To Be Here Is Immense: Celtic Thought About Life & Time

20170822 LIFELINE TO BE HERE IS IMMENSEI’m sitting on a somewhat rickety bench seat in Fulham cemetery, in central London. It’s about mid-day and it’s August, and its overcast and cloudy. A wee bit humid, too, and it could threaten to rain, but so far it’s dry.

I’m alone.

There are parts of this cemetery which are more recently used than others and consist of fairly ‘well-manicured’ lawns. The part of the cemetery where the bench seats are – their are three of them – are in the oldest part of the cemetery, and the least used part now, and there nature is ‘wilder’. I like that area. That’s where I am.

With many tall trees and overgrown shrubs around me, the noise of nearby buses and other traffic is hardly noticeable. It’s like being in another place. Another world. It is, after all, known as ‘God’s acre’.

It feels as though I am alone. And yet…

As I sit here it feels as though things have always been this way. But, each one of us had an arrival date, each one of us navigates our way through a myriad of days, and as the names and dates on the gravestones reveal, there will be a time when we will all ‘move on’.

There is a Presence in this place. I don’t feel alone anymore.

Some might say this Presence are the souls of the departed here, others might say it’s angels or the Source of All. Still others may talk of dryads and elementals. Who knows? Whatever we call that Presence, and I think there’s room to ponder there, we’re acknowledging two things: the Presence connotes life (or should that be Life) and the paradox of this place; and that each one of us can, if we’re not distracted or too busy, be aware of the Presence.

‘To be here is immense’. Rainer Maria Rilke.

Almost in front of me is a large gravestone listing three members of the same family. The husband died in 1903, his wife died in 1908, and oh, that dear woman’s mother died two years after her. These three have gone from our sight, but the Presence is a ‘guarentee’ that life goes on, albeit in another form. Gone, but their memory lives on. It lives on in my mind as I have just read the gravestone. But, there are others alive today that came from their ancestral line, just as these three people came from their parents’ ancestral line.

‘In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.’ Robert Frost

None of us is alone.

We are all part of that which has gone before, and we all contribute to those who are yet to come (or those who are here now and maturing, or contribute in a myriad of ways to others’ lives now, if not genetically). Like runners in a baton race – receiving and giving.

We can metaphorically look back at the ancestors with gratitude, look forward with anticipation and hope, and look around us, today, with wonder and awe…..perhaps at the very fact, that we can actually do that!

‘To be born is to be chosen. To be created and come to birth is to be blessed. Some primal kindness chose us, and brought us through the forest of dreaming until we could emerge…’ John O’Donohue.

As I sit on this wooden bench it’s easy to forget the marvel, the miracle, that is Life. As I gaze around at wild nature, but it’s the same wherever we are – or wherever you are – the fact that we are aware of those who have gone before us, those we know now, and can envisage those who might yet come, that we can look around us and be aware ‘is immense’.

And yet, ‘amnesia’ sets in, and we can so easily forget our part in that long ancestral line or the calling of the Presence to ‘be’, and to ‘do’. Then, the visible seems to overpower the invisible, our hurried present seems to ‘crowd out’ the Presence…except in those still moments of solitude when the Presence, or angels, or dryads or elemental or the ancestors, or whatever our theology ‘permits’, still cry out to us. I have a hunch that the Originator of this ongoing message is more concerned about us hearing the message than debating who is, or what is, or what the Originator looks like.

‘We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead… And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.’ Paul Tsongas

The wind is picking up, and it’s time for me to leave. I stand up slowly, momentarily aching somewhat from sitting in a less-than-anthropometically designed, old bench seat, but it was wonder…and, I cannot leave without pausing for a moment and giving a nod of my head. To do less seems disrespectful to the Presence, and to others, such as the ancestors. Life is sacred. Life goes on. There will never be a time when you won’t be!

‘You are the fairy-tale told by your ancestors’. Toba Beta

 

A Great Cloud Of Witnesses: Celtic Thought

20170811 GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSESAs you may know, I’ve spent the last few days in in a beautiful, secluded, thick, old, ‘magical’ forest to ‘re-charge my batteries’, and be ‘primal’. Without creature comforts, no tv, no mobile phone, no internet. And it worked. Batteries ‘re-charged’. And, I’m back.

A lot has happened over the last few months and I needed this break.

There were a jumble of reasons for the need of a break of some kind, and sitting on a log, now, in this secluded forest, overlooking a wonderfully still lake I realise the benefits to me of taking this ‘time out’ in a rural area.

In the tranquillity of these surroundings thoughts pour out in an unstructured way, and I’m content with that. It needs to happen.

Thoughts flooded my mind. I had thoughts of being absent from my Dad. My Mum passed-on about three and a half years ago, my Dad about four and a half months ago. I miss them. I have fond memories of them both, and now the grief at my Dad’s passing-on is changing, like my Mum’s did.

Could it be that the greater the love for someone, the greater the grief at their passing-on. And even if so, this wonderful, new-to-me, strange and unfamiliar place is helping me.

In ancient Roman ‘theology’ they would say that each area, such as this one, has its own genii loci – its own ‘spirits of the place’. To ancient and latter-day Celts, Druids and others we might talk of the elementals and dryads that inhabit each area, and in modern parlance some might talk of the ‘feel of a place’, though I suspect ‘modern’ people are interacting with the spirits of the place without knowing, and yet lack the ability and language to be fully aware or describe it. This place is different, but just as welcoming as any rural, natural wilderness. There is a peace here.

‘…there is still a beauty in grief. Your grief shows that you have risked opening up your life and [gave]…your heart to someone’. John O’Donohue

It’s starting to rain now. Could they be tears? There’s part of me that reckons this may be so, but there’s a deeper feeling, a ‘voice’ deeper inside, deeper ‘out there’, that subtly hints that the rain is a ‘washing away’ of the old, and a ‘cleaning’ in preparation for the new, for the next stage. I remain on that log. Expectantly. And soaked.

Grief changes, and our memories of loved-one may never fade (I hope not), but how we consider them, daily, does change. In this ‘Eden’ of a forest something is changing in me. No longer do I just look back to my parents’ form of bodies, for that for me, would now be to ‘entomb’ them in the past and be backward-looking, and ‘restrictive’. Something has changed. I’m content.

‘Now you glimpse the possibilities of being with them in a new way. If you loosen the sad grip of grief, a new belonging becomes possible between you…the belonging between us and our loved ones in the unseen world. It is a subtle and invisible belonging…’. John O’Donohue.

Birds are still singing high in the trees, and though the light rain is making ripples, occasionally on the lake, fish can be seen coming close to the shore and gobbling food. The clouds are high and sparse, and so the rain is more of a drizzle. There is mist ‘rolling’ slowly down nearby mountains. It is bliss. I’m happy.

Everything seems so right. I look around and there is a natural balance to everything, a harmony, that everything is as it should be. A calmness pervades everything here, including me. For now, we only see in part.

‘Depth is height.’ Meister Eckhart.

The thought comes to me, that it is time to view my ‘loss’ in a different way and if I were to remain at the stage it would be as if I were held back. It’s now time for me to move on. Not to forget, but to remember and to do so with deep gratitude, but in a new(er) way. Now, it is time to realise that my, indeed, our loved ones live on – just as real and energetic as they did before when in physical-body form, but now in an unseen and subtle realm (from our point of view, at present), and just as close to us as ever. Perhaps, more so.

‘From their side, our friends in the unseen world are always secretly embracing us in their new and bright belonging’. John ODonohue.

