Tadhg’s Journal: A Treasure In The Darkness?

20170323 treasure in the darkness TADHGS JOURNALMy thoughts are racing right now, careering from acceptance, stillness and peace to fear, uncertainty, confusion and stressful worry – such are some of the emotions in dealing with someone so close and so dear to me who is now receiving palliative care.

If there was an ‘off button’, some way of stepping out of the current story in which I find myself, of changing this impending tragedy into a comedy, I would press it. It was the same when I had oesophageal cancer ten years ago. If I could have changed the circumstances as I went through it, then, I would have done. Alas, in the current situation as with that event ten years ago, there is no option of an alternative story-line.

And so, emotions career to the far ends of an opposing, invisible, and a seemingly indeterminate spectrum.

‘If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.’  Tom Peters

I have no easy answers if you have been, or are going through this kind of roller-coaster ride as a loved-one is prepared for the return ‘Home’. But, even as I write this, something, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, whispers into the confusion in which we are placed.

Entering into that inner sanctuary, the Caim, much-loved by ancient  Christians, Celts and Druids, and others, I sit. Outwardly, I sit, too, and with my eyes closed, I go ‘inward’, to that sacred space, deep ‘inside’. The Caim is a wonderful place from which to visualise others, to inwardly (or sometimes physically) to enact a ritual within that Circle, and send energy to them. Now, I’m in a place of darkness, even in the Caim. But, it’s not a brooding darkness of chaos or fear of the unknown. It simply is…..dark. A place to be alone with the Alone.  Yet another use for the Caim.

‘And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches..’ Isaiah 45:3a, The Book.

And, so, ‘I welcomed in the tender grace of unknowing and gave myself over to fertile darkness, despite the fears or voices that long for certainty or the ones which think they have already got it all figured out,’ said Christine Valters Paintner in her book, ‘The Soul Of A Pilgrim’.

Surrender!

In this inward -dark-but-peaceful place, in this Caim of Solitude I sit, and wait. Unspoken questions arise: Should I do this? Should I do that? What if….? It feels like a trillion thoughts are ‘firing’ all at once, beckoning activity, and yet someone – could it be The Friend – brings one over-riding thought to the fore (and, if there is an almost-thought, then this was one), like a distant memory that was embedded deep within but is only now surfacing, rather than an audible voice.

Hupomeme!

Hupomeme is an ancient Greek word, beloved of desert monks who were undergoing tough times. It means to stay with whatever is happening!

And that word was the seeming whisper in that Caim of Solitude, that inner sacred space, spoken by the Source of All. Leaving that Caim, I returned to the world of a trillion thoughts, of erratic emotion-swings, of uncertainties…but I know I have the experience and memory of an alternative realm of peace which is just as real, and maybe more real, that this one.

‘God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.’  Jalaluddin Rumi.

Haiku #7: Vernal Equinox[ology]: Ephemera

20170320 vernal equinoxolgy EPHEMERAAs you may know, I’m fascinated by the traditional haiku – short Japanese poems consisting of three lines; and the lines containing firstly five syllables, then seven, then five; and somewhere in the haiku there is usually a seasonal reference (called a ‘kigo’), however oblique.

It’s the Spring equinox today, and time to celebrate the time of equal day lengths and equal night. I also love liturgy and ritual, and so have penned three haiku to celebrate today and to use this evening as liturgy in part of my ritual for the ocassion.

And, so, here’s some words, in the form of haiku, to mark the season, the turning of the Circle, and in praise to the One behind it all.

Equal nights for owls,
And days for soaring eagles.
Vernal equinox.

Ascendant light, now.
The night but bows for six months.
Perfect harmony.

Celebrate, candle!
Mark the Circle’s turning, well.
Oh, Veriditas!

You might have your own unique way of celebrating this time, but if you want to use (and adapt) any, or all, of the haiku above, please do so. But, however, complex or simple your ritual and liturgy is, my encouragement is to do something today (or even tomorrow) to celebrate this wonderful day – so light a candle, meditate, plant a seed (or, perhaps donate a small amount of money to a tree-planting charity), or pause in gratitude as the Circle turns. Praise be to the Circle-Turner.

