism.

Nevertheless, with each new Horror program that is produced, the boundaries of what is acceptable as an art form seem to be pushed further and further with a complete disregard for the effect some of these programs and the hype they create may have on those watching who are mentally unstable, incapable of discernment, the young and easily impressionable, etc. We all put our hands to our head when we watch the news of yet again another savage murder, killing spree at the hands of a person/persons who on the outside seemed like a “normal” balanced individual. I am by no means blaming these type of programs for a murderer’s actions, clearly, but many agree on the effect that violent graphics and behaviour in video games have on young and/or vulnerable individuals, so how is a TV program centered on such horrific violence any different?; why is it exempt of any responsibility? It is no good hiding behind the argument of the program being certified 18. We all know many youngsters and even parents do not pay any attention to these restrictions or guidelines, so let’s not pass on the bucket of responsibility. We all must do our bit, surely! What hope is there for aiming to become a balanced and healthy society, if we all happily shift the blame on someone, something else; if we turn a blind eye on what is so obviously detrimental to a healthy society? The blind leading the blind springs to mind (no pun intended with regards to the relationship between the characters of Francis Dolarhyde and Riba, the blind woman, though now that I mention it….maybe topic for another blogpost though highly unlikely)

There has been much talk recently in the news about the responsibility of sports men and women who many children, teenagers and even adults see as role models. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where individuals are becoming increasingly isolated as we spend a large amount of our time on social media, on the internet, or simply away from other people. The sense of unity, support and oneness which make for healthy, strong communities is ebbing away, and so as people, we are becoming isolated islands in a big, dark scary ocean instead of many cities or states which are quite diverse but joined together under one continent or country. We are therefore plodding along alone and often frightened, because we no longer have that support network or sense of being anchored safely by our emotional and physical bond to others. As a result, the most vulnerable, the most naïve can’t help but look up to the so-called “role models” in our society and be guided by their actions, attitudes and behaviour. If the pillars of our society, the movers & the shakers, and particularly those who regulate and are at the height of the entertainment industry have no scruples in putting together or allowing a program which homes in on evil of demonic proportions, can we trust our youngsters, the mentally ill, the mentally vulnerable to apply censorship filters to something which potentially may trigger violent behaviour in them? I don’t think so. Violence breeds violence. I think most of us can agree on that.

But if that wasn’t enough deterrent for responsible talented adults from jumping on the ever increasingly popular and widely accepted money-making wagon of Horror movies and Horror TV series, let’s then focus on the issue of making violence appear sexy or appealing. I cannot begin to tell you the number of tweets I have recently read of people who admit to actually “falling in love”, admiring and even feeling sorry for some of the characters, mainly the psychopaths at whose hands the most violent and horrific of acts take place. Many speak of these characters with utter admiration based on how highly intelligent, charismatic and even endearing some of them are. For the morally discerning and mentally balanced person it is easy to draw the line between fiction and reality, to tell the innocent from the guilty and  the victim from the psychopath, but what happens when a person who is not mentally healthy or who is not mature enough finds it impossible to draw a clear line between these polarized principles which are so obvious to the rest of us? With such charismatic and highly intelligent characters who are able to draw in, during the Hannibal series, even those who are supposedly in authority and responsible for bringing the killers to justice, how can we expect a vulnerable impressionable individual to not elevate these characters to role model status even to deity status? It happens. We often witness on the news loners/bullish gangs who go on a rampage in the name of this, that or the other, completely losing perspective on the boundaries of what is right and what is wrong, of the very blurry line that sometimes  lies between the circumstances that define someone as the victim or the perpetrator.

Richard’s recent casting together with the recent introduction to the upcoming 3rd season of actor Zach Quinto has launched an avalanche of excitement round the Twittersphere centered along the fact that since these two actors are so “hot” and “sexy”, Hannibal must now make for compulsory wiewing. Richard Armitage himself said during an old interview about the issue of violence in “The Hobbit” films: “Peter Jackson always had this debate with his design team and the actors that you can’t undersell violence. It needs to be as shocking and violent as it really is, but you can’t glorify it or make it look sexy or appealing”.

