Perceiving Anew: Seeing Through A Glass Darkly: 1 To Catch A Tiger…

20170906 PERCEIVING ANEW SEEING THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY 1Every so often there is talk about DNA advances, prehistory and the idea that some scientists have some of using the preserved DNA of the extinct mammoth. The thought goes that, although the mammoth DNA is incomplete it might be possible to use ‘bits’ of current-day elephant DNA to fill in the gaps. In theory, you might then end up with a living-breathing elephant-mammoth hybrid, but it could be the nearest thing to a living mammoth that has not existed for the last five thousand years.

‘The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it. (The voice of Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings (movie))’

For some (few) years there has been a revival in all things Celtic and Druidic, and long may it continue. For through such passionate beliefs of people from all ages and walks of life, will come a greater community spirit, a greater appreciation and protection of nature, and a great appreciation of the things of the soul and spirit, and of spirits, elementals and the like, and a renewal of all that is good, wholesome and holy. and, the world needs it, fast.

But, the world has changed from the heyday of the Druidic society of yesteryear and much has been lost. The Celts, the Druids were a story-telling community and the passing on of traditions and history was done orally. There are gaps.

Some try academia to fill in those gaps – much like using elephant DNA with mammoth DNA, and ofcourse this is right to try (academia, that is). It will take us so far, but it will not take us all the way.

Those that pin all their hopes on academia to fill in the gaps will find huge blanks, still.

Nevertheless, academic study as one tool amongst several is to be encouraged. The ‘challenge’, however, in academic argument is that proponents of it might think it is the only way, and also fall into the ‘trap’ of using Greek and modern-day dualistic thought (eg black and white, right and wrong, left and right, I’m right and you’re wrong etc) to advance their understanding of a non-dualistic culture. It cant be done.

To catch a tiger, you have to think like a tiger.

‘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)

The greater the culture is technologically-advanced, the more likely its people are to ‘see’ through dualistic eyes, and the more likely to miss the point.

It has been suggested that to fill in the gaps in Celtic/Druidic stories, understanding, liturgy and ritual, perhaps memory is needed. The kind of ‘cellular’, ancestor-linked memory that can be ‘tapped’ through meditation (at various places), through ‘thin-place’ encounters, through the Caim, through intuition, or through dreams, prayer or imagination etc. I think there is some (great) mileage in this.

‘Pass it on to your children, and from your children to their children, and from their children to the following generation.’ Joel 1.3, The Book

Then, one places oneself in the path of the ancient-future memory-stream of the ancestors, and those stories of old, knowledge and wisdom are re-kindled in our hearts, and come alive in our daily living and daily practices, to be told and shared.

‘I believe that there is a place where our vanished days secretly gather. The name of that place is Memory.’ (John O’Donohue).

To the purist and the academic this is nonsense, and yet this is the very way it was done by the very culture the purists and academics wish to know more about. To find out more about the Celts and Druids of yesteryear, to rediscover their ways, one need only to enter into Celtic/Druidic culture, ‘philosophy’, beliefs and practices, today, and many are doing just that. And, benefitting.

The wise amongst you will quickly realise that this will mean that I will perceive memories of the ancients differently to you. I may rediscover parts of the gap that are different to the gaps you ‘recover’; and we may even be at odds over some things if we compare (if we were to ‘see’ things from a dualistic, modern approach). But, why resort to current-day perception and understanding when dealing with an ancient culture?

Theirs was a culture where truth was not contained in a science manuals, not catalogued, cross-referenced or even written down, but it flowed, was debated and told as stories around the village camp fire. And, it didn’t matter if their were lose or ragged ends, or various versions of the same story.

We need to be encouraged to see things through ancient eyes.

For instance, take some of the books of the Hebrew Testament. Dualists or academics will scratch their heads as they discover that the books are not in chronological order. To ‘moderns’ they should be! That’s the way they would appear on a modern-day bookshelf, after all. However, to the ancients, the book order was decided by the length of each book – starting with the shortest books first (or, was it the longest book, first), and ‘it worked’ for them. And, when we hear the stories and legends of (Saint) Brigit, sometimes she’s firmly placed at the end of the fifth century, and then in other stories is described as a ‘nanny’ to the baby Jesus, five hundred years earlier! The ancients would have known about this ‘discrepancy’ and not batted an eyelid. The point is, scientific understanding and dualism was not important to the ancients, indeed, it was unknown. To them, the stories and the benefits it wrought to the village and individuals, the moral and deep spiritual meaning, and the comfort it brought was most important, was paramount.

