Monday, 6 September 2021

Be Still and…

 Taking refuge in this one this evening…



Desert Stillness:


Be still 

and know

that I Am..


Would you enter the desert

at the heart of yourself?

Would you allow the sandals of your senses

to fall away?

Would you, finally, recognise

the holy ground your heart

truly is?

Would you behold the burning bush

afire with presence at the centre of

your soul?

Then you must 

enter the desert of stillness.

Be still

and know...

Would you know the call to exodus

from the slavery of self?

Would you pass through the waters

of overwhelming worry?

Would you ascend the holy mountain of prayer?

Would you behold the glory so bright that it is darkness?

Would you enter the cloud of the presence?

Would you keep the covenant of grace?

Would you reach the promised land of peace?

Then you must enter the desert of stillness.

Be still 

and know...

For

This is how the Ultimate is revealed:

as presence through stillness,

as Being beyond being,

as emptiness without absence,

as right relationship,

in which 

we come to know

the self truly

only in the light

of Pure Being as

independent

(where all else depends on love),

as non-contingent:

(where all else arises from previous causes),

as creative:

(where all else sub-creates),

as transcending all,

imminent in all,

beyond all,

but 

holding all

in being

by

Love.

Would you enter the desert at the heart of yourself and see it bloom?

If you would,

then only

be still

and you will know.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Mother Teresa: a mystic of holy darkness

Today we keep the feast of the great saint of the 20th century Mother Teresa of Kolkatta. 



Today we keep the feast of the great saint of the 20th century Mother Teresa of Kolkatta. 


While she is known mostly for her extraordinary work for the poor and the destitute in India and throughout the world very few still know of her deep mysticism of "darkness". This darkness has nothing to do with the darkness of evil, rather it is the effect on the soul's inner eye of those who have behld the bright light of the Divine Presence... We are simply blinded by its brightness and only that light can in time restore our inner vision. It is a mystical path walked by only the greatest of those the Lord calls and one of the most difficult to even imagine... simply put after the direct call of the saint to a particular path and mission the Lord seems to withdraw His light so that prayer is an unremitting desert with only very occasional indications that God is present at all... It is a participation in the humanity of Christ crucified upon the Cross and crucified to this day in the suffering of creation while at the same time, to all around them, the saint is a source of Divine Light and grace but the saint is called to ongoing teaching, working, praying all without any form of spiritual consolation in a dark night of the soul that produces extraordinary fruit in those around them while depriving the one who is going through it of anything other than the grace to contintually welcome and fulfil the will of God in the midst of it all. This was seen beautifully in the famous miracle of the light described by Malcolm Muggeridge in his book about her. Coming to film the work of her sisters in the 70's the BBC crew he was with were horrified to discover just how dark the building in the slums where the sisters lived was. It was so dark as to be completely unsuitable for filming. Telling one of the sisters that they would have to abandon the project the news came to Mother who famously said "I will pray." She did so and despite the objections of the crew Malcolm insisted they would film. It was only when they got back to the UK that they discovered that the whole building appeared suffused in a beautiful calm light. The cameramen confessed themselves stumped... what we were seeing, said Muggeridge, was the light of Mother's prayer.


In some of her last words about this spiritual darkness Mother Teresa promised that she would be a "saint of darkness" and like Padre Pio and St. Therese the Little Flower, she promised that she would remain at the doors of Heaven to guide and help all those going through the trial of darkness in their own lives... She is a powerful advocate for those who are suffering and seeking... I pray to her often for light and suggest you might like to also.


Mother Teresa always said her work (and ours too) is simply to be faithful to God in the present moment and not to worry about success... success belongs to God and from the Divine perspective what looks like success to us can be failure to God and vice versa! Just think of the Crucifixion! To live the Christian life is to live one that ever more surely seems to be at odds with the way the world thinks and acts... in our topsy turvy witness we are those who remind the world of what and who are really important... perhaps that is the way that the darkness of our world and the way it treats the powerless, the poor and the hurting may be overcome by the light of the Gospel.


