The Child And The Beach: A Story Of Encouragement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Longest Day: An Encounter With Truth Through A BBC Soap Opera

20170621 THE LONGEST DAY BBC DOCTORSI have a confession to make: today, because I had left the tv on, I watched ‘Doctors’, the BBC soap opera.

It’s about a medical practice in a fictional town called Letherbridge (near Manchester), and each program, so I’m told, has a few sub-plots,  and today my interest was piqued.

I promise I won’t watch it again. Honest.

I wouldn’t normally watch it, but the fact that it opened with a druid enticed me to watch further. It is summer solstice today and this topical theme on ‘Doctors’ (entitled ‘The Longest Day’) required further ‘research’, and so I watched the program for the next thirty minutes.

So here’s the story: It opened with an older man talking to his teenage son in a forest clearing or large back garden, and it was clear that a ceremony was being prepared. See header photo – from the BBC episode. The older man was a druid by what he said and from the ‘tools’ and symbols and decorations around him.

He said that to complete the preparations he need to take something from the Church grounds! Cue sinister music, perhaps? Well, in some circumstances tv programs like this might do that, but not this time.

I have to go and get a key element for your initiation, if I can get it out of the Churchyard’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

But, what did he need? A skull? Some bones? Steal some Christian relics? It all sounded so mysterious.

Next we see this Druid in the Church building, and in comes dear Mrs Tembe. She is the doctors’ receptionist at the local practice, a devout church-goer, and a wise but sometimes too-straight-laced lady. She askes him, politely, what he’s doing there.

Trouble?

No trouble. But, a conversation ensues, and the scriptwriters have done their home-work, and a wonderfully informed and entertaining subplot unfolds. The Druid introduces himself and explains his path; dear Mrs Tembe listens intently, non-judgementally, and accepts the basket of organic fruit he brought to the Church as a gift. He explains the fact that some Druids are an amalgam of nature-based beliefs and Christianity or other beliefs.

The man continues and says that he’s noticed mistletoe growing in the Church yard and would like permission to take some for a ceremony, and Mrs Tembe agrees to ask the Vicar.

Had this been the product of scriptwriters who had encountered, perhaps, Dungeons and Dragons, or episodes of Hammer House of Horror, it might have been bones the Druid had wanted – because there are many sources that depart from the truth, and for the sake of an enticing tv fictional program some are happy to write scripts that mislead people about druidry. But, all our Druid friend wanted was permission to take a little holly. My first ‘happy feeling’ was the innocuous nature of the dear Druid’s request. Wonderful. No stealing. Nothing sinister. Just a simple request, and a gift to the Church of fruit, come what may.

I can offer you home-grown organic fruit and vegetable. It’s yours without or without the mistletoe’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

Shortly after this, when the program returns to that subplot, there’s dear Mrs Tembe in the forest or is it a large back garden, with a basket of mistletoe. A gift from the local Church. Wonderful.

Okay, she encounters the Druid with his son – the son’s mother is going to Canada that evening with that young man, and this has come like a bolt out of the blue to his father, the Druid, who is preparing that evening to welcome his son, officially, into the grove. Words fly. Again, Mrs Tembe excels – I’m sure she was in Dr Who for a program or two.

Mrs Tembe listens to the father talk about the aspirations he has for his son. My second ‘happy feeling’ was that the program showed the plight of a son ‘torn’ between his parted parents, and the youngster wanting to please both, but unable to do so. Mrs Tembe ‘rescues’ the situation by saying that the son, now grown up, must decide his own destiny and both parents must accept it.

‘…then you are going to have to trust him’, says Mrs Tembe. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

The scriptwriters sincerely captured the fact that people – whether Christian or Druid, or of some other faith (or none)  – have challenges, and particularly parents sometimes have to make tough choices. Mrs Tembe assisted the Druid guy to make a choice (and his parted wife, too) to let their son decide without any pressure. It should come as no shock to discover that Druids and Christians are human, too. And, being human is okay. This was my third ‘happy feeling’. Druids and Christians are human, too! And so, that subplot finishes.

