The Great Mystery…

*

Approach to the mystery

is silent, solitary

and free from all self-seeking.

*

It is silent because in comparison

with the mystery all speech

is feeble and imperfect.

*

It is solitary because the mystery

draws closer to us in solitude.

*

It is free of self-seeking because

the souls of our ancestors

ascended to the mystery

in wordless adoration.

– Ohiyesa

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication III…

*

… Bugs… The small rabbit came closer to his companion, lolloping on long hind legs.

“Let’s go a bit further, Hazel,’ he said. “You know, there’s something strange about the warren this evening, although I can’t tell exactly what it is. Shall we go down to the brook?”

*

Cara… “All right, Fiver,” answered Hazel, “and you can find me a cowslip when we’re there. If you can’t find one, no-one can.”

*

Bugs… Hazel led the way down the slope, his shadow stretching behind him on the grass.

They reached the brook and began nibbling and searching beside the wheel-ruts of the track.

It was not long before Fiver found what they were looking for.

Cowslips are a delicacy among rabbits, and as a rule there are very few left by late May in the neighbourhood of even a small warren.

This one had not bloomed, and its flat spread of leaves was almost hidden under the long grass.

They were just starting on it when two large rabbits came running across from the other side of the near-by cattle-wade.

Fiver had already turned away.

*

Cara… Hazel caught up with him by the culvert, “I tell you what, let’s go across the brook. There’ll be fewer rabbits and we can have a bit of peace, so long as you think it’s safe?”

*

Bugs… “No, it’s safe enough,” answered Fiver. “If I start feeling there’s any danger I’ll tell you. It’s not danger I feel tonight, it’s, oh, I don’t know, something oppressive, like thunder. I’m not sure what, but it worries me. All the same, I’ll come across the brook with you.”

*

Cara… The two rabbits ran over the culvert.

The grass was wet and thick near the stream and they made their way up the opposite slope, looking for drier ground.

Part of the slope was in shadow, for the sun was sinking ahead of them, and Hazel, who wanted a warm, sunny spot, went on until they were quite near the lane.

As they approached the gate he stopped, staring…

“Fiver, what’s that? Look!”

*

Bugs… A little way in front of them, the ground had been freshly disturbed.

Two piles of earth lay on the grass.

Heavy posts reeking of creosote and paint, towered up as high as the holly trees in the hedge, and the board they carried threw a long shadow across the top of the field.

Near one of the posts, a hammer and a few nails had been left behind.

The two rabbits went up to the board at a hopping run and crouched in a patch of nettles on the far side, wrinkling their noses at the smell of a dead cigarette-end somewhere in the grass.

*

Cara… Suddenly Fiver shivered and cowered down. “Oh, Hazel! This it where it comes from! I know now – something very bad! Some terrible thing – coming closer and closer.”

He began to whimper…

*

Bugs… “What sort of thing – what do you mean?  I thought you said there was no danger? “

Cara… “I don’t know what it is,” answered Fiver wretchedly. “There isn’t any danger here, at this moment. But it’s coming – it’s coming. Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It’s covered in blood!”

*

Bugs… “Don’t be silly, it’s only the light of the sunset. Fiver, come on, don’t talk like this, you’re frightening me!”

*

Cara…The sun set behind the opposite slope.

The wind turned colder, with a scatter of rain, and in less than an hour it was dark.

All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.

They said…

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication II…

*

…Cara: If we can’t trust the written word what can we trust?

Bugs settles at the West and Cara at the East.

Bugs: Vertical Polarity!

Cara: recites…

OL SONUF VAORSAGI GOHO IADA BALTA.

ELEXARPEH COMANANU TABITOM. ZODAKARA,

EKA ZODAKARE OD ZODAMERANU. ODO KIKLE

QAA PIAP PIAMOEL OD VAOAN.