I am pretty certain Richard is going to find it absolutely impossible to not play to the millions of fans’ expectations who are eagerly waiting to see a “sexy” Francis Dolarhyde do his thing. The eroticism in the #Hannibal series and the film ” Red Dragon” where Ralph Fiennes played the character of Francis Dolarhyde is undeniable and no doubt part of its wide appeal. I have nothing against that. It clearly has its place when done carefully, tastefully and responsibly, but when you mix eroticism with extreme violence and the characters playing both are ranking in the top places of magazine’s sexiest men lists, we have a serious problem. So much for not making violence look sexy or appealing. I know this would never be Richard’s intention in accepting that part, far from it, but how can it be helped? When you read fan’s tweets, this is exactly what is pulling in most of the viewers who are expectantly waiting for the 3rd Hannibal Season to be aired. I just think Richard is far superior, classy and better than all that. But I am just a fan, right? So who am I to have my say? Well, seeing as I have already had a fair share of abuse, aggression and disrespect on my twitter account from Hannibal fans (which ironically only serves to confirm and validate the points I share here), I feel it is necessary at this point to point out the obvious: THIS IS MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION WHICH I TRUST I AM ENTITLED TO, AS I BELIEVE I STILL LIVE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY WHETHER FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS HIGHLY REVERED AND RESPECTED (#JeSuisCharlie,  for those who have already forgotten). At no point have I been rude or disrespectful to the person of Richard Armitage, whom by the way I admire and care for greatly. I hope that this transpires from my two previous posts on this subject.

I leave you now with some extracts from the very many reviews I have read on the Hannibal Series. You can make up your own mind, just as I have! In an ideal world, I would have preferred to reserve my judgement until the series is broadcast and I get to see for myself whether I am talking nonsense or not, but I just cannot bring myself to watch it, though I have really tried. Whatever the outcome, there are two things I already know for sure: the first one is that Richard will give his absolute best and all in that role and will do it for artistic purposes and as a personal and professional challenge. The second thing is that his character will be oozing sex appeal as will others’, and inevitably sex-appeal and violence will be married together by the least discerning as a valid and appealing trait/behaviour which one can emulate and even look up to. The rest is history, and as it is often the case, we will look back at history and learn the lessons we couldn’t learn whilst they were staring us right in the face.

The last thing television needs is more serial killer dramas. (emphasis is mine) But when they’re this well made, this smart and creative and unexpectedly funny? Then, yes, more “Hannibal,” please.” More from http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-nbcs-hannibal-serves-up-delicious-second-season-course

“In the end, this show is not about cops and killers or even reality and dreams. It’s about how art affects the mind and body. It explicitly likens its subsidiary serial killers to striving artists (emphasis is mine) struggling to perfect their style and be noticed by the public and appreciated by critics (the FBI). The killers work in mixed media: wood, steel, soil, plants, flesh, bones, teeth. When Will describes an especially elaborate murder scene as “a canvas made of bodies,” in which “each body is a brush stroke,” he’s describing Hannibal itself.” Read more from http://www.vulture.com/2014/02/tv-review-hannibal-season-2.html

“Even with all the vomit-inducing states of death it presents, the most unappetizing part of “Hannibal” is its lack of humor. Viewers need a break from all that darkness, and there’s very little to laugh at except the gastronomic episode titles, which include “Aperitif” and “Amuse-Bouche.” In seriously exploring what drives people to kill, “Hannibal” serves up a meal too heavy to enjoy each week.” http://articles.redeyechicago.com/2013-04-03/entertainment/38255785_1_hannibal-lecter-graham-bryan-fuller

 

 

 

THE CRUCIBLE WITH RICHARD ARMITAGE AND HOW IT TOUCHED ME

THE CRUCIBLE AND HOW IT TOUCHED ME

Disclaimer: If you are here in the hope of reading a succinct, professionally, well written, well documented and informed review of The Crucible as currently performed at the Old Vic Theatre in London, you have come to the wrong place. This is the humble account given by a mere mortal of an experience which will stay with me forever for reasons that may not touch another person to the same degree or in the same manner.

