Journey of Life

the place formerly known as control your destiny


ObservationThis morning there were two peculiar events happening simultaneously in the street outside my office. I was happily working away when I noticed some bizarre shouting a little further down the street. It’s not uncommon to hear the occasional shouting outside, but it is usually only for a few brief moments. This person, however, was very persistent and in the end my curiosity got the better of me and I had to look through the window.

I couldn’t see the source of the shouting though, but what I did see wasn’t exactly what I expected!!

Across the street (outside a shop) I see two priests (not sure if they were – but they were dressed that way) each holding a sceptre. They were surrounded by approximately 30 – 40 people with wooden sticks!!

At this point my mind is struggling to keep up with what is going on and more specifically; “What do they need all these sticks for??”.

The shouting further down the street is still going on at this point and briefly I did wonder if the “shouter” was part of this whole outfit!

I gave up trying to concentrate on doing any further work and decided to go and investigate at least the source of the shouting, as this was the main cause of my distraction.

This turned out to be a woman, who obviously had things to say and for some reason wanted to make sure that her message reached as many people as possible!

It was difficult to make out exactly was she was ranting on about but I did pick out words like “Love” – “God” – “Peace” with some words in between I really couldn’t make out! The way the message(s) was delivered, however, didn’t appear as being revolved around feelings of love or peace, but I am sure she just felt passionate about getting her message across and that I misinterpreted it that way.

The interesting thing about observing this wasn’t so much the woman doing the shouting but the reactions of passers by, which ranged from some people being so caught up in their own world that they didn’t even notice what was going on, to people stopping to exchange comments (with various reactions in between the 2).

The people people who stopped to exchange comments were the most interesting to watch simply because; here we have a number of complete strangers who will possibly never cross paths again, and yet because of this woman they chose to stop briefly to find some common ground! Most of them agreed that she was obviously crazy and should be locked away! I even heard one guy say “where do you find a sniper when you need one”, which I hope wasn’t meant that way but did make me side with her.

Even more interesting was the fact that everyone kept a “safe” distance from her, even as they were walking past. It was as if there was an invisible wall around her. I suspect her invisible wall was everyone else’s comfort zone.

One guy did walk up to her very calmly and said something to her, which only stopped her shouting for a split second. She then began to tell everyone that smoking cigarettes was the worst sin of all (the guy was smoking a cigarette) at which point he walked away as calmly as he had approached her.

I was awoken from what seemed like a dream by  my phone and had to go back to work. When I got back to my office, all the people with sticks had disappeared and all of a sudden I didn’t hear the shouting anymore.

I went about my day and it wasn’t until I got home earlier this evening that I started thinking about the whole event. If somehow I was meant to have observed it and if so why?

My initial thought, when I first went out to find out where the shouting came from, was that she was a nutter, but then I began to wonder what sequence of events would lead someone to the point where shouting in the street seemed like the most appropriate action. Whatever message she wanted to deliver was without a doubt extremely important to her. That thought made me feel compassion towards her and that she had every right to express herself that way. She was causing no harm to anyone and I am left hoping that she finds peace and joy.

As far as the “stick crowd” is concerned, I have no clue what the hell they were up to! So again my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to google it! Guess what, I found the answer! It’s an event called “Beating the Bounds” At least now I know what they are doing when I see them next year!!!!

Beating the BoundsBeating the Bounds on Ascension Day

Various locations across the city

Oxford, United Kingdom

The ceremony of ‘Beating the Bounds’ is conducted on Ascension Day, which is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter. This custom, which began way back in 1498, involves a procession of people who walk around the city. During this march, they halt by certain trees, fences and walls that denote the boundary of a particular area to vociferate, pray and ‘beat the bounds’. The day ends with a celebration with drinks and merry making.

These two events could have been nothing more than a coincidence where I just happened to be there. If I was meant to observe this strange sequence of events I really don’t know why at this point but if it was nothing more than a coincidence then why did I think about it this evening and why did I write about it.