While she is known mostly for her extraordinary work for the poor and the destitute in India and throughout the world very few still know of her deep mysticism of "darkness". This darkness has nothing to do with the darkness of evil, rather it is the effect on the soul's inner eye of those who have behld the bright light of the Divine Presence... We are simply blinded by its brightness and only that light can in time restore our inner vision. It is a mystical path walked by only the greatest of those the Lord calls and one of the most difficult to even imagine... simply put after the direct call of the saint to a particular path and mission the Lord seems to withdraw His light so that prayer is an unremitting desert with only very occasional indications that God is present at all... It is a participation in the humanity of Christ crucified upon the Cross and crucified to this day in the suffering of creation while at the same time, to all around them, the saint is a source of Divine Light and grace but the saint is called to ongoing teaching, working, praying all without any form of spiritual consolation in a dark night of the soul that produces extraordinary fruit in those around them while depriving the one who is going through it of anything other than the grace to contintually welcome and fulfil the will of God in the midst of it all. This was seen beautifully in the famous miracle of the light described by Malcolm Muggeridge in his book about her. Coming to film the work of her sisters in the 70's the BBC crew he was with were horrified to discover just how dark the building in the slums where the sisters lived was. It was so dark as to be completely unsuitable for filming. Telling one of the sisters that they would have to abandon the project the news came to Mother who famously said "I will pray." She did so and despite the objections of the crew Malcolm insisted they would film. It was only when they got back to the UK that they discovered that the whole building appeared suffused in a beautiful calm light. The cameramen confessed themselves stumped... what we were seeing, said Muggeridge, was the light of Mother's prayer.


In some of her last words about this spiritual darkness Mother Teresa promised that she would be a "saint of darkness" and like Padre Pio and St. Therese the Little Flower, she promised that she would remain at the doors of Heaven to guide and help all those going through the trial of darkness in their own lives... She is a powerful advocate for those who are suffering and seeking... I pray to her often for light and suggest you might like to also.


Mother Teresa always said her work (and ours too) is simply to be faithful to God in the present moment and not to worry about success... success belongs to God and from the Divine perspective what looks like success to us can be failure to God and vice versa! Just think of the Crucifixion! To live the Christian life is to live one that ever more surely seems to be at odds with the way the world thinks and acts... in our topsy turvy witness we are those who remind the world of what and who are really important... perhaps that is the way that the darkness of our world and the way it treats the powerless, the poor and the hurting may be overcome by the light of the Gospel.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

September In-Between

 



September In-between


This is the season of in-between,

a sacred door into the dragonfly days 

of sun blushed berries,

and fruits full upon the branch,

when autumnal fire crackles

slowly over leaves, 

unleashing light along their veins

tempting them towards 

the tension of windborn wonder.

These are the days of swallows and starlings 

gathering as slow storm clouds 

before their flocked flight warmwards, 

screaming their farewells,

fountaining forwards,

free upon the foaming clouds.

These are the days of first noticing 

the chill and the dark, 

though not as winter yet, 

only as remarked change upon our skin

walking from patches of conversation 

into silent introspection, 

feeling the old summons of schoolday beginnings, 

the burgeoning pull-tide of term 

we never truly escape from,

no matter the outer age, 

that calls our shuffling feet towards 

the first drifting leaves and 

makes us count conkers upon the trees, 

even if our pockets hold other treasures now.

These are the days of longing, 

yearning for those sunsets and mornings 

just now out of reach, 

that teach us the deeper soul longing 

for Love's eternal Summer, 

yet we rejoice too 

in the brittle sharp newness 

of lowering sun and rising moon.

These are the days of hunting, 

of homing, of harvesting; 

of gratitude given before the gathering, 

of berried blessing being 

between us and all that is,

and though our gaze now looks 

long towards winter 

we join here, now,

in the days of autumnal grace, 

the dance of in-between.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Garden is Burning