‘You have taken a different path from the one I would have you take…I allowed my own selfish desire to cloud my judgement…Wishing you a safe journey and great joy in your new life…Blessings, your father’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

It may seem strange, but am I so pleased, that a soap opera program like ‘Doctors’ can be so informational and correct, contain a captivating and lively subplot, be so ‘human’, and show that a Druid- Christian commonality and dialogue – where one honours and accepts the path, the Way of the other – is possible. And, that was my fourth ‘happy feeling’.

‘And like me, he believes that this place has a great deal of power.’ Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

Obviously, the Truth can proceed even through soap operas.

Well done Mrs Tembe, played by Lorna Laidlaw (and I’m sure she was in Dr Who for a short while), and well done BBC soap department.

PS: I’ve since found out the scriptwriter Was Tina Walker, so well done, Tina Walker, too.

‘When I finally stopped struggling, I guess it left room for something else’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.

PPS: In the story, the son actually decided to stay with his father and go through with the initiation ceremony.

Power-Blessings 103: The Joy Of Responsibility : [3/4]

20170504 RESPONSIBILTY 3OF4 BLESSINGIt was a dark and  stormy night. It was late November, it was seven o’clock on a cold and wet, rather inhospitable Wednesday evening, as I entered a large hall belonging to a faith-group, ready to deliver a talk to a group. I was told to be prepared to address a group of 60-100 people, and so I was ready.

When the time of the talk arrived, it was clear that the rain, the cold, the inhospitable weather, the fact that the nation’s favourite ‘TV soap’ was being aired on (and the series was at the point where a major cliff-hanger was about to be revealed), and a major football match (soccer, to my American friends) was about to start, had taken their toll on the attendance figures in this hall. I stared from the front at seven people.

I wasn’t upset, as I do believe the people that could benefit from the talk were there. It wasn’t even that my ego needed ‘massaging’. But, a change had to be made to my plans.

With a group of 60-100 a talk could be given from the front, with say, questions at the end. All rather formal, pre-planned, and somewhat ‘distancing’, but probably the best and most proficient way to deliver a talk to 60-100 people. But, not to seven people.

Be prepared to be ‘underwhelmed’.

How we conduct a blessing depends on the circumstances, even the number of people involved. In taking that talk as an analogy, we have to adapt. What would work in some circumstances, will not work in other circumstances. We need to be aware and adapt.

‘The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.’  Mark Twain

In that talk, rather than stand at the front and deliver it in the style of a monologue from a distance, I got the few people to form a circle, rearranging their chairs and including one for me, and we turned the event into a dialogue. I delivered the talk but paused occasionally and included everyone by asking open-ended questions, by making it informal, and more ‘cosy’. It worked.

How we deliver a blessing will change.

Over the last couple of days we’ve looked briefly at what a blessing it, initially looked at intentionality (see here), and then looked at examples of the source, or the Source of power-blessings (see here). So, when to bless, and how to bless, and the responsibility that follows it are just as  essential, and a few thoughts about this follow.

If a person asks for a blessing, then you can gauge how to deliver that blessing. If you’re in their home, it may just be a whispered prayer, or if they’re used to and expecting something more vocal then it could be a moderately loud blessing, set words or improvised prayer-blessing.

In a formal setting, such as in a service or ceremony it may be also more ritualised, with physical actions appropriate to the circumstances.

‘Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality from your own.’ Patti Digh, Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

But, never inappropriate, and do anything never likely to embarrass the one being blessed. Even if it means, and it may be  good idea, to explain what you intend to do, so that their are no surprises as the ceremony unfolds.

After all, we want to be inclusive, and not exclude or ‘distance’ people.

In a café I might see someone nearby, someone unknown who I feel may benefit from a blessing. In such cases I’d probably visualise a power-blessing going from me to them, perhaps as a ball of light – about the size of a golf ball. Why not? Visualisation is important, as it is part of intentionality which is all important. If that ball of light is a metaphor, and I believe it is, then it could be an imagining of an actual happening, and I believe it is. Faith.