On Saturday 26th of July I had the privilege of being able to see The Crucible at the Old Vic Theatre in London. My husband does not share my love for the English word or any of its manifestations and so I don’t go to the theatre as much as I would like. I am a 44 year old Spanish woman but have been living in England for 23 years. I studied English Philology at a Spanish University, a five year degree which covers subjects such as English history, literature, philosophy, linguistics amongst others, my favourite being: Literary Criticism. When I was at University, in my mind and in my heart I was heading to one day become a Literary Critic. That was my passion and I was very good at it. I always got the highest scores when I wrote my own review on a particular piece or book. I loved the power of words and how they convey different feelings and emotions to different people; how they can touch you in corners of your soul where nothing else can; how they can make the world go round and at times stop on its tracks. Life, however, often surprises us and veers us in a direction which we never suspected we might take or planned to take. I say life veers us, but in my own experience I now know it was not life but God closing some doors and opening new ones, protecting me from choices which may have made me happy for a time but in the long run would have driven me further away from knowing Him and from having a purposeful and meaningful life.

Going to the theatre and enjoying the entertainment industry in general can be an expensive affair, specially if you wish to get a decent seat where you can feel comfortable and actually be part of what is going on on stage, and so in order for me to make a visit to the theatre a regular ocurrence, I would have needed to sacrifice other parts of the family budget which seems like an indulgence to me in these days we live in. I tell you this so that you understand that this was for me a very special evening by the very nature of its rarity, and needless to say, by the prospect of seeing Richard Armitage act on a stage and of potentially meeting him afterwards.

Being the rare event that this was going to be and knowing it may not happen again for many months, perhaps years, I decided to make the most of the experience by actually getting up to speed with other people’s reviews, their take on the play, feedback and general impressions, which I find is a good way of getting the general gist of what to expect. Clearly, the best way will always be going to the source itself and so I also purchased “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller on my Kindle and read it over the course of a week prior to my visit to the Old Vic. American Literature was another of my favourite subjects at University, although this had more to do with gazing across the room at a very attractive teacher and not so much with the subject itself, but anyway, although we covered quite a lot, The Crucible by Arthur Miller was not amongst it.

Let me tell you first and foremost that I am a Christian or at least I try to be, I would like to be. It is a very tall order following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and unfortunately, I don’t even come remotely close to even his sandals, but He is my focus, my North, my rock and the compass I use in my daily life to guide me in everything I do, say and think. More often than I care to admit, I keep Him out of the equation, but when I look for Him afterwards, He is always there to pick up the pieces of my wrongdoing, my insecurities, my prideful and selfish actions; to pick me up so that I can try and make a better go of things the next time.

The reason I tell you all this is so that you understand that choosing to go and see a play that dwells in the “taboo” subjects of witchcraft, the power of the devil and the controlling power, firm grasp and devastating results that legalistic religion at the hands of proud, control-driven and weak individuals can have on a person or a collective, amongst many other subjects, was not an easy decision to make or one I was going to take light-heartedly. I knew I was going to experience very strong emotions in an enclosed, relatively small space, full of people, at a stone’s throwaway from the actors themselves and with nowhere to run mid-flow, should my heart begin to beat so fast that no one can hear or sense anything else but the fear and anxiety running through my veins. For an spectator who is an atheist, an agnostic or a Christian in word but not in deed, a lot of what goes on during this play would go straight over their heads, but for me personally, I knew beforehand certain things I might witness during the play would make me feel terrified, nervous and very, very uncomfortable. Indeed, seeing the plot unfold was no different at various points of the play than standing in front of a mirror at home and coming face to face once again with the unwelcome but familiar ghosts named disappointment, betrayal, fear, lust, temptation, pride, unforgiveness and a number of demons which I battle with in my own personal day to day existence.

For me and for all Christians, there are two very distinct dimensions which co-exist: the natural (what we see, hear, feel, touch, smell) and the spiritual (those things which we cannot see, but often sense may be taking place, the forces of good fighting the forces of evil in the world or simply put: God versus the devil). This is as real to me as life itself. I have met self-declared Christ followers and I have met self-declared ex devil worshippers and I tell you that at their worst either of them can become extreme and cause as much hurt, devastation and pain as each other. What I mean is that pride, fear and ignorance can be a terrible thing and whether you act driven by any of those three elements, be it in the name of God or of the Devil, the results can be equally devastating.

This is something which comes across very clearly in the play as enacted by the current cast at the Old Vic. A village torn apart by suspicion, lust, pride, deceit and the willingness to sell our soul to the highest bidder when we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. This awful darkness and sense of despair in a cruel and harsh environment such as it was at that time in Salem, Massachusetts, is beautifully contrasted by the light and tenderness, the redemptive thread that runs through and is brought about in the play so poignantly by the characters of John Proctor (Richard Armitage) and his wife, Elizabeth Proctor (Anna Madeley).

