Friday, 27 April 2012

Blessing of the Willow

Blessing of the Willow 

I have gathered my prayers
Rich sans script text on cotton rag
Bound in tooled Italian calfskin
Attributed, acknowledged, abridged
But not what I wanted to pray.

I have gathered my prayers
Iconic imagery in detailed stone,
Paint on canvas, hand carved wood.
Visualised, tactile, idealised
Yet not what I wanted to pray.

I have gathered my prayers
Exotic incenses, fragrant candles,
Oriental oils and balms
Perfumed, aromatic, miasmic
Still not what I wanted to pray.

I stood at the window
Dumbstruck, tongue-tied
Full of unspeakable words
And I saw her in the garden

Complete in herself
Firmly planted in the earth that
Gave her life.
Arms raised to the light of Heaven.
Bare faced against the elements.

I watched as her heart called out
To the God who made her
In joyful thanks
For her place in the Pattern
For her chord in the Song.

I felt the Spirit bless her
Loving fingers through her hair
Along the length of her body
Whispering Creation’s secrets
Sharing in the Word of Life.

Then I went into the garden
Words pouring from heart and mind
A true call from self, from longing
I spread my arms beside the willow tree
And joined her in her prayer.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Shield of the Morning

Be my Shield

I call on the Sacred Three
To be with me this day
To be Life so that I may live
To be Love so that I may love
To be Hope so that I may hope

I call upon the Father
To be my shield and my breastplate
To give me the strength to do my duty
As the defender of what is true
And to know my duty is to Life
To protect the weak and the helpless
To seek the better Way.

I call upon the Son
To be my Path and my Pathfinder
To find the roads of the Kingdom
To give me a heart that sees the truth
In a world where truth is led astray
To see beneath the grime of distrust
To the shining light of goodness.

I call upon the Spirit
To be my eyes and my sentinel
To give me wisdom and courage
So that I may act with integrity
To be a hand of mercy
To bring hope in darkness
To do what is right

The Sacred Three to be with me
To be my shield
This day and forever.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

To the Holy Spirit

O Thou, far off and here, whole and broken
Who in necessity and in bounty wait,
Whose truth is light and dark, mute though spoken
By Thy wide grace show me Thy narrow gate.

Wendell Berry

Feast of St Laserian


St. Laserian  was born around the year 566, the son of Cairel and Blitha,

of the Ulaid, Irish Celts. Laserian was sent to Scotland to be educated by the Abbot St Murin. 

As a young man he lived as a hermit on the Holy Island off  the Isle of Arran. This island became known as Molaise's island - Molaise is a 'pet name' for Lasieran. He worked many miracles there including bringing water to flow for the mill and there is a Holy Well still attributed with healing qualities. The water was also used to seal an oath and would cause an illness on anyone who broke it. 
This island is now owned by a Buddhist Community and used as a retreat centre and religious community - not to be confused with the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
From Holy Island,  Laserian travelled to Rome. He was ordained by  Pope Gregory the Great. He then returned to Ireland.

God led him to found a monastic community at Old Leighlin in South Leinster. It's said that the local landowner promised him the amount of ground that his cloak would cover - when Laserian took off his cloak it spread to cover enough land for the building of his monastery.  St. Patrick too, is associated with Leighlin. There is a St. Patrick's Well at Ballyknockan near Leighlin. The monastery at Leighlin continued to grow and attracted the company of other holy men such as  St. Finbar of Cork and also St. Molua, who had a monastic settlement at Clonfertmulloe in County Laois.

A Synod was assembled in March 630, in the White Fields. St Laserian supported the Roman working of when to celebrate Easter against St Munnu.  St Laserian made another journey to Rome where Pope Honorius ordained him Bishop and legate in Ireland. After he returned, the time of observing Easter was reformed in the south of Ireland.

According to tradition, he is the Laisrén who is depicted in the Old Irish prose narrative The Vision of Laisrén, one of the earliest vernacular pieces of vision literature in Christian tradition. The legend tells of him leaving the monastery of Clúain to 'purify' the church of Clúain Cháin in Connaught. After a three nights' fast, his soul is taken up by two angels, who escort him to Hell to show him the horrors that await sinners. The angels explain to one devil that their guest is granted the vision in order that "he will give warning before us to his friends."