 

Liturgy For Alban Eilir, The Spring Equinox [Monday, 20 March 2017]

20170316 litrugy for alban eilir EPHEMERAIt’s now only a short time until the Spring equinox happens, 20 March – that time when day and night are of equal length, and thereafter we move slowly toward summer when the sun climbs higher and days lengthen even more. In Wales Spring Equinox is a ‘magical’ time, and is known as Alban Eiler, which means, quite aptly, ‘the light of the earth’.

To celebrate this wonderful event, here’s some words that you might consider using and/or adapting as a Liturgy For Alban Eiler, for your own celebration

Earth Blessing:

(Facing east)
Blessed be the One who crosses boundaries,
who is evident in the lengthening day,
in the turning of the Great Circle, and
who is felt in the soft, refreshing Spring wind.

(Facing south)
Blessed be the One who is evident in the colour green,
Viriditas,
who makes plants grow and flower,
and the trees to prepare for blossom, and
who warms the earth as the sun rises higher in the sky.

(facing west)
Blessed by the One who causes nature to stir from her sleep,
who waters the earth, and calls to the deep,
and the deep joyfully replies and springs to life, and
who changes the slow, icy brooks into life-laden babbling streams.

(facing north)
Blessed be the One who speaks to the earth,
and from decay new life immediately appears,
who showers the earth with rain from your storehouse of abundance, and
who blesses the earth, which, in turn, blesses us.

(facing east)
Lord of the elements, ‘Three-Personned’ God, we praise you.

For Personal Renewal

Lord of Springtime, Lord of All,
refresh us and awaken our senses.
Cleanse us inwardly,
and dispel the dust of resistance and old habits,
and fill us with your love and grace,
that the blessings you give us, we can give back to you
in eternal praise.

End Of Day Liturgy

Praise to you, Mother-Labourer of All,
who has birthed all creation and who re-creates.
I/We rest now with you,
Maker and loving Sustainer of all your children, and
I/We ask you to enfold me/us,
and all those on my/our heart/s.
Amen.

Ephemera: The Celtic Month Of The Alder Tree [18 March – 14 April]

20170315 month of the alder tree EPHEMERASpring is in the air, and this Saturday, 18 March sees the start of the next Celtic tree month. It’s the start of the month of the Alder Tree.

Essential data
Month: Alder Tree
Dates: 18 March – 14 April
Common name: Alder, common alder, black alder, European alder
Celtic name: Fearn (pronounced: fair-un).
Scientific name: Alnus glutinosa
UK provenance: Alder is native to Britain and is also found throughout Europe as far as Siberia.

About the tree
The alder tree is noted for its important  relationship with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium called Frankia alni. This bacterium is found in the root nodules. The bacterium absorbs nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. Alder, in turn, provides the bacterium with sugars, which it produces through photosynthesis. Symbiosis.

As a result of this mutually beneficial relationship, alder improves the fertility of the soil where it grows, and as a pioneer species, it helps provide additional nitrogen for the successional species which follow it.

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

The alder tree is conical in shape, and mature trees can reach a height of around 20m and live for about 60 years. The bark is dark and fissured and is often covered in lichen. Twigs have a light brown spotted stem which turns red towards the top. Young twigs are sticky to touch.

The tree’s leaves are purple or grey leaf buds form on long stems and the 3–9cm long dark green leaves are racquet-shaped and leathery to the touch, with serrated edges. The leaf tip is never pointed and is often indented.

Flowers are on catkins which appear between February and April. Alder is monoecious, and so both male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Male catkins are yellow, whilst the female catkins are green and oval-shaped.

Usage
The Alder tree provides good wood for building materials. The sap, leaves and bark of the alder were all used to make dyes; green from the leaves, red from the sap and brown from the bark. The dyes were often used to tan leather. Wood of the alder is flexible and resistant to the rotting effects of water, and, so very good for building materials in a temperate climate.

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

Robert Frost

The alder tree’s root system is often submerged in watery areas. In such places, the ancient Celts observed that the roots served as as intricate shelter system to fish, specifically trout and salmon.

Myth
The alder tree is generally seen near streams and riverbanks, and it’s for that reason that the ancient Druids called this tree ‘The Water King’.

The alder tree, and this month, is said to be associated with enthusiasm, courage, spiritual maturity, giving, risk-taking and adventurousness.

