The Child And The Beach: A Story Of Encouragement

20170725 THE CHILD AND THE BEACH A STORY OF ENCOURAGEMENTI always like feedback from the articles that I write, and love constructive and encouraging words. Over the last few days it has been heart-warming to read comments and emails – responses that underline that ‘it starts with us’, ‘we can contribute to the fabric of the universe, we matter, you matter, matter matters, and then someone mentioned one of my favourite words (well, two words), that is, tukkun olam. I love the concept. It has many broad and deep meanings, but the one that is in my mind now is that of you and I ‘repairing’ or ‘completing’ the world. Wonderful.

With that in mind, and you know how I love stories, here’s a story I found and mentioned some time ago but it bears repeating because it is so true, so profound and yet so simple, and it is so encouraging.

The ancient Celts, Celtic Christians and Druids of old would have sat around the evening’s camp fire  and told stories to each other – the ‘telling place’. Some of these stories would be of their tribal history, great leaders and heroes of the past, perhaps for amusement, and sometimes the stories would be great cosmic stories of creation, and sometimes stories would contain a deep moral buried within and which the hearer would have to discern. Latter-day Celts, Celtic Christians and Druids still tell wonderful stories, and here’s a meaningful story just for you:

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young child in the distance, seemingly playing.

As the man drew nearer he noticed that the child kept bending down, picking something up, and then running to the edge of the sea, and throwing it into the water. Time and again the child kept hurling things into the ocean and then ran back.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the child was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time the child would run to the water’s edge and throw them back into the sea.

The man asked the child what they were doing, and the child replied,” I am throwing these washed-up starfish back into the ocean, Mister, or else they will die through lack of oxygen.

“But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach alone, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly save them all.”

The child smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as they threw it back into the sea, gleefully shouted, “I know, but I can make a difference to this one.”

Little by little, in large and small ways, we can make a difference. Never give up doing good.

 

Ebb & Flow: Celtic Poetry, Liturgy, Words To Ponder Upon

20170724 EBB AND FLOW CELTIC POETRYIn life we witness and experience the great circle – the ebb and flow of the Spirit. In this world, and indeed, in this life all is in a state of flux. Everything changes. Therein lies hope. It’s summer. The circle turns, and it will soon be autumn and then winter. The circle turns, still, and winter becomes spring and so on. Ebb and flow. The following can be a(n enacted) poem, or liturgy for a ritual or service, or words for you to ponder upon in solitude, in gratitude of nature’s bounty and the Great Provider behind it all.

[Facing east]
Praise to you, Oh Supplier of air.
The wind rises as a mighty tempest and powers weather systems
and, yet as a gentle breeze, it moves leaves along the path.

Ebb and flow.

[Facing south]
Praise to you, Oh Provider of fire.
The fire scorches the earth, from which new life emerges
and, yet as small and humble flame it gives heat and light to all.

Ebb and flow.

[Facing west]
Praise to you, Oh Bringer of water.
The great seas maintain the planet’s life-equilibrium
and, yet in our homes it provides our daily, individual and essential needs.

Ebb and flow.

[Facing north]
Praise to you, Giver of earth.
The earth provides vast fields for the seed, from which nourishment grows,
and, yet  it is a reminder of the great circle of life, and death, and new life.

Ebb and flow.

Enjoying The Journey One Step At A Time: Celtic Thought

20170721 ENJOYING THE JOURNEY ONE STEP AT A TIMESomeone once said that when we point the finger in judgement on others, there are three fingers pointing back. With that is mind, I sat on the covered porch at the back of the house today, having a mid-day snack and listening to the radio. The weather wasn’t too good today: the temperature’s had dropped, it was cloudy and raining. But, this is to be expected. It’s Wales.

Did you know that in this part of Wales it rains for about 330 days each year – albeit light drizzle and sometimes during the night and so it’s not noticeable, but it rains a lot. And I love it. We get our fair share of heat and sunshine, too, but at some point throughout a twenty-four hour period it will rain.

Listening to the radio, and as is common these days, it seemed doom and gloom was everywhere. I know there are many good things happening, and that if we just listen to the mass media our views can be skewed, and we can easily end up with ‘mean world’ syndrome – thinking that everything is horrid.

‘If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.’ (Rainer Maria Rilke)

As the radio newscaster talked about public borrowing, the rise in inflation, the rise in crime, and the uncertainties of ‘Brexit’, and the ineptitude of some politicians, my mind wandered as to possible solution. Ofcourse, the answer was for them to ‘sort themselves out’, ‘they’ should be more pro-active, ‘that group’ should desist, if only the government would do ‘this’ or ‘that’, and so my thoughts raced. The fault was them! Not me, ofcourse. At least that was one train of thought.