We need to be encouraged to see things through ancient eyes.

‘Celtic spirituality is a kind of somatic archaeology, a study of unearthing the deep resources of spirit within ourselves by accessing the wisdom, power, and inherent knowledge of the body. We have largely been taught to ignore the body and the deep resources of spirit within ourselves’. The Mist-Filled Path, Frank MacEowen

Developing ‘Soft Feet’: A Celtic Lifestyle/Perspective

20170821 DEVELOPING SOFT FEET CELTIC LIFESTYLEA few days ago we looked at a quote from an Anishinabe (First Nations) man from Canada, who wrote:

‘The Four-Leggeds and the Windged Ones live to a different rhythm. Theirs is the rhythm of soft eyes and soft feet. Two-Leggeds have hard eyes and hard feet. When most humans go into the forest they enter with so much of the world on them that any possibility of feeling the sacred is removed. When we go into the forest we must become soft like the animal people and the tree people’.

We also looked at seeing with ‘soft eyes’ when we considered kataphatic ‘day-dreaming’ or meditation – the kind of deep, mental exercise that uses ‘inner’ pictures, visualisation or symbols for growth, maturity, transformation.

And, we looked at apophatic ‘day-dreaming’ or meditation, which encourages the ‘releasing’ of distracting thoughts to arrive at that ‘inner’ place of peace and solitude that some refer to as ‘le point vierge’.

Today, we’re looking at having ‘soft feet’.

What does that mean,  how we can interpret that, and what does it mean to practice it? There are many ways to view that phrase, but I’d like to suggest three.

Firstly, walking on the earth with ‘soft feet’ can be interpreted as ensuring minimal damage to the environment. So, if hiking in the wilderness, the aim would be to leave no trace that we have moved through that way.

‘All the animals and creatures of this earth are our former brothers and sisters but because we believe that we have “dominion” over them, we have become cruel little emperors.’  John O’Donohue,

If we live in a city, it may mean trying to reduce our carbon footprint by buying food as local as we can to where we live, perhaps using energy-saving lightbulbs, or turning the central heating down by a degree or two, or something similar. Small adjustments to reduce energy etc, to be aware of nature, can make huge gains for the environment and its preservation. In this sense, it’s a practical adjustment of removing or minimising negative effects. A good move.

But there’s more!

Secondly, walking on the earth with ‘soft feet’ can be interpreted as doing something ‘in addition’ to ‘repair’ and damage to the natural world. It may be one thing to try to reduce our carbon footprint by buying locally, but maybe there’s something we can do, to ‘add’ to our local environment.

For instance, many have noticed the reduction in bees. Did you know that bees are attracted to crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac, all of which provide enticing spring blooms. But, they also like echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and in the summer, and in the autumn they adore zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod. And some of these can be grown on balconies, and so we don’t need a large garden. We can all ‘additionally’ plant bee-encouraging plants, perhaps? Or something environmentally similar.

But walking with ‘soft feet’ may also encompass our honouring and respecting others…..to ‘walk softly’ through their lives?

‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ – Chinese Proverb

But there’s even more!

The abovementioned are all good and wholesome steps (and you’re probably doing much more), but I would suggest there’s a foundational, ‘inner’ and essential step that takes place first.

The foundational step I would suggest is our inner attitude – and kataphatic and apophatic meditation can assist here – that ‘spills over’ and so affects us, others, and the larger environment in a beneficial way

”The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

If, inwardly, we are ‘asleep’ or  are ‘sleepwalkers’ or operating out of base motives then our view of ourselves, others, nature and the wider universe will be severely limited. Those who constantly read bad news, for instance, or allow themselves to be bombarded with gloomy news, can, psychologically be said to be suffering from ‘mean world’ syndrome. In that frame of mind everything seems awful, and the good is unintentionally ignored.