Although, primarily associated with the element of water, the alder tree gracefully crosses into the realm of air and fire, also. For instance, ancient legend indicates the wood of the young alder tree was traditionally used for crafting whistles, pan flutes and recorders. Note the air element, here. Within the realm of fire, the alder’s colouring transmutes into a fiery orange after it is cut, indicating to the Celts that the alder secretly harbours a sacred flame within. As if to prove this point, the wood makes a pristine grade of charcoal, and was perfect for steadily hot conditions utilized to forge fine Celtic weaponry.

In Irish mythology the first man was said to have been made from the alder tree. It is also considered a tree of the fairies, protected by the water fairy-folk but also representing fire and earth. Some believe faeries like to dance under these trees, especially, when they are flowering.

The trees along this city street,
Save for the traffic and the trains,
Would make a sound as thin and sweet
As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade
Out of a shower, undoubtedly
Would hear such music as is made

Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb
Against the shrieking city air,
I watch you when the wind has come,—
I know what sound is there.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Celebration
If you wish to celebrate, I’d recommend an evening celebration on Saturday evening, though ancient tribes (and some, today, still) would celebrate the evening before, reckoning that the new day started the evening before (from our point of view). So, you might want to celebrate Friday evening.

Celebration can take many forms. At home, it could be lighting a candle in honour of the alder tree and the One behind it; and/or gazing at a picture of an alder tree and then gently meditating, or recitation of a favourite tree-honouring poem. Outdoors, if you have an alder tree nearby, you might like to visit it, gaze at it, and dwell there for a few minutes, giving thanks for nature in general, trees especially, and the alder tree in particular. Whatever you do, my encouragement is to keep it simple, keep it tree-honouring, and take time just to think, meditate and ponder on the wondrous alder tree. And, enjoy it.

Celtic Thought: Acedia & When Life Is Calm

20170314 when life is calm CELTIC THOUGHTLife has been hectic over the last three weeks.

My Dad was admitted to hospital because of a heart attack three weeks ago. A heart-stent was fitted, and  at 91 years of age recuperation is slow, but each day there is a step back towards normality – though we all have to wait and see what ‘new normality’ looks like. Currently, the twice a day hospital visits continue, but things are settling down, or maybe I’m getting used to the routine. The immediate ‘storm’, however, is over, but we still have some way to go.

Busy! Things are calming down. Are you undergoing a ‘storm’ in life at the moment?

Some of you may know that near my London place a huge riverside development is taking place, and a few of us have banded together to form a residents’ group to ensure that developers play fair. It’s been hard work and not without some resistance from the developers’ company, but at one meeting just a few days ago, where we invited the developers’ company CEO to attend, we made several factual and impassioned speeches about the work (and what could be done to minimise problems), the compensation package (which covers only a handful of people and doesn’t really address local residents’ needs), and how information should be given to local residents (such as two to three weekly regularly-occurring meetings, some honesty and transparency from that company). Those we normally interact with had made some minor concessions in the past, but the CEO, at that recent meeting, entirely agreed with us, and promised big changes! Things are looking good, but busy. For now, the storm is over, and things are calming down.

I mention these two instances because, if you’re like me,  we can be so busy that life can pass us by and we ‘skim’ the surface of life, and miss a lot. Activity can happen to the detriment of depth. And yet, such storms and activity will recede – ‘this too shall pass’. And, so – to use a sea analogy – the waves have, for now, calmed, and I find myself on a millpond of a sea, unexpectedly.

I’m reminded on the story of Benaiah:

“One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah,, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. You six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on earth I will bring it to you, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?”, he said.

“It has great power,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad; and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.”

Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah, who was trevelling far and wide, had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before his six month quest was up, Benaiah who was back home, decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a ring of great power that makes the happy wearer forget his joy, and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah.

He watched the older man take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave some words on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. This was the ring. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday with great festivity, and King Solomon appeared.

“Well, my friend,” said King Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed, and Solomon himself knowingly smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!”

As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweller had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” — “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, and that everything on earth changes.”

Things have changed (albeit slightly), and I’m enjoying the calm, the respite, but…

…but, there’s a certain unease in my soul. I am enjoying the calm, but I know that I can get too used to it, and though it’s right to bask in this calmness, enjoy the moment, and metaphorically get my breath back, at least for a while, I know it is all too easy to make this pace of life the ‘new normal’, and coast in life. It is so easy to rest on that millpond of a sea and to ignore depth! Are you like that? Or, is it just me?