I came across an interesting story – and you know I love stories – and here’s one by Gabriel Garcia Marquez that I’d like to share with you, and it’s one that made me sit up and think. It goes like this:

A scientist who ‘wrestled’ with some of the world’s toughest problems was resolute in finding the means to reduce them. He would spend so many, many days in his laboratory searching answers for the challenges that he was working on.

One day his seven year old son invaded his sanctuary wanting to help him with his work. The scientist, nervous by the interruption, asked his son to go play somewhere else. But, his son protested, and so his father thought of something that would keep the child busy.

Suddenly, he found just what he needed. A magazine with a map of the world on one of its pages.

With a pair of scissors he cut the map into pieces and together with a roll of tape gave it to his son telling him, “Since you like puzzles, I am going to give you the world all cut up for you to repair without anyone’s help.’

He calculated that it would take his son about 10 days to reconstruct the map.
However, after only a few hours, he heard his son’s voice calling him, “Daddy, Daddy I’ve finished.’

At first his father didn’t believe him. He thought that it would be impossible that at his age he was able to reconstruct a map of the world that he had never seen before. He looked at his son’s handiwork, and the pieces had, indeed, been put back in the right places.

How was that possible? How could a child do this? The father dumbfounded asked his child, “My child you did not see what the map looked like, so how did you do it?’

‘Daddy,’ the child answered,  ‘I didn’t know what the world looked like, but when you took out the map from the magazine to cut it, I saw that on the reverse side there was the figure of a man. So I turned the pieces over and step by step began to reconstruct the man that I had seen and did know. When I was able to reconstruct the man I then turned the page over and saw that I had fixed the world.’

Ofcourse, the ‘blaming others’ train of thought, so easy to do, decreased and another train of thought sprang to mind. If we want to change the world, if we want to ‘fix the world’, then we need to ‘reconstruct the man’ (or woman) – that is, we need to start with ourselves.

This is not to say that we berate ourselves, not to say we have to be tough on ourselves, but that gently, lovingly, progressively, slowly we see ourselves as ‘a work in progress’, and daily make positive changes to grow, mature and be transformed. We don’t need to wait until we’ve made it or are perfect, and so we can start right now (if we haven’t already done so). And, it needn’t be a chore. There is much to do that is a delight, and other things that only you can do. Yes, you have a calling (to do, or to discover), and once we’re on that ‘journey’ of making a change in our lives we’ll also find that we’re making changes in other peoples lives and making a difference in the world.

‘Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.’
Marianne Williamson

What kind of difference will depend on you and I, and the part of the world we live in. But, I do believe we start with ourselves, and then by what we plan to do a major change will take place in the world, bit by bit, one step at a time. And it doesn’t stop there. I do believe, even without our knowing it, almost by ‘osmosis’ our lifestyle will ‘rub off on others’ and by just living that lifestyle positive changes around us will happen.

Haven’t you even been in someone’s company and they’ve just exuded life and love even without saying a word? By them just being close, a positive effect is wrought. Haven’t you been to a church service, a Druid ritual or listened to a piece of music and been inspired to ‘do’ something or to ‘be’? Or, it could be for us to pause, periodically, or stop, or surrender, perhaps? These are glimpses of energy – ouranic energy – portals to the Other, and the Spirit flows, and opportunities that do a wonderful work in us ripple outward in observed and unobserved ways. But, it starts with us, doesn’t it? All of us!

‘Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5, part. The Book)

So, as I sat on the porch listening to the radio the predominant thought was then, that it has to start with us, and bit by bit, one by one, slowly the world changes for the better. It sounds naïve, but what have we to lose. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

As the child in that story said: ‘When I was able to reconstruct the man (or woman) I then turned the page over and saw that I had fixed the world.’ A new, transformed world is coming. Indeed, it has already started growing within this one, and it starts with us. But, don’t beat yourself up. We’re a work in progress. Enjoy the journey.

Sacred Twilight: Book Of The Hours

20170719 SACRED TWILIGHT BOOK OF THE HOURS

My eyes scan the horizon of your goodness.
The incense of gratitude rises as an evening prayer.

(Macrina Wiedekehr)

To the west, in the distance, is one of my favourite haunts, a holy place to me – though, isn’t the whole Earth holy?. I can just about make out Glyder Fawr (pronounced ‘glider vor’). And, it is there, over Glyder Fawr, that the beautiful sun is now setting, becoming paler and seemingly less luminous as it does.

Sunset is so marvellous that even the sun itself watches it every day in the reflections of the infinite oceans!