It may be okay to send someone a blessing incognito…but not always.

There are times, especially if you know the person and you would like to bless them, to ask, first, and really listen to them. It may be awkward for them, they may be unfamiliar with blessings, and to launch into blessing them without their consent may not only upset them, it may put an obstacle between you and them (and that’s the exact opposite of what a blessing should do), and you may be left half-way through blessing them and look faintly ridiculous. Ofcourse, we want to act responsibly, and there is no pressure – or shouldn’t be. Do watch out for the ego!

There are times when it’s best to ask to bless someone.

‘Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.’ Gary Hopkins

Oh, I know several people, especially at formal gatherings when dozens of people are expected, do like to dress up for the occasion. And, why not? If it’s appropriate and ‘adds’ something to the occasion it may be something to encourage others to do, or to do, yourself!

To give a blessing, means first, create a space and to enter into liminality (to cross over that ‘threshold’), and to do that requires preparation and an act of significance. In terms of many churches this may involve the officiant entering the chancel or at least a raised platform, the dais; for Druids and others it may be casting a circle and entering it; for others it may be the donning of ceremonial clothing. All denote the movement into liminal space, sacred space, the ‘blessing-space’. But, it’s done in such a way as to be appropriate and helpful. But, what if you haven’t got your special attire or ‘tools’ (and for this, some use a small bell or incense, candle etc, depending on the formality of the setting)? What then? Ofcourse, you can still bless, because in essence..

…It’s best to keep it simple, anyway.

In blessing responsibly, we might be led to pray for people at a distance, perhaps for people in other lands, for endangered species of animals, for some area of the world where calamity has taken place. Then do it. Do it in an appropriate way – which will be different depending on whether you’re at home or at a public event and are scheduled to bless, depending on whether it is an event with small numbers or large, and whether it’s formal or informal. Adapt. Always try to be inclusive, and involve others. It’s not just ‘theatre’.

‘When everyone is included, everyone wins.’ Jesse Jackson

Be encouraged to bless.

But, it may be a lonely task. In many cases you may have questions that go unanswered, may not see the end result of your blessing (and that’s okay, really), or you may find that much of what you do is behind closed doors (and, that too, is okay, as it’s only the ego that wants to hog the limelight). Known or unknown, whether you have blessed a thousand times or are endeavouring now to do your first blessing, it’s okay. The power behind a blessing comes from far beyond, and it isn’t our power that is the force behind it, anyway – and that’s awesome to comprehend. The Source provides the power behind an energy-blessing. And, that means, that usually, it’s best to bless and leave the outcome to the Source, and not be too ‘prescriptive’ about what we’d like to see.

‘Spoken words have power beyond measure.’ Debasish Mridha

We, then are much like conduits, placing ourselves in that power flow from the Source, as intermediaries – and their are benefits to us.. We are like conduits. Whatever happens when we give a blessing – and, don’t expect those we’re blessing will necessarily ‘feel’ anything (it might happen, it might not), the blessing is effective (maybe, in some positive way unknown to us) because it depends on the power-source, and that’s not us, but the Source of All. Always, positive.

It’s not about us. It’s about the Source. What do you think?

So, what’s stopping 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 love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

Tomorrow, having mentioned that blessing another, others, events, animals, the planet etc can be a lonely exercise or ‘calling’, we’ll look at further encouragement, ‘teaching’ and mutual support. How can we assist each other?

Celtic Thought: Deep Calls To Deep In An Age Of Shallow

20170418 DEEP CALLS TO DEEP CELTIC THOUGHTIs it just me, or has the world moved into the ‘shallow end’ of the swimming pool, metaphorically? And, if it’s always been this way, perhaps more so nowadays? I’m used to politicians alarmingly giving glib and shallow answers (and doubly alarming when the public or journalists swallow wholesale what they say without question), but it seems to me that in other  spheres of life there’s been a movement to quick and shallow, rather than slow and deep.

I hear your voice on the wind
And I hear you call out my name.