Acedia. Tradition calls acedia the “noonday devil,” for like a demon that attacks in the light of day, it comes when we least expect it, and it is difficult for its victim to recognize it. The word acedia in English comes from the Latin, which itself comes from the Greek akèdia, meaning “lack of care”. For some, it may manifest itself as extreme lethargy – but it’s more!

And so, in the time I now seem to have and for which I am grateful, I intend to re-double my effort, and enjoy myself in doing some of the things that momentarily stopped (and would encourage you to do the same) – and so I’ll write more articles, do some handfastings (that have recently have been arranged, and I so do enjoy them), do some house-blessings, and also do some other things that I, hitherto, haven’t done (for some time), such as: every 4-6 weeks I think it would be good, and some might be interested in participating in a celebration-meal-come-ceremony to mark the seasons (so, do watch this space!). I did ‘test the waters’ some time ago, but am resolved to press on.

I’ve learned to adapt, and will continue to endeavour to get the balance just right been activity and rest.

‘Do anything, but let it produce joy.’ Walt Whitman

What do you think?

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Moon Of Winds: 12 March 2017

20170310 moon of winds1 EPHEMERAIt’s that time again. I love full moons, and this Sunday, 12 March 2017 sees the  third full moon of the secular year.

‘You have to be able to appreciate these things. How many people can say it was a full moon last night and appreciate it?’ Sandy Miller

Moon: This full moon will be in the constellation of Virgo, on the cusp of Leo, and in close proximity to the Virginids – a timely meteor shower that seems to originate (its radiant)  from the constellation of Virgo. The moon’s brightness, however, may ‘overpower’ the meteors (expect about 5-10 per hour) and dull the spectacle somewhat.

To those of (medieval) England this full moon was/is known as the Lenten moon, to others it was/is known as the Chaste moon, or the Fish moon. To ancient and latter-day Celts, Christian Celts, Druids like myself, many know it as the Moon of Winds.

The full moon will be very near the bright star, Alaraph, sometimes called Zawijah. The name ‘Zawijah’ comes from the Arabic phrase meaning ‘corner of the barking dog’. That star is slightly larger and more massive star than the Sun, and is comparatively metal-rich (that is, it has a higher composition of elements heavier than helium).

‘The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.’ Jean Ingelow

Planets: And, a few days later, for those interested in the planets, there is a conjunction of the moon with the planet Jupiter in the very early hours of 15 March.

Story: There are a number of fables and myths about the moon. Here’s one story from the Buddhist tradition, and which is prevalent in China, Japan, South and North Korea.

This tale is about a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit who decided to extend charity on the day of the next full moon, believing they would receive a great reward. At that time, an old man met them and begged for food.

When the old man asked the monkey for food, it gathered fruit from a tree and gave it to him. The otter collected fish and presented them to the old man. The jackal stole a lizard and a pot of milk, and gave them to the old man. When the old man encountered the rabbit, the rabbit was embarrassed and upset that he only knew who to gather grass and believed the old man wouldn’t welcome that as food. Immediately, the rabbit threw himself into a fire  – self-sacrifice, to provide the old man with some tasty food. However, the rabbit didn’t die, and wasn’t even burned!

The old man then revealed himself to be Sakra – the embodiment of the Universe or Heaven – and blessed the rabbit. In honour of the rabbit’s intention, Sakra drew the likeness of the rabbit on the Moon for all to see, for all eternity.

Though we look up at the full moon and see a benevolent face looking down at us, many Asian people see that rabbit. Interestingly, China’s first probe to land on the moon in December 2013 was called Yutu, translated as Jade Rabbit.

‘Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!’ Psalm 148:3, The Book

Celebration: You may want to celebrate this full moon. I do, and I’d heartily recommended it.  In many ways the best way to celebrate and/or give thanks is to go out and gaze in awe and appreciated the wonder of that full moon, and the One who made it, in the stillness of the night. But, in addition,  you might like to:

  • say a few words out loud or to yourself – perhaps one of the phrases/quotes in this article, in gratitude, or
  • remember a loved one who has passed-on, and bless them, and remember good things about them, or
  • send up good-thoughts or a prayer about an upcoming event or for someone known to you that might need energy, expecting the One Behind  It All to hear and respond.