Bugs: (Addressing the Companions) Don’t say what this is but if anyone does know what it is please raise your hands. (If any hands are raised to each of those who raised their hands) – Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know what it means? (if so) – Please don’t take part in the next bit. So, everyone else.  Those of you who feel that this piece holds power, raise your hands.  (If any hands are raised) Would anyone like to expand on that? Would anyone like to categorise how that made them feel.  In a general way was that feeling Good or Bad? We’ll come back to this…

Cara: But first…

Cara walks to the central altar and removes the cover from the Top Hat and Ears, lifting out the rabbit ears in time honoured fashion they are revealed to be part of two rabbit masks…

Bugs: For those with ears to hear…

Bugs walks to the central altar. Cara hands one of the rabbit masks to Bugs (Black) and keeping the other for herself (White) they both don them.

Cara (now wearing a white rabbit mask) … A story about rabbits…

Bugs: (now wearing a black rabbit mask) … ‘What’s up Doc!’

Bugs explains that the cards have two inscriptions, one on either side but that the companions must not turn the cards over to read the second inscription until directed to do so by the utterance of the ‘Trigger’ word- ‘Carrots’ as Cara hands out the cards. After handing out the cards Cara returns to the central altar. Bugs and Cara circle the altar and then Bugs retreats to the east, while Cara retreats to the west.

TO EACH READ, IN TURN, WHILE CIRCLING…

*

Bugs… The primroses were over…

The May sunset was red in clouds, and there was still half an hour to twilight.

The dry slope was dotted with rabbits…

Here and there one sat upright on an ant-heap and looked about:

ears erect

nose to the wind.

The blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, gave lie to their caution.

There was nothing to alarm the peace of the warren.

*

Cara… At the top of the bank where the blackbird sang was a group of holes hidden by brambles.

In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, sat two rabbits side by side.

The larger of the two came out of the hole, slipped along the bank, hopped down into the ditch and then ambled up into the field…

A few moments later the smaller rabbit followed.

The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched an ear with rapid movements of a hind-leg.

He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself.

There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked round and rubbed both front paws over his nose.

Once satisfied that all was well he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.

His companion seemed less at ease.

He was small, with wide eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested a sort of ceaseless nervous tension.

His nose moved continually and when a bumble-bee flew, humming, to a thistle bloom behind him he jumped and spun round with a start…

*

to be continued…

Bah’t ‘at

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Well, two of us were up there on Ilkley Moor bah’t ‘at… the third stubbornly clung to the trademark headgear that makes him look like something feral. To be fair, it was a little chilly up there.

idiots abroad

We had arrived early and, after fortifying ourselves with a toasted teacake and a coffee apiece, headed off to the parish church to look at the ancient Saxon crosses and Roman altars, now safely ensconced in the base of the bell tower to protect them from the depredations of the elements. We had an hour before Steve was due to arrive, and that was enough to see what we needed to see and wander out into the morning sunshine. It was going to be a long day.

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We… the inner team of the Silent Eye… were meeting to tramp the moors in search of a landscape for use in a private School event. From the Cow and Calf to the Swastika Stone, by way of White Wells, Heber’s Ghyll and the ancient petroglyphs I took them to the places of my childhood, places where I have dreamed, wept, laughed and played.

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It was a beautiful day. Regardless of the fact I will be returning there soon, there were the inevitable tears on leaving. I cannot help it, the place has a home in my heart deeper than any other or perhaps it is that my heart has its home there. As we turned the car off the moorside road a red kite flew over… I have not seen them there before… the sight of that distinctive silhouette in the air, wings outstretched, felt like a blessing. A perfect way to end the day.

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Tall the cliffs of stone
That mark the entry to my heart’s domain,
Wild and empty in its vastness
The solitude of living earth.
The wind lifts the heart
And bears it through the storm
To where the lichen crusted rocks
Cling to the clouds.
Part of my heart remains there
Scattered with the ashes of a lost love
Mingled with the joy and pain of memory,
Of childhood wonder and a lover’s kiss.
Deep the roots which bind me to that land,
Like the weathered pines that cling for life
To the purple hillside…
Genuflecting, but standing, still,
Naked in the mist.
Or the great stones,
Ice carved in aeons past
Into a landscape of dreams,
Marked by ancient hands
With figures of Light,
That I may stand beside them,
Millennia apart,
And recognise my kin.

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Extreme, Absolute and Sacred

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There were three conversations yesterday about essentially the same subject. Three viewpoints, three different perspectives.  And a blog post that I just scrapped as over-complicated.