(Meh e Murat Ildan)

But to me, after you have spent many times climbing Glyder Fawr to its ‘prehistoric monster, ‘spiny-looking” top; that’s what it reminds me of: a stegosaurus’ back – it is a holy place, and as I gaze at it from afar, so, too, is this a holy place (and, indeed, wherever you are is holy, too).

At this time of the day, twilight, a time of gloaming, ancient and present-day monks would attend vespers – monastic evening prayers. At the end of a busy day that they may have had, that you and I have had, this hour, the twilight hour, the sixth hour, sext, is a time of courage, recommitment, and passion.

Oh send out your light and your truth; left them lead me;
Let the, bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

(Psalm 43:3, The Book)

It is a time for each one of us to pause and remember who we are. As Celts, Celtic-Christians, Druidic-Christians, Druids etc, we are invited to reclaim our status of: The Cosmos made conscious, Caretaker of the Earth, And Temple of Divine Light.

So, this evening, here’s a few thing I gently thought about, and which you might want to gently consider one evening:

  • What was your greatest received blessing of the day?
  • Did you have an opportunity to bless another?
  • What one task can you smile about?
  • Was there anything that went unfinished (and which you can do tomorrow and so be blessed, then)?
  • What occurred today for which you are grateful?
  • How will you relax this evening – otium sanctum? How can you ensure you have a ‘sacred pause’?
  • Is there anyone you need to make peace with before the day finally ends?

Twilight is a special time of the day. The day is ending, night has not yet come; and we’re in that in-between time period, a ‘magical’ moment, the soul’s hour, a ‘thin place’ (Caol áit in Irish-Galeic, and pronounced ‘kweel awtch’). Here and now it feels as though anything can happen. At this hour ‘doors’ open to untold possibility and encounter. It is no wonder the ancients would gather together at this time to eat, to enjoy each other’s company and to hear the stories of those heroes of old.

As I drive home on a narrow curving road,
someone tailgates, itching to go faster,
not knowing he’s flesh and fragile.

Slowed by sadness and sick of pressure,
I pull onto the gravel shoulder, let him shoot by.
And on my right
catch sight of a great blue heron
standing tall and still in the aisle
made by two rows of towering trees.

Like a priest in feathered robes,
he bows his head three times
before an altar of mountain bluffs.
It’s dusk, and the moon, just rising,
illuminates his wings as they open in benediction
for evening flight.

His parting call:
‘Stay awake,
Holiness may spread its wings for you at any moment.’

(Patricia A. Lunetta (quoted in Pilgrim Walk by the Sea by Susanne Hassell))

At such a time as this, where and when ‘thin places’ occur, the veil between this world and the Other is ‘thin’, ‘thinner’ than before, and Earth and heaven touch. Glimpses of the Divine occur in a myriad of ways: the felt embrace of the Presence, an elemental or dryad spied out of the corner of your eye, something inexplicably alerts you to the glory of nature all around you, or some other glimpse of significance occurs externally or internally.

The Presence is here, with you now; and mysteriously, this time, twilight, is nature’s cool breath as she exhales love. It is time for you to inhale.

 

Learning To Breathe Under Water: Celtic Thoughts On Life

20170718 LEARNING TO BREATHE UNDER WATERI’m sitting in the garden again. The sun has just risen. It’s early. The day is fresh. I’m sitting at the garden table with a coffee in one hand and a book of poetry in the other hand.

Hush. The Presence is here.

My actions feel like a pre-ordained ritual and the book of poetry a time liturgy. Around me are ‘pews’ cunningly disguised as hedges and fences, and the ‘parishioners’ are trees and their branches are really hands raised heavenward in praise. Nature is my church. The Source of All is all around us. The God of Green Hope is gracious to all.

And, I thought deep thoughts as I sat at the garden table, and I read some ‘liturgy’.

There are times in life when things don’t run smoothly. We so often want the life-journey to be smooth and without any ‘judders’, and yet life is seldom like that. I do believe the aim is not to get to the end of this life without any cracks and dents. But maybe the aim is to have lived fully the hand that has been dealt us, and as we stand, one day, covered in scars, slightly scorched, and covered in band-aids, and to look That Which Is Larger Than Us in the eye and give thanks for the ride that involved love (and yes, because we loved there will be heartache too, maybe in proprtion to our love).

I build my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you,
not on the shifting sand.

Each one of us is different. Unique. What we experience, a facet of reality, will be different to the way it is experiened by everyone else. Our reactions will be different, too. The thing we have in common…is that we’re all so different. And, so our life is like a house by a storm-tossed sea that we inhabit…for now. We do our best, we make the most of things. And life is good.

And I built it on rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Good neighbours.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences,
respectful, keeping our distance
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.