Ofcourse, you might like to (re-)arrange a home altar, and indoors (or outside) have a more elaborate ceremony. There are some occasions when this is good, but don’t feel that you have to do something elaborate. In many cases I prefer simplicity – realising that elaborate and wordy ceremonies can sometimes detract from simple, dare I say ‘child-like’, wholesome and deep praise of the moment.

‘When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.’ Mohandas Gandhi

 

The Elements: Air: A Word Spoken In Season…

20170307 a word in season CELTIC THOUGHTIn this season, spring, air is the remembered and celebrated element. Something so invisible,  so powerful, sometimes so forgotten, and yet so vital for our existence.

Here’s a few thoughts about air from a Celtic, Christian (Celtic), Druid point of view.

So, take a breath, maybe a deep breath through the mouth and hold it for two seconds, and then release it. Maybe, do that again…and then return to normal breathing. We often take breathing for granted, and yet that simple exercise is such a momentous thing to do. Air. Dare I call it a miracle?

Air. There is power in breathing.

‘Spoken words have power beyond measure.’ Debasish Mridha

When we’re sad our breathing becomes heavy, and we emit heavy sighs. When we’re joyful we can laugh so much that it seems our lungs will burst or we’re likely to hyperventilate and get giddy. When fearful, we hold our breath and concentrate on listening to the environment. And, when we’re about to do something hard or spectacular we take a long deep inhale of a breath as if to prepare ourselves. Breathing then, and in the short exercise above, is a kind of prayer, a celebration of life, an exercise in ‘being’ and a thanksgiving of (and for) the gift of life itself.

Air. There is life in breathing.

In one of my tribes’ stories, it is often said that Moses timidy got the better of him, and he  never asked the Source of All his (or her) personal name, but that the Source of All was gracious enough to reveal it. Over the centuries that name, being so special was never uttered in full, and so we’re left now with the (usually unpronounced) name YHWH (and which, when you add vowels, becomes YaHWah (pronounced ‘yah-way’) for those that want to pronounce the name). Scholars, however, were quick to realise that the letters YHWH represented breathing sounds, aspirated consonants. Add some vowels, and you get the name YaHWeh. But, ‘breathing’ consonants.

‘Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.’  Amit Ray,

So, could it be that the name of the Source of All is the sound of breathing? I will be more emphatic and say…

Air. God’s name is (the sound of) breathing.

I have stood in Clackitt’s Wood and between tall high-rise buildings in London and with the air quite still at ground level, have heard the wind skim and distort the tops of trees, and over those trees and those tall buildings  heard the wind ‘groan and moan and wail’. Power.

Some years ago I was on a school’s governing board, and coming late to it, I was (as were other governors placed on a subcommittee, too), put on the ‘Exclusions sub-committee’. Along with two other governors I herd my first case of a very young student who had been excluded and through this ‘hearing’ the school was frantically trying to put into place measures to ensure the pupil got ‘back on track’. The childe sat in the chair, as her parents told the governors, ‘It’s a pity she’s not as bright as her sister!’. I watched as those words took hold, saw the child’s head droop, shoulders curl as her ego reeled from that ‘battering’. (Negative) Power. I’m happy to say the governor chairing that subcommittee gently rectified the situation, encouraged the parents not to be so negative or compare that child to anyone else, and ‘built up’ that child’s confidence, and I’m pleased to say that measures put in place led to that pupil returning to achieving good things. Power.

Air. Words have the power to ‘crush’, or ‘build up’.

What we say does have an effect. We can use our words, in relating to others, to ‘crush’ their ego, or encourage and ‘build them up’. Of course, I’m advocating the latter. In our rituals (and our ceremonies etc) whether in a group or alone, our words have energy, and do make an impact. In that sense this can be a cautionary word, to be careful in uttering negatives.

‘When you realize the awesome power of words, you can change lives.’  Tammy Kling

However, I like to think of it as an encouragement for us to utter positive words – whether in a group or individual prayer, ritual or ceremony, or whether we’re talking to friends, families, strangers or whoever we encounter. I’m advocating, that we use words of encouragement, or even a blessing (and we’ll look at that word, blessing, in a few days) toward others.

Air. With a word of command the universe sprang into being.