When we began working to build the Silent Eye, it quickly became obvious that there needed to be a melding, a synthesis, of approach to the Work. For those who haven’t come across the School yet, let me explain. We seek to create a School of Consciousness that has its feet firmly rooted in the soil of this life, is not fluffy and yet reaches for the Divine, by whatever Name you choose to call It. That which Is neither within nor without but which pervades All. We see a need to bring the intellect to bear so that knowledge and reason play a significant part, and for the emotions to be engaged so that what is discovered is both felt and experienced vividly, so that it is Lived in full awareness.

Most of all, we see a need to practice what we preach, and that means learning to Live and Be as fully as we can on all levels. It is a natural state and at the simplest level requires only that we accept ourselves as we truly and fully are. And that, of course, is never as simple as it sounds.

It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the mystic, the blaze of Light blinding our eyes to the everyday realities of life and growth. There is a yearning for oneness with the One where the world can be forgotten. Or we can become so lost in study and the pursuit of knowledge that we lose sight of the reason for which we began the quest, stalling over questions and speculations to which we may never find an answer. There is a fine line, however, between the two where they blend and fuse into what one could call an alchemical marriage.

This blending and melding is also part of the key to the Work, where on yet another axis both human and divine can be fully realised in a life. This spiritual evolution happens whether we will or no, slowly and inexorably over time. It is when we enter into this quest consciously, however, that we become aware of its impact on our lives. By actively seeking that growth we engage with aspects of ourselves and the greater reality and find what one could call an accelerated evolution.

Preparing one of the presentations for the School’s launch weekend, the Song of the Troubadour in April 2013, a dear friend and I have been delving into the symbolism in medieval art. There is a particular painting where the Christ is portrayed standing in the river at the moment of baptism. The reflections in the water are not those of the world around Him, but are subtly different. We were discussing this yesterday, wondering if this were an attempt to portray the altered perspective and clarity of vision that comes when one learns to walk in the world fully in both the human and divine aspects of Self.

dawn 005

This threw up another train of thought and the third conversation. Most faiths and paths teach us to leave the ego behind and forget self, striving towards the ethereal goal of Divinity. This puts the Divine at a distance and leaves us stripping ourselves bare, flaying ourselves on the thorns of life in an attempt to reach for an intangible dream. Yet these same schools of thought also tell us that we are part of God, of His creation, or are his children. And they call it Love. Which means there is no distance and we are striving for something we can find within our innermost selves, in each other and in everything around us.  And suddenly you are confronted with this glimpse of Glory and have to realise it is part of the greatest Ego there is… and It is part of you.

Just to make things even more complicated, some of us are driven to find a way to teach that without looking like members of the lunatic fringe.

It is a spiritual culture shock, glimpsing something so truly Awesome through the myopic eyes of life, wondering who on earth we are to be worthy of It, yet sensing also that we are OF It and a way must be found to reconcile the two and simply Be It.

Which, as I said to my friend, is a bit of a bugger to come to terms with.

 

Blinded by the Light…

*

… So, we return to the quest and turn shining eyes to the south.

Not that we ever left it, yet the churches had definitely ‘fallen off-line’…

Until Skipton.

Until one particular stained-glass window in Skipton.

It is tempting to think that later traditions lose much that is essential to preceding ones.

In magical traditions derived from the Hebrews, the Archangel Mikael is a guardian of the south quarter and if a ‘Michael Window’ is present in a church, it is a relatively safe bet that it will be found on a south wall of that church.

So, why were we charging around St Michael’s, Hathersage, looking at stained-glass windows on the north wall, with such singular precision?

Because we were desirous of another window.

This headlong, wilful charge, bugles blaring, could well have been our undoing, had we been alone.

There was no ‘Michael Window’ in St Michael’s, Hathersage.

But there was this…

*

*

So, what to say about this banner?

It is a work of art, certainly.

It is a work of art that transcends the medieval style of its composition, although, the ‘S’ as an ‘eight’ and the ‘M’ as an ‘omega’ are both remarkable.

The ‘lance’ too, as ‘Celtic crozier’, is a sublime touch.

*

Was the dragon always golden?

*

Does this hue, denote the beginning or even the end of a process?

*

Was the beast once much bigger?