It’s stopped raining, but I am joyfully soaked. A jumble of thoughts still flood my mind, but that’s all right. I find myself laughing – not a hearty laugh, but not a keep-it-to-myself laugh, after all there’s no one around. No one, except nature and elementals, dryads, companions, and angels maybe. Who knows? And that’s the overriding thought as I get up off this log, and as cold, wet clothes now brush against parts of my body as I walk – not entirely clothes-comfortable – but it makes me laugh even more. Oh, the overriding thought….is that there’s more. That’s my favourite Welsh phrase that I quote and which has been quoted to me in sacred places, in liminal encounters, and in ‘thin places’.

There is more! Mae mwy (pronounced ‘may mee-oh) as it is in Welsh. And there is more. There is more to our surroundings than we have so far imagined if we have eyes to see. More to life. And, for those who have loved-ones who have passed-on there is more, for them, for you, for me, and not only by way of fond memories, but the fact that they are still with us, loving us, encouraging us, embracing us in real, but albeit subtle ways.

‘…we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,..’ Hebrews 12:1b, The Book

I rose up, walked back to the small cottage I was staying in, soggy but joyful, cold but content, missing my parents, yes, but ‘energised’ by the fact that they live on – as do all of those that we have said ‘goodbye’ to as they enter Bliss, that which some call the Summerland, and still others call it Jannah. In the Welsh language it is called Caer Wydyr (the glass fortress). Life goes on there, and the ancestors are not far from any us.

Take heart. Blessings to you and yours, here and there, Tadhg

(Many thanks for your prayers, well-wishes and energy sent during my break. Greatly appreciated and felt).

The Coimimeadh & You: Celtic Thoughts When Out Jogging

20170609 THE COIMIMEADH WHEN OUT JOGGING 1Thoughts from earlier today: I’m in London. It’s early, probably about 6.30am and I’m out jogging. Well, walking now as I’ve done my stint for the day. I’m walking back home. The weather is mild, a little cool, grey cloud overhead, and it’s threatening to rain. There are few people out and out, but there are a few.

Strangers?

Have you ever noticed that when people are not in a rush, perhaps when you pass them first thing in the morning, such as I’m doing now, that there is a ‘connection’. They are more willing to look you in the eye, albeit momentarily, as you pass them by. A friendly nod of the head, perhaps a verbalised greeting and eye contact ensues. This happens a lot in this part of London – I like to think of the city as a friendly place – but there’s a deeper looking into each others soul – if that’s what it is – when passing by, unhurried, early in the morning.

Recognition?

‘When we can look into each others eyes, however briefly, without any agendas or scheme of desire or need, something indescribable and essential takes makes us more than we…’ Mark Nepo

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s as if I know them from some other place or time, but don’t know where and when. Odd. There’s something familiar about them. And then it’s gone as we pass each other by.

Could it be that that recognition that I see, and presumably they see in me, and I’m sure the same applies to you, is something deep and profound. It certainly feels like it.

‘Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.’  Rhonda Byrne

Could it be that in some way I am ‘seeing’ myself in them, and they see themselves in me. Do we ‘see’ ourselves in others. Not just the human condition reflected back, not just separateness, not just another human being passing you and me by, but a genuine soul-connectedness. Perhaps a recognition that is soul-to-soul, deep within, and/or of having even one-soul such as, say, at the centre of a wheel’s hub and waking up to that commonality or oneness?

‘Each time you say hello to a stranger, your heart acknowledges over and over again that we are all family.’ (Suzy Kassem)

Could it be, allied to that soul-to-soul link, that each one of us has another! Yes, you are not just one! That you have something like a spiritual doppelganger. There’s an unusual and wonderful reference to this in the Book (see Acts 12:15, The Book).

‘The angel seeing us is watching through each other’s eyes.

To ancient (Irish) Celts and Druids this mysterious being, this other-us, is the coimimeadh [pronounced koym-imah]. In the late 17th century, Reverend Robert Kirk wrote about the coimimeadh (literally the ‘co-traveller’), and wrote that it is part of you (your soul), who walks beside you, generally, but sometimes can even go walk-about (in which case you, too, can be bi-locational).

Have you ever felt another presence nearby? An elemental in the forest? An angel? Your (own) coimimeadh? Who knows?

Could it be, and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m amongst friends, so here goes, could it be that that person and I have, indeed, met before? Yes, I’ll nail my colours to the mast and declare that I’m a firm advocate of not only accepting the existence of the life hereafter, but also of pre-life. Perhaps, that’s where I know them from. Perhaps all the people in your (earthly) life and mine, all those that we fleetingly ‘see’ deeply in the early morning (or in similar settings) are friends from that realm of pre-existence? And, they have been put here as your companions to assist each you on our journey back home, and you for them?

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..’ Jeremiah 1.5a

Meanwhile, I’m almost back home, and the person passing me right now has quickened their pace and is looking down. Perhaps, they’re not someone I met in pre-life, perhaps not a coimimeadh, perhaps not my soul-reflection or an angel as no deep connected is felt. Perhaps they aren’t soul-open?. Or, perhaps I’ve got it completely wrong.

Now time for a shower, and to make myself look presentable again.

‘My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open far-off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.’ (Antonio Machado)

But, in any case, it’s only good manners to be polite, and smile and greet strangers, first thing in the morning (and at other times), isn’t it? As it says somewhere, ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’

But, what do you think?

Your Journey: Becoming An Edge-Walker

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I’m an avid reader of books, and I like to read from a wide genre and different styles, so that I can get a broader glimpse of the world through the eyes of others from all walks of life. I’ve just finished a book written by a man that walked the  Amazon.

‘You have to just dive over the edge. You haven’t got time to mess about’. Ralph Fiennes

And, I’ve also just finished re-reading a book by Cheryl Strayed about her hike of more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State in the USA. Great adventurers, arduous journeys, ‘highs’ and lows’ from people who had tough times, but who overcame obstacles, and thereby grew in many ways, and returned changed.

It got me thinking. In what ways do we – you and I – prosper when we leave our comfort zone and venture forth into the unknown, ‘to boldly go’, and move from the centre to the edge. The edge is where adventure and treasure can be found.

‘Only ever doing what feels comfortable is a form of suicide.’ Oli Anderson.

Our natural ‘default’ position is of being ‘centre settlers’, we enjoy our comfort zones, love the ‘comfrotable armchair’ of life, but unbeknown to us that armchair can be a most dreadful place, a place that’s so comfrotable that we’re lulled into a warm, cozy, false-sleep of complacency (if we spend all our time there) as the clock ticks on, and opportunity paases us by.

‘The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.’ Robin S Sharma

So, what’s the answer, fellow sojourner?

Caution: The following is to whet your appetite, and to encourage you to become an ‘edge-walker’, someone who doesn’t always stay within the confines of their safety zone, but ventures forth on an awesome adventure. Therefore, as you read this article and, maybe, proceed towards the edge, do so cautiously, ‘testing the waters’ as you go, using reason,  some logic, and lots of common-sense to ensure your safety, but don’t be timid about new experiences. Oh, and, yes, use lots of imagination, too. Great things happen at the edge, as you will find out….that is, if you leave your comfort zone.

‘Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.’ Haruki Murakami.

The Journey

So, what would a movement toward the edge, a journey into the unknown look like. There are a number of common stages, and these are:

1. The status quo: This is our home, where we are now! It’s where we are before we start out, it’s the ‘ordinary’ life, but a place where we experience the feeling of not quite fitting in. Do you feel that you don’t quite fit in?

2. The Call:  The comes a time when we receive a mysterious and/or unexpected invitation, message or challenge. It could come in the physical realm, or it could be an inner conviction, which calls us to something greater. It’s natural to query our capabilities, and some never get beyond this stage, sadly, because they seemingly disqualify themselves.