Both of them, but specially Richard Armitage, convey so vividly and humanely that moment in a person’s life most of us hope never comes when our integrity, our whole being, those whom we love, and care for, the God we worship, if any, and our very soul are at stake, that moment where the choice we make will bring either life or death, both in the natural and spiritual realm. Thousands of people around the world are being persecuted, tortured and murdered for their faith right now, and for them a moment like this which is so sensitively, intuitively, innately acted by Armitage and Madeley, is all too real. Indeed, for so many there is no choice to be made, because that choice has been taken away by those who play God to sustain and feed their greed, pride, fanatism, power, you name it.

This is a very timely play and a timeless one at that for the threads that underpin it are forces which the world has had to contend with for thousands of years, indeed the whole of humanity rests and has been built and developed upon the pillars of faith, good, evil, greed, world domination, control, lust, pride, integrity, freedom, love and so many other forces which are at war with each other and in a permanent battle to establish which one shall ultimately prevail.

As a Christian woman witnessing this play unfold, the final moments during the trial when Proctor has to make that choice as to whether to sell his soul in order to keep his life or to remain true to who He is, to those whom He loves and love Him and to God himself, is for me an all too believable, foreboding, almost prophetic moment in a society which is rapidly becoming secular and where the Christian Faith who was the Lion in the Human Kingdom is fast becoming the elephant in the room. There is a sense of acceleration around us made all too aware by how fast technology is developing, scientific and medical advances are progressing, and the sense of urgency and immediate gratification we all let our lives be ruled by. It won’t be long before as Christians in the United Kingdom we may have to be in John Proctor’s shoes and be wrongly accused of something we have not done, admit to something we are not by a society which is blinded by the power of evil, self-worship and a clear lack of a moral compass and integrity; we may have to make the impossible choice of saving our life by betraying our soul or confessing the truth and saving our integrity but signing our own death sentence in the process. For me, Richard Armitage, transmitted all these emotions in a spectacular fashion. He captivated the audience and not just by his manly, handsome presence but so much more so by the palpable dynamism in his performance of the co-existing traits in Proctor’s personality where love and hate, self-assurance and fear, aggression and sheer tenderness can co-exist in equal measure. This illustrates beautifully the peril the world is in today and has always been: good and evil in us constantly surfacing within us and battling each other, integrity versus conformism and resignation, honesty versus deception and betrayal, freedom versus bondage to others, our own passions or the devil himself.

Anna Madeley particularly captivated my heart on the night too. Not familiar at all with her previous work, I was deeply touched by her rendition of Elizabeth Proctor, a woman tormented by the suspicion of her husband’s betrayal and adultery and bound by the inability to completely forgive and cut the chains that hold him forever captive to guilt and a sense of failure, the chains that keep him walking on egg shells around her, extinguishing the flame of love one subtle but lethal blow at a time; a woman whose sheer loyalty, love and dedication has slapped her right back on the face and turned her heart into a heart of stone towards her husband, desperate to show him the love she still truly feels for him despite his betrayal, but selfishly holding on to the chains of guilt and conviction that bind him, in an attempt to protect herself from further hurt, destroying in the process the chance to rebuild complete trust between them and for unconditional love to resurface once again. Having personally experienced in my own life the betrayal and the lust for another within a relationship, I am all too familiar with how unforgiveness but also guilt can have a relentless grip on us to the point where we cannot function, where our freedom to be who we want to become is completely taken away and our every move, thought and word is nothing but the echo of the fear and the turmoil we are experiencing within. Again, from a Christian point of view, these are all incredibly relevant subjects which are dwelled into sensitively but very accurately in this rendition of The Crucible. I was truly moved by Anna Madeley’s performance. It was gentle, understated but at the same time confident and firm. Both Richard and Anna were in a league of their own and a Class Act!