Could it be that, though the mass media, we’re conditioned to accept the quick answer, the frivolous and not wait and ponder? In many cases we’re so caught up in the moment, the noise, the neon glare of the city, that we miss that still, small voice. Richard Rohr quotes a psychological phenomenon that states if we don’t ‘anchor’ a new experience and encounter as something unique, then within fifteen seconds it will be stored in the brain as a run-of-the-mill event and hardly remembered. Dwell with mystery.

Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call, and I’ll set you free”

Why is it that we so easily pleased? To ‘dive deep’ demands that we slow down, really allow information and experience to ‘sink in’, but that way of working is alien to the world we live in. And yet, for those who do take time, the rewards are out of this world.

Why are we so content to swim in the shallows? For some, it’s fear. Many shun solitude and quietness, run from experiential knowledge or body wisdom, because they feel they will be out of their depth. Actually, that’s true. But, it’s when we’re out of our depth that we experience the guiding on the Unseen One, who is more than capable to buoy us up.

Why are we so busy? Many have the mistaken notion that ‘a full diary, makes for a happy life’. True, many people have jobs that demand that we’re time-conscious, but sometimes, maybe many times, that way of working spills over into our recreation time. Remember: you don’t have to answer your mobile phone immediately it rings.

And then, often, we miss out on dolce far niente – my favourite Italian phrase which means ‘sweetly, doing nothing’. Try it!

I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal

Why are we so fearful? Our society encourages us to be in control at all times. Why would anyone dive into the deep end, and risk being caught up in currents that take one to unknown places? And, yet if we don’t we well miss out. Surrender.

To put ourselves in the way of the Source, to encounter the Source by slowing down and listening intently, and responding deeply is a risk, but it’s worth it.

It’s like diving or swimming in the ocean. Immense. Frightening. Powerful. And yet, amazingly refreshing, beautiful and rewarding. Then, deep calls to deep. In that liminal space,  answers don’t come easily, and pain is exposed rather than covered over, but it is where healing and transformation takes place. It is dealing with the real wound, rather than just applying a zeitgeist ‘band-aid’.

We live in a time where it is easy to avoid those tough questions, to ignore our own foibles, to fill our days with busy-ness and sometimes meaningless activity, to turn on the tv etc. But, deep calls to deep, and yet often we resist and we long to stay at the shallow end.

I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice

Take for example, ritual. Any ritual can be done glibly. The words can be recited, actions done automatically and quickly, and before we know it we’re saying ‘amen’, ‘so be it’, ‘so mote it be’, or awen, or similar.

But, the take time, to slow it down, to ponder upon each phrase and to use intuition and imagination to take ourselves into that ‘magical’ and powerful place of liminality, and we can encounter the Source, The Voice, The Friend. Deep calls to deep, and we benefit when we respond in kind. It is one of the reasons that I (as a latter-day Celt, Druidic Christian etc) cherish, love, and waste no time in finding ways to celebrate events and the seasons in liturgy and ritual. Ritual opens the door to another place of power, purpose and potential, it ushers us into a ‘thin place’, and we benefit in so many different ways. Have you experienced a ‘thin place’, liminality?

Ne’er do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow

Right now, the voice of the Source continues to speak deeply to each one of us. I do believe the Source never stops providing us with opportunities to encounter, and ritual is one way in which the Source reminds us to draw near, or dive deep, to ‘lose ourselves’ in that Great Ocean of Encounter.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about how we can grow and be transformed, can move into that liminal realm of encounter, and benefit – infact, some have asked for day workshops on this very theme, and so, it’s very much as case of ‘watch this space’.

Meanwhile, my encouragement to myself and to you is to go deeper in the things that make for Encounter. Deep really does call to deep. Respond in kind.

Blessings, Tadhg.

 

Quotes above from the song, ‘The Voice’, by Celtic Woman

 

Celtic Thought: Wisdom In 200 Words Or Less

20170417 WISDOM IN 200 WORDS OR LESS CELTIC THOUGHTWe  live in a world bristling with knowledge of all kinds. Mankind has stood on the moon, has split the atom, and may have discovered life-enabling properties on Enceladus (one of the moons of Saturn).  I’m told humankind has ‘discovered’ more knowledge of the universe in the last 30 years than the previous 30,000 years. I can well imagine that. And yet, there is an urgent need for wisdom.