Someone said that the light of the body is the eye and if your eye be single, then your whole body shall be full of light. (Matt 6:22 The Book). There is much debate about this odd sentence, and some believe it could mean that if our eyes are working properly, that is if we are fully aware, then we can see deeply what really is, and see beyond just the surface-level, and the result is that we will see deep beauty around us and in very situation; and conversely, if our perception is limited (if we’re asleep’ and so our senses are dulled), then we will miss the deep meaning behind everything and only observe in a shallow manner. We will miss much.

And so, walking with ‘soft feet’ or having a ‘single eye’ could mean something like: being fully aware, observing the good that surrounds us, and being aware of the need to go deeper, and to do so, in love.

And so it could be that when it’s time to prune a tree, we will acknowledge the beauty of that tree and prune away to the best of my knowledge and skill. Now, some may want to ask the dryad and other elemental characters (as their belief requires) beforehand, and others will just cut away, but hopefully do so now in a way that acknowledges the ‘aliveness’ of that tree and give it the respect it deserves. But, walking with ‘soft feet’ surely means….with due consideration, and having a reverence of nature.

And it could be that we will ensure that we draw alongside those who are easy to get along with. Ofcourse. But, what of those who are difficult to get along with? Maybe they’re having a bad day or maybe the way they are has to do with being brought up in a  difficult environment when growing up, or maybe they’re dealing with bad news, or bad health? We don’t know. However, walking with ‘soft feet’ surely mean that, regardless of the way they (mis)treat us, that we will, so far as is practicable, treat them well. Unconditional respect and love for others – and don’t forget to include yourself.

After all, at the depth of their spirit they, like us, are one with the Source of All, and are good. Julian of Norwich, one of my favourite mystics,  believed that. Perhaps deep within them, if we have ‘eyes to see’, we might discern the face of God or the Universe smiling back?

‘As you change your point of view, your views bring about a change in you.’  George Alexiou

And it could be that we’ll take time to make time to appreciate the wonderful creation that we indwell. The art of slowing down is important here. And the latter is one function of ritual. Walking with ‘soft feet’ is also about ritual, for ritual ushers us out of ‘ordinary time’ into sacred-time and sacred-space, and it is there/then that we can catch glimpses or feel impressions beyond the ordinary. Then we get glimpses of what could be, and realise that there is more going on than we were first aware of. So, slow done and joyfully work on anything that enhances your awareness of what really is.

There are many ways to think of what having ‘soft feet’ means, and the abovementioned are but a few – if you think of others please let me know.

‘If you hold to Nature, to the simplicity that is in her, to the small detail that scarcely one man sees, which can so unexpectedly grow into something great and boundless; if you have this love for insignificant things and seek, simply as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems to be poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory, not perhaps in the understanding, which lags wondering behind, but in your innermost consciousness, wakefulness and knowing.’ Rainer Maria Rilke,

 

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.

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)

 

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.

“…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.

 

Sweet Surrender: Celtic Thought

20170627 SWEET SURRENDERI’m still in London, and today for some reason I was up before sunrise, but it was good to do.

‘Amor vincit omnia, et nos cedamus amori.
Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love.’ Virgil

At that time of the morning the air was clean (relatively), London traffic and noise hadn’t started, and I was alone with a cup of coffee in my tiny, but greatly appreciated garden, and alone with my thoughts – albeit a myriad of thoughts, some vying for dominance, some seemingly passing through.

‘Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.’ Lao Tzu

I’m not one to lose my temper, infact I’ve been described as being ‘quite Buddhist’ (and no disrespect to Buddhists, as I think that’s a compliment). On a few occasions I have been known to try and use reason and logic to present a case, but sometimes the other party are just not having it, and in such cases, inwardly, I declare, ‘I give in, I surrender’. Not in a nasty way, but that I’ve used all the resources I have at my disposal and there’s nothing more to be said . And so, in those cases I change tact and surrender. I quit talking, after all, what more can be said?

‘Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.’  Ann Landers

As I recounted those occasions, the word ‘surrender’ remained with me.

Have you ever been in the presence of someone you truly love, and when you first meet them, there’s that time of frantic, nervous conversation and of getting to know each other. Do they drink latte or skinny wet latte, espresso or double espresso, Americano, short or long macchiato, ristretto or even tea, amongst other things? These things are important. But, there comes a time, when just gazing into your lover’s eyes is enough, words only get in the way and you surrender to the moment of stillness.