10 responses to “Observation

  1. shiona May 22, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Good morning J,

    Most probably the reason why you chose to think and write about this was because on some subconscious level you associate it with something or someone of importance to you.
    I don’t know if I’m right about you, but this is my way of reacting to unusual events. If I find myself deeply impressed and feel the need to put the experience down in words, then it means in some way or another it concerns me personally. Very often the process of describing the event is in fact the process of finding out the link. So I guess soon you will know why. Sometimes, however, it may not be necessary to analyze and comprehend the significance. What you observed will have its effect on you anyway.

    I’m in for another frenetic day. Wish me good luck. It always works when you do 🙂

    • J May 26, 2009 at 6:38 pm

      Since that day I have not really had any time spare to think about this further, and now it feels more like a distant dream. I think you are right that it may not be necessary to analyze the significance. The significance will be revealed when the time is right, but if I had to guess the reason, I think it would be to do with me changing and pushing my boundaries as has been mentioned in all of the comments.

      I feel bad I wasn’t around to wish you good luck – so instead I wish you a wonderful rest of the week -;)



  2. viv66 May 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

    In some ways, beating the bounds symbolises maintaining accepted boundaries; the woman who disrupted it seems to symbolise the disarrangement and disruption of comfortable and established boundaries.
    Perhaps this resonated with you for this reason and you’re ready to push beyond your own estabished boundaries.
    On another note, in country parishes, the beating of the bounds used to involve the ritualised beating of children; they would receive a light blow or smack at each boundary point to “fix” the point in their minds so they would know it again. I doubt there was an incentive to forget after that!!
    These days country parishes are often so huge in terms of square miles it’s done by car if at all!!

    • J May 26, 2009 at 6:43 pm

      I had never heard of beating the bounds until I googled it last week.
      I do feel I am going through some changes, especially at work, and I am beginning to venture outside my usual comfort zone and established boundaries.

      I feel fortunate not to have grown up in a country parish as I don’t particularly welcome the idea of being smacked by someone with a stick!!! I do agree, however, that there would be no incentive to forget!!!

  3. vanessaleighsblog May 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I had never heard of this rite performed around the Ascension; historically it makes sense, but if I was on that street, I think I would have stood by the woman shouting, and may have even shouted along with!!! My perception of this, is that maybe she has issues with the organized church (possibly Catholic?), with whom I have my own issues, and see her intervention as speaking out about the discrimination in the church itself; as a gay person, I feel very discriminated against by the Catholic church, and other organized religions, and the performing of a centuries-old ritual brings to my mind the unwillingness for the church to let go of the old, and let the new come forth……. that is all about peace, love, understanding, and the ABSENCE of sin! Does that make any sense whatsoever????

  4. vanessaleighsblog May 22, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    PS And, as far as your presence there J, maybe it is meant to tell you that you will be a mover and a shaker, bringing about change rather than letting the same old go marching past…….

    What do YOU think it all means to you???

    • J May 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm

      The events took place 150 – 200 yards apart and I didn’t get the feeling her agenda was directed at the “stick beating crowd”, which made it seemed so peculiar to me and also why I found it too strange to be coincidental.

      I can completely understand why you feel discriminated against by the church. What I struggle to understand is why you are being discriminated in the first place! You love another human being and have chosen to live with another human being. Who made the rule that in order to be accepted, not just the by the church, but society in general, loving relationships are only allowed between a man and a woman! It’s love, not a crime!

      I do belive in a higher power – god – the universe, but have never been a follower of any organised religion.

      Thinking back on it, it seems like one one side we have a group of people who are sticking to a very old tradition and on the other we have a woman who is standing in the middle of the street doing, what I would deem to be extremely far outside my own comfort zone. I am in the middle obseriving it all and I think you are right; it is to do with changes in my life.

  5. viv66 May 22, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    @Vanessa: It’s almost certainly not a Catholic group doing it as the Church of England is the state church here, and I’ve never heard any other church doing Beating the Bounds.
    But the rest? Quite probably!

  6. Molly May 27, 2009 at 1:19 am


    Interesting, indeed!

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