*

Is this really how one earns one’s ‘spiritual wings’?

*

The spirals on the Saint’s shield are, to say the least, suggestive…

“What if the Dragon is time?” Says Wen…

*

NUANCES OF NICOLL

The Keys to Heaven

Stuart France

Available via Amazon

Psychologist, Maurice Nicoll studied under Fourth Way exponents G.I Gurdjieff and  P.D. Ouspensky, and presented his own philosophy in a series of works published during the Mid Twentieth Century.

In his seminal work, Living Time… he makes no bones about insisting that the psychological states and concepts that he is expounding, and their utilisation, are ancient and stretch back through Christianity, Judaism, the Greek Philosophers and on into the mysterious climes of Pre-Dynastic Egypt…

In re-presenting these ideas as a series of poetic explorations, author and essayist, Stuart France uncovers a series of links with the Mediaeval Traditions of the Northmen, and the Matter of Britain!

What is the original story of our week? How does the moon harrow hell? Prepare to be enthralled, entertained, educated, and enlightened, as new light is shed on the enigmatic figures of Wotan, Merlin, and King Arthur.

They do not write books like this anymore, if indeed they ever did!

The opening of the Eye – a magical birth

The Opening of The Eye (1)

There are some things for which words are never enough. Things it is almost impossible to share. There are some things which should not be shared, perhaps, but the birth of the School was symbolic and not just for those who could be with us on that Derbyshire dawn.

So here I will share how it was through my eyes, holding nothing back, for it was never mine to keep, only to live.

This telling will be longer than usual, and yet will only skim the surface of that morning.  I offer it from my heart to all those who could not be with us on the hillside on Sunday morning. There were many who were with us in thought and prayer across the world, some who shared with us the weekend yet who could not physically make the climb up the hill. These people, many of whom have been with us every step of the way, who have shared our laughter and tears, have taught so much through their loving support. I offer this telling to those who guided our steps over the years, who held our hands and opened our minds.

We carried you in our hearts. Now see through my eyes.

“…They have always been ready, now you must bring it to birth…”

At 3.20 in the morning I stood outside the centre in my dressing gown under a canopy of deepest velvet blue sprinkled with stars. The sky was clear and mild, lacking the biting frost that had glittered under the previous dawn.

There was no nervousness, just a deep serenity, a knowing and a purpose in the silence.

I breathed deeply, filling myself with the clear air and night’s beauty. Already tears pricked my eyelids, knowing what was to come to birth. Months of constant work, lifetimes of preparation for both of us. The culmination of an incubation nurtured in silence. The birth of a dream.

I closed my eyes and offered a silent prayer, asking the blessing of the One on what we were about to do, quietly reaching out across a sleeping world to touch in thought and love all those who had brought us to this moment, and to the little mother, so far away, whom I have loved so very much for so long. She too is part of this as we carry forward a spark of the Light she showed us.

There was a sadness too, a gentle sadness, as I saw a familiar life slip away and prepared to step onto a new path that will carry me where it must. Though I go willingly and without regret, there is always a sadness when the current lifts you away from the life and love of the past. Though the outer life may seem little different, the inner one also came to birth that morning.

As I showered and robed I could feel love around me, the fleeting caress of other minds and hearts, as if those who watched around the world left butterfly kisses on my brow. I was not alone in my solitary room. The sense of presence was tangible and warm. Following a dream a few nights before I dressed in the gold of dawn with jewels like gilded dew at my throat. I remember looking back at the room, strewn with robes and colour, wondering.

I knocked on Steve’s door to leave my key. He opened it, robed in blue, the Eye of Horus on his breast, golden. In silence he bowed and I walked alone to the temple.

The lights were low, I took my place in the centre of the ancient symbol, hallowed by the hearts and minds of the companions. At my feet the golden chalice, engraved with the symbol of the sun, holding only light. I composed myself and the vigil began.

For a while there were the fleeting thoughts as the mind settled into stillness. Who would come at this unearthly hour? After a night of conviviality in pub and library, little sleep and with long journeys ahead later in the day? A few, I hoped. Few I expected. It was an unfair thing to ask. Yet it was symbolic, it mattered only that we were there and played out in the waking world what we had been given to do.