St. Laserian is said to have died between the years 638 and 641. A story concerning his death refers to his meeting with St. Sillán. The tradition tells that a person who would see Sillán's eyebrow would die immediately. St. Laserian on meeting with St. Sillán tried to pluck out the hair but he was struck down. This could be a variant of the "Evil Eye" tale in folklore. There is a variety of opinion as to where the Saint's resting place lies - some say he was buried under his church at Leighlin or under the High cross in Leighlin and others say that it may have been at Lorum. 


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Blessing of the Eighth Day

The Eighth Day is not about starting all over again.

After the Day of Rest, God looked out on the universe that he had made. God saw the ripples and the rhythms; the flow and the ebbing of all Creation. Here and there, God saw that there were eddys in the flow and sometimes the tide was turned aside or even back on itself.

God called the archangels and sent them to visit Creation and tell of what they witnessed.

Gabriel spoke of the music of the spheres, the birdsong; the call of the wolf and the midnight song of the nightingale; the rustle of leaves and the thunder of waterfalls; it was all good.

Raphael spoke of the growing of life; the play between the butterfly and the bee; the patterns of the flowers and grain; the colours of the coral reef and the rainbow of the myriad sealife that moved across it; it was all good.

Uriel spoke of the sunrise and sunset; of clouds racing across desert skies; of the midnight sun sparking off glaciers; of death and how new life came from death; it was all good.

Michael stood silently for a moment; frowned; opened his mouth then closed it again. His eyes went up to the higher heavens and then he sighed.

'Michael', God said, 'speak of what you saw.'

'Almighty, You are good and everything you do is good. It's just the little ones; the humans -they don't seem to know their place; they don't seem to know how to 'be' good. They wander here and there; they build homes only to destroy them; they dig up the earth only to plant something else; they love - they love wonderfully but they hate as wonderfully as they love. They don't seem to know You; they don't seem to know themselves. They seem - unsettled - unfinished somehow.'

Michael opened his eyes wide, lost for what else to say, and looked across at the other archangels.

'You made them last of all, Wondrous One,' murmured Gabriel, 'perhaps they are not quite ready?'

'I made them last of all , but I love them most,' replied God, 'and I have given them so much. Maybe they could do with some guidance; some support; maybe someone to watch over them?'

The archangels bowed in agreement. 'Maybe more than one?' suggested Uriel.

'Then,' said God, 'I am sending you, Uriel, to watch over their days and nights and show those with eyes that see, signs of my presence. Gabriel, you will speak to those with ears that hear, of my love for them. Raphael, you will teach those who are willing of the healing power of my creation and guide them on the right paths.

And Michael, Michael, you will watch over them - if you have seen their weakness then others will have too and I will not lose even one. You will guard them whilst they live and, at the end of this Day you will bring them Home to me.'

The archangels bowed deeply to their Almighty Beloved and turned in formation to take up their guardianship.

'I have a feeling,' commented Michael, 'this is going to be a really long Day.'


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blessing of the Seventh Day

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Blessing of the Seventh Day 

Be still
Just once - stop
More than enough
All that you can do
And still more to do?

I know...I know

But now
Now  - stop 

If I can do it 
Why can't you?


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Blessing of the Sixth Day - God of All

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Blessing of the Sixth Day
O Father; each day you worked on your patterning
The weaving of seasons; the setting apart of the sea and sky
You orchestrated the tides and the flow of the planets
You tuned the song of the spheres and the chirrup of the cricket 
You spun the gossamer of spiders and dandelion clocks
Painted spots and stripes and added hair
here and there 

O Mother; you played the matchmaker
God Mother to a myriad children; Grandmother to their mothers
You nursed them and named them, each to their own
You taught them to sing, to dance, to leap and run
To swim, to soar, to wriggle and glide
You taught them to dig deep, hold fast, grow strong
here and everywhere 

And then you imagined us; wrote us on your hand
So you wouldn't lose even one - and let us go
You hover over us; shine before us 
Burn into us and wash us
You replace our hearts, open our mouths
Place our feet in the good paths 
Hold our hands in the dark.

This is your universe
We are your people 
You are our God

Blessed be


Friday, 13 April 2012

The Blessing of Sea and Sky - the Fifth Day

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

The Blessing of Sea and Sky

The blessing of two-a-penny sparrows
Far-sighted eagles, thumb sized wrens 
circumnavigating albatrosses 
overprotective mother hens and
boastful blackbirds

The blessing of leviathans
tickled trout, delirious dolphins
soles with eyes perched heavenward
barnacles with fluttering fans and 
one hundred and fifty three fish 

The blessing of the God who made them
Who delights in their patterning 
And sends them whirling through sea and air 
Who knows every feather of their wing
Every scale of their skin

And who knows us 
All the better

Blessed be


Blessing of Shadows - the Fourth Day

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.