There’s that word again. Surrender.

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.’ John Denver, song.

Surrender has got bad press over the years, at least it seemed to me as I continued to sip that ever-so-welcome cup of coffee this morning as the sun was about to rise. Surrender can seem like a cowards way out, a giving up when perhaps one shouldn’t, or taking the easy route. But, surrender is a wonderful word.

Those who frequent forests, who witness a sunrise at the beach, those who gaze upon lofty mountains in the distance, perform a ritual in a wood and appreciate all that is green and alive, those who look upon a new-born baby’s face or the face of a loved-one know no words to sum up those experiences. When you encounter That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves the only response is a holy and awesome surrender. The event is beyond words. Surrender is the only, and thankfully the most wonderfully appropriate response.

Some time ago I wrote:

Wonder sees beyond the physical world,
with eyes beyond eyes.
Wonder makes us still and tremble in awe
as we consider our lowliness and humility of heart.
Wonder is never small, never a dim light and never disappoints.
It can be fleeting, momentary, even fragile, but it is never meaningless.
It is the sun rising above the horizon as the cool wind blows.
It is a flock of birds making huge circles in the sky as they prepare to migrate.
It is the friendly hand extended by a stranger when we stumble.
It is a baby’s innocent smile, a lover’s kiss, a kindly word or deed.
It is the knowing, empathetic, tearful glance when words fail.
It is the unexpected,
the daily synchronicities of the Creator we so often ignore in our busy-ness.
Wonder is the Creator’s gift to us to declare who He is,
what He is doing, and how He loves us.
And, as we observe and so participate in wonder,
it is His way of including us in the cosmic dance of creation.

That which can arrest us, jar us out of our only-seeing-the mundane world around us – and don’t feel too bad about that, as I do believe we are ‘amphibians’, that is aware sometimes of the numinous, but at other times unaware (and when at work or driving etc those may be good times to be unaware of the numinous) – can occur at any time.

‘Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.’ Eckhart Tolle

As I sat there with just a little coffee left in the cup I was pleased with the thought of ‘surrender’ rattling around in my mind. If you encounter the numinous today, my encouragement to you is not to analyse it, not to verbalise it, not to objectify it – in each of those responses we ‘step out’ of the moment – but to surrender. Surrender, enjoy and bask in the love of the Lover of All, whoever that Love is manifested.

‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’ Lao Tzu

____________

Yesterday, the photo link to the article ‘Be Of Good Cheer: Words Of Encouragement For You’ may not have taken you to the article, but rather to just a photo store. Apologies. If you thought there was no article yesterday, it can be accessed and read here. Blessings, Tadhg

Power-Blessings 101: Intentionality: [1/4]

20170502 INTENTIONALITY 1OF4 BLESSINGImagine in your minds eye,  thousand of  priests each Sunday morning, in their own locality invoking a blessing upon their congregation; or, in a small room an older person saying the words, ‘bless you’, to someone who has just done them a favour by visiting them; or a Christian praying for someone who is sick and who then utters those words of blessing at the end of the prayer; or a Druid in a grove, deep inside a forest uttering a blessing for nature in general and for an endangered species in particular. Each utters a blessing, and each believing it is necessary, even essential. And, it is!

We may not ‘see’ the effect of their blessing, but I do believe blessings are effective, and one day we will realise this. Perhaps, that day is today?

A ‘working’ definition of a blessing could be: an act of conferring on another person or object or event, some form of energy, or favour, or vital force that is person-related and full of power, with the intention of effecting some kind of change for the better. It’s a consecration. It’s effective. It’s something that is enjoyable and beneficial to all (and not just the person, animal or event being blessed).

‘A blessing is an invitation from one person to another to enter into and share this world. It is the opening of a door so we can enter this world together.’ David Spangler, ‘Blessing: The Art And The Practice’

If you think of a blessing in terms of some form of ritual and liturgy, then it takes place in time and space in the form of an action. But, it need not only be confined to this – a blessing could take the form of blessing others by assisting others with your skills and talents, drawing alongside them and giving them your time, giving them something physically, even smiling at someone to lift their spirits etc. All these are actions! But, there’s more.