With my eyes half closed the golden light from the chalice seemed to fill the room. The temple itself was a chalice, itself not important, only its function, to give shape and hold what was pouring into it. At the centre I saw myself, still, golden, unfamiliar. I too was only a cup, a container to hold and shape that fluid Light we serve. Around me, spiralling like leaves in an autumn wind, it seemed as if motes of brightness danced with the shadows and the sparkling expectancy was palpable, like the air before a storm. I felt a strong sense of presence. Myself, siting motionless on the chair, others, unseen, arcing around that tiny point of light in the centre. Holding vigil in the silence with the Mother.

The door opened and he who walked that morning in the robe of the Father came in and sat before me.  The eyes that met seemed not our own, the hands that met in blessing and greeting felt other than our own. He broke the silence, but the few words spoken were not simply his own and had their place in that moment.

He took his place on my right, his left hand outstretched resting on my shoulder and the vigil continued. Like another note added to a song in harmony, the feel of the room changed and took on depth and the sense of presence became more profound. Some time later the Child entered. He too sat before me, with eyes I shall not forget, glowing with love in that moment. A gesture, an offering  that brought serene tears to my eyes. They were not my hands. Then he too took up his place on my left, his right hand on my shoulder, and the harmony deepened.

Shapes touched the edge of vision, whispers of song in the silence, words unspoken that I will seek for a lifetime. I felt caught between worlds in a vast, womblike cavern as an unseen heart beat beneath my feet. Unfamiliar even to myself.

I saw shadows through the tiny window of the door, others were there. The silence was absolute, their gift to the moment. Then the door was opened and the companions filed in, one by one, to take their place before the Mother and silently offer, heart to heart, and receive what was offered in stillness.

And they were all there. All those who could be there, all who could walk up that pre-dawn hillside. All of them.

I cannot describe the feeling in that moment, the outpouring of loving blessing, the gifts given by people who should have been asleep for hours to come, yet who had sacrificed their rest and joined us in silent vigil. The eyes that met mine as I watched through the lens of tears at the beauty before me. Through the other eyes, it seemed, lent to me for a moment out of time. The hearts that were open, the smiles, all gentle, the one who knelt and gave all he was to that moment and the unknown moments to come.

They took their places around the circle, forming what felt like great wings holding the Light within. I closed my eyes and gathered the threads of Light in my heart.

At the appointed time I rose, placed a cloak around my shoulders and led them from the room, pausing to allow them to don their coats, the silence incredible in the soft light.

The morning was mild and beautiful, the sky streaked with colour, the rose and blue, the hint of gold, painted by the Master Hand. We walked slowly through the sleeping village, silent ghosts in strange garb climbing the hill to the gate.

Yet there was no strangeness, only a sense of rightness in the moment…present and not present, watching within and without, and the utter silence. Beyond the low wall to the right a young lamb looked up, bleating, eye to eye, three times. As if we were being given a blessing, recognition, acknowledgement. Such a simple thing, but so very beautiful.

We walked up the dew damp slope, to the little lawn between the tree to the west and the notch in the bare fingered trees in the east, silhouetted against the growing light. We placed the chalice and plate on the altar and Father and Mother stood to greet the dawn.

Those moments of waiting, in the miraculous silence made only deeper by the symphony the birds were singing, are some that will live in my heart forever. The small arc of the companions felt like a great host behind us as we raised our arms to salute the sun in its rising, and the greater Light it symbolises.

Turning to each other, arms still raised, we became the gate of dawn, a portal through which the Child could pass. Our arms extended, eyes holding, unable to see beyond the raised arms, we saw the Child come within our embrace and pass through to the Light as we broke the silence with a single chanted word. Cromaat.

The weight of the cloak against my throat was too much, I let it fall.

Overhead a hawk wheeled in the dawn glow.

One by one the companions passed through the gate that we were, emerging on the other side to be greeted by the Child. They were asked why they had passed through the gates of Light and Life… to the Child who is Love. In turn, they answered, the first giving the response of those who have chosen to walk with us in the School, these were anointed with consecrated oil and accepted. Those who were with us in love and support affirmed the wholeness of the One. Together they formed the wings of morning before the gate.