Air reminds us to use our words wisely both in talking to others, to ourselves or ‘into the air’ in a solo or group ritual etc. Your words have power. Use wisely…but do use!

‘Words have magic. Spells and curses. Some of them, the best of them, once said change everything.’  Nora Roberts, Jewels of the Sun

In Dark Times, Shine: 3/5: And, Action! [Celtic Thought]

20170306 and action CELTIC THOUGHTHere’s part three of ‘In Dark Times, Shine’ albeit slightly delayed. If you wanted to recap the earlier parts, please see here for part 1 about your distinctiveness, and here for part two about empowerment.

So, here’s part three: In Dark Times, Shine: And…Action.

We do live in dark times. There are those around us who need spiritual-liberating, to be freed from their ‘prisons’ to enable them to be the person that are destined to be, and you could probably be, probably are going to be instrumental (along with others, perhaps) in that mission.

Whether you’re a latter-day Celt, a Christian Celt, a Druid or of some other faith or tribe, we all need to ‘shine’ and work for the good – in small ways and large, wherever we are.

This is not to heap so much responsibility on you that you’re actively thinking of how to work with millions of people and losing sleep about it – but it’s about working with those you encounter today. Just a few people. Just a small number of loving actions. Not a chore. Not a bore. But,  a joy. Not counting how well we’ve done, and not keeping score, but doing what you and I believe we’re called to do in the moment, and feeling good about it (although it may appear as energy leaving you and prompt feelings of tiredness).

Now that you know that you’re called to do something that only you can do in a unique way, and now that you know that you have been granted the power and energy to do it, what do you do? It’s all about action.

A clue to what we’re meant to do could be where we’re located and what you like doing – your giftedness, what is on your heart, and the circumstances you find yourself in.

‘Do not despise these small beginnings…’ Zechariah 4:10a, The Book

The Source Of All is quite clever (an understatement, of course, but then I’m British) at arranging all this, and providing opportunities for you to be active. Ah, synchronicity!

Location
I know some who are placed in rural areas, others who live in huge cities, and others whose work takes them to wild places. Wherever you are, this could be an indication of what you might consider doing.

‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can’. Arthur Ashe

Jeremy works at a local store in a large town. It is his job to work at the check-out counter, and his gift is that of listening. He  always greet customers with a hearty smile, and will always listen to them. When he only has one customer he will strike up a conversation, and always be encouraging. His gift of listening, really listening, and of encouragement is able to be exercised through his regular job.

Zoe lives in a rural area. She loves the countryside, and her part time job is that of an administrator in a nearby village. At other times, she gives guided tours around the countryside and places of interest, and in this way hopes to encourage others to take an interest in the environment, and animal and tree preservation. She feels her gift is to give knowledge to others about rural life and ecological protection.

Where you are may be an indication of what you’re called to do, and where action can take place. Does this apply to you?

Sometimes, just being in a place, and just showing up is enough!

Giftedness
You may be accomplished at something – have a gift and/or have spent some time studying (and rememeber, it is never to late to start studying or enrolling on a course of somekind), and this, too, could be an indication of what action you can take.

‘We are all gifted. That is our inheritance.’ Ethel Water

We cannot be masters of everything, but each one of us has a unique gift (or several), and it can be used to allow us to be who we are, and be used to build up others, also.

Sarah is a wonderful musician. She used to work as a curator at a local museum, and then concentrated on her music. Her full-time job became part-time as the music (joyfully) took up more of her time, and then latterly her full-time work (if you can call it work) is her music! Her gift is to entertain people and sometimes to move them deeply in matters of the spirit through music.

Sam is a dextrous man. By trade his work is a plumber. By day he works ‘solving’ plumbing problems, repairing leaks etc, and an assortment of other activities associated with plumbing. His gift is that practicality! Most evenings he and his house-bound wife spend some time in praying, sending out positive-thoughts, good-wishes, wholesome rituals etc (using the caim form of ‘enacted’ prayer, sometimes) for ecologically sensitive areas of the world, for wildlife preservation, for war-torn area of the world, famine areas, as well as for their local area and family and friends. They wanted to do something together, something that could be done from their small home. They believe this work to be vital. It is.