Worth mentioning also is the role played by Jack Ellis who plays Deputy Governor Danforth. Great, powerful, utterly convincing performance as was that by Samantha Colley who plays Abigail Williams. Looking into Armitage’s eyes during his performance was almost an unbearable feat for me. His gaze and facial expressions so intense, his demeanour so full of underlying connotations of the raging battle going on under the surface of John Proctor’s imposing countenance but frail heart. But looking into Abigail Williams’ eyes was altogether a much more challenging experience for all the wrong reasons. She really put the fear of God into me by exemplifying so well how one can behave, the lengths a person can go to, how they can lose themselves when the devil and its minions get hold of your soul. Utterly bewitching performance and terrifying at the same time. Solid performance, unforgettable!

I could go on forever as it seems unfair to not mention the other actors and characters too for they were all so good as individuals and as an ensemble. I will just have to say that if any of what is written here has intrigued you in the least to go and see this play, then please follow that nudge and be truly entertained. I can assure you your mind will be stirred up and your soul in turmoil when you come out of that theatre, not to mention your heart will flatter and skip one or two beats if you have the sheer privilege of meeting Richard afterwards. He has one of those “beautiful” faces in the purest sense of the word, and eyes that can speak a thousand words and melt rocks with just one look. My kind of Lead man!

Richard and I

ON THE PRECIPICE OF ETERNITY?

I have often published on my site prophetic words given by Priscilla Van Sutphin. I used to be very sceptic about anyone claiming that they had “heard” from God and felt a burden to be HIS mouthpiece. Indeed, I still feel there are many charlatans out there, many deluded people, deceivers who fool no one but themselves.

However, I do believe with all my heart that this woman “hears” from God and though I have never met her or know anything about her at all, every time I read the messages she shares, I myself sense the presence of God around me in a tangible way. I feel comforted, encouraged and disciplined. I feel His Spirit right there next to me. The words hit me like the words of a best friend, and intimate relation who knows you inside out and can get to those places we all try so hard to keep out of sight from the world around us.

This particular word is an example of how the Spirit of God can make contact with us when we least expect it. It can get to those dark, hidden, secret, sheltered, delicate, sensitive corners of our heart that nobody else gets to see or know about. It can unearth our deepest longings, fears and our biggest regrets, our failures and the strongest desires of our heart which up to that point have laid dormant, numbed by a culture and an existence fast forwarded by commitments, responsibilities, worries, TIME.

Priscilla, if you ever happen to read this, please know that in the past when I have shared your messages here, often I shared them because I felt they would encourage someone else. Well, this time the message was for ME.

I sit here in floods of tears feeling like that person you speak of who feels they have been discounted, who no longer have a role in the Kingdom, is ME. I am the one who has personally been given this promise:

“but I promised I WOULD ARISE OVER YOU.  I promised I would be SEEN upon you.  [Isaiah 60] So do not fall to defeatism, and apathy, and the spirits of heaviness that are lurking in the shadows.”

I am the one who saw myself in a dream doing these very things, flying, being carried, sheltered under God’s wing:

“I’ve called you to soar on eagles’ wings Higher above their domain, to fly with ME in the heavenlies and to see things from MY perspective.”

I am the one who was personally told to:

“Keep focused on ME.  Keep focused on the WORD.  Do NOT get into bitterness and do not allow critical spirits in your heart.  Again I’m not telling you to stop being discerning, and I am not saying do not speak out, because I have called you to speak up against evil.  You are called to be an ARMY, not to be a pacifist apathetic sheepfold.  True justice is the heart of a prophet.  I put that sense of justice there for many of you who are prophetic.  I developed it in you through the sufferings you endured, that you would have MY HEART.  David was a man after My own heart I said.  I have many David’s who have been on the sidelines, participating, but who will now be drawn into direct battle, and into the spotlight to speak out the things I’ve given them to say.”

I am amongst those who have been given this promise over and over again in dreams:

“For I have promised a tsunami of My love for a long time now, and it is about to be poured out.”

I heard this promise too:

“Throw off all the discouragement and expecting of bad things to happen.  For I set a table before you in the midst of your enemies I said.  I AM Your Rear Guard!  I watch over My children like a good parent does.  I provide all that is needed for those who are called to My purpose.  So BELIEVE that I am FOR you and not against you.  Do NOT listen to the voice that makes you feel disqualified, or not good enough.  YOU ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE BLOOD OF MY SON.”