Sometimes, it seems the light is too bright to bear

Sometimes, it seems  the dark has worries of it's own 

Sometimes, it seems the stars are the only ones watching

Sometimes, it seems the world turns without you

Sometimes, the best way to face your fears 
is to sit down and eat with them.

And know that God is in the shadows

Blessed be


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Blessing of Emmaus - the Third Day

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so.10God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed—bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

The Blessing of Emmaus

Blessed be the path of the shoreline
Of thrift and cordgrass
The betwixt path of sea and sand
The path of waxing and waning

Blessed be the path of the meadow
Of wheatgrass and poppies
The tiller's path seeking a harvest
The path of the gatherer and the gleaner

Blessed be the path of the mountain
Of gentians and gorse
The goatherd's path of vision 
The path of precipice and ascent

Blessed be the path of the desert
of mallow and milkweed
The solitary's path of denial
The path of encounter and sacrifice

There are no wrong paths
only the path 
where you do not invite God
to walk beside you.

Blessed be


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Blessing of the Second Day

Day Two of the Octave of Easter
6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

In Celtic spirituality tears are sometimes called the eighth sacrament. 

Blessing of Tears 
Blessed be the tears of the sorrowful
In the sacrament of letting go
Blessed be the tears of the weary
In the sacrament of holding on
Blessed be the tears of mourning
In the sacrament of saying goodbye

Blessed be the tears of regret
In the sacrament of look to tomorrow

Blessed be the tears of the joyful
In the sacrament of gladdening eyes
Blessed be the tears of the loving
In the sacrament of opening hearts
Blessed be the tears of compassion
In the sacrament of walking beside
Blessed be the tears of belonging
In the sacrament of knowing your God

Blessed be.

visual prayer at Word in the Hand


Monday, 9 April 2012

Blessing of the First Day

Blessings for the Octave of Easter

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Blessing of the First Day

Loving Father,
We have suffered in the night of the tomb
We have waited in the emptiness of evening
We have rejoiced in the morning of the Resurrection
When, again, you gave us your Son

Word of God,
Speak again of your love for us
Form us in the image of the Father's desire
Let your Light tend the spark of our souls
May we never be parted from you

 Spirit of God,
 hover over the depths of the waters
Blaze out over the lengths of the earth
Go before us in our life's journey 
Each morning as the first day.



Visual prayer at Word in the Hand - for some reason it won't embed here. 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Morning has broken

 The light went out. He was the Light, so that seemed odd; the paradox of being and not being was hard enough when he became human but after all he had been through this was beyond his poor brain’s understanding. Then he realised his brain couldn’t understand anything anymore. 

He was dead; the betrayal, torture and execution he had foretold had happened; his body devastated; broken beyond any ability to function. The valves in the chambers of his heart blasted open; his lungs like wet sea sponges sodden with fluid, the air sacs filled with black stagnant blood soaking up the redundant oxygen. The unwieldy drop from the cross had left its mark; marrow seeping from stress fractures in the once strong bones of his thighs. The cells that had rushed to heal the many cuts and bruises now surrendering to putrification and decay

He wasn’t sure what he had expected. A pause in time? There was something in that that would have been welcome after all the trials his recent life had caused him. But not all trials – there was so much joy that also belonged to his humanity – remembering his life; how he had grown; to see, to recognise; to name the world before him; and now for his tongue to shrivel in an agonised mouth; eyes to turn milky and hardened in their sockets. Remembering the uncoordinated mysteries of babyhood. Learning to touch, to hold, to create with tiny fingers and thumbs that had gradually become strong and callused. To hold on to his father’s same strong fingers as he had pulled himself to his feet and toddled across the kitchen floor. The spare frame of his body that had carried him out of the Galilee to an outlaw’s death twisting and contorting as the fluids in his joints calcified into stony crystals.

And no words; no thoughts to create words; no mouth to speak; no ears to hear.
Yet he was the Word; or was he? What was a God in a dead body? No different to any human corpse? His mother had not felt his presence, his friends had sobbed and wailed into their robes. He was dead. The inside of the tomb was black; he didn’t need to see - he knew this because his Father has turned away and that was the moment the whole of Creation had turned black.

Did his Father continue to turn in on himself, stilled to despair; distressed beyond the meaning of distress that his own child could be killed by his chosen people; was the Spirit still raging her grief across the air currents? The Creator and the Creative lost without their guiding star. They, who were completeness, now driven apart. How long would they last without him? Beloveds grieving the Beloved; how could he ever find them again?