We get familiar with the way things are, and yet if we’re honest, bit by bit we know things are changing. I find it easy to make new friends. I love it when their are new births to celebrate, new joys like new jobs that arise, or a handfasting or engagement, or wedding etc (whether it’s of a family member or close friend, or I’m the celebrant at such events).

Boundaries are wonderful things to hem in joy. But, I weep when a family member or close friend goes ‘home’, and passes through that boundary. Are we not all alike? Isn’t the beach a boundary between the land and sea, like a ‘gap’ between here and the Other, metaphorically, like the barrier between life and Life here-after, Heaven, the Summerland or Caer Wydyr (the glass fortress).

Always the fence of sand our barrier,
always the sand between.

And yet, life like sand in an hour-glass continues to flow. Time flows. Relentless. Make the most of each day. Life maybe built on solid rock, but sand around it flows. Tempus fugit.

And then one day
(and I still don’t know how it happened)
the sea came.
Without warning.
Without welcome even.

Life is never smooth. Unexpectedly there are ‘ups and downs’, life-traumas, ailments (and doesn’t it seems that when such things are witnessed in family and dear friends, and we look on, it is worse than it actually happening to us), the loss of family and dear friends and other ‘judders’ occur. Such events catch us by surprise.

This is life, isn’t it? For now.

Not sudden and swift,
but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.

And, as I sit here drinking the final gulp of coffee, thoughts continue to flow.

So many family and friends have it tough. Perhaps if they look at my life they will think the same. We each have life-trauma we keep covered, but it’s there, and it’s a mark of our ‘human-ness’. And yet, when we’re ‘going through it’, the last thing we want is an academic appraisal, someone to tell us that ‘they know’. It feels so personal. It is! How can anyone else know. We experience life differently, and react differently.

If this is ‘you’, then you’re not alone.

And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning, and I thought of death.
But while I thought, the sea crept higher till it reached my door.
And I knew that there was neither flight nor death nor drowning.

When ‘judders’ occur, we change. When I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer about ten years ago (and by the grace of God and the NHS health-care system in the UK ‘defeated it) my motto was ‘business as usual’, but deep down I knew nothing would be the same.

We adapt.

That when the sea comes calling you stop being good neighbours,
Well acquainted, friendly from a distance neighbours.
And you give your house for a coral castle.

This maybe life for now. There is an ancient story about King Solomon wanting a ring that would make a happy man become sad if he looked at it, and a sad man happy. He sent a servant by the name of Beniah to look for it. He had a year in which to find it. Beniah travelled the globe, returning without it and with only one day to go. And yet. on that final day he found the ring in the local market. That evening he approached King Solomon. As soon as King Solomon read the inscription on the ring 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. Yes, everything changes.

And you learn to breathe under water.

We change.

Life teaches us that when the wind blows; lean into the storm. When the sun burns, seek shadow. When it rains, seek the shelter of a mature tree. And, when we seem to be engulfed by water, up to and over our heads, we adapt, we really do – you do – we, metaphorically, learn to breathe underwater. It’s a times like that that we ‘step out’ of ‘normality’.

It is one of the reasons I believe that I am blessed with great friends who are latter-day Celts, Celtic Christians, Druidic Christians, Druids, Pagans and others, who ‘see’ life differently, share their buoying-up worldviews and beliefs with me, and I see life differently, anew, bigger than the life-trauma, bigger and brighter than anything previously imagined. As in says in ancient text: For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

With no more coffee left, I had finished reading that poem – the liturgy for life. For all its difficult times, and whatever we’re going through right now life has a habit of reminding us that we’ve come this far, and to take heart for the rest of this wonderful journey, that we will make it through this ‘storm’.

And that barrier between life and Life here-after, Heaven, the Summerland or Caer Wydyr (the glass fortress), that event when this life ends is really just the beginning. Mae mwy – ‘there is more’, is my favourite Welsh phrase. Oh there is so much more. But, not just yet. Today, we live life to the full and seek joy – which is not dependant on felt events – and are blessed in doing so, whether we feel it or know it or not. Hush, the Presence is (t)here.

You are blessed.

(The poem read at the coffee table this morning, this life liturgy, was by Carole Bialock and is entitled ‘Learning to breathe under water’, and is used here interspersed through my writing as indented block-quotes)

Consider The Oak & Be Wise: Celtic Thoughts On Being Human

20170713 CONSIDER THE OAK AND BE WISEThere are some splendid oak trees at the far end of the garden, here in Capel Curig, and it’s a delight on hot days like today to sit under one of them, with a good book, and a cup of coffee. Bliss.

I love trees, and especially these large, oak, so full-of-other-worldly wisdom. Wonderful and mighty, majestic oak trees.