I am that person:

“He seeks always to steal from you your confidence in My love for you.  But it cannot be taken away.  My heart is ALWAYS FOR YOU.  My love is EVERLASTING and ETERNAL.  It is unconditional.  I never stop loving you.  So rebuke him and his minions from your presence and stay your mind on ME and My promises.  Speak them out and sing them out against his ploys.  Dance and sing, and dwell in My presence that you could hear My voice speaking to you in the quiet times.  REST in My arms and you will find all the peace you need.  FOR I AM the PRINCE OF PEACE.  My shalom is encompassing you as you worship me.  Even when you can’t FEEL it, I am imparting grace to you.”

The words: “You are called to be a LIGHT in the DARKNESS” have been given to me time and time again:

“Have confidence that My plans for you are for GOOD and not for evil to give you a future and a hope, that you can be the LIGHT OF THE WORLD you have been called to be!”

Oh! I am the one crying as His words unravel the complexity and the burden in my heart that no human around me is even aware of. He sees in me what no one else can or will see; He alone knows the dreams and promises He has laid on my heart; He alone sees me in the night troubled by visions of Tsunamis and earthquakes that shake the foundations of the Earth; He alone sees the tears I cry when those chosen and called to share the Good News, misrepresent HIM in such an abysmal and hurtful manner, and THAT is how I know this word is coming DIRECTLY from  my Heavenly Father to me.

Thank you Priscilla for being that vessel, that channel which brings this healing balm onto my soul and reminds me that HE WILL NEVER LEAVE ME, NOR FORSAKE ME.

http://www.hiskingdomprophecy.com/the-lord-says-were-on-the-precipice-of-eternity/

The Lord says We’re on the Precipice of Eternity!

“[So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.  [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire]  Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom”   Song of Solomon 2:14-15 AMP.

“You’re on the precipice of eternity, and many are not aware of how close My coming is.  They’ve been lured asleep by compromise, apathy and complacency.  But I am asking you now to be ready for extraordinary change that is coming.  Nothing will ever be the same.  Life as you know it cannot be Counted on.  The things you have taken for granted in the past, cannot be taken for granted any more.

My coming is urgently approaching and so many are sleeping in the church.  Deep darkness has filled many people as the darkness has covered the earth, but I promised I WOULD ARISE OVER YOU.  I promised I would be SEEN upon you.  [Isaiah 60] So do not fall to defeatism, and apathy, and the spirits of heaviness that are lurking in the shadows.  The vultures are ready to pounce if you let them, but I’ve called you to soar on eagles’ wings Higher above their domain, to fly with ME in the heavenlies and to see things from MY perspective.

Keep your oil lamps filled to the brim, for ordinary substances that people count on are not being supplied.  There is a plot to starve out many, and to lay many to rest through cruel and unusual means.  PRAY these things do not come.  I will uncover it all if people will repent and seek My face in this nation.  Change is about to turnover many things they think are established.  You are on the precipice of GREAT CHANGE.  Not the kind some were looking for in last few years, but that which WILL change people’s hearts and expose the hearts of others.

Keep focused on ME.  Keep focused on the WORD.  Do NOT get into bitterness and do not allow critical spirits in your heart.  Again I’m not telling you to stop being discerning, and I am not saying do not speak out, because I have called you to speak up against evil.  You are called to be an ARMY, not to be a pacifist apathetic sheepfold.  True justice is the heart of a prophet.  I put that sense of justice there for many of you who are prophetic.  I developed it in you through the sufferings you endured, that you would have MY HEART.  David was a man after My own heart I said.  I have many David’s who have been on the sidelines, participating, but who will now be drawn into direct battle, and into the spotlight to speak out the things I’ve given them to say.

I am NOT the God of the new age.  I am not the God of the world, though I should be.  But I AM the CREATOR Who made heaven and earth and sent My Son to die for them.  Many have heard and rejected Me.  Many have spurned My love through My servants.  But many have not seen the kind of love I am about to pour out.  For I have promised a tsunami of My love for a long time now, and it is about to be poured out.  Ready your hearts to be enraptured with Your King!  For I AM READY and I see the plans that you cannot see.

I see the plans of the wicked behind closed doors, and I know all things about them, and about you. Do not hide yourself from Me now.  Come to me with your burdens and I will give you rest for your soul.  I will heal the hearts who are corrupted by the enemy.  I will do miracles upon miracles.  Startling miracles will be seen, and people will be in shock, including you, that I do them now.  Others will arise trying to mimic them, but they will be shown to be the frauds that they are.  Ask and you will receive.  Believe that I am GOOD, and that I have your best interest always on My mind.