He was here; woven into the physicality of this parody of flesh, blood and bone. He had delighted in the living; the sensations of touch, taste, smell; the glory of language, gesture, nuance; the experience of friendship, frustration, laughter and fear. He had stepped into his Father’s dream and it had been wonderful beyond words. The dying, too, had been part of that life. Unwelcome, suffering the agonies of pain caused through betrayal, corruption and violence, but still, somehow, life. How his body had borne so much; how his brave heart had driven him to rise and rise again knowing the path of descent that he was taking. And now dead, apart, alone, deaf, mute, paralysed, out of time, nowhere. The miracles he had worked to bring wholeness to others would not work here; the call he had sent out for Lazarus could not rise from this emptying shell. Without the Father’s power to draw upon; without the Spirit’s breath to bring life; he was helpless. Condemned again and again to death.

The God of Nowhere, fell truly silent; mindful in a body without a mind. Meanwhile, his body, seemingly inert, did not understand this concept of dead. The taking of his life had given his body a mind of its own. Chemical reactions were in place; bacteria worked and fed and grew, nails and hair pushed on through the skin. Tiny inhabitants of the tomb visited the body, in spite of the unfinished anointing with myrrh and the spices; feeding on skin flakes and bone fragments. His flesh began to disintegrate but then, its own miracle, to transform, to find a new way to be; seeking to be absorbed into the great universal melee of life. His body still sang its song; at a quieter level; a slower cadence; a softer melodic frequency; but it sang.

And as his body became less and less attached to its worldly memory it turned more and more to God; each cell; each atom knowing the Creator in a way the collective body never had. Noticing the God nearby; they turned first to him for guidance, seeking the next step in the weaving, instinctively knowing that death is never the end; for there is nothing that God had made that has been lost; simply another threshold, another becoming. The Word roused himself and smiled at his own foolishness; remembering how often he had shepherded these small awareness’s back into the weaving; feeding the complex minutia of the earth. Here was the Father in their very existence and here was the Spirit in their eagerness for life; their capacity for rebirth. And he was here; acknowledged by these tiny lives’ desire to be transformed. No longer the fear of separation – knowing that God was completeness.
He, who had borne every ill in Pandora’s Box had found Hope hidden at the bottom.

‘Dead’ was the refusal to believe that this could happen; the despair at losing what he had; the fear that Love no longer existed. In the air around him he felt the souls of the dead; drifting aimlessly; the certainty that they had been forsaken by God cruelly cocooning them; each into their own private Hell. Death had closed their eyes and the darkness had overcome them. He called to them but they would not listen; hope was a lost dream in their everlasting sleep.

Instead he called to himself; the cells that had made up his human form crowded round him. ‘I will be myself again’ he told them ‘myself inside and out.’ The weaving began; the flesh and the divinity dancing together drawing Light and Life into every atom, every pore. The healing knit bones and drew torn skin together, stitched sinew and counted fingers and toes until there were only the places of piercing left. ‘Leave them’, he said ‘so they will know me’.

Hope drew on memory then to feed the heart; the unwavering look of love in his mother’s eyes; the ‘that’ll do’ nod of pride from his father; the rousing cheer of his friends when he finally threw a fishing net without making a cat’s cradle of it; the soft kiss of a woman’s understanding of his dream; the trusting arms of a child around his neck.

He began to shine; the brightness of a nova star; incandescent beyond imagining. The darkness retreated; finding no place to hide, no shadowed corner, no place so deep, no exile so far that the Light could not reach. So bright that the eyes of the dead were opened and their veiled vestiges of flesh warmed. They turned to him at once and were gathered gratefully into his arms. ‘We are going Home’ he reassured them, ‘there are so many rooms in my Father’s house.’

He opened his eyes to the clammy, dusty darkness of the Tomb; a grey-pink light finding cracks in the stonework; a hint of a new dawn. He felt the rhythm of the Dance through the soles of his feet and heard the song of the Spirit in the arms of the fruit trees. Distractedly he rolled one of the winding cloths between his fingers as he listened to the faint, grief-laden heartbeat of a woman standing watch in the morning shadows of the garden and the mournful echoes of loss and despair from the locked windows and upper rooms of an old friend’s house. He could think of no reason to be still be here, when Hope, Light and Love were needed out there. The stone surrendered easily, unwilling to hold the Lord one single second more, and, as he stepped out, the grass rose up to bathe his feet in the morning dew of the first Easter day.