I know some wonderful musicians, others who are dextrous with their hands, others are authors, and others who are encouragers, and am in awe as they use their gift for others. Sometimes, I wish I had half of their talent, only to stop those thoughts in their track and realise that I, too, have a unique gift that they don’t possess. And you have a unique gift (and some lesser gifting’s in other areas) that others might envy (in a nice way), too. Use your gift(s), enhance it by practice, enjoy it, use it for the benefit of others. Does this apply to you?

Events
In small ways, in seemingly random events that happen during the day, in large ways and small, you might find yourself interacting with people, and being able to offer assistance. Of course, it depends on the event and your giftedness. But, there will be ways that you can use your gift (and you may have other major gifts and a host of minor gifts – so never back off of an action by disqualifying yourself). ‘Random’ events might be just what the Source Of All has arranged for you to encounter the person who needs to hear from you, to meet and interact with you, to be ministered to, by you!

I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.’ Bob Hope [Or, did he steer himself there?]

Of course, your gift(s) may be something that needs some ‘diarising’ and planning, and that too, can allow you to serve others. I know accomplished energy-workers who have clients that benefit from their services. Others who organise ceremonies and rituals for individuals and families etc. Others who play and sing in faith group assemblies and clubs – all ways of being wonderfully active in building up others and themselves, too.

Together
Whatever your gifting(s) are, do use them. Don’t disqualify yourself. Ofcourse, I’m not encouraging you to ‘bite off more than you can chew’, and to always  have a healthy balance, but it’s  within your scope of capability and it wont offend others by ‘stepping on their toes’, then do it. You may not be able to do everything – infact you won’t be able to! Once, again the Source Of All has it all worked out. It’s quite clever: We need each other.

‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’ Henry Ford

We are called to action, and within the framework of team work.  After leading a funeral. someone said to me,  ‘Tadhg, thank you for doing that. I couldn’t have done it’, only for me to respond by telling them how naturally they served me in other areas , in areas I couldn’t excel in, and how that also encouraged me! I only say this because I’m sure the same has happened to you.

We need each other. Whether your gift is practical, artistic, active, passive, if you’re an author (or a potential author), a musician, a Celtic or Druidic ceremonialist, a light-worker, energy-worker, an administrator, a cleaner, a plumber, mechanic, be the best you can be, and ‘do it’. This is your time to shine.

‘I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will’. Edward Everett Hale

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention (again) the wonderful story about the child and the starfish: see here.

[PS: Any names used, apart from my own, have been changed, and anecdotes about other people were used with permission].

Harmony Of The Elements: Celtic Thought

20170302-harmony-of-the-elements-celtic-thoughtAs we’re in the season of spring, the main element of our focus of this time is air. But, that’s not to ignore the other three elements – and apologies to those that hold to three elements in total (as I’m a ‘four element’ man in the main, though maybe in actuality I’m a ‘five element’ man, with the fifth being of a different order, but that’s for another time).

And, just for a few minutes, as I’ve had more opportunity to travel by bus recently – blessed be the #72 bus route – and marvel at the joined-up service in London, my thoughts were led to think of harmony, and especially about the harmony of the elements. Their connectedness.

For some time I’ve fallen into the habit of ‘dealing’ with the elements individually as the wheel turned and one season led into another, and missed out, I think. It’s easy to do. So, here’s a few thoughts about the presence and balance of the elements as it occurred to me journeying around London, today.

Of course, acceptance of elements within everything goes back a long way and permeates many cultures. Empedocles, the Greek philosopher, scientist and healer of the fifth century BC, believed that all matter is comprised of four elements: earth, air, fire and water. And, this was a common belief, upheld by ancient Celts, Druids and others, and (depending how you perceive things and the circumstances) by latter-day ones, too, and poets and story-tellers, also.

I can do no better than include, here, the words of Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, who currently lives in the Dordogne region of the south of France, who wrote:

‘If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.

Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper.

When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. ‘ Thích Nhất Hạnh

In that example, Thích Nhất Hạnh writes that in a sheet of paper, a newspaper that we might read on the way home from work, that their is a cloud ‘in’ the paper. And, also, their is the presence of the elements of: earth (in the form of paper from trees of the earth),  air (as trees ‘breathed’ that in), water (in the form of rain which fell from the sky and fed the trees), and fire (because it was the sun whose light and heat nourished the tree to grow tall and strong).

