The Quest: A Story From The Heart(h) From Beyond The Veil

20180521 THE QUEST ANOTHER STORY FROM THE HEARTH BEYOND THE VEILIt’s a great evening here, as I sit in my garden of Tŷ Gwyn cottage, north Wales. It’s one of those evenings that, after a fine, sunny, cloudless, quite warm day for the time of year, it has now become somewhat cold, or as they say around here, ‘bracing’ or ‘fresh’.

‘Imagination is the true magic carpet.’ Norman Vincent Peale

As I sit here with a glass of good red wine on the old wooden garden table, my mind wanders and I remember former times. My stomach is full, some of that red wine is coursing through my veins, a pleasant glow seems to envelope me and my imagination is fired up, especially as my eyes seem now to be half-veiled.

As a wee lad I would gather by the hearth and listen to one of my grandmother’s stories. She was a seanchaí [pronounced ‘shawn-(a)-key’, Gaelic] a story-teller, and would tell me many a profound story that only now, in some respects, do I see a yet deeper layer of meaning in the retelling.

‘Lift the veil that obscures…and there you will find what you are looking for’. Kabir

As the sun sets, so in my mind’s eye I can see the past, me as a wee lad, the golden glow from the hearth, and I can feel its heat on just one side of my face, something which periodically causes me to move from the side of the rocking chair, where my grandmother is sitting, to the opposite chair. There is a satisfying and protective feeling of warmth around the hearth, and not just from the fire.

I can remember telling my grandmother, somewhat reluctantly, that I had forgotten to do something that she had asked me to do – it had slipped my mind as such things do when a child is engrossed in play especially when surrounded by the majestic beauty of valleys, lakes and streams, mountains and an abundance of wildlife, such is north Wales.

My grandmother used my forgetfulness as the basis for another story.

‘There was once a small child’, she said,‘ who lived in a palace with fine food, luxuries of all kinds and who never wanted for anything. His father was the King, his mother was the Queen, and the small child was a prince.

There came a certain day when the King and Queen told the prince of a quest they had set before him. Giving him provisions for the journey they took from him his prized purple toga and glittering white robe. They instructed him to head west and to bring them back a most beautiful pearl and he would be rewarded, but to be careful as the pearl was guarded by a ferocious huge serpent. And so, off the prince went with his two guardians.

The prince travelled far and arrived on an island, his guardians left him. He asked many questions of the locals about the pearl and the huge serpent, and as he bided his time, for he wanted the huge serpent to fall asleep, he got bored and lonely. He really missed his home and his family.

He shared his provisions with his new neighbours and became good friends with them. Why, he even started to talk like them and to dress like them. Dressing like them, talking like them, eating their strange-but-now-familiar food he forgot that he was a prince, home seemed a distant memory or a fairy tale now, and he even forgot his quest for the unique pearl.

Years went by. When their son didn’t return home the King and Queen wrote a letter to him, signed by the King and Queen and all the nobles, which was delivered to their son by an eagle.

The young man, for he had now grown up into a fine young adult, awoke with a start. The eagle spoke to him and gave dropped the letter on the young man’s bed. He read the letter and remembered that he was indeed a prince and his home were there is no want, and he remembered his quest for the pearl. The veil of forgetfulness immediately fell away from his eyes.

He manfully went about his quest, located the pearl and the huge serpent, and sang, and sang, and sang until the huge serpent fell asleep. Then he took the pearl, went back to the village, cleaned his clothes, and embarked on the long journey, eastward, to his home.

Just as he reached the city gates to his home he saw his family running to greet him, and they brought with them his favourite purple toga and his bright, glittering, white robe. As he put on his fine clothes, he thought of how many years had passed, but his over-riding emotion was of joy at being back home with his family.

Giving the King and Queen the wonderful pearl, they rewarded him with even more fine clothes, luxuries of every kind, and as promised he inherited the kingdom to rule, along with his bother.

My grandmother finished the story by asking, ‘Do you think you might be that prince, the one who forget and then remembered?’. Ofcourse, I knew the cue, nodded, and she let out a hearty laugh.

‘Awake, O sleeper…’, Ephesians 5:14a. The Book.

‘Yes, yes, yes you are, ‘she said. ‘We all are. It’s as though we’ve all fallen asleep, we’ve all forgotten where we come from, our purpose in life and where our true home is. But, some of us are now waking up, starting to remember, aren’t we?’. Again as a small boy I knew another nod was required.

And even today, many years later her story rings true.

We have all forgotten our real home, our status, our purpose, and our return. But, some, maybe I as I retell this story and you, as you read it, are getting glimpses of the truth behind the veil.

Research showed me that my grandmother ‘borrowed’ that story from the Acts of Thomas and loosely adapted it. Nevertheless, it does contain gems of truth about our origin, status, purpose and journey home, and that we currently live in a world where many have forgotten the most important thing in life. Many are asleep.

The sun has now gone below the horizon here in north Wales, and my eyes are now wide open. There’s a distinct chill in the air and its pitch black. But, it’s a wonderful evening. It’s dark. There are many walking in darkness, but not you, and not those you draw alongside. As my grandmother passed the lighted-truth onto me in that ancient-future story, so you and I pass it onto others, sometimes even without knowing it by what we do and say. The veil is lifting. Don’t go back to sleep.

‘The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!’

(Rumi)

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