Some way through my relaxing read I put the book down, and picked up a new, picked off-the-shop shelf, psychology magazine. I like to keep abreast of what’s going. As one would expect, sadly, many of the advertisements were telling me what I was missing and how a four part course would assist me to live life to the full, or how one new book would allow me to become individuated in ten easy steps, or how a trip half way around the world and to a certain mountain would allow a Divine encounter, and so it went on.

‘So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out…’ Matthew 24:26a, The Book

We live in a time when we’re saturated with ‘self-help’ books, and I even saw a course on how to read the Bible. With an inward, wry smile I answered that predicament by thinking one only has to pick up the Bible and read it. But, no! Reducing it to bite-size chunks, even though I could do that myself, was an indispensable and much-need book for your bookshelf, or so the advertisement said. And, they would sell it to you for a handsome price.

With all of this comes, if we’re not careful, a general malaise, a feeling that we’re all  missing out, a feeling that everyone is getting on but we’re not, a feeling that something is missing and someone else has the answer…and it’s wrong. It is an advertisers delight, but an ‘assault’ on the individual.

‘Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget that you are human.’ (Roy T Bennett)

Ofcourse, we mature slowly and others may help, and other resources can assist. We can advance in a particular field, from being ‘new’ and a ‘novice’ to being ‘proficient’ and books and courses may assist, and that’s all good – but, where it counts the most, in your heart, your core, your bring, soul or spirit, you are what you are, and it’s good.

In the shade of that oak my mind ambled wonderfully. We’re already there, was the predominant thought.

What if those alchemists of old weren’t try to change a base metal, like lead, into gold. What if that’s a wrong interpretation, a modern parody that it way off the mark? What if those ancient alchemists were trying to turn it, or even their perception of it, to the essence of what was worth persevering – not something into gold bullion that would be worth a king’s ransom, but lead still, but an appreciation that in its own way lead is lead is lead and it is useful as lead, is of worth, is worthy? In that sense, lead is already ‘gold’ (or as valuable as lead is to lead, as gold is to gold.) Just different.

‘Life is a Long Journey between Human Being and Being Human. Let’s take at least one step each day to cover the distance.’ (Wordions)

Consider the oak tree that I’m sitting under – that was here before I was earth-born, and which will be here long after I go ‘home. It is a magnificent specimen. It doesn’t need a manual to be a tree, or a book on how to be a better tree, or a self-help course of ten steps to be an even better tree. It just is. And it does it well. It is beautiful in its oakiness’.

We may need manuals, books, classes for our work, our specialism or to enhance or increase our knowledge, but as regards our human-ness, you are where you are, you are what you are, and it’s alright.

The One who knows all secrets
is here, nearer
than your jugular vein.

(Rumi)

In the shade of that huge oak tree, I went back to my book and the psychology magazine fell to the ground, only for a few ants to crawl across it, and re-inforce the point: ants are ants are ants (‘Consider the ant and be wise…’, it says in ancient divine text), and that as human beings, humans are humans, and we have a status before the Source Of All that rests on our ‘humanness’ and not our knowledge-ability or intellect, our bank account etc.

Before the Giver Of Life a child stands foursquare and shoulder-to-shoulder alongside an adult, in integrity, worth and wonder. And, it’s enough.

‘You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.’ (Pema Chödrön)

 

Tadhg’s Ephemera: The Moon Of Calming [9 July 2017]

20170707 TADHGS EPHEMERA MOON OF CALMING 9 JULY

It’s that time again – a full moon is imminent.

I love this time of the month, as that heavenly face looks down upon us all. Whatever our differences, tribal allegiances, wherever we find ourselves, that silvery, wonderful face looks upon us all, without judgement.  It’s a time to draw near, to offer gratitude, to celebrate the new moon just as the ancients would have, and it’s a time to ponder in awe, and draw strength.

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

The next full moon is on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 5.07am UTC, in the constellation of Sagittarius, but at that time in the early morning it will be very low in the sky from the UK’s viewpoint, so it may be best to view it Saturday evening, toward midnight or after.

Data

This full moon, to some is known as the Rose moon, or Mead moon, or the Hay moon. To ancient and latter-day Celts and Druidic-Christians like myself (and others) it is known as the Moon of Calming.

‘And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’. (Genesis 1:14, The Book)

Pluto is nearby this full moon, but the bright star very close to the moon – almost touching it – is 56 Sagittarii, an ‘orange giant’, which is some 204 light years away.

Light leaving 56 Sagittarii some 204 years ago and arriving today, entering your retina, as you look at it now, left that star in 1813 – and during the year of 1813:

  • Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was published anonymously in London;
  • there was a three week raid by the British on Fort Schlosser, Black Rock and Plattsburgh, New York (Sorry, America);
  • Robert Southey becomes Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom;
  • one of my favourite philosopher-theologians, Søren Kierkegaard, was born;
  • and Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, the Italian composer was also born that year.