We can do amazing things, and yet old seemingly intractable ‘challenges’ continue.

Where does wisdom come from, how is it nurtured, can it reside within humanity? It’s just a thought for today….

‘Wisdom brings up her own children and cares for those who seek her.’ Wisdom of Sirach 4:11. The Book

Are you a knowledge-seeker? A wisdom-seeker? Are they mutually exclusive? And if not, what takes precedence? If knowledge is information, perhaps wisdom is in how to use it?Just a few thoughts? What do you think?

Christian, Celt, Druid, of another faith or none, maybe what we really need is wisdom? ‘Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’ Proverbs 4:7b. The Book.

‘Knowledge will take you so far. Wisdom will take you further’. (Anon)

 

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

 

Tadhg’s Journal: Dayenu. For Now!

20170407 FOR NOW DAYENU TADHGS JOURNALSome of you will know that my dear, 91yo Dad, Robert – a brave, loving, clever, gentle giant of a man – passed on last Monday evening.

Caer Wydyr

As you can imagine emotions seem to be a roller-coaster ride for me and close family. In all of this I want to thank my friends here, Celts, Christian, Druid, Pagan and others – too numerous to mention – for your kind words, thoughts, energy-sending, prayers, ritual, caim-casting etc, and for those that sat with me in the silence. It means a lot.

My heart is filled with gratitude for all those well-wishers.

It is all too easy to rush through life’s ‘judders’, upsets, disappointments and traumas, as if to try to escape them, or at least speed them up to return to normality, whatever that is. I’ve realised that ‘going through it’ is necessary, and though I don’t want to prolong the pain and heartache, neither do I want to artificially steer a course through it to quell the pain. The journey is necessary.

The journey, at this time, (just) is.

It has its own time. I’m learning something each day. It will end. But, perhaps, not just yet. Life is a mystery, and sometimes there are no easy answers. It’s then that I take comfort, and have done so, in those who send words of comfort, who verbally and in word form via FaceBook or email  sit with me, metaphorically or in actuality, for a while.

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvellous
to be understood…

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have all the answers.

Let me keep company, always, with those who say
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

The ancients had a word, hupomone, which means to ‘stay with whatever is happening’, and that is what I am doing. Not speeding through this part of the journey, nor purposely slowing it down. Just staying with it.

‘…the call is not to run away when things become challenging. Stability demands that we stay with difficult experiences and stay present to the discomfort they create in us’.

Christine Valters Paintner

In some instances, like the current event it is impossible to run away from it. But, even so, I get though each day, I grow, somethings are shaken loose, I enjoy good company, I am lifted up by others, I realise more of what it essential in life and what isn’t, I move through this experience slowly, thoughtfully, and not alone.

Dayenu.

Today, was but one day on this journey. Tomorrow, another. The Unseen Guide guides, consoles, empowers me (and you) one day at a time, and visits us in the myriad of people and events that we encounter each day. One day…it is enough.

 

Tadhg’s Journal: A Treasure In The Darkness?

20170323 treasure in the darkness TADHGS JOURNALMy thoughts are racing right now, careering from acceptance, stillness and peace to fear, uncertainty, confusion and stressful worry – such are some of the emotions in dealing with someone so close and so dear to me who is now receiving palliative care.

If there was an ‘off button’, some way of stepping out of the current story in which I find myself, of changing this impending tragedy into a comedy, I would press it. It was the same when I had oesophageal cancer ten years ago. If I could have changed the circumstances as I went through it, then, I would have done. Alas, in the current situation as with that event ten years ago, there is no option of an alternative story-line.

And so, emotions career to the far ends of an opposing, invisible, and a seemingly indeterminate spectrum.

‘If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.’  Tom Peters

I have no easy answers if you have been, or are going through this kind of roller-coaster ride as a loved-one is prepared for the return ‘Home’. But, even as I write this, something, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, whispers into the confusion in which we are placed.