‘A blessing is the passing of spirit between us. It’s a slash in the flesh of the ego…’, David Spangler, ‘Blessing: The Art And The Practice’

There are so many ways to bless, but perhaps the ritual and liturgy (action and words) is a good place to start, as that’s the channel it can flow through, initially. Subtle energy.

It flows though us, but I’d like to suggest that it originates elsewhere. Yes, each one of us has an inherent worth and power, and so we have an ‘energy store’ from which to bless people, animals and creation, the world and events, but there’s more. That’s not all of it.

We have access to a veritable infinite store-house of blessing-energy, and so we can view ourselves as a conduit calling upon that huge reservoir of blessing-energy, tapping into some and conferring it on others, moving it around, dealing with obstacles,  and overcoming them, of being filled up with that energy, depleting it, and then, in turn, ‘topping it up’. Such blessing-energy flows, and is quite ‘circular’!

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
‘Who touched me?, Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’
But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Luke 8:42b – 46, The book

There are a number of reasons why someone may not want to bless, whether they’re thinking of a time of ritual and liturgy, a time of prayer, of uttering the words ‘bless you’, or being involved in some action. Some may feel they’re out of their depth, others that they’re not qualified and maybe then defer to another, whilst others might feel its presumptuous, or maybe, they’re not quite sure what a blessing really is and how to confer a blessing. We can always find reasons not to bless. The ego can be quite good at ‘getting us off the hook’.

However, each one of us can bless! Even a novice, a beginner, with no formal experience can bless. And, if you feel uncomfortable, initially, or feel you’ve made a mistake…don’t worry. Intentionality, is of paramount importance here. The fact that you wanted to bless someone, an animal or part of creation, or an event, I believe, means a blessing was conferred. The Source of All honours our intentions.

‘What will you do with your one precious, wild life?’, Mary Oliver

Ofcourse, once you start, most people want to know more about how and when to bless, more about that huge and infinite store-house of blessing-energy etc. And, that’s where the next few articles may come in useful, and a few one-day workshops planned over the next few months will benefit some (and more about these will follow later in the week).

Suffice to say, if you’ve got this far in the article, I’d like you to take the next step, commit to reading the other articles that will follow, here, on this fascinating and essential theme, and start to wonder how you can be (more) involved in the blessing other people, animals and creation around us, and events etc. You have a vital role to play, that no one else can undertake. Only you.

If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more…you give away, the more…you will have.’ John O’Donohue

How do we prepare for blessing others, what is this infinite store-house of blessing-energy and how can we access it, what is reciprocity, how can we support each other? It continues tomorrow…and throughout this week.

Celtic Thought: Are We There Yet? [Connectedness In A ‘Disconnected’ World]

20170424 ARE WE THERE YET CELTIC THOUGHTI’m sure you asked the same or similar question when you were a child. Maybe, like me, you were in the back of the car, drifting in and out of sleep, journeying back home, and during those waking moments you would ask nearest adult, probably several times, the question, ‘Are we there, yet?’.

Now, as an adult we might rephrase that question, and apply it to other instances, but essentially we often ask that same type of question, whether it applies to a physical journey, a task in hand, repayments left on the mortgage, our place in the universe or in relationship to the Source.

And, where it matters most, say, in relationship to those cosmic, huge questions, those last two questions mentioned above, the answer could be…is, an outstanding, ‘yes!’. Surprised?

There is a school of thought that says we’re on Earth, and space starts a few miles above us. Point a telescope upward and you’ll see stars.

I asked a child family-member, ‘Would you like to go into space?’ They, ofcourse replied with a resounding, ‘Yes’. And, I replied, ‘Well, you already are!’. Naturally, they were a bit disappointed, having a childish understanding of what I was on about and really hoped that somehow they could be ‘catapulted’ above the Earth’s atmosphere – but, as regards their understanding, it’s okay, because they are a child!

‘Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.’ Plato, The Republic

As you probably know I’m an amateur astronomer, and the proud owner of a 12 inch telescope. Point it 180 degrees to the east at night and you would see a myriad of stars, Point it in the opposite direction and you’ll see just as many stars. Stars to the left, to the right, stars above and below. Yes, we are in space. Not separate, not different, but in space in one glorious feat of connectedness. Part of the universe, already. It’s just that some don’t think that. It’s true, but they don’t get it! Ego confuses the issue. But, in essence if we asked the question, ‘Are we there, yet?’ ‘Ofcourse we are!’, is the reply.