An alternative view if that, is that all those above events, if it were possible to view them from the star 56 Sagittarii, would only just now be arriving, and that’s what any alien there would ‘see’ and understand of our planet – as it was 204 years ago. Such are the vast distances of space. However, light leaving the moon would take just 1.3 seconds to reach your eye!

‘The day, water, sun, moon, night – I do not have to purchase these things with money.’ Plautus

Liturgy

The following might be useful in your celebration of this full moon, in gratitude to The One Beyond The Moon. These are two liturgical poems or prayers that I’ve come across:

Oh Divine Presence,
bless to me/us the lustre of your signs and wonders,
traces of our final home in land and sea and sky.
As you have made the mark of a human face in the heavens
may I/we see the imprint of your family likeness in every living thing
that your blessing might radiate
each day and each night,
until heaven and earth are One.

(Tess Ward, adapted)

and

I call on strength
from silver moon.
I call on strength
from every sandy strand.
I call on strength
from mountain peak.
I call on strength
from moorland bleak.
I call upon the Spirit
providing strength from here.

(Adapted from David Adam’s book ‘Tides And Seasons’)

I wish you all – whether you have a full moon meal, a party, a full moon ritual, or just take the time to light a candle and/or gaze at the moon in awe and gratitude – I wish you all a wonderful Moon of Calming occasion, and many blessings.

‘We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.’ Anaïs Nin

(Thank you  to Pennie Ley for letting me use one of her wonderful photographs (copyrighted, 2017)  for the ‘header’ to this article.)

 

 

Happy Band Of ‘Amphibians’, We: Celtic Thought On Authenticity

20170705 HAPPY BAND OF AMPHIBIANS WEIt’s noon here, and I’m in the garden overlooking the distant hills and mountains of north Wales, and it’s idyllic. I’m munching away on the thickest and most mouth-watering tomato and cheese sandwich you can ever imagine, and there’s the obligatory book and a steaming cup of delicious coffee on the table, too. The weather is wonderfully hot, especially hot for the UK. It’s bliss. I’m in that ‘place’!

I took a telephone call, and that ‘pulled’ me out of the soporific, wonderful, state I was in. It happens. The ‘place’ seemingly ‘evaporated’.

The caller said I needed to make a major legal decision, and I made it. Reluctantly. I would have preferred more time, but that can be a luxury, sometimes. The caller acting on my behalf was pleasant enough, and knowing where I was and what a beautiful part of the country this is, ended their call by wishing that they had such a genteel lifestyle as I had.

And that got me thinking. Always a dangerous thing to do. Do they really know me?

How often, when we get snippets of information do we fill in the ‘gaps’ in a glorious and imaginative fashion, albeit not a very realistic one?

‘The problem is that perception is reality.’ (John Rowland)

Here’s some examples from tv, myth, history, and my life:

I loved those old Robin Hood tv series, and the latter-day ones, but honestly, would Robin Hood really have had all his teeth, would Maid Marion’s dress be so white and her hair so coiffured?

As a student of various ancient spiritual texts, it’s easy to think that Luke the physician ran around Palestine wearing a white coat and with a stethoscope, when probably, he was more akin to an ancient herbalist.

We fill in the gaps, and somehow don’t quite make the leap as regards context and that imaginative inner ‘time travel’ back to those former days to understand what life was really like in only partially complete. Well, unless we really, really, really try!

One of my heroes from English history is Oliver Cromwell. A brave and noble man, many believe, and his statue is outside the Houses Of Parliament in London. But he’s painted with a wart or two on his face, and he wasn’t always noble. To our Irish brethren at that time, and to the Leveller’s of his day he was ruthless, and he killed so many of them.

Be careful when filling in those information gaps!

We see paintings, some of them online, about ancient Druids and Celts, Celtic-Christians and others from yesteryear, and we ‘see’ them depicted through twenty-first century eyes, and in doing so we miss much. Their wisdom surpasses ours, but in many respects their knowledge and (sorry to bring this up) their personal hygiene probably left a lot to be desired. Yes, even Jesus had goat dung between his toes, probably.

We fill in the gaps, and unknowingly factor in modern-day living and thoughts. Authenticity is the goal.

It’s easy to ‘see’ the ancients’ lives though ‘rose-tinted spectacles’. And this goes on even today. Remember that phone call I mentioned earlier, where the person wished for a genteel life such as mine?