Throw off all the discouragement and expecting of bad things to happen.  For I set a table before you in the midst of your enemies I said.  I AM Your Rear Guard!  I watch over My children like a good parent does.  I provide all that is needed for those who are called to My purpose.  So BELIEVE that I am FOR you and not against you.  Do NOT listen to the voice that makes you feel disqualified, or not good enough.  YOU ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE BLOOD OF MY SON.  Many continue making mistakes, sinning, but did I not know that when He died on the cross?  Did I not show you the parallels to Israel, and how they wandered for 40 years in the desert because they could not attain to the law, nor get all the unbelief and rejection and bitterness out of their hearts.  IT IS BY THE BLOOD that you have My righteousness, and I see you through that blood.  YOU are My precious possession, and I will make you My jewels.  So fret not, and do not take on the condemnation of the enemy.  Do not allow it in your heart.  He is a liar and the father of lies.

He seeks always to steal from you your confidence in My love for you.  But it cannot be taken away.  My heart is ALWAYS FOR YOU.  My love is EVERLASTING and ETERNAL.  It is unconditional.  I never stop loving you.  So rebuke him and his minions from your presence and stay your mind on ME and My promises.  Speak them out and sing them out against his ploys.  Dance and sing, and dwell in My presence that you could hear My voice speaking to you in the quiet times.  REST in My arms and you will find all the peace you need.  FOR I AM the PRINCE OF PEACE.  My shalom is encompassing you as you worship me.  Even when you can’t FEEL it, I am imparting grace to you.

Have confidence that My plans for you are for GOOD and not for evil to give you a future and a hope, that you can be the LIGHT OF THE WORLD you have been called to be!  I will remove the little foxes that spoil the vine as you worship ME and seek My face.  Don’t worry about the little foxes, just trust ME, that I will remove them as you seek Me.  That is why you find yourself crying in My presence, without knowing why.  I am healing your heart and plucking out all that the enemy has sown that is not from ME.  I love you My bride, and I am at the door, so lean on ME.  Lean on the everlasting arms for I am not weak as man is weak.  Trust me to bring you through anything that you have to go through.  For I am with you always, even to the end.”

Narcissism in the Pulpit

I am deeply convinced that the article below gets right to the root of why so many churches today are closing down, attendance is at an all-time low and thousands are taking part in a historical exodus away from Babylon and towards a New Jerusalem. Narcissistic church leaders and pastors in particular are deceiving and manipulating those who are part of a church. Indeed, these individuals are able to cast a kind of spell on their “victims” to the point where one can tell that all is not right with that leader and those who have chosen to buy into his/her propaganda, but they feel their hands are tied and there is not a whole load they can do about it. As if in a spell, their heart is telling them to separate themselves from what is going on but their feet won’t move. Such is the pressure and the pull of the fleshly Narcissistic Spirit, one can do little to overcome it once ensnared in its web.

I strongly feel God is liberating many from this web of deception, control and utter worship of the instruments God uses to achieve his purposes instead of worshipping the God who chose them and led them to a place where they could serve others. Note I use the word serve and not “lead” others. The only one that should be leading us anywhere is the Spirit of Jesus Christ himself. Anything else is idolatry and a stench in God’s nostrils.

It is a very long article but accurate, in-depth, and utterly revealing. It took me years to see some of the things which are so clearly explained in this article, and I wish someone had put it right in front of me at the time when I was in the midst of what can only be described as the battle of all spiritual battles within me, where part of me was being seduced by the brilliance, charisma, appeal and promises of bigger and greater things which the Narcissistic Spirit has in abundance, and the other part of me, the spiritual part of me was dying as it felt trapped, controlled, deceived, annihilated, lied to, used and simply denied of all that God has in store for my spiritual development and that of His Church.

The time for God to judge and deal with all Narcissist leaders in His Church is now upon us. Dead works and hyped-up marketing and growth techniques will be shown as dead works and ultimately, the Lord will say: “Depart from me, for I never knew you”.

If you wish to read the article, click on this link:

http://www.epiclesis.org/2015/05/narcissism-in-the-pulpit-2/