3. Meeting Your Mentor: As if by ‘magic’, someone who will equiip us with the nitial information to get us started, give us the necessary ‘tools’ for our journey to the edge, and give us great encouragement, will arrive. You may have heard the maxim, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. Well, it’s true. And, maybe for you, this stage is happening right now, as you read this article.

‘Don’t assume, this journey to the edge is only a physical journey to some remote land. For you, it could be an inner journey of discovery, just as every bit as real as a trek through a jungle, a desert, or up a mountain.’

4. Departure: Now, we leave. Ofcourse, thoughts arise as to whether we’re doing the right thing. Family and friends may query the logic of what we’re doing – they have, maybe, the best will in the world, but they’re not you or I, and they haven’t received our calling. But, we’ve answered the Call (though some do turn back even at this point, sadly), and we leave the familiar. We move over the ‘city limits’ into the liminal zone – over the threshold into the unknown. We depart, and take the first real step towards our adventure towards the edge.

‘Our journey could be a physical one. It could be an imaginal one, a real imaginal one. As Pablo Picasso said, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

5. Adventure, Trials & Allies: As our adventure unfolds, there may be trials along the way. Tests of somekind, perhaps. But, don’t worry, help is at hand. We will find allies along the way, too, who will possess just the skills or infotmation we need, to assist us. In the physical realm we will be assisted by people, locals and those with specialist knowledge. But, what of the imaginal realm? Why, then you are limited only by your imagination. Perhaps, as in our night dreams, we will encounter and be assisted by companions, angels, elementals, animals.? Who knows? All ‘energies’ within our psyche.

6. The Cave: Here is a totally unknown land or experience. It requires boldness on our part, but we’ve come this far, and so we carry on. In one ancient story, Jonah found himself being tossed about by the sea (having been thrown overboard), and a big fish, maybe a whale, comes swimming along. That’s akin to a huge (animal) cave.

7. Crisis?: It might be, not always, that things come to a head. We face a crisis along our journey, in our life. It comes ‘out of the blue’ and ‘knocks us sideways’! It might be that we have to traverse a huge desert. Perhaps it is facing a, metaphorical, monster or challenge, something we have to overcome. For Jonah, it was being swallowed by the big fish. A form of ‘death’; certainly a massive ‘jolt’ to his system, and humbling.

8. The Reward, The Treasure: After traveling so far, our efforts are rewarded and we find what we’ve been looking for whether it is in the physical realm or imaginal realm: this could be information, wisdom, answers, guidance, healing, growth and transformation etc. Perhaps, we didn’t know what to expect, maybe we were looking for transformation, but it is at the edge that we discover it.

‘We live at the edge of the miraculous’, Henry Miller

Here at the very edge – where things are totally different to home, we discover what you’ve been seeking.

‘For some in imaginal realm sessions with Tadhg, some have come with questions, say, and in that inner, imaginal realm, have been directed by an ally or two to an imaginal landscape eg an inner library, only there to discover the answer to the question that has been troubling them. Like a night dream sequence this inner journey can yield great benefits,

9. Going Home: The journey is almost over, and now the journey home (easier than the outward journey) commences. But, we’re carrying treasure, now. But, there’s more.

10. Different!: There’s more. We’re not the same as when we embarked upon the journey. We’ve grown, matured, maybe, even transformed. Something has changed. We’ve moved up a spiritual stage. And, maybe we ‘wrestle’ with how we will use this treasure and transformation: for ourselves and/or for others? Maybe, there’s another ‘battle’ of a different sort here? Nevertheless we resolve it, maybe with the help of allies, or the mentor, and journey home

11. Back Home: This is the final stage of this particular quest. We’ve returned home to the ‘ordinary’ world. We’ve grown, got treasure or some sort, matured, been transformed, faced challenges and overcome them, and even more.

12: What Next? But, there’s even more. We know two (more) things. Firstly, the treasure we have and the experiences we’ve had have shown us that we need to share them, share our ministry, with others and not keep them to ourselves. Our horizons and outlook have broadened. Secondly, in coming home to the ‘ordinary’ world, the familiar, our ‘eyes have been opened’, and as we look around, we realise that this place, home, isn’t ‘ordinary’ at all, but it extraordinary, and always has been (but, formerly, we never knew it).

Ofcourse, this is but one adventure. There will be others, and they, too, may follow the abovementioned steps but the experiences and aims will be totally different.

The End, Or Is It?

‘Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.’ Albert Einstein

Right now, you can go on an inward, imaginal journey of power and potential. You can become an edge-walker. It’s a journey to find answers to questions you might have; a journey to discover treasure which may be wisdom, guidance or healing; to explore strange, new, inner worlds of the psyche where answers and treasure manifest themselves like symbols in our night dreams; and where you can encounter angels, archetypes, animal guides, companion(s), all metaphors of energies encountered in dream (but, here, done purposefully), all by booking a one-to-one creative-visualisation, imaginal session with Tadhg in person, or via Skype.

‘When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.’ Edward Teller

You can benefit from a physical journey to the edge, sure; but you can also (just as much) benefit from that inward journey of adventure and discovery. If you have questions about that inner, imaginal journey, of using creative imagination or this article, do contact me by email at: tadgh@tadhg.cymru or, in the next 7-10 days await for the announcement about Tadhg’s dedicated website, which will give much more information. Details of that website will follow within the next few days.

Celtic Thought: ‘C Is For Coimimeadh’ [The ‘Co-Traveller’]

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Do you ever feel as though there is someone with you? Close? Very close? As close as your shadow? You may be right!

Here’s just a thought on which to ponder. As I was reading, several strands of information came together and joined some prior research and memories.

I was reading online of some research done several years ago about the ‘many worlds theory’ on quantum physics. Essentially, there are a huge number of worlds (infinite or almost infinite) which coinhere with this universe of which we’re are part, and so there are multiples of you! Co-existing! Yes, there’s more than one of you – albeit, I’m guessing each ‘you’ in a parallel existence may be slightly different.

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Shakespeare

Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, O.F.M. Cap., was a friar, priest, and mystic, and is now venerated as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.The phenomenon of bilocation is one of the most remarkable gifts attributed to Padre Pio. His appearances on various of the continents are attested by numerous eye witnesses, who either saw him or smelled the odours characteristically associated with his presence, described by some as roses and by others as tobacco. Among the most remarkable of the documented cases of bilocation was the Padre’s appearance in the air over San Giovanni Rotondo during World War II. [1]

Peter, in the Bible, had been imprisoned, but a miracle had freed him, and he ran  to the house of Mary, the mother of John. When he got there, he hammered on the door, and when Rhoda, inside, heard Peter’s voice she ran back to the others to tell them, leaving dear Peter still outside! Their reaction was understandable.

They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It  is his angel.” Acts 12:15

But, the interesting thing is that, depending on which version you read – they assumed it was his spirit or his angel! So, something connected to/with Peter, but separate! At least, that’s what they initially thought and what was on their mind – in their ‘theology’!

To ancient (Irish) Celts and Druids this being is the coimimeadh [pronounced koym-imah]. In the late 17th century, Reverend Robert Kirk wrote about the coimimeadh (literally  the ‘co-traveller’) who is part of you (your soul), who walks beside you, generally, but sometimes can go walk-about (in which case you, too, can be bi-locational).

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

By Juan Ramón Jiménez
Translated by Robert Bly

There are some common themes here, I think: We are not alone. We have a companion (or more than one) and some will call this doppelganger the ‘you’ in one or more of the ‘many worlds theory’ planes of existence, perhaps. Others might say your companion is your True Self or your Higher Self or glimpses of your spirit, others might say it’s a friendly elemental, or that it is your guardian angel(s), or, maybe even an energetic, personal, real-but-elusive, metaphor of…… [fill in the blank].

What do you think?

 

[1]https://www.ewtn.com/padrepio/mystic/bilocation.htm

Essential Celt: Angels In Essex?: Close Encounters

160111 essential celt angels in essex THOUGHTS

‘Angels, living light most glorious! Beneath the Godhead in burning desire in the darkness any mystery of creation you look on the eye of your God never taking your fill: What glorious pleasures take shape within you.’ Hildegard

We live in a sceptical age, and there is seldom talk about angels, even in many churches. The result is that anyone who talks about angels is likely to be branded ‘new age’ (no disrespect to those amongst my friends who call themselves’ new age’). By default, the subject of angels is left to others – who talk a lot about angels, and why not? – and I think those who might not consider angels as much are the poorer for it. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

What do you think?

Down the ages, Celts, Druids and wiccan people, and others, accepted (almost ‘casually’) the existence of angels (by one name or another), as do many of my Christian, Druid, Wiccan and other friends (Light-workers etc) today.

‘The Celtic mind was not burdened by dualism. It did not separate what belongs together’. John O’Donohue

Angels are said to guard individuals (Psalm 91:11), and even sang at creation’s dawn (Job 38:7). We’re commended to extend hospitality to strangers, lest they might be angels (Hebrew 12:2). And they ministered to Jesus (Luke 22:43 et all).

Angels and angelic encounters, then, are not the domain of one particular belief-group, but open to all.

Have you seen an angel? Have you encountered an angel? Would you like to?

This is one of my favourite, almost humourous, accounts from the Book: Peter, having miraculously escaped from prison, ‘…knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’.

‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’

But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:13-16. The Book.

Scepticism & Change: So, why the scepticism? Why can’t we expect to see an angel in Essex?

The scepticism exists, in part, I believe, because it goes unidentified, and therefore unchallenged. We don’t ‘label’ it, and we should. We consider ‘our way’ of thinking ‘normal’, and others, from a different group or belief system or from another age in history (as we read those ancient records), if they think or say something different to us, must be  ‘wrong’.  And, so what they say is discarded.

We can suffer with an unhealthy dose of twenty-first century arrogance, a huge amout of materialism, even as we seek out Celtic ways!

Celtic ways were different to ours, and so any honest desire to ‘recapture’ the passion and depth of their ways, will result in some upset, some ‘judder’ and some honest appraisal of our own personal theology. If you are concerned at the aforementioned sentence, please don’t read on.

But, once we’re aware of such scepticism – once we can, metaphorically, hold it at arms length and objectively inspect it for what it is – then we can make adjustments, and look at things differently, and see, just as the Celts of old, did.

Hint 1: Are you sceptical? Be objective! Check to see if you’re a sceptic, and if so,  work on it!

Perception: And, why don’t we see angels in Essex or elsewhere? Maybe we’re not looking, maybe we  are too busy, or perhaps we don’t have the awareness-tools to perceive them.

It’s interesting, that on several occasions in the Book, angels appeared to people as they took shelter from the noon-day sun in the shade of a tree, or in their homes – places where they might be expected to rest, or make time for themselves, and ponder.

‘Pay attention to your dreams – God’s angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep.’ Eileen Elias Freeman.

Yes, angels can appear even in our dreams. Here’s a record of my most memorable dream about angels: [Link]

Hint 2: Are you too busy? If so,  make some time for yourself, time to  relax,  ponder, even day-dream, to make time for an encounter.

Expect the unexpected:  We sometimes relegate angels to a bygone age. Oh, that was then, and this is now. Things are different now. Perhaps we’ve entered a different epoch and it all works out differently today? Some say. Maybe not.

Have you read the accounts of the Angels of Mons? On 22–23 August 1914, it is recorded that during the first major engagement of the British Expeditionary Force , the British troops were protected by angels!

And what about this video clip? Much more recent. Okay, you won’t see an angel, but just listening to, and watching the reaction of an outside news broadcaster on the banks of the River Thames in London is worth its weight in gold. [Link]

I think, generally, we’re still too ready to explain things away.

Hint 3: Do you jump to conclusions too quickly Sometimes its better to say, ‘I  just don’t know what happened’, and  come back to it later. Why not journal. Maybe it was an  angelic encounter?

Research: Why not read some accounts that others have had regarding angelic encounters?

The more ‘modern’ the account, personally, the better. When we only look at Victorian woodcarvings of angels, or dwell on those awesome renaissance paintings of veiled cherubs, or read ancient accounts (all good), when we only do that, we can subconsciously ‘program’ our mind to think that such encounters only happened in the past and don’t happen now. Oh, but such encounters do happen now!

 Hint 4: Why not read a contemporary book on angelic encounters? I have to  admit I like some books, on this theme, written by Doreen Virtue. I might not  agree with her theology, but the books are entertaining at the very least, and do  contain some  interesting accounts, to ‘fire up’ receptive neurons, and make us  more receptive.

Make a date: Many would think nothing of praying and asking God to assist them, and make time to pray, so why not ask angels? Infact, may of my wiccan and Druid friends, and others, do just that! Why not you?

Asking assistance – not the same as worshipping angels – doesn’t seem to be wrong, and seems a reasonable way to go. Infact, may in the biggest denomination in the West and many in the eastern Orthodox Church do just that. It has been said that one day, when our eyes are fully opened, we will be shocked (in a nice way) at the amount of angelic involvement in our lives.

 Hint 5: Why not ‘diarise’ an angelic encounter, or go to a place of solitude (for  me, that would be deep in a forest or at the summit of a mountain), and just be  still, and see what happens. It’s what many Celts of old did.

Becoming arational: One objection to angelic encounters is that is irrational, in an age of rationality, to believe that angels exist and can be encountered.

Arational: Not within the domain of what can be understood or analysed by reason; outside the competence of the rules of reason…

I would say that the belief in angels’ existence is arational! But, that isn’t a bad word.

If rationality is the way of the logical mind, and that which is irrational is discounting things because they fall outside what one can deem rational; then arational is okay – arational, such as the belief in angels are above and outside the realm the rational mind, and acceptable, because rational ‘rules’ and logic do not apply.

Hint 6: Consider the arational, and that angelic encounters, as with many other  spiritual concepts, operate to a higher form of understanding.

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’ Albert Einstein

If you have any queries, if you would like to know more about making time for angelic encounters, if you want to know about encountering angels in Essex or wherever you are (which is part of the ministry of Tadhg), then do contact me – leaving a message below, or sending a confidential ‘messenger’ message, or by emailing me: tadhg@tadhg.cymru

Journal: Cancer And The Green Angel

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Journal excerpt: I’m coming up the my ninth [re-]birthday! I really am!

Nine years ago, last May, I went for extensive hospital tests (so we’re talking about May 2007), and as I sat on the end of the bed the oncology consultant returned to the room. He said,’ I’m guessing , Mr Gardner, you’re a person who likes to be told things quickly’. I nodded. He was professional and yet sensitive, and then said, ‘You have oesophageal cancer’.

The rest of the day was a blur. I can only describe it as total soul loss. It was as if I was disconnected from reality, that my being had received a hefty kick n the backside and been propelled a mile alway; and as people spoke to me, it was as if I was at the far end of tunnel, struggling to hear, struggling to comprehend, struggling to reply.

Sleep came late that night, as I thought about that awful news and further tests they were to do, and later, my memory was jolted to a dream I had had just weeks before.

Did you know God speaks through dreams – ancient sacred texts are full of such events. That some chemical discoveries (benzine?) were found when a scientist had (night) dream. And, that we’re continually in a light-sleep, daydream state throughout even our waking moments (but the physical events of the day ‘crowd out’ that dream-like, imaginative  state. It’s the way we’re wired up! To have dreams.

So, there was this angel, all green. Absolutely green. Green eyes, green skin, green clothes. Everything was green. So much green, that it was difficult to know where his body stopped and his unusual clothing started. He didn’t have any wings, but I just knew I was in the company of an extraordinary being. He must have been about 6ft 6 inches, well over 2m high and ‘solid’; he was built like a Olympic wrestler. And, there he was, standing in my garden as I looked out the living-room window. I have to admit I was somewhat confused and perplexed.

A dream it may have been, but I was aware. I knew what was going on. In that dream I was thinking and reasoning to with myself, and an internal dialogue was taking place about my next course of action. The very next moment I was in the garden, and just a few feet away from the angel. He started to walk away, as if to leave.

Immediately, my mind went into overdrive as I sought to delay him. The only thing I could think, was to ask him a question, to ask him if there was anything he needed.

‘Water,’ he said.

Immediately, I found myself in the kitchen, reaching for a glass and started to fill it with water. Even then, I was thinking of how to prolong this extraordinary encounter, and so I only half filled the glass. Surely, I thought, that won’t quench his thirst, and he’ll stay even longer.

I went back to the angel in the garden, and he took the glass of water, and drank. He turned slightly and started to leave. Again, in my dream I was reasoning how to make the most of this encounter. I knew I had enough time, probably, only for one question. I thought to myself, should I ask, ‘Is there a God’, but I had answered that one myself – after all, here’s an angel, a messenger from God. Still moving towards the garden wall as if to leave, the angel stopped monetarily, probably anticipating my one and only question.

‘What is God like?’, I asked. He replied, ‘Love(ly)’.

The reply was more of a ‘feeling’, an experience, rather than just words, and so his reply could have been ‘love’ or ‘lovely’. I like to think that in that Otherworldly, brief encounter where experiences are as important as words, and maybe, more so, that it was both of those words, and more! And, then the angel vanished.

I woke up, and over the next few weeks and months researched the Green Angel, and found that he appeared in the writings of at least two or three cultures, is a messenger of Life itself, and in Islam has an association with water, the water of Life.

I’m recounting this dream because it meant something to me, and still means a lot to me. There’s just a little bit more to this encounter. Timing.

This dream occurred a few weeks before that shocking diagnosis of cancer, and – the sceptic that I was, then – had it occurred after the diagnosis I would have explained it away as the mind trying to ‘comfort’ itself. But, it happened before all this, and was given at that time for me to ponder upon at a later stage, that is, at the time of diagnosis.

Some may discount dreams as the random firing of nuerons, or this dream as the result of a piece of undigested cheese laying in my stomach, but to me, it meant something profound, something reassuring. Howver, tough the time was ahead (and it was ), I took some comfort and strength from that dream. I knew that what would happen, would happen, and there was life beyond this.

The Time Of The Thaumaturgist #3

03 tnott word face pexels TIME 111 SML wristwatch copyEpisode 3: The air, as I stood in my garden, had a slight ‘bite’ to it, but the sun was shining against the side of Ty Gwyn, my oh-so-white-walled cottage near Capel Curig in north Wales, and though this was decidedly still ‘coat weather’, the day promised better things. It was 6am, and I had ‘greeted’ the new day, filled my lungs with fresh air, and the sun rays had beat against my skin, and my bare-feet felt the cold, wet grass underfoot. Bliss.

It was time to head back inside and have breakfast. My attention was arrested.

Having left the side door ajar – no one really uses the front door in rural areas – I noticed a set of wet boot prints evident on the stone doorstep. Bootprints? I was barefoot! I wasn’t expecting visitors, not today and certainly not at this early hour.

Gingerly, I crept inside the cottage. That door leads directly to the kitchen. And there he was! My ‘visitor’. I didn’t know his name, but twice now he had visited me in the past, and twice had he disappeared just as quickly. A real mystery.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Before I could say anything, he turned around in the chair, and supping a cup of tea, raised his eyebrows and nodded in the direction of the kitchen table, to indicate that he had made me a cup on tea.

HOME

‘Make yourself at home,’ I said sarcastically. ‘I knew you were going to say that,’ he replied, ‘and I have, but make yourself at home, too.

‘But this is my home,’ I said indignantly. Without a seconds pause, he spoke: ‘Oh, but it’s not. Not really. You and your kind, humankind, are passing through. Home is elsewhere. You asked me to remind you of that the last time we had a cup of tea together, knowing that you’d forget….and you’ve forgotten, haven’t you?’. He continued, ‘Mae mwy, there is more!’.

‘I really don’t know who you are,’ I said, ‘and I really don’t understand it when you say ‘there is more’, so why not just tell me who you are, and what your business is with me…please?’, I pleaded in exasperation.

‘Okay, it’s time for experiential theology 101. Are you ready? If so, take a seat, and relax’, the Visitor said.

‘Always,’ I replied, and sat down on the opposite side of the kitchen table to him, sipped a really well-made cup of tea, and closed my eyes, placed my hands on the table, palms down, and relaxed.

‘I’m just going to rest my hands on your hands, and when I do you will experience a glimpse of ‘home’,’ he said, ‘And, the sequences of events you will experience will seem bizarre and out-of-order, and it’ll only be in retrospect that you’ll even begin to make sense of them. Whatever happens, for the glimpse to be meaningful, you must not open your eyes until I tell you too.’  With my eyes closed, I nodded. A few seconds later I felt the palms of his hands rest on the top of my hands.

THE GLIMPSE

‘Only a glimpse,’ he said. His voice seemed to trail off into the distance and I only faintly heard the last syllable.  Immediately my whole body was encompassed in what I can only describe as ‘tangible love’. It was like taking a very warm shower but not getting wet, it pervaded every cell in my body with a ‘cosmic hug’, and it caught my breath. My eyes were closed, but I could feel tears of joy run down my cheeks, and I could hear myself laughing, as though someone had told me the funniest of jokes, a real hearty laugh that went on and on. The more I tried to stop, the more I laughed. My head was swimming, and my body jolted as though I was on a helter-skelter, but I could feel the kitchen chair beneath me. Laughing, disorientated, feeling warm, I was cocooned in pure, unadulterated love.

With my eyes closed, I shouted, ‘That’s enough!’. He calmly, and with an air of authority, he said’, There is more, so much more. Keep your eyes closed. Do not try to make sense of this now. This is but a glimpse, and a necessary glimpse. You’re doing well. Hold on!’.

With all that going on, I turned my head from left to right – my eyes remaining closed – and I ‘saw’ events from my life, as if in a picture-book where the pages had been rearranged and were out of order. I saw my wedding day, followed by my first day at primary school, my last day at secondary school, then I saw the time when the consultant sat me down and told me I had oesophageal cancer, followed by scenes of my birth, my first day at theological college, leading my first baptism service, I saw what happened yesterday, and more. This was followed by scene of an argument with a good friend that happened last week, then I saw the day that I first moved into the cottage near Capel Curig many years ago, and other events too, all in quick succession. A jumble of pictures, an anachronistic montage of two to three seconds worth of action for each stage of my life, followed by the ever-increasing sounds of others talking, some laughing, some crying, and smells, the smell of fish frying, of spring flowers, of the wind in my face, the taste of a salty ocean, and the smell of death, all mixed together, all connected and yet disconnected from the actions I saw.

It suddenly went quiet. You could have heard a pin drop.

Quiet, except that I could hear the sound of my own breathing. Heavy, laboured, exhausted. I couldn’t feel the Visitor’s hands on mine, and I opened my eyes. I wasn’t in the kitchen any more. I was in a majestic, grand, hall. It had no lights whatsoever, but I could see. I turned to my left, and there was the Visitor. He looked different: seven feet/over two meters tall, see-through almost, and emitting a wonderful radiant yellow light. He looked at me, and smiled the most loveliest of smiles and exuded peace. ‘You see me as I really am. What do you think?’ he said.