What I wanted to say to them was: I want to be honest with you. I’m an ‘amphibian’. And, you are, too! True, I have times of luminous awareness, liminality and can almost ‘feel’ angels at play around me, like you. At other times, I don’t. Then, I have to shop in the supermarket and compare prices, nurse a burnt finger – yes, I burnt my finger on the cooker cooking a nice piece of fish, today – and have to ‘wrestle’ with tax forms, ‘official’ phone calls that demand urgent action, and the world seems to press in so tightly. On those occasions I don’t feel so ‘sagely’ and ‘genteel’. On top of that, in my life, I’ve had cancer (leading to three cycles of chemo, an oesophagetomy and radio-therapy), also had an unrelated thyroidectomy, two broken ribs last year, and now I’ve got a burnt finger.

I’m a work in progress, that’s what I wanted to tell them. And, I know you’re the same as me – the details may change, but we have a share in that ‘common human predicament’.

Those ancients were great people, of that I’m sure, but they had tough lives, and were people of their time. I look around at Church folk and Druids, and Celts and Pagans and others today, and whatever untroubled lifestyle they may ‘exude’ (intentionally or accidentally), I know better. I know that they, like me, you – us – have had (and still have) tough times in our life. Those who are closest to me know my foibles, and I know theirs, and you know what? I love them even more!

But, that’s what makes us all human. That’s what makes us fascinating.  And, that means I can relate to you, bless you, and you can relate to me and bless me.

We’re all journeying together, you and me, today, and those of yesteryear, on one conga-line dance from here to eternity.

‘…know that something softer than us but just as holy planted the pieces of
Himself into our feet that we might one day find our way back to Him. you
are almost home. (Anis Mojgani)

As a sat there, having ended that ‘phone call, and munching on that sandwich – and it was so delicious – the thought that ran through my mind was: authenticity.

The ancient Celts and Druids were a ‘gritty’ people, living in tough times, in touch with nature in all its green and yes, its brown and soggy bits, but they were an authentic ‘breed’, and don’t we love them for that? I want to be authentic, too, and my prayer, wish, energy-sending ‘push’ for you is that you, too, are authentic. Warts and all. For then I can relax in your company, and you can take me as I am, and I will take you as are you are, and we’ll journey onward together toward Caer Wydyr

‘Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.’ (Zen quote).

Being an ‘amphibian’ human is all right. And the journey is a good one.

Through A Glass Darkly: A Celtic Perspective

20170703 THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY PERSPECTIVEDoes Channel 4 tv station still use the ‘4’ logo that is made up of disparate parts that change the whole of the logo depending on how you view it? And, as the camera moves around it, the jumble of parts suddenly becomes the number ‘4’, but only for a second or two, and then it’s just a jumble again as the camera moves on.

‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.’ 1 Corinthians 13:12, The Book

Perspective is all important.

I once ‘accidently’ got into a discussion with someone who wanted to convince me that the sun and moon were the same size, because during a total eclipse the moon exactly covers the face of the sun. I talked to them about perspective, and that the sun is much larger than the moon but much further away, but to no avail. Perspective fail!

‘A group of blind men heard that a strange animal that they had never encountered before, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form.

Out of curiosity, they said: ‘We must inspect and know it by touch, to know more about this strange animal’. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it.’ In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, ‘This being is like a thick snake’.

For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk.

Another blind man who had placed his hand upon its side said, ‘The elephant is a wall’. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope.

The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.’

Each had a different idea about what the elephant really looked like. None were actually wrong, but neither had any of them an idea of the totality of what an elephant looked like. (Ancient Indian parable.)

This morning – yes, I’m still in London – I was out in my little garden looking at a site in the distance that’s about to be developed, and I gave thanks that, for a short while, I can see the River Thames as it flows nearby. The view is wonderful. But, there is part of me that, right now, would prefer to gaze a the green-grey mountains of slate and granite of home, Wales.

But, what we see and how we relate to it, depends on us. Doesn’t it?

Someone with me in London might like the ‘buzz’ of the City, others might not like the noise. If in Wales, some (like me) might revel in the majestic beauty of nature, but others might not be able to ‘acclimatise’ to the much slower ‘country time’.

This got me thinking. How we ‘see’ things affects what we regard as them being ‘of value’. Perspective is very important.

If I look at a tree, and I have axe in my hand, and as a Druidic-Christian see the tree as an ‘ensouled’ being or as having the Creator’s stamp on it, or as a panentheists (as I am, just like the early Christians) believe that that tree ‘inhabits’ God, then I will regard it differently than if I just saw it as a materialist might, as kindling.