‘The wonder is, not that the field of stars of so vast, but that man has measured it.’ Anatole France

We’re included, not excluded.

There is a theological view that we’re separate from the Source of All. And, if we like those renaissance paintings where God is depicted as above and maybe sitting on a cloud, and humanity is below, then we can be forgiven for thinking that we’re separate. God up there, us down here. However, one commentator whom I shall call ‘The One Who Knows’ prayed a prayer to the Source along the lines of,  ‘That they may be one, even as we are one’. Taking that at face value, then we’re already one, already connected. Yes, we’re already there and always have been, essentially. It’s just that, existentially, some don’t know it. Ego confuses the issue.

‘For in him we live and move and have our being…’ Acts 17.28, The book (part)

We’re included, not excluded.

Ofcourse, the same could be said of people (that we’re essentially separated from others), or nature (that we’re somehow so different as to be separate from it), and so on. Is it so, or do we just think that? Included and part? Or Excluded and separate?

And, if we believe  we’re separate (even when we’re not) it could mean, and I would suggest it does mean, that we’re mistaken to the point that we’re are not (fully) exercising the Source-given responsibility, and not utilising loving-energy toward each other and nature around us, in what we think and say and do, that we should be exercising. Egoic limitations then abound.

‘Unless one’s philosophy is all-inclusive, nothing can be understood.’ Mary Ritter Beard

But, what do you think?

Celtic Thought: Life Is Like…

20170413 LIFE IS LIKE...CELTIC THOUGHTAt the far end of my cottage’s garden in Capel Curig (in north Wales) is a rivulet. Hidden by trees and gorse bushes, it rushes by the northern boundary, invisible to all, except to me and a few locals. It’s so small – you can leap over it – it has no name, except for the one I gave it. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. Welsh geographical place-names are very descriptive, and it seemed right to call this rivulet by this name. It means ‘small and fast’.

Here’s a few thoughts as I watched Bach ac yn gyflym flow by, and as (for some) we are nearing the end of a specially remembered week that culminated in dramatic events, that many take to heart.

Metaphorically, life is like a stream, perhaps something like Bach ac yn gyflym. I was going to write about encouraging you to step into that Life-stream, but I do believe we are all in it, already.

“You wander from room to room hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck!” Rumi

This stream isn’t just life events as we experience them with all their surprises, twists and turns; it is that, but it is also more. There is more! Mae myw! It is Life, the Life-Giver itself (and apologies for that impersonal pronoun when Life itself is anything but impersonal, but Life is also beyond ‘he’ or ‘she’, and yet encapsulates both/all).

This Life-stream embraces us as we live life, and my encouragement then to myself and others, bearing in mind we are all already in that flow, is to encourage each of us to have an awareness and/or remembrance of being part of it.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 The Book

As I sit and watch Bach ac yn gyflym flow by I witness leaves and debris float by. Some of it swirls into little eddies caused by indentations in the river bank, and stay there for a while. Out of the main flow of the stream, they may look or ‘feel’ safer and linger for a while, but the power they experienced just seconds before is diminished. And then, maybe unexpected to them, but not to me as an observer, the current catches them and off they go at great speed to their destination.

Maybe, we too, can feel safe or get comfortable, or maybe too safe and too comfortable, and object to the buffeting of life. In being too cosy, like those leaves in that riverbank indentation we can feel safe, but lose access to power and energy. Even in that ‘safe’ position we are still in the Life-stream, but maybe unaware. Even in that ‘safe’ position we have access to that power and energy. But, we don’t use it….after all, we’re (momentarily) unaware of it.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

Being aware of our status (we’re all in that Life-stream) and aware of the power and energy (and that it is available to us), will, I think, put life events into perspective. There is no ‘maybe’ with a river, no need to barter, no worry of it stopping, no concern about where it is going or its destination. It flows. It knows. It is.

It’s flowing now, carrying us in an amazing ever-changing movement in that Divine, energetic dance, and if we’re quiet we might just ‘hear it’ and experience its all-embracing love. And then, the next step is to revel in that Life-flow wherever we are or whatever our circumstances might be, to enjoy its energy for good (purposes), and to pass (recognition of) it on to others. What do you think?

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” John O’Donohue