I could only fall to my knees, having been totally overwhelmed by the love and grace that swept in waves from this being of light. ‘You are so handsome, and so perfect and so powerful, ‘I said.

He laughed, and put his hand under my chin, as I knelt before him, to urge me to stand. He spoke: ‘I want you to see yourself as you really are, you and your kind, humankind; what you call humanity are really the ‘Great Ones’ whom my kind gladly serve, all nine billion of you. Look in the mirror, powerful being that you are’.

I looked. I saw a being three feet/one meter taller than even the Visitor. I too, was almost see-through and emitting a brighter, golden light. There was more. I felt so powerful, so free, and felt unlimited, and yet so connected to the Source, to others, to nature, to everything. The same, but separate!

Then, a swirling light appeared as if from nowhere, and it got closer, and closer, and there was a noise like a thousand tornadoes, but I wasn’t afraid. Almost as if knowing what to do, I grabbed the Visitors wrist and walked toward the light. ‘Ah,’ the Visitor spoke, ‘Now you’re beginning to remember, aren’t you?’.

The swirling light moved right through me and him, and I found myself in what could only be described as a café. No one there acted as if they could see me, as if I was just an unobserved observer – and I was , but I could see that I was standing in a 1920’s’style classical café with the smell of great coffee filling the air. Seated at tables were similar translucent beings emitting golden hues, some emitting red hues, or a blue light, and a myriad of other colours. And, on the far wall there was wide picture window that looked out on to deep space, then it changed to a forest scene, then it showed a huge white, pulsating light that exuded grace, and then back to depict a deep-space scene! Incongruent.

I knew this place. I had been here before. We all had. Before birth. Pre-life. I smiled at the Visitor. ‘Brace yourself. It gets even more confusing’, he said.

He was right. At one table nearby, were three beings all  emitting a golden light, so much so that their light’s brilliance connected them in one, huge, golden ball of light, of love, of connectedness, of authenticity. I knew one of them was me. There I was drinking coffee in some kind of celestial café. The other two beings: one I just seemed to know was my mother who had ‘passed on’ just over two years earlier. The other was my father who was still alive in London. ‘But, how….?’, I gasped. I looked at the Visitor somewhat confused. He guessed my real question.

He spoke: ‘By the physical realm’s standard your mother passed on two years ago and yet here she is, alive. Your father, by earth’s standards is still ‘down there’ and alive, but here he is, and with you at that table, too. You see, ‘down there’ and ‘up here’ is all the same, in reality. They are just metaphors, and notions of placement will only take us so far spiritually. Humankind just think there’s a separation. Whilst you’re all ‘down there’, you’re all also ‘up here’ –  you never really left this place. All three of you together, without separation, even when you ‘get back’ to Earth, you’re all still here. If you want to think in ‘time’ terms, imagine that those three people at that table  – you, your mother, your father – sitting at that table, just popped down to Earth for a nano-second, as do all of humanity, a whole life-time on Earth is really the time, here, that it takes for  a blink of an eye, and there you all are, ‘back’, enjoying each others company for all eternity. And why the café? It’s a glimpse, a metaphor of heaven, but not the whole thing.

‘But, why do we all visit Earth?, I asked.

He spoke again: ‘All of humankind was in this place, is in this place and will always be in this place, but it is beneficial for each of you to visit the Earth. You see, you all agree to go. You discussed with the Source, what you would do ‘down there’, how it would benefit you and others, the jobs you would get, who you would fall in love with, who you would meet – or meet again, because the ones you meet ‘down there’ you’ve already met ‘up here’, and then you discuss with the Source how you will exit the Earth and return home (though, remember, you never really left).’.

JUST WHO ARE THE GREAT ONES?

He continued, ‘And once you’re birthed on Earth you forget, when in that physical realm – but remember, you’re also here with your loved-ones. And then it all begins. You don’t remember your mission, you forget what will happen to you, when ‘down there’, you don’t understand the illnesses and misfortunes that affect you and others, and you don’t know why the Source would take loved ones away from you. It’s a mystery to you, there, but not so here.  And all that I’ve shown you and said to you applies to all of humankind, all of the ‘Great Ones’. But, there are two things each person should know:  though it is a mystery it is all worthwhile, and though it makes no sense whilst you (think you) are on Earth (only), it will one day make complete sense when you’re here (but, you never really left). But, there’s something else all should know. Though you forget how your life will unfold and what will happen to you on Earth, any course of action you take ‘down there’…well, you cannot go wrong. So, don’t worry too much if you’re on the right spiritual course or not. All shall be well’.

He concluded, ‘It’s time to go’.

I took hold of his wrist, and that swirling light re-appeared and came towards us, so bright and so loud. As we stepped through into the light I looked back at those three golden,  tall beings of light. In just the last two seconds of perception, as that cosmic café seemed to melt away, one of the beings stood, looked in my direction and bowed a low bow. I cried. I knew that that being was me in bliss. It was strange to witness myself as another, and yet be connected at the same time. I knew it was the same for every man, woman and child on earth, those that had gone home and those that were yet to come. All in bliss. All safe. All part of the Source and yet distinct. All light-beings, all love, all powerful! I knew that what I had just witnessed was witnessed by all of humanity if they could only but remember just their own personal glimpse of bliss in whatever form it manifested itself.

HOME AGAIN

My body jolted. I nearly fell off my chair. The Visitor had given me a right-hook, a powerful punch to the right side of my jaw, almost knocking me off my chair.

‘What did you do that for?’ I shouted in anger, and in a fair amount of pain.

‘It’s the quickest way to ‘wake’ you,’ he said calmly. ‘If none of that made sense, it will do in time. But remember, it was only a glimpse, it was a metaphor of what really is, and, yes, there is more.’

I sipped my cup of tea, turned to put it in the microwave to re-heat it, as it had gone cold. I noticed the clock on the microwave showed 6.56am. Had that ‘visit’, which seemed to take just five minutes, really lasted over fifty minutes? I turned to ask the Visitor, but… he’d gone.

I was left with more questions than before, but I knew he’d be back. After all, mae mwy, there is more, for us all!

The Time Of The Thaumaturgist #2

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It was a bright and sunny day, albeit a somewhat chilly March day in London. Walking briskly toward the café before leading a service at St Chad’s later on, I couldn’t help but notice the scarves wrapped tightly around the necks of passers-by, hats of every colour being worn, and that, others were walking, like me, briskly to generate some body heat. It was a very chilly day. It was one of those ‘no cloud, blue sky, but ‘don’t-stay-outside-too- long’ days that occur around this time of the year, here.

COFFEE-OLOGY
As I opened the café door, the comforting aroma of freshly-brewed coffee filled my nostrils, there was the familiar murmur of indistinct chatter, and warm air enveloped me like an invisible, comforting, almost tangible ‘welcome-back’ hug. A drip, due to the change in temperature, hung on the end of my nose and tickled (and, yes, I left it there, well, at least for a few seconds to enjoy the experience), and my stomach churned in anticipation. This place was my second home….well, third home, but it’s a long story.

Moving toward the only place that was free – a place on the bench, communal table, in the centre of the café, I disrobed and hung my coat and scarf, and knitted hat of many colours (avec un pompon) on the back of the chair, as did everyone else (that is, on their own respective chairs), except the guy sitting opposite me. He, busy typing on his iPad, oblivious to everyone around him, and seemed not to have any outer layers on his chair, and was dressed in an unseasonal open neck, thin cotton-like shirt and shorts! No scarf. No woolly hat. No outer coat.

As I sat down, I caught the eye of the barista, who smiled and nodded a knowing nod, and who started to prepare the usual latte for me, with an oh-so-welcome warm croissant. My stomach ‘groaned’ in expectation, and I pulled out my IPad from my backpack, placed it on the table, to check my emails.

Twenty-five emails!

Oh boy. As I trashed most of them – and answered the remaining few, I was caught by surprise. I had trashed twenty ‘buy this’ type of emails, but the figure ’21’ appeared in the trash folder.

‘There is more?’, I questioned, out loud, though I had intended to say it only to myself.

‘Mae mwy*,’ came the reply from the shirt and shorts guy, opposite.

That phrase! Could this be the ‘shadow man’, who had used that phrase before; the one who described himself as being ‘like an angel’, and who had saved that elderly woman’s life by knocking her down and (only) breaking her ankle? It sounded like him, but it was such a brief encounter before, and it was some weeks ago. [[Previous episode, #1]

I wasn’t entirely sure if it was him. But, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as he spoke, and though I was in a warm café, an icy chill now enveloped me just for a second or two.

‘Pardon?,’ I said.

‘Mae mwy*, it’s Welsh for ‘there is more’, he said in an exquisite Welsh ‘valley’ accent. ‘It’s what you said in English,’ he said, and smiled.

‘Rw i’n dy ddeal di!**’, I replied in my north Wales ‘wilderness’ accent [which means ‘I do understand you!’], and smiled a somewhat sarcastic smile, widening my grin just a little more than usual, raising my eyebrows, and tilting my head.

He continued typing on his IPad, as did I.

THEOLOGY
A few minutes later he spoke again. ‘What do you see, Tadhg?’.

Having finished my emails, and closing the iPad into the add-on keyboard, I smiled, and now had some time to engage this mysterious, unseasonally-dressed guy, and, perhaps, find out if he was, indeed, the ‘shadow man’ I had encountered some weeks earlier.

‘So, what do you see, Tadhg?,’ he said again.

‘Well. I see the latte and croissant the barista has just brought over!’, I replied.

‘That’s a good start’, he said. I wasn’t sure now if he was being sarcastic.

He continued, ‘I know you know that there are three ways of perceiving reality as your type perceive it, but sometimes it’s just good to pause and take it slow and really know. It’ll help you in the future, for what is ahead.’

‘Do you know, you have me at a disadvantage. I really don’t know what you mean. What is my type? What does the mean? What is going to happen in the future? How will this help me?’, I quizzed him.

‘It sounds bizarre, Tadhg, so I’ll take it slow’, he said, and now I knew he was being sarcastic, paying me back for my sarcasm to him, earlier. ‘We’ve met before. Your kind, which includes all the people in this café, and indeed all the people on the planet have been around, in another form, for some time before physical birth. Think, ‘big bang!’. It’s just that you can’t remember it now in this form, well, at least for a little while, but one day you will, when you’re home again. And your type? We call you ‘the Great Ones’, and if you need more information, as a book-lover, check out C S Lewis’s ‘The Great Divorce’ which will explain more about the phrase and your kind, and your kind’s amazing status’.

He paused as if to let me digest that information, and then continued, ‘Knowing that all that happens in the future is something you’ve agreed to, and you have (before birth), will get you and your kind through some tough challenges ahead in this life. And knowing, that ultimately, all roads lead home will spur you on, will assure you all, immensely. You will draw strength from that. All planned. All agreed by you. A touch of telluric-amnesia, perhaps. And then, finally, back home.’

‘But there’s more’, he said, rather pleased with himself that that was the umpteenth time he had used that phrase. There’s the three ways of seeing things! I know you know about that, but now must know that. Go deeper!’.

I was intrigued. Slightly uneasy that those to my left and right might hear the conversation, which was an odd conversation to say the least, but, as if by magic, they seemed oblivious to me, the strange guy and the conversation.

I looked at the croissant on the plate, paused, then bit into it, chewed and sipped the coffee, and kept both in my mouth, momentarily. I know. An awful habit to mix the two in my mouth, but so wonderful. Bliss! Before I could swallow, he continued.

‘There are three ‘depths’ or realms to everything, including your croissant. Firstly, there’s the shallow, surface understanding. Taking the croissant as an example, I’m sure you can tell me it’s composition by analysis, where it came from by pointing to the map, how it was made, and the marks of a good and bad croissant. You like warm croissant, don’t you?’, he said, without pausing for an answer. ‘That’s first level perception. The senses. The physical. The visible realm.

‘The second level of perception and second realm’, he said, ‘is the intelligible realm, the invisible realm, and understanding of that comes not by the senses but by the mind, by reason and imagination. I’m sure you can tell me about the goodness of that croissant, and the effect it will have on your body, and what that means. Bread is life. You know that. It’s reasonable to believe that. It’s about going deeper’, this man of mystery said, and who now had my full attention.

‘But, there’s even more,’ he continued’, the third level of perception and reality is the ‘why? and beyond’. The spiritual realm. The fact that you need it, to eat, to live, and have been given it, and by whom is a mystery, that is beyond reason, and can only be merely accepted and enjoyed. It’s why each time you eat, first thing in the morning, whether it’s a cereal breakfast at home, or this croissant this morning in this café, you pause and pray the HaMotzi*** blessing over it each time’.

‘Hold on,’ I interjected’. How do you know that? It’s true I do say that blessing over whatever I eat first thing in the day, sometimes at home, sometimes here in the café, sometimes under my breath so as not to attract attention in a public space, and sometimes just in my head. But how do you know that?’.

‘Ah, each time you do that, he replied, ‘I’m right there, invisibly, right by your side joining in, in gratitude, to the Great Provider. I never miss an opportunity for giving gratitude. You know, If your kind in their current state, when they pray, could see the awesome vicarious power you spur into action and mingle with, the magnitude of that pure and loving energy that you invoke and direct, the ripples that permeate from you that affect both space and time itself, the interest of the Great Provider who is always near you (all) and yet draws closer still in awe of you all, you would pray a lot more, and a lot more confidently. I wish your kind could glimpse just for a second the power of it now, that you were all once aware of, when you where at Home, before birth, and see what I see.  It’s a powerful gift given to all from the Great Provider. This is the third and deepest level of perception and of reality, and you need to be aware of it, really aware of it, the power of Spirit, and use it in the days of transition ahead. You and your kind.’

With that, he picked up his iPad, walked toward the door, as I tried to fully recall what he had just said. His words were going over and over in my mind. He opened the café door to leave. I knew I had the opportunity of asking only one question before he left.

‘Will you be back?’, I asked. ‘Of course’, he replied, ‘Mae mwy, there is more’.

–  oOo –

 

*     Mae mwy [pronounced ‘may moy-oh’] roughly translates as, ‘There is more.’
**   Rw i’n dy ddeal di [pronounced ‘RRoo een duh theh-arll dee’] roughly translates as ‘I do understand you!’.
*** The HaMotzi blessing is, ‘Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth’, and is said by Tadhg before eating cereal breakfast or croissant each day. He loves liturgy and ritual, and sees it as a conduit to that third realm, that third level of perception.

The Night Of The Thaumaturgist #1

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Part #1: It  was early December, the sun had set about half an hour ago, and the dust-laden clock on the church vestry mantelpiece gave a ‘thud’ rather than a chime, as it registered 4.30pm. Had it ever chimed?

THE SMELL

And, had it ever been dusted?  Indeed, the whole room smelled musty.

Through the three plain, thick, translucent windows, dappled and scored with age, there was just the faintest dark blue hue as night fell. Night comes early in London in December.