 The Garden is Burning




For a long time now
a fire has been burning in my mind
a flood has rolled across my heart
an earthquake rumbles in my soul.
I am afraid it is breaking, 
this world of ours,
how could it not?
It bears so much weight
the weight of sadness,
the weight of fear,
the weight of pain.
Last week in Greece
a two thousand year old 
Olive Tree,
an elder, ancient and wise in ways we cannot even begin to know,
burned, 
as people fled the lands 
that fed them and us for ages untold.
The trees don’t get to leave.
Here in Ireland we smile 
and take pictures of a Walrus, 
a prince of the cold kingdom, 
now an exile, lost, wandering, alone,
iceless, friendless, bewildered by boats.
In Siberia, the tundra burns and mammoth bones have their slumbering rest disturbed
long thought safe and sleeping by the peoples who live and love upon the frosted lands.
In Afghanistan, a wordless groan erupts,
the pain of a tortured soul, 
the ache of a land so long in agony 
its voice is near a death rattle 
despair of a people fearing a veil being drawn over their faces, a stifling of song, an ending of hope, a blanket of hate, and loss, and loss, and loss, and betrayal.
In Haiti, earthquakes again.
In Lebanon, explosions again.
In America, fires again.
In Turkey, floods again.
My litany is nowhere near complete…
Lord have mercy.
The world is breaking.
How could it not?
What was meant as garden 
needs its gardeners,
needs us to be Adams, gardeners, again;
needs us to be Eves, mothers of life, again;
that was the original blessing after all;
to grow, to steward, to bring forth life, 
to bless, to give thanks, to guard and keep
all that lives, all that breathes, all that is.
So what must I do?
What can you do?
Be a gardener.
Now, 
right where you are.
Dig.
Dig deep within,
Dig over the hard soil of the heart 
that cannot bear to hear anymore 
and let it breathe again original blessing.
Plant seeds of kindness.
Plant seeds of compassion.
Plant seeds of love.
Water it with your tears for all beings who suffer.
Grow a harvest of tenderness for those who suffer
Grow flowers of welcome for the lost and the lonely
Grow the fruit of peace in yourself and offer it to all beings to eat.
Act with reverence for all that is, 
for all that is, is holy.
Allow that little plot of life 
and earth around you to heal.
It will spread. 
Remember we are all sons of Adam
Remember we are all daughters of Eve
Hear again the song of sister Mother Earth
Sing again the hymn of creation
Be again, blessing
Be again, the gardener,
Be at last the steward.
Be.



Sunday, 15 August 2021

Assumption; Our Lady of the Harvest

Assumption: Our Lady of the Harvest 



Autumn edges 

in,

gilding leaves 

lovelier,

swelling fruit,

and berry,

and shining nut,

filling seed 

with life,

to lie long quiet

until the quickening 

thaw

invites the labour 

of the land 

with longed

for Spring birth.

For now though,

we keep your 

festival

my Lady,

beneath 

a still summered 

sky,

though cooler,

as ever dancing

dawn and dusk,

hearing the autumnal 

music

change their step,

and,

creep closer,

preparing

for their near 

embrace.

O you who are 

our harvest, 

our first fruits 

offered 

and received,

we hail you as

Love's 

healing promise 

made

and kept 

of

always 

a new greening, 

a new quickening,

a new birthing,

made manifest 

in you 

long since, 

and there 

faith futured

for us too,

whose barrenness

yields to

birth blessing,

only

in the fruition of your

virgin womb.

So now you 

shine,

our harvest moon,

gold and glorious,

reflecting Son's

light,

upon our rejoicing

hope

that we too may be,

one day,

with you,

assumed;

and held within 

your holy hands

and there

become your 

golden gift 

to Him

as

gathered grain

of Heaven's 

harvest

home.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Assumption Eve Medicine: a meditation poem




Assumption Eve Medicine:


For two months turning 
the old women, 
they who have the knowing, 
have watched their charges carefully.
Picked at the height of their power
on the short night, after the long day;
the feast of fire, 
that vigils the Baptist’s coming,
when lads and ladies leap 
like hares over flames 
and look with longing for love, 
as children sing the old songs
filled with mystic meaning;
that night they were gathered 
as grace and gift 
beneath the light of sister Moon, 
the Lady’s lamp and plucked
from garden and from forest glade,
by woman’s hands alone.
Now, they, the herbs for healing, 
hang in blessed bunches 
over the hearth of home,
or kept in kitchens 
above the range, 
or bound in byres
where the warming breath 
of the queen kine keeps them
charmed and waiting 
to release their medicine,
the healing pulse 
of sister Mother Earth 
and Brother Sun’s distilled light
mixed, and married, and greened,
in root, and shoot, 
and leaf, and flower.
So they, the healing herbs, 
have rested until tonight
when as dusk comes on 
and begins to breathe her
autumnal quickening, 
these wise ones take them down
and bring them now 
to the old places of prayer
to the abbeys and chapels, 
to the candled shrines 
of the sainted ones,
who themselves bore 
the fruit of blessing 
and were heaven’s healing, 
the salve of souls,
upon the earth.
There they find 
the Lady’s chapel,
and lay their leafy burdens 
beneath the linen cloths
upon the Altar, there to await
Assumption’s dawn,
and as the Mass bells ring
to have the holy words
said over them that render
them thrice blessed again,
and ready to release their
gentle healing gifts,
blessed once in very being 
from first beginning’s breathing,
blessed twice in the burning 
touch of Love’s own resurrection light
when all was made anew,
blessed thrice by the Lady’s prayers,
she who is the stock from which
all healing blooms, 
and in her gathering home raised all
that grows green upon this good earth
to become heaven’s healing help again;
Eden’s elixir restored in her 
and birthed anew as grace,
just as these sainted herbs
ground upon the mortar’s stone 
will give their essence up,
and become the holy way 
by which their medicine 
blesses bodies and anoints 
our souls to ready us 
in our own time,
for Heaven’s
homing.

Vigil of the Assumption 14th August 2019

In many places it was the ancient custom for women to gather herbs around the feast of St. John the Baptist (Midsummer) and then bring them to the Churches for blessing on the feast of the Assumption before they were made into medicine for the Winter ahead. The herbs were placed beneath the Altar Cloths and around the Sanctuary before the dawn Mass there to be offered to the Lord, through Mary’s hands, she who is the “first fruits” of His saving love, so as to receive her special prayers of healing and be blessed in their medicinal use in the year ahead.
The Ritual of the Church still provides for such blessings should they be requested.
 
(Pics in this post found as random uncredited images on the web)

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Saint Clare Aflame; a poem for her feast

 This came to me three years ago for the Feast of St. Clare... 



Saint Clare Aflame


There came at last

the night when,

with Bishop’s blessing,

she drew back the great bolt

and, with sudden strength 

unknown before,

cast open wide 

the ancient oaken doors 

and left the heavy house

of her fathers behind.

Breathing deep the cool free 

Assisi air,

her sparkling eyes, now

a mirror of the canopy 

of shining sisters overhead.

Veiling herself in night, 

and without a backward glance,

she fled to the forested friars

who met this already bright one 

with their lamps lit at woodland edge.

So they beckoned her 

to the little house of the Mother,

where she once again 

affirmed the divinely kindled desire 

of her heart’s longing,

and threw herself into the flames of faith,

a furnace so incandescent 

that hair, and clothing, and even name, 

are burned away.

And so the robe of blessing was bestowed,

and the promises that bind the hearts 

of those who know

true freedom made.

He was there, of course, 

to receive her sacred vows,

as his first sister, 

and a daughter of his prophesying too,

Francis of the dancing fire, 

whose sparking words first

heard through her high window 

open to the world below

found a home in the dry 

kindling of her heart

and became a raging firestorm 

so strong that,

castle walls and binding ties 

could not hold her captive any longer,

but allowed her leap 

into the arms of love itself 

upon that quiet woodland night.

Finding within that 

merry band of brothers 

a garden where

her seed soul spark could 

grow and bloom unhindered 

and unquenched.

What psalms were sung 

and candles kindled through that night 

within that little portion that the Lady 

had allotted them 

who served her Son and Lord anew!

What rejoicing did the Angels make 

drawing even the animals 

to witness this new beginning 

as, unseen but felt, 

the fiery Dove descended 

and warmed with hidden wingbeat 

the heat of grace within this gracious one

now sharing in the lot of those whose

only riches are the gifts of holy love.

So Francis looked 

upon this little plant

newly sown in sacred fire 

and smiling saw within 

the power of her poverty, 

the fire that would,

in time, spread undimmed 

to countless sisters

who would come 

hearing of her wild wonders,

she to whom

Kings and Lords 

would bow

humbled by the humility 

of one who dared to trust, 

as he had trust himself, 

in Heaven’s promise 

to uphold all those 

who dance across 

the rose red coals 

of passion 

so light,

so empty, 

they go unburned 

but incandesce

themselves 

and become

ah!

Fire.


May the great miracle worker and woman of prayer who incarnates the feminine side of the Franciscan charism intercede for us all today!


St Clare’s Day 2018