All elements are present in ‘things’, but maybe depending on the item, and/or circumstance, and/or our perception at the time, one comes to the fore. There is, therefore, a wonderful balance and equality (even an equality of deference at times) between the elements. All present. All working together. All in harmony. What do you think?

Celtic Thought: When Life Is A ‘Storm’

20170228-when-life-is-a-storm-1-celtic-thoughtAs we’re still in the season of spring, the cardinal point is east, and for latter-day Christian Celts, Celts and druids (and others who are aware) the primary element is air or wind.

An, for me, the latter is apt.

As many of you will know, my Dad was rushed into hospital recently – and, it feels as though I’ve been hit by a tornado, or buffeted about like a sail boat on a wind-tossed sea. Of course, it has been much worse for my 91 yo Dad (but the good news is, he is well on the road to recovery, and each day is getting stronger, and it is hoped he’ll be home within a few days).

Life, especially over the last week, then, has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions and physical ‘duress’ for me, a time when the body seems to ‘kick into automatic’ to get things done, and then exhaustion (of all kinds) comes upon oneself in the evening, in those times of rest or at least of requested rest.

For those who are acquainted with the old UK tv comedy program ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, you may remember an episode where the few attendees at the church council were meeting during bad weather. For several minutes the debate turned to previous instances of bad weather, and recollections: ‘Do you remember the great storm of…..?’, only for that title to be contested by someone because others knew it as the ‘Great Wind of….’, and so they went on to explain that for it to be a storm there had to be wind and rain.

This last week life for me feels like a great storm – wind and rain – and at sea, too!

I mention this, because I know you will have faced similar ‘storms’ in life, albeit with different events, and in different circumstances, and at different times, or maybe, you are going through just such a ‘storm’ right now? .

‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8, The Book.

No one can wave a wand and conclusively say that such ‘storms’ will go away. I know, if that were possible friends would do that for me, and I would do that for my friends, just as I would do that for my dear Dad. [Though, never stop asking, praying or engaging in ritual, please. There’s more].

But, I have been ‘buoyed up’, comforted and empowered (as has my Dad, especially), by the large number of dear friends from all backgrounds and ‘tribes’ who have sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, positivity-energy-packages and prayer, and maybe that has had a tangible effect. It feels that way, and that is sufficient. And, in some mysterious way (that we won’t discover for some time) maybe it has had other positive effects. And, maybe, that’s what it is all about?

Endurance in a ‘storm’. Journeying together. Caring for each other.

The fact that, in different ways we do travel together, support each other across the distances between us, and want to do good things, is important. I do believe that intentionality counts in the universe. We must never think that our well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers etc are too small or insufficient. We must never stop our good deeds, out good-thoughts sending, rituals and prayers. These are  important. They work (albeit in ways we may not immediately expect, or even see now), and they are products of intentionality in practice.

Love in action.

From my sailing days – a small sail boat, borrowed from a friend, and sailed off the coast of Anglesey – I know that when a storm blows in, it’s time to trim the sails (that is, to reduce the area of sail exposed to the wind) and if its a bad storm to move to ‘bare poles’ and have no sail at all. It depends on the storm. As the waves ‘hit’ the sail boat, there comes a point where instead of running with the wind and waves, one quickly turns the sail boat about and faces into the wind and waves, depending on circumstances, and faces, head-on, into the oncoming surges.

At sea, how we react  depends on the storm.

In life it is much the same. The analogy holds true, for there comes a point where we hold resolutely to the tasks in hand and ride the ‘waves’, and then later we turn to face the oncoming storm. It’s almost damage limitation then and endurance. We accept some change in circumstance, but try to ward of the worst. We become more honest with ourselves, and accept the confusion (and maybe express anger and unfairness) that abounds, we become more resolute, and yes, we acknowledge our vulnerability.

So let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go’
Let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go
(Joshua Radin)

Nevertheless, at the end of that day, I do believe that the Source of All is Master of all, and aids us.

I want to express my gratitude to all those who sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers. I do believe these have made a difference, and I’m humbled by your love and concern for my dear Dad. Thank you to all my dear Christian, Celtic, Druid, Pagan friends and others to numerous to mention. ‘Thank-you’ seems to small a word (or is that two?), but it’s all I have right now and it comes from my heart to you. I hope you understand. Blessings, Tadhg

‘May all the Light and Wisdom of your work
return to bless you a thousand times.’ John O’Donohue