Earlier, I had been invited to a full dress rehearsal at St Michael’s Church for one of the Christmas services that I was to lead.  Sebastian, who was designated as a crucifer, cross bearer at the front of the procession, had just left, and I was to meet him in the local café. It was interesting that he had been chosen as the crucifer. He did have a very mischievous streak, and I wondered if seeing the word crucifer under his name, on the order of service sheet, in his case, had been a misprint? Could he be a fallen angel, and the chief one at that?

And now everyone, except for me, had left. I think I’m part of the furniture, the number of times I’m asked to assist. But, I love it.

The smell of incense from last evening’s service hung in the air. Confession time: There is part of me that loves tradition, the planned outcomes, and part of me that enjoys working towards making a major church service really resonate with deep spiritual ‘hooks’ for those that attend. Yes, I do like ‘smells and bells’. But, there’s more. There is part of me that likes spontaneity and the ‘fun’ of not knowing what is coming next. Unnerving, really, for a formal service. But, yes, I do like tradition when it comes to liminality – those ‘doors’ to between Here and the Other, where things happen in mysterious and surprising ways. Altogether, other-worldly.

There was silence in the vestry. Just me here.

Having locked the external door, it was time to disrobe. The white (for Adventide) stole went on a hanger in the wardrobe.  I say wardrobe, but it was really a horizontal pole with a curtain that could be pulled across. The doors to the wardrobe had dropped off years ago. The white cincture (the rope around the waist) I put on a hanger to its right.  Then off came the white, hooded alb, and I put on a hanger to the right of the cincture. Then, I untied the amice and put that on its own hangar.   And, there I stood, in a white tee-shirt, jeans and my favourite brown Sketchers (shoes), shivering. It’s interesting that the more formal the service, the less formal my ‘under-all-that-attire’ my clothes can be.

Was it me, or had the temperature dropped?

A fleeting thought went through my mind, that with all that white clerical clothing, I probably look like Hopkirk, in that old tv program ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). The latter was the deceased partner of a private detective who would aid his partner in solving crimes. Hopkirk who could disappear and reappear at will, being the ghost, wore an all-white suit.

Did I look like a ghost?

It was the season for odd happenings – ghost-stories like scrooge, flying snowmen, angels etc. If anywhere would have a ghost, it would be this old church building, and this vestry especially, and if ever there was a good time for a’visitation’ it was this time of year – the season, the temperature, the early nights.

You know, there was a definite chill in the room, now.

Pulling on my coat, and turning to exit, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, just the merest slight ruffling of all that clerical garb hanging up. A definite ruffling, infact, and yet no breeze. The windows in the room don’t open. And, there it was again as I looked on. Ruffling.

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, and a cold shudder went down my spine.

‘Mae mwy’, said someone behind me.

I turned to see who spoke. No one! Now I was scared.  Were those words in my head and pure imagination, or were they said out loud? I wasn’t sure. But, it was a distinct voice, a quiet voice and yet confident, and with the most exquisite Welsh accent, and a ‘valley’ accent at that.

‘Who’s there?’, I bellowed in panic.

I have never locked up so fast. Rushing towards the old, thick wooden door, and closing it behind me, I slammed it hard and double-locked it. The light illuminating the 50 foot path to the main road came on, and I quickly shuffled along the gravel path.

Those words, ‘Mae mwy,’ echoed in my mind. ‘Mae mwy,’ [pronounced ‘may moy-oh’] roughly translate as, ‘There is more.’

THE ‘HOOK’

I relaxed a little when I came to a busy main road, and my racing heartbeats slowed, as cars passed me by and the occasional pedestrian came towards me.

Suddenly, out of the shadows, from the recessed and unlit shop doorways to my right someone appeared. About six-feet tall, medium build,male,  and wearing a raincoat and hat, and smoking – I smiled, as he came near, expecting him to pass me by.

He looked like something out of one those old, black and white, detective movies from the 1950’s.

It all seemed surreal.

He changed direction, and his pace quickened to match mine – he walked beside me. Uncomfortable at that prospect, I decided to do the only sociable thing. I struck up a conversation. Yes, I talked about the weather, and how much rain there was, to this man from the shadows. It was pouring!

He looked at me, took a deep breath, and quietly said, ‘There is more’. In Welsh! He used the words, ‘Mae mwy’. And with a ‘valley’ accent. A cold chill run up and down my spine. Somehow, I knew he wasn’t talking about the weather.

‘Now, just who the heck  are you?’ I said in an annoyed manner, somewhat taken aback, and to be honest, more than a little scared.

Did I have a stalker?

He smiled, and even broader grin, and took his time. ‘You pray a lot, yes? Well, consider me a good angel, a guardian angel, executing your prayers’.

Now I smiled. The man from the shadows didn’t seem a threat any more, more like a poor, deluded, simpleton, to be pitied as a fantasist. He looked back as if I had offended him.

‘What?’, I said.

‘You see this person coming toward us, the one about twenty feet away? Pray for them. They are in real need,’ the man professing to be my guardian angel challenged me.

I did. Inwardly, I prayed that whatever this person’s plight was, that God would take care of them.

‘Well done,’ he said. His demeanour changed and he now looked determined, maybe even overly-determined, and that worried me.

The person, an elderly lady was walking slowly toward us. She was now only a few feet in front of us, and she moved toward the kerb to skirt around me and the man. The man also moved nearer the kerb as if to get closer to her. She passed me by, looked at me, and…

Without warning the man gave her a right hook. And a fairly hefty and powerful punch it was too, that landed on her jaw. She half-turned, tripped, and fell awkwardly in the road, and sitting there, she cried out in agony, ‘Oh help me, please….Oh shit,’ she said, ‘I think my ankle is broken.’

I ensured that no traffic was coming, crouched down beside her and offered to ‘phone for an ambulance.

‘Why on earth did you do that? You hit an elderly lady. That’s hardly the actions of a good angel’, I shouted to the ‘shadow’ man, that idiot.

I was full of rage, my fists were clenched , and yet I knew my first duty was to this poor lady. I would sort out this thug, shortly.

Calmly, in a matter-of-fact-way, looking, almost piteously at me and the lady, the man said, ‘You really need to see that good is subjective. Just help the lady, and wait three minutes’.

The emergency centre operator, as I phoned on my mobile phone, said an ambulance was on its way and it would arrive in about five minutes, and for me to stay there with the patient. I did.

THE CANDLE-FACTORY

I looked at my watch, and then about three minutes later looked again.

Suddenly, there was a deafening noise as though a bomb had gone off around the corner, and the ground trembled, and other passers-by and the few that had stopped to observe the elderly lady’s plight yelped in surprise and fear. Alarm bells rang. Lights flashed, sirens from the distance were getting louder. Was it a bomb?

‘What in God’s name was that?’ I exclaimed at the top of my voice, little expecting an answer.

‘This whole episode, my dear praying-friend,’ the man of mystery said a bit sarcastically, ‘is the answer to your prayer. The lady has a broken ankle and is in some minor pain, but will be taken to hospital by ambulance, and will be back on her feet soon, however…’

Shouts interrupted the man, as people ran from around the corner where the noise had originated, and ran towards us, shouting.

‘Is it a bomb?’, I asked.

‘No! It was an explosion in the candle factory, and it took out the whole of one side of the old building. Probably a gas mains exploding. It’s a miracle that no one was passing it. They would surely have either been blown to smithereens by the explosion or crushed by the falling wall. A bloody miracle no one was killed or injured’, an excited young man said.

Now, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end, for the second time that evening. I realised that had that elderly lady proceeded unimpeded, she would have been dead by now.

I looked toward the ‘shadow’ man, or at least where he had stood. He had gone! He was nowhere to be seen. In the noise and chaos that followed, and as I waited for the ambulance, a phrase echoed in my mind.

Mae mwy. There is more.