So, in London, as I gaze upon that building site, it could be just a mess, or I could see it as an opportunity to create a product or service that will serve people, and in this case, might actually improve the local environment and be wholesome (and holy). It is then something much more ‘noble’ that a mere a bricks and mortar development.  In Wales, perhaps it’s easier to appreciate nature, or could it be that there’s so ‘much’ of it (in its wild state, because nature also  ‘inhabits’ the cities, too) that its easy to be complacent and unappreciative? And so, we still need to looker (more) intently, perhaps?

And, what about when we talk theology or chat about spiritual things, or the deep and profound things of life? Are we so immersed in twenty-first materialism that we only glance at the surface? Don’t answer immediately, please, because those ‘spectacles of materialism’ have an uneasy way of slipping over our eyes even without our noticing.

I’ve been to two funerals recently. The first was unbelievable tough on me (and close family) to endure, the other was tough to endue, but our perspective on these major events of life change depending on how we look at those events. The materialist, attending that funeral, might see a box, a coffin, a casket and nothing more. Someone else might have a hope of more, of new life as one is ‘absorbed’ into the earth. Others, such as myself, even in grief, separation and tears might ‘see’ (in their mind’s eye) that person in heaven, also known as the Summerland or Caer Wydyr (in Welsh, the glass fortress), and might confuse others by talking of pre-life (which happens to be one of my favourite themes) and that we’re all ‘there’ now (but that later point is for another time)!

But, what does this all mean?

It means, perspective will be different to different people, depending on their (our) location, inbuilt views, learned views, expectations (limited or otherwise), ‘tribal views’, and once we accept a multiplicity of views – metaphorically peak over the edge – then our voyage of discovery really takes off. There’s always more!

‘I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ John 16.12, The Book

So, be ‘open’! Step outside the cultural ‘norms’, move toward the edge – become an ‘edge-walker’ – have you ever noticed how all the interesting things, development, maturity and growth all happen at the ‘edges’? – and have a peak at a possible alternative, and maybe ‘more real’, viewpoint.

‘I live my life in widening circle that reach out across the world.  I may not ever complete the last one, but I give myself to it. I circle around God, that primordial tower. I have been circling for thousands of years, and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?’ (Rainer Maria Rilke)

There’s more. There is always more to experience, more to discover, more to understand (differently). More, that catches us by surprise and challenges ‘old’ limitations. There’s more. Mae mwy (in Welsh)

[Note: The painting in the ‘header’ in today’s article is called ‘Escaping criticism’, and was painted by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1835-1910, a Catalan painter. He was well-known for this kind of optical illusion style of painting which is called trompe l’oeil, French for ‘deceive the eye’.].

 

“…Of Great Worth”: A Story

20170628 OF GREAT WORTH A STORY TO MAKE YOU THINKIt seems most of my deep thoughts take place around sipping coffee or waking up at sunrise, and especially so when they both coincide. Today, then, was not unusual in that respect. Sitting at the garden table, drinking coffee, as the sun rose, I reminisced.

I was thinking of one of my grandmother’s, the one that used to live nearby when I was a wee lad in north Wales. I now know that she had had a tough life, but never seemed to go without, was always quite able to make ends meet by ‘recycling’ and darning – does anyone darn socks any more?. She lived on ‘slender means’. The world was different then, people (especially in Wales) were much poorer, and yet possessed in greater amounts a community spirit, a contentment and a resilience to meet come-what-may with a defiant smile, and they loved and laughed. My grandmother was always singing, always quite jolly, and always had an opinion. Ah, the older Welsh generations.

All this got me thinking, especially as she loved to tell stories, of a story I heard some time ago about ‘worth’, which always buoys me up, and I’d like to re-tell it here especially for you. You know how much I love stories and story-telling.

‘There is a story of an elderly lady reminiscing, thinking back to when she was a child. She said: Oh, I remember that it was pouring with rain and I was allowed to play in the house rather than the garden that day. I was enjoying myself so much, that I got a little careless and broke an old vase – a family heirloom – that stood in the corner. It had been there for years.

I knocked it accidentally, and it fell to the floor, and smashed into a thousand pieces. I screamed out loud. In shock? In terror (at what my mother’s reaction would be)? In fear? In disappointment (that I could be so careless)? I screamed. I cried.

My mother rushed into the room. Alarmed. Worried. My mother looked at me, then looked at the smashed vase, and then looked back at me. Her face changed. Her face appeared relieved, and then a smile appeared upon it.

I ran to her crying. She opened her arms and gave me a huge hug. Before I could say I was sorry, she spoke. ‘Thank God. I thought you were hurt’, she said. With tears in her eyes she consoled me, and it was that day that I realised that I was the family treasure, and to my mother, of great worth.”

I don’t think I can add to that story, except to say that it applies to you, to all of us. Never doubt that you are of great worth, and are much loved by That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves.