Celtic Thought: The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything Is….36

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There is a story from ancient times, that is still occasionally told, that when the universe was first created some fourteen billion years ago, the Creator left little bits of it in a less than finished state so that humans could finish the job, and so be involved in the artistic act of creation or re-creation, as co-creators.

Another story says that the Creator made everything some time ago, and it was good, and gave the original two gardeners charge of it, but it all went a bit askew when their focus was diverted elsewhere, and they needed to labour to restore it, after that.

In both cases, the early inhabitants and their descendants, that’s us, were given charge of it, and some essential work ensued.

And, then – you know I love my stories – there’s a story that follows, later on, a sort of celestial nudge of a story, that says some people were selected to intercede on behalf of others, or indeed on behalf of the universe itself. Chosen ones. I like that. A sort of superhero coterie before the word or even the idea of superheroes was ‘invented’ by DC Comics or Marvel.

‘You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’ J. R. R. Tolkien

Now, this is where it gets even more interesting, even more bizarre, and even more relevant and personal to you and I, and bizarre (and, yes, I know I’ve used that word twice, but I did so for effect, as it really does get bizarre). It gets weird!
You see, you could be one of these chosen ones.

Gasps from around the world, I hear. But, if this story is true, then you could be one of this select group of people.

And their responsibility is? It is said that the whole of creation would be folded up, that it would end, the apocalypse would happen, if it were not for the presence of these thirty-six chosen, or deemed-righteous, people on the Earth at any one time.

To add to this, there is yet another ancient story of a ‘tribal Father’ visiting an ancient city (or was it two) who was informed that the cities would be razed to the ground. Bargaining takes place. Mankind’s representative pleads that if there are fifty righteous people in the city that it would not be destroyed. The Creator accepts that. If you know the story, then Abraham being concerned that there may not be fifty righteous people in the city, seeks to lower the ‘insurance policy’ number to forty-five and the Creator agrees to ‘save’ the city for the sake of forty five. Abraham continue to bargain, obviously knowing that composition of the city’s unrighteous-righteous ratio, and lowers the amount. Eventually, mankind’s representative asks that the city be left alone if ten righteous people could be found. Well, the story ends with destruction.

But, the idea of a certain number of righteous people having an effect on other people, cities, the cosmos in a positive way was established, was set in stone (metaphorically, at this point. The ‘stone work’ actually comes later, with Moses!).

So, back to the Tzadikim Nistarim. Oh, did I mention that exactly who this group are, is a secret?

This group of people go by a number of names. But, the two collective names I like are: the Tzadikim Nistarim (that is, the ‘hidden righteous ones’) or the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (that is, the ‘thirty-six righteous ones’). And, their ‘descendants’ are alive, even today, so it is said.

Some of them may have mundane jobs (whatever mundane means), some may be in high office, or indeed, some maybe working in a local corner-shop in downtown [enter here the name of your village, town, borough etc], and still others may be working away leading some kind of Celtic, and/or Christian, and/or Druidic ritual. Yes, and those of many other faiths (or none) may be one of these ‘hidden’ people.

‘There is no mundane dimension really, if you have the eyes to see it, it is all transcendental.’ Terence McKenna

And, that means that you, regardless of your age, background, education etc, regardless of anything that others (or yourself) say that might disqualify you, yes, you may be one of these people, as you serve others, lead others, or look for work, as you battle an ailment, feel like crap (am I allowed to use that word?), or as you go about your daily routine. Your presence may be having an effect. Actually, I’d say it ‘is’ having an effect, nevertheless – such is the calling that you have been called to.

Are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

If you are, carry on doing all the good things that you do – however ‘high or low’ (whatever that means) others view it. If you’re a shop worker  in the high street, strive to be a good one, the fate of the universe depends on it. If you lead people in any way, be a good leader, as the cosmos is looking on in hope. And, if you’re a…. well, whatever you do (and for me, that includes ritual – I really do love ritual, ceremony, liturgy etc, and I hope you do that, too), do it with relish. It is making a difference in smalls ways and large, and perhaps we won’t know until we ‘get there’ what difference we’ve made in the life of others and, indeed, in the universe.

‘In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.’ Doctor Who

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim? I think you – yes you, as you read this – could be one of them, in which case I am pleased to know you. However, before you answer yes or no, there is one piece of information that I haven’t yet revealed, and will now do so.

The Tzadikim Nistarim are the hidden righteous ones, the emphasis here is on the word hidden. It was their name signifies! No one knows who the Tzadikim Nistarim are, and so they exist without fear or favour, without the light of publicity on them, and they are somewhat shy and tireless workers (in whatever field or task they’ve been called to). Hidden!

So, are you one of the Tzadikim Nistarim?

No one knows exactly who these thirty-six people are. They are the ‘hidden’ ones. No one knows who they are, not even the Tzadikim Nistarim themselves!

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

 

Celtic Thought: Tadhg’s Relative Theory Of Time

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You can save it, use it, abuse it, mark it, lose it, even kill it. One British ‘superhero’ (yes, we do have fictional superheroes, too, albeit, not the sort that wear their underwear on the outside) even travels through it in a funny blue police telephone box from yesteryear.

‘Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.’ The Doctor, Season 3, Episode 6

It’s time! And, I have a theory about it.

There is a time, a special time, that is, there’s a time that is really special  for me. No, it’s probably not the time you’re thinking of. But, it’s fast approaching. Perhaps you have a special time, too?

I’ll give you some clues: it’s not Christmas Day that I’m thinking about right now, and it only lasts for  just a few hours.

I was going to be clever and mention chronos and kairos, both being Greek words for time; the former being the passage of time (tick-tock), and the latter being the word for opportunity (as in, ‘Oh my, if only I had the time to do that?’). But, I won’t.

For me, the evening of Christmas Eve is that (next) special time, and then only a few hours of it, and for a specific reason.

I know people who have spent and spent, and spent a fortune on Christmas gifts;  others have spent a fortune on Christmas food; some have spent a lot of time in getting just the right decor for the living room or their house-altar, pressing the Druid regalia etc, and some have have done a myriad of other things in preparation for the season. Now, none of this is necessarily wrong, and so this isn’t a rant. But, the fast approaching special time will ‘take care’ of it, in any case.

That special time is a time when: if we haven’t bought that gift for aunt Maude, then it’s too late; if the decor isn’t right then we only have a few hours left to ‘fluff’ things up, and if we haven’t got the paraphenalia that we need (be it a nativity set, a druid’s staff, or a set of lovely-smelling Yankee candles in place), then….yes, it’s too late. Yes, it’s that time of  ‘it’s too late now, lovey…but did that really matter in the first place?’ that I’m refering too.

Time?

Priorities?

‘The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.’ Stephen Covey

But, all that is history when that special time comes about.  And, there’s no time-travelling, blue police box involved. There’s no need!

Then, it’s too late. And then I suddenly ‘wake up’, realise that I’ve been caught up in the Christmas frenzy, and know that it’s too late, and am quietly pleased. Actually, I’m deliriously happy. I love that time. And, here, that happens at about 8pm on Christmas Eve. Shops are closed. Bus services are reduced. People are off the streets and busying themselves at home, and even city sounds seem subdued as if some kind of huge storm is approaching.

At that special time the gifts I’m going to give are wrapped, the clothes (‘civilian’ or celtic/Druid ‘spiritual’) that I’ll need have been washed and pressed, and everything else that needs to be done has been done…and if it hasn’t then ‘hey-ho’, or should that be ‘ho-ho’? Too late. It’s then too late even to participate within the commercial side of the season, but who really wants to do that?  Oh, commerce, does. Too late to buy! Too late! And, that special time is a blessing to us all, as time itself changes our priorities from ‘things’ to ‘people’; from shallow to depth; to spiritual matters, however we define that word; to perceive things from a wider, cosmic and eternal perspective.

So, I guess there is a special time, which for me is a few hours on Christmas Eve, much to the annoyance of the world of commerce, but maybe there’s a  sacred time, too. Sacred time is whenever we are being intentional and doing something wholesome.

This is the time between times.
The time between past and future.
It is all we really have.
It is all we really need!
(Tadhg)

Sacred time, then, is when we’re being intentional and doing good things, and they can take a myriad of forms.  For instance,  sacred time can be you on my doorstep holding two cups of coffee, one of which is for me.  And, if you’re not local to me, I’m sure there’s someone local to you who might welcome your company. It’s the small things that count. It’s your time that matters: intentionality and action.

You see, it’s not the coffee that counts, it’s you and your time that’s impotant. And, for that you don’t need a time-travelling blue police box. We already have the gift of time. The Source Of All has seen to that. It’s all we really need. Relatively speaking.

‘Yesterday’s the past; tomorrow’s the future; but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’ Bill Keane

Ephemera: 16 October 2016 & More: Last Full Moon Of Autumn

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Yes, another full moon is about the grace the sky. There will be a full moon on Sunday, 16 October 2016: This full moon, located in the constellation of Aries, is known as the Harvest moon to ancient and latter-day Celts, and the Blood moon to those of old medieval England, and others.

‘The sky is studded with the crystal light of stars and the moon casts mint light over the fields.’ John O’Donohue.

Lunar details: Because this full moon will be slightly closer to the Earth than many of its recent orbits, it will appear slightly larger the usual (and more so if you see it closer to the horizon – this is called the Ebbinghaus illusion). Some would dub this full moon a ‘supermoon’ because it is slightly closer to the Earth (but definitions of what constitutes a supermoon vary). Maybe calling this full moon ‘almost a supermoon’ is, probably, more accurate – but it’s a natural phenomena and happens several times a year, so there’s no need for alarm. Just enjoy the spectacle.

Have you noticed the air temperature dropping, especially late evening to the early morning as we move toward the end of autumn. Indeed, this is the last full moon of the autumn (as the season of winter starts at the end of the month).

‘And Fall, with her yeller harvest moon and the hills growin’ brown and golden under a sinkin’ sun.’ Roy Bean

This full moon will be near a bright star: Omicron Piscium also known as Torcularis septentrionalis, which is 142 light years away (according to Wikipedia, though others place it at 250-260 light years away). In Chinese, it’s known as 右更 (Yòu Gèng), meaning Official in Charge of the Pasturing.

‘The moon has become a dancer at this festival of Love.’ Rumi

On this day: 16 October: Angela Lansbury, English-American actress, singer, and producer, was born (1925) – I really do like her a lot, especially in ‘Murder, She Wrote’; Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope John Paul II (1978); Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1984); The Skye Bridge was opened (1995); and 16 October is also World Anaesthesia Day, commemorating the first successful demonstration of ether anaesthesia in 1846.

‘The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen.’ Shannon L Alder

Suggestions(s): Many use full moons as a time of release, and use ritual, too. So, how about (1) using this time of the full moon to reflect and see if anything is holding you back, personally, and releasing it. And, (2) maybe use the Caim this time  – see here – as a power ritual to lift up and bless the American people, especially as they draw ever closer to the time of the presidential election.

Essential Celt: ‘Dealing With Those ‘Road Bumps’ On The Journey’ Or ‘Become The Lake’

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So, looking ahead, I could see that there were a series of bumps in the road as I was driving along. Tim was sitting beside me, ‘riding shotgun’. ‘What will you do?’, said Tim.

Immediately, three options sprang to mind: (1) avoid the bumps, if possible, or (2) head into the bumps in the road, but go very slowly, or (3) head into the bumps but increase speed to get through them quickly.

Ofcourse, the road bumps options, above, is an analogy representing some of the challenges we may face in our amazing journey of life here on Earth – and though there may be many options when faced with life’s complexities, we’ll look at three, to ponder over.

These life ‘bumps’ can take all kind of guises, and each person will react in a different way. What is a small ‘challenge’ to one person, may be an enormous ‘challenge’ to someone else. And though my prayer for you (and myself) is that there will be no (more) bumps in your life, I am afraid they will happen. So, what to do?

Choice #1: Avoid the ‘bumps’, if you can: One course of action might be to avoid life’s challenges, if at all possible. However, this might not be possible and then other options have to be considered. But, avoidance may be the best way forward, by going around the ‘bump’s, by taking action to steer a course around such obstacles, challenges of life. How, you do that depends on the event, and you. The positive effect: an easier life. The negative effect: you might actually miss out on an important life learning experience.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(Rumi)

Depending of the life event, I always advocate expressing gratitude for having been able to avoid the event. But, as Rumi wrote, such life ‘bumps’ may have a positive role to play in our life. So, even if you can avoid a particular life’s ‘bump’, it may be necessary to purposely go through it, experience it, and learn from it. Now, there’s something to think about.

Choice #2: Head into the ‘bumps’ but go slowly: If we have no choice but to encounter a ‘bump’ in life and have to go through it, then going slowly, gingerly, savouring each moment, weighing each action and reaction and making an informed choice, may be the best option. I’ve found that in doing so, I can do so grudgingly (and then the life ‘bump’ seems be magnified and seemingly stays around longer), or I can do so gracefully (whilst being authentic – after all, there’s no sense in being incongruous) and then I’ve noticed the event seems more ‘copable’. Ofcourse, expressing gratitude, albeit very difficult at this time, may be beneficial, too.

‘Keep your chin up. That crown is too expensive to hit the ground.’ Anonymous.

How you react to these life ‘bumps’ will depend on the event and you. I can only say that for me the following works: keeping a daily journal and writing in it how I honestly feel (writing seems to help), finding a close friend that will (just) listen, getting expert opinions and taking reasonable action, trying not to worry, trying to find the learning experience within the event, praying (yes, I know its old-fashioned, but it seems to work and has helped me) and undertaking a ritual (maybe a Caim) and invoking the favour of the Source (and I am indebted to my (Celtic) Christian friends, Druid friends, Pagan friends, and my Muslim friends etc for their prayers, rituals etc), being objective and ‘ditching’ subjective and excessively-worrying thoughts, meditation, forest-walks (solvitur ambulando), to remind myself that I am not this event, and to have hope. And,  to remember the following story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choice #3: Head into the ‘bumps’ but increase speed: This is a variation of Choice #2, but (as one would expect) faster. There may be good reasons for this, but much of what was mentioned above still applies. But, there is a danger that any underlying learning experience may be lost.

When I was undergoing three cycles of chemo (some ten years ago, and received the ‘all clear’ five years ago), I read one of Mark Nepo’s books, and in it he wrote:

An aging sage grew tired of his apprentice complaining all the time, and so, one morning, he sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water, and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter”, said the apprentice.

The master laughed heartily, and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and throw it in the lake. The sage said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

‘Very fresh’, said the young man.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this, the master sat beside this  young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, and said, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things …. stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

Becoming the lake is expanding our horizons, during those tough times, developing new habits, and experiencing more of life, to overcome the limiting ‘road bump’ and to experience more of life. It seems to work.

What do you think?

This article is only an outline, and my heart goes out to all those that are experiencing a life ‘bump’, perhaps a major ailment at the moment. The abovementioned is really for those, maybe all of us, when we’re not going through such life ‘bumps’ and to prepare us. Actually, enduring such a life ‘bump’ can be altogether too personal and too painful. It’s then that that special friend, prayer and ritual is ever-so more important.

Essential Celt: Even Before We’re Born The Journey Begins….

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Here’s a thought: Ancient Celts and other early tribes and spiritualties had a very different perspective about time, life and death than we have. They saw the world in a totally different way. More unified, whereas we see it in a dualistic way. More harmonious, whereas we analyse it in various ‘departments’. More connected, whereas we regard it as separate from us, and so on.

But, what about the life and death of the individual? What about the march of time?

There is a wealth of literature about life after death in the world. And lots, about life before birth  to be found in the Eastern world and very ancient religions and spiritualties, Islam, for instance; there is, sadly, a paucity of such information and understanding  in the West.

And, yet, living ‘in time’, whether we view this as real (for now) and/or an illusion, we are ‘wired up’ to think of ‘before’, ‘now’ and ‘after’ in one long time-line, it seems.

If you came out of somewhere, then you had to be somewhere before you came…As well as having an ‘afterwards’, every person has a ‘before…Each of us comes from somewhere more ancient than any family’. ‘ John O’Donohue

So, here are a few thoughts to ponder upon. Nothing dogmatic. Just a few thoughts for you to mull over, from a different perspective, perhaps from an ancient Celtic viewpoint? Not advocating the thought of re-incarnation with its multiple births and multiple deaths, but rather, suggesting a ‘what if’ scenario: what if we have lived before birth? Pre-life!

‘Dans la nature rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd, tout change. In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.’.  Antoine Lavoisier.

The abovementioned phrase is an interesting one, and one that many subscribe to, and in a scientific manner many draw assurance from it that life goes on after death, albeit in a different form.

But, if nothing is lost and is merely transformed, why should that process only start after our demise here? Taking that phrase at face value almost demands that we consider the process to have already started before our birth here, and part of the transformation process is what actually brought us here.

According to the Talmud, it’s written, that even before we’re born, just before we’re conceived, infact, and before we find ourselves in the comfort of the womb, we had some sort of pre-life. Our own personal angel, perhaps our guardian angel instructed us in all that is to take place, and actually teaches us all the wisdom we will ever need to know on the Earth. And then, just before we move into this realm of time…the angel purses its lips, raises its index finger to its lips in a kind of teacherly hush gesture, and then moves that finger to our lips, just under our noses. Hush! And, everything the angel taught us is immediately forgotten. And, then we move into this world of time. And, that is how, it is said, each one of us receive that small indentation in the skin beneath our noses which is just above the centre of our top lip, which is known as the philtrum.

‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.’

William Wordsworth

Could it be, then, that we have lived before being born here, and lived in a timeless, eternal realm of the spirit? A wonderful place – a place of wonder! And then, for some reason we seemingly left it to enter this world of time, for a period of physical life, only to return to that timeless realm upon our demise here?

Ofcourse, if that is so, then perhaps, the idea of leaving that timeless realm to come here, is an illusion. For, though we hopefully will spend many decades here, in that timeless realm of our origin we are absent (literally) no time at all. Many years here, for instance,  would be the blink of an eye, there. It would be no time at all – how could it be anything other, in that realm of no-time? And so, perhaps, we never left! But it only seems so, from this ‘world of time’ perspective.

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born…’ Jeremiah 1.5a, The Book

And then, if we never left…and this does, I admit, sound strange, then those who came before us, and those who are yet to come are in that timeless realm, now, and, this is where it gets even stranger, so are we. Now.

From our viewpoint:  Birth into time. Departure. The Afterlife.

Or

In actuality: Pre-life, forgetting, a (seeming) birth into time (also), a seeming departure, a seeming return…but we never really left. We just think we did.

However, I am not suggesting that life ‘in time’ is a dream-like illusion. I believe it is real, and being here is necessary, and what we do here is important. It’s just that for this ‘time’ we are in two places at once, and as one of those realms is the realm of ‘no time’, this is could be said to be entirely reasonable to believe. (But, if you want to imagine that our life here, in actuality, is compressed into a nano-second, and that we’re absent for a nan-second from that eternal realm’s point of view, and then return to that realm, that works, too).

There is a ‘story about a little girl who wanted time alone with her infant brother. Her parents were suspicious of her motives. What if she did something to harm the baby? The big sister was so persistent that her mom and dad finally decided to allow her ten minutes alone with him in his room. After they closed the door, they listened quietly. They felt chills when they heard their daughter say, ‘Baby, tell me what heaven is like. I’m starting to forget.”

I find all this tremendously reassuring. Birth then is a welcoming of an old ‘new’ soul, and ofcourse to be celebrated. Wet the babies head who may be a few weeks old, but in a real sense he/she is a fellow timeless traveller of an awesome heavenly origin. Death, like that seeming departure from that eternal realm into this one, and then the return back home, is then, a wonderful transformation of state, a very real continuation. It’s a going home (that we never really left, but the ‘scales fall from our understanding’). Will you see your loved-ones again. Yes, when you get there. But, then (in that timeless realm) you’re already there, maybe having a wonderfully long, joyous conversation with your lived ones, right now. But, as you’re ‘in time’ you just don’t know it – from this ‘in time’ viewpoint.

Ofcourse, you may not agree with any of this. And as a (Celtic) Christian, Druid, Pagan, Light-Worker etc, you may have your own views. As I said, I don’t intend to be dogmatic, but as a fellow-traveller I would value your views and input. So, what do you think?

‘Time is not a thing that passes … it’s a sea on which you float’. Margaret Atwood.

Tadhg’s Journal: When The Source Of All Is The Storm?

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Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: What a week this has been. Different. Hectic. Challenging. Emotional. Exhausting.

There are times as an Anamcara, working with (Celtic) Christians, Druids and others, when I can choose to ‘step in’, good deeper, or ‘swim’ to shallow waters, as I work with people, depending on their need – which may be deep or not-so-deep.

This week, I had no choice – that’s not a complaint – but a simple admission that the needs of others were many and varied, and deep. Very deep. Very personal. Very emotional. Very real. Very ‘life and death’. As I looked around, maybe someone to defer to, someone to take over, I found no one – not at that precise time. In such cases, if ‘fate’ hasn’t already arranged it, one can only but dive in, deep, to support those with needs.

Three incidences spring to mind:

Firstly, the passing-on of a dear friend, and only 42yo; a friend who liked coffee as much as me, and who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. Gone! My spirits were low. Some things, such as those wonderful photos and texts that appear all over the internet – which usually lift me up – had no effect. Saddened. His passing-on was like a kick to the stomach.

He loved to talk, and he was such a good friend; he loved to reminisce about the time I had got that new job and he had been a volunteer there for 18 years, and how his obstreperousness toward me at the time had only been a ‘test’ to see if I could ‘earn my spurs’. Apparently I did earn my spurs, but half-joking I always said he need not have been so through in his test. And,  we became good friends. He’s gone. Gone home. He lives on. Part of my Caim prayer for him, that ancient prayer at the parting of friends about to go on a long journey, was:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

This week, I learned that ‘release’ is necessary.

Secondly, a dear family member had to be taken to hospital, and several hours of tests ensued – my heartfelt thanks go to all those nurses and doctors in Accident & Emergency at the Charing  Cross Hospital in Fulham who were very thorough, very professional and very courteous.

The family member had several bouts of gasping for air, and had two such additional  ‘attacks’ in the hospital. I was there on each occassion to comfort that person as best as I could. But, my role was only to draw alongside them, pray inwardly, hold their hand, say words of comfort, but it seemed enough; the ‘attacks’ passed. It was the first time, ever, that I had heard that person appeal to the God of all! Ever.

Tests revealed no underlying heart or lung problems, and that family member was released from hospital to go home, later that evening. A visit to the GP soon after revealed something non-lifethreatning, albeit seemingly alarming to him when the ‘attacks’ occured, but something that could be (and now, has been) easily remedied.

This week, I learned that I don’t have all the answers for other people, but that maybe my role (and yours) is to sit with them in the ‘storms’ of life, suppport them in waiting for that which is about to be revealed, is revealed. Humility, is needed.

Thirdly, (and the following account is written with permission, and anonymised, like the last), a young man visited me: as a minister in the church who said he felt that God was a ‘million miles away’, and the more he prayed, the further God seemed to distance himself. ‘It’s as though I’m lost in a dense fog, looking for God….but I can’t see through the fog’, he said as he wept.

He talked. I listened. He knew all the appropriate verses and had a strong theolgocial understanding. He knew those promises about noting separating us from God, and vice versa; but he said, now, experientially, they seemed hollow and weak. He cried tears of exasperation, and some more.

I encouraged him to undertake a visualisation. He did so: His visualisation was of him walking on some deserted moor land, in thick fog. Walking. Lost. So, very lost. Walking through thick fog. Looking for God. After twenty (long) minutes into that visualisation, he said, in his minds eye, he had given up, and was now sitting on the damp grass in this visualisation. He said he could not find God, and it was hopeless. He wept, so remoresefully.

I asked him to stay ‘in’ that visualisation. If he could’t find God in the fog-ladden moor land of his mind, then as those lost in the wilderness know, it is best to ‘stay put’, and let the rescuers – in this case, God – find you!

He was quiet for ten minutes. And then he wept. But the cries were of a different order. ‘I asked for God to find me’, he said, ‘…..that I had no strength to carry on….and the fog just got thicker and thicker. Oh, my God. God is the fog!’.

This week I learned, that the Source of All is in control, and that we need only ‘surrender’. And more: with a different perspective all these negatives can be viewed in such a way as to learn from them. Does that make sense?

What a week this has been. Different. Empowering. Encouraging. Being-embraced. Learning-from-others. Insightful. But, still exhausting. Could it be that the Source of All is the storm?

 

 

Celtic OrthoPraxis: Deep Seeing 101

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I’m told that in many cases, when the Police ask eye-witnesses to come forward and report a crime, and testimonies are recorded, that it’s very rare for such accounts to completely ‘agree’ with each other. It’s as if we all see most of what is going on, but not the complete picture! It’s as though we then, unknowingly, fill in the gaps to give a false picture of what (we think) is going on.

It’s written somewhere: seek and you will find. A call to ‘deep seeing’. Perhaps if we look, we’re in with a chance of finding, and the more we look intently, the more we’ll find.

If there’s buried treasure in my garden at Capel Curig, for instance, and you dig, the more you look and dig the greater the chances of finding treasure. Don’t seek, but just look on, inactively, from the side-lines, without any commitment, and you’re guaranteed to find nothing. Just in case you’re motivated to dig my garden, I should point out there is no buried treasure there (well, so far as I know!).

So much depends on how we see things. More often than not the style of gaze determines what we see. There are many things near us that we never notice simply because of the way we see. The way we look at things has a huge influence  on what becomes visible for us …. Each of us is responsible for how we see, and how we see determines what we see. Seeing is not merely a physical act: the heart of vision is shaped by the state of soul.” ~ John O’Donohue

Seeking, or a commitment to ‘deep seeing’ is important to finding treasure, and more so if we want to come closer to nature, and identify, appreciate and revel in ‘natural’ treasures eg animals, trees, plants, weather, events happening around us etc, as the ancients did.

So, how do we as latter-day Celts, emulate those ancients Celts? How do we honour the Source, appropriately to our belief: Christian, Pagan, Druid etc? What do we do to ‘see deeply’?

Some might suggest something like:

Put an autumnal leaf on a table in front of you, and meditate upon it, say for twenty minutes. So, why not?

If you’ve chosen a leaf you can meditate without intentional thought initially (though thoughts may come and go) by gazing at it (without analysis).

And then you might like to spend time looking intently at it, and describe to yourself its colour, its shape, its texture, and maybe smell?

Then you might like to imagine the life that lives on it, but which is beyond our range of visibility. You might imagine further atoms, quarks and ‘strings’?

Then, imagine, its colour when on the tree, the change, the ‘sacrifice’ the leaf has made, and why?  How about, imagining it’s place in the scheme of things, and its ‘connectedness to you? (And, the latter may ‘move’ you from analytical thought back to that initial ‘no-thought’ as words seem too small for such a cosmic arena?)

Orcourse, it doesn’t have to be a leaf. It could be anything. A fallen leaf is seasonal, but you could ‘see deeply’ using a household item, a piece of food etc.

There is a lot to ‘see’ with ‘deep seeing’. And then you can ‘see’ beyond. And, not only with a leaf. Events that happen around you, interactions with other people, all can benefit from ‘deep seeing’, that is in going beyond just visual perception.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It is easy to see things only at surface level, but how about taking time to go deeper, deep seeing?