When all had passed into the east, we proclaimed the birth of the Silent Eye and, blessing bread and wine, we broke our fast in shared communion on a hillside bathed in gold and birdsong.

With laughter, many embraces, very many tears and smiles, our School came to birth as the sun rose and something new was brought into the world with joy and with Love.

The opening of the Eye – a mother’s tears

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I was up to meet the dawn on Saturday, finding the world covered in a heavy frost and very beautiful. The morning began with a guided meditation. The companions gathered at 7am and closed their eyes. It was a simple journey… that of a seed thrown by an unseen hand to the winds. The tiny point of consciousness watched from inside itself as it grew, illustrating the journey into becoming.

Breakfast and preparation… and then it was time for the second of the ritual dramas.

These dramatic episodes, played with conviction in a place made sacred, have a profound effect, enabling understanding, engaging the emotions as well as the intellect as they bring the teachings to life in a unique manner.  This is one of the ways we will teach, through workshops and teaching sessions and the weekend workshops, open to all.

These do not form an essential part of the School’s course, they are not required, nor is attendance limited to School members… but rather they enhance and enrich it, as well as allowing friendships and companionship to grow. Study can be a lonely thing and the personal journey must be ultimately walked alone… but that does not mean there cannot be company along the way, a hand to hold when the ground seems rough or laughter shared in sunlight.

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The first ritual drama saw the arrival of nine travellers, sheltering from a storm in the monastery of the Keepers of the First Flame. A shamanic drummer and two Troubadours, accompanied by a strange Child also sought shelter. They were following a quest to rescue an imprisoned king, or so they believed, and sought shelter and refuge for the Child while they continued their journey.

The first drama introduced these characters, and ended as the Troubadours left to continue their search, leaving the Child in the care of the nine and the Keepers. On Saturday morning the second drama was to explore the characters further, seeing deeper into their innermost being.

As the Troubadours were ‘absent’, Steve assisted our technician and had placed me in the role of the Great Mother, simply  to bless the individual journey each was about to undertake as they entered the Temple.

And that felt odd. All the very human insecurities raised their head as I had read this point.. me, as Great Mother? How… what could I, just me, bring to this? And that question, I realised, was also the answer. I could bring my Self, it is all we can ever do.

The costume was simple and symbolic, grey veiled in clouds of night, a girdle of stars, dark tears at my throat and a simple nine pointed circlet, beautifully crafted by Katie. All chosen for their  simplicity and symbolism… especially the veil which prevented the pilgrims from seeing Her face, yet allowed them into her embrace. I thought I had it sorted.

I do not know and cannot tell what others felt. Only what I saw and felt myself.  I stood in the silence of the sacred space and waited for the first of the companions to enter, a silent prayer in my heart, not knowing really what to do, simply trusting that I would know when the moment came. The bells called the companions in, and the first saluted the central Light and turned to me.

And it was simple. I just held out my arms and embraced them and the cloudy veil held them like dark wings.

It sounds very little. But, from my heart to yours, I tell you that this was the most profoundly moving thing. Each pair of eyes met mine with radiant joy, each heart was open and full of Light and Life and Love, each face lit with so much beauty. One after another I held them. Overwhelmed and humble, with a glowing, incandescent sun, it seemed, blazing in my heart.

I sat in silence to watch the drama unfold and behind the veil the tears slid across my cheeks to meet my smile.

It was I who was blessed.

Hill-of-the-Buried-Sun…

*

…It was, after all, rather disconcerting to be thus accosted by a total stranger…

*

“Does this count?” he demanded, ferociously,

and pushed an admittedly intriguing photograph across the bar at us.

“Does that count as what?”

*

“One of them ‘Black’ places”

“Well, it might do, what is it?”

*

“It’s one of them there mounds.”

“Is it really, it looks just like a pyramid of light?”

*

“That’s why I was thinking it might count.”

“Strictly speaking, in order ‘to count’ it would have to be called

‘Black-something’ or ‘Something-black’. Does it have a name?”

*

“Oh aye, it’s got a name alright.”

“And that name is?”

“Silbury Hill!”

*

And at that, the Red-Lion, or so it seemed to us,

burst into a collective paroxysm of laughter…

*