Entering into that inner sanctuary, the Caim, much-loved by ancient  Christians, Celts and Druids, and others, I sit. Outwardly, I sit, too, and with my eyes closed, I go ‘inward’, to that sacred space, deep ‘inside’. The Caim is a wonderful place from which to visualise others, to inwardly (or sometimes physically) to enact a ritual within that Circle, and send energy to them. Now, I’m in a place of darkness, even in the Caim. But, it’s not a brooding darkness of chaos or fear of the unknown. It simply is…..dark. A place to be alone with the Alone.  Yet another use for the Caim.

‘And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches..’ Isaiah 45:3a, The Book.

And, so, ‘I welcomed in the tender grace of unknowing and gave myself over to fertile darkness, despite the fears or voices that long for certainty or the ones which think they have already got it all figured out,’ said Christine Valters Paintner in her book, ‘The Soul Of A Pilgrim’.

Surrender!

In this inward -dark-but-peaceful place, in this Caim of Solitude I sit, and wait. Unspoken questions arise: Should I do this? Should I do that? What if….? It feels like a trillion thoughts are ‘firing’ all at once, beckoning activity, and yet someone – could it be The Friend – brings one over-riding thought to the fore (and, if there is an almost-thought, then this was one), like a distant memory that was embedded deep within but is only now surfacing, rather than an audible voice.

Hupomeme!

Hupomeme is an ancient Greek word, beloved of desert monks who were undergoing tough times. It means to stay with whatever is happening!

And that word was the seeming whisper in that Caim of Solitude, that inner sacred space, spoken by the Source of All. Leaving that Caim, I returned to the world of a trillion thoughts, of erratic emotion-swings, of uncertainties…but I know I have the experience and memory of an alternative realm of peace which is just as real, and maybe more real, that this one.

‘God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.’  Jalaluddin Rumi.

Celtic Thought: When Life Is A ‘Storm’

20170228-when-life-is-a-storm-1-celtic-thoughtAs we’re still in the season of spring, the cardinal point is east, and for latter-day Christian Celts, Celts and druids (and others who are aware) the primary element is air or wind.

An, for me, the latter is apt.

As many of you will know, my Dad was rushed into hospital recently – and, it feels as though I’ve been hit by a tornado, or buffeted about like a sail boat on a wind-tossed sea. Of course, it has been much worse for my 91 yo Dad (but the good news is, he is well on the road to recovery, and each day is getting stronger, and it is hoped he’ll be home within a few days).

Life, especially over the last week, then, has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions and physical ‘duress’ for me, a time when the body seems to ‘kick into automatic’ to get things done, and then exhaustion (of all kinds) comes upon oneself in the evening, in those times of rest or at least of requested rest.

For those who are acquainted with the old UK tv comedy program ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, you may remember an episode where the few attendees at the church council were meeting during bad weather. For several minutes the debate turned to previous instances of bad weather, and recollections: ‘Do you remember the great storm of…..?’, only for that title to be contested by someone because others knew it as the ‘Great Wind of….’, and so they went on to explain that for it to be a storm there had to be wind and rain.

This last week life for me feels like a great storm – wind and rain – and at sea, too!

I mention this, because I know you will have faced similar ‘storms’ in life, albeit with different events, and in different circumstances, and at different times, or maybe, you are going through just such a ‘storm’ right now? .

‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8, The Book.

No one can wave a wand and conclusively say that such ‘storms’ will go away. I know, if that were possible friends would do that for me, and I would do that for my friends, just as I would do that for my dear Dad. [Though, never stop asking, praying or engaging in ritual, please. There’s more].

But, I have been ‘buoyed up’, comforted and empowered (as has my Dad, especially), by the large number of dear friends from all backgrounds and ‘tribes’ who have sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, positivity-energy-packages and prayer, and maybe that has had a tangible effect. It feels that way, and that is sufficient. And, in some mysterious way (that we won’t discover for some time) maybe it has had other positive effects. And, maybe, that’s what it is all about?

Endurance in a ‘storm’. Journeying together. Caring for each other.

The fact that, in different ways we do travel together, support each other across the distances between us, and want to do good things, is important. I do believe that intentionality counts in the universe. We must never think that our well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers etc are too small or insufficient. We must never stop our good deeds, out good-thoughts sending, rituals and prayers. These are  important. They work (albeit in ways we may not immediately expect, or even see now), and they are products of intentionality in practice.

Love in action.

From my sailing days – a small sail boat, borrowed from a friend, and sailed off the coast of Anglesey – I know that when a storm blows in, it’s time to trim the sails (that is, to reduce the area of sail exposed to the wind) and if its a bad storm to move to ‘bare poles’ and have no sail at all. It depends on the storm. As the waves ‘hit’ the sail boat, there comes a point where instead of running with the wind and waves, one quickly turns the sail boat about and faces into the wind and waves, depending on circumstances, and faces, head-on, into the oncoming surges.

At sea, how we react  depends on the storm.

In life it is much the same. The analogy holds true, for there comes a point where we hold resolutely to the tasks in hand and ride the ‘waves’, and then later we turn to face the oncoming storm. It’s almost damage limitation then and endurance. We accept some change in circumstance, but try to ward of the worst. We become more honest with ourselves, and accept the confusion (and maybe express anger and unfairness) that abounds, we become more resolute, and yes, we acknowledge our vulnerability.

So let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go’
Let the wind blow us
to wherever it says
we are supposed to go
(Joshua Radin)

Nevertheless, at the end of that day, I do believe that the Source of All is Master of all, and aids us.

I want to express my gratitude to all those who sent well-wishes, good-thoughts, energy-packages or prayers. I do believe these have made a difference, and I’m humbled by your love and concern for my dear Dad. Thank you to all my dear Christian, Celtic, Druid, Pagan friends and others to numerous to mention. ‘Thank-you’ seems to small a word (or is that two?), but it’s all I have right now and it comes from my heart to you. I hope you understand. Blessings, Tadhg

‘May all the Light and Wisdom of your work
return to bless you a thousand times.’ John O’Donohue

In Dark Times, Shine: 2/5: Empowerment [Celtic Thought]

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thoughtHaving looked at our distinctive yesterday (in part one, see here), we now move into considering empowerment to do what we’re called to do.

You may have your own ways of empowerment, but if you haven’t or if you would like to consider different ways (to use, to adapt and use), here’s a few ideas that I find beneficial.

‘Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Empowerment is necessary to do what we’re called to do. This can be an informal influx of energy obtained by, say, a walk in a park or forest. Nature is wonderful, and a real and genuine source of energy and inspiration. Or, you might obtain energy from a visit to an art galley or listening to a piece of music; or we can approach it in ways to specifically ensure we have an influx of energy, a more formal approach, and some of these ways are outlined below.

But, empowerment is necessary, lest we work from a position of depleted energy or exhaustion and don’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

In ancient text the Christ says: ‘…but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49, The Book

I like that idea. Empowerment is something we can be clothed with – it can be seen as a protective, energetic cloak or coat, enveloping us. And, is something we need (and which can be depleted, and restored!).

So, here’s some ideas for empowerment:

Under The Blanket
empowerment-adorable-20374__340Susanna Wesley, the mother of  John and Charles Wesley, and eight other children (or was it more?) and found it difficult to find space and time to be by herself to meditate and pray, especially with so many children around the house and the challenges of eighteenth century living – it was not a bed of roses. Lots of  problems and heartaches. Infact, twice the house where she lived was burned to the ground, losing everything she and her husband owned. It was assumed that their church members did it because they were so upset at what her husband had preached in the pulpit.

She struggled to find a secret place to get away from it all, somewhere where she could ‘commune’. She stumbled upon the idea of a prayer apron or blanket – a ‘tent’ over her head. So, she informed her children that when they saw her with her an apron or blanket over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. And it worked. The children didn’t disturb her, and Susanna found these times to be very beneficial for deep meditation and prayer.  Others have emulated Susanna since. So, you could find your own prayer or meditation blanket!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6, The Book

The Tallit
The Greek word for closet or room is tameion which is the same word to describe what happens when one puts on a tallit. Ah, the tallit.

empowerment-tallitThe tallit is primarily a Jewish prayer shawl, mainly used by men but, today, many women use it, too. Tallit is Hebrew for a robe, a cloak, or a sheet. It is draped over the shoulders (with deep respect and after much prayer), but in putting it on, the ritual involves covering the head, fully, momentarily.

It, too, is like a prayer blanket. Indeed, it has been known as the little tent, and some say references to tents in ancient text may actually refer to the period that the tallit covers the head – a tent for the head, separating the person from the rest of the world, monetarily, as if they were in a separate, secret room. (And, for those interested, we know the Christ wore one of these, as there are references to people touching the fringe, the tassels, of his garment, tallit, to seek healing. Also, Paul we’re told was a tent-maker, and there is a view (and one that I subscribe to), that he was, infact, a tallit-maker).

So, why not buy a tallit? It can be used in prayer and meditation as an aid, and can be used in the caim – see below, though it’s not essential to the caim.

The Caim
The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer used by ancient Druids, (Christian) Celts and others over the millennia. I like to think of it as a bubble that surrounds us (and which scribes a circle on the floor, into which we stand or sit).  It is still used by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and others.

‘Real power comes by empowering others.’ Denis Waitley

empowerment-soap-bubble-manThe making of the caim, the ‘stepping into it’, and using its power for your blessing, protection and for others is pertinent here. What you send out, does come back. Send out a blessing, and you get a blessing back.

The caim is about surrendering to the Source of All, so that some of that power can flow through us, like a conduit. Through us and onto others.

‘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 love you give away, the more love you will have.’ John O’Donohue

For information on how to bless others, and so be blessed; or maybe you want to adapt the caim for blessing and empowerment only, so that you can then, later, bless others by performing a caim on their behalf or do some other activity on their behalf, please see here.

Smudging
Of course, the caim can be understood to be one ritual among many, and you may have your own ritual. But, if you haven’t please do consider this one (or more, depending on what you want to accomplish).

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.’ Buddha

empowerment-6fb7425b1a234dc3a468d885305ff98fFor indigenous people of north America and others smudging was, and still is, and important, and special, and sacred act. So, why not you?
Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony, and this sits well with those whose tribe is ancient Celtic or Druidic in nature, or similar.

Clear your room or space of clutter and mess, open up windows and curtains and allow air to enter. Light your sage (or other herbs) and then fan the smoke with a feather around your body and anyone else in your space.

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’ Marianne Williamson

In turn, you may then want to face each compass cardinal point starting with, say, the east, and in turn say a prayer. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Taking your time, for there is no rush, you might want to say:
Eastward: ‘Facing east, we greet the air, the  wind which can fell mighty trees, and seek that power to do good

Southward: Facing south, we greet the sun at its highest point, and ask for power from that which provides light and warmth to all the earth, to fill us’.

Westward: Facing west, we greet that great body of water, with giant waves and currents that dissipates energy around the globe, to shower us with its power and blessing.

Northward: Facing north, we greet the earth, that which provides a sure foundation, that we might not stumble, but might be sure-footed in what we do for good.

Of course, this is only an outline, and you may wish to add to it to make it true to you, or adapt it to suit your particular purpose. I usually conclude with a prayer to the Source of All, the One behind it all!

Conclusion
Instead of smudging, you could use a candle, moving it to the four cardinal compass points and reciting those words. Experiment. Try something different.

In all of this, intentionality in ritual is important. It is what it means to you that’s important. And, of course the Source is important, too. In a very real sense, it doesn’t depend on us to get it right, but on the Source of All to be profligate, and we have just such a promise. So, don’t hold back. Be empowered to do good in these dark times.

Tomorrow, in part three, we’ll look at actions, and some ways we can ‘shine’ and assist others.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ Andre Gide

 

20170221-walking-in-dark-times-celtic-thought