Tuesday, 17 December 2013

O, Antiphon - Wisdom




O Wisdom, 
flowing from the mouth of the Most High; 
reaching far and wide, 
disposing of all things sweetly and mightily. 
Come teach us the way of prudence.



Sofia,  beautiful -  skin deep; 

heart deep; blood deep; gut deep.

The beauty of a crone; shining wisdom; 

flowing compassion; crafting prudence.

Sofia, midwife of hope; knowing beyond; seeing within. 

Tasting the humours on her tongue; 

ferric blood; salty tears.

Sofia, counting the quickening in her heartbeat;

Holding the moon in her embrace;

Calling Hope in her song.

O, Come...O, Come.

wordinthehand2012


.



Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mindfulness


Hobthrush Isle off Lindisfarne
Mindfulness

The Island teaches attention
To the nature of passing time;

The Island teaches rhythm
Ocean’s ebb and flow:

The Island teaches patience
And learning in the waiting;

The Island teaches presence
Stillness in the landscape:

The Island teaches faith
God’s finger on your pulse:

The Island teaches life
And death.
 
The Island teaches
It is not you who decides.


wordinthehand2012

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Samhain





Death and Life
A Wisdom Story of Hope 

From a tale I heard once


In a place that is not this place, there is night; the longest of nights. This place has been abandoned by the day; by the light; by all that has comfort and warmth.

The land is coal and ebony on obsidian. Raven clouds streak across a stygian sky – starless, moonless.  You may stare; but it is your heart that sees, not your eyes.

The night is relentless; arctic winds slice the landscape raw. Tops of hills reveal skeletal trees, heads bowed before the ruthless zephyrs. Their silhouettes, clawed hands imploring, seeking to escape an early grave.  Seeking, but all too late; life has gone.

Yet, the heart sees…what? A rhythm moving against death’s surge; but slow…so slow.
The heart sees… a being, a creature, a man. An old man, as black and as dark as pitch; rough carved from slate; a semblance of a body; ancient bones as spare and as twisted as the branches he clings to; eyes rheumy, clouded, barely open.  Surely near death? Near, but not dead.

Will… from where?

Strength…from where? 

A heartbeat forces a breath, persuades the hand to reach forward; to grasp the next branch; to pull forward; to rest; to breathe; to begin again. Slowly, so slowly, he achingly drags himself from branch to branch, tree to tree. Gasps of life defying the banshee moans.  Heartbeat by heartbeat the old man creeps through the landscape.

At the top of a hill, he stops, anchors himself against the body of a stunted tree and lifts his head. The eyelids barely open any wider, he seems to be scenting the air as much as seeking, but perhaps it is his heart that sees, for there, far, far in the distance - not black. A shade; a gleam; a light; a hope. The old man gathers the hope and places it carefully in his heart. And begins again; a heartbeat; a breath; the hand reaches forward. No faster, for the old man is exhausted through to the marrow of his bones; but, with hope, the heart is determined not to fail.

Time creeps; breath follows breath, grasp follows grasp. Hope grows. The glimmer becomes a glow held steady – a window? Closer, closer; a child’s cutting of a house, imagined against the slate sky.  The tree line fails and now he must crawl, digging bony fingers into dead grasses, razor edged, tearing into the creases of his palms. No matter, all he has is given to the light, believing that, even from here, he can feel the warmth of a fire, the welcome of a hearth.

Finally, his hand touches stone, the doorstep; the boundary between death and life. Without the strength to haul himself to his feet, he scratches against the door, for all the world like an aged tomcat seeking a home. The wind carrying the sounds away into the night.  Scratch, scratch, scratch – there is no more.

The door opens; a dragon’s breath of heat and light blinds the night; a woman, not young, not very old, peers quizzically into the dark then down to her feet. ‘There’ she says, ‘There, there.’

She gathers the old man easily into her arms, just like an old tomcat, skin and bone, skin and bone; and takes him to her rocking chair near the warmth of the fire, the welcome of the hearth. She settles herself into the chair with the old man in her arms, gathered in, gathered in and she begins to rock. She gifts the warmth of her body against the frozen chill of skin and bone. She rocks; to and fro, to and fro. And every now and again she murmurs a woman’s healing;

‘There, there….there, there’.

Time passes; it seems the wind does not howl so defiantly now. The man in the woman’s arms no longer seems so old; an aged warrior perhaps, battle-torn and scarred but not bowed.

‘There, there…there, there’

The wind quietens to a whisper, a lullaby to accompany the woman’s words. The man is now younger, lean muscled limbs, a strong, handsome face relaxed in sleep. The woman smiles now but does not let him go.

‘There, there…there, there.’

Hours have gone by; the man has become a young boy, wavy hair, long eyelashes – beautiful. He fidgets in his sleep but holds on to the woman as closely as she holds him. The sky seems to have shaded from darkest slate to a dove grey but there are still no stars, no moon, no light other than the hearth fire.

‘There, there…there, there.’

The longest of times and the woman now cradles a strong baby boy, plump as a puppy with golden curls and the pout of a cherub. She gazes at him with pride and love and a great deal of satisfaction.  The grey of the sky has now become a dusky pink streaked with indigo. So nearly dawn but not quite.

‘There, there…there, there.’

And for hours the sky remains unaltered and the baby boy stays fast asleep. The woman sighs, a woman’s sigh, she has done all she can. She tickles his feet and the palms of his hands but he does not wake. She pinches his cheeks and his nose but he merely brushes her hand away and settles into the crook of her elbow. Finally, between finger and thumb, she takes three hairs from a curl on top of his head and plucks them out.

The baby’s eyes blaze open – fire bright, furnace bright; astonished, indignant.

‘There,’ the woman says, ‘you are.’

She carries the baby to the doorstep and shows him the nearly dawn.

‘And there…’ she points ‘…is where you should be.’

Without hesitation, as a hawk is released from the glove, the baby soars into the sky, golden bright, star bright, sun bright; the herald of new life, new beginnings, the Spring Son.



wordinthehand2012

Inspired by a tale told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Thursday, 3 October 2013

St Francis of Assisi


The Hermitage - Assisi
view of the Hermitage -
still 30 minutes walk to go

Who knows how long a walk?
Wrong shoes, no directions, no water in the middle of the day- the faith of a fool.
But there is an intent for this walk - a journey towards a leaving behind. The ego, the little I, 
the needy needing to be needed; and for what?

To prove that I am ‘good for something’; 
that I have a right to exist?

God’s been doing the hard work again –waiting - waiting for me to recognise myself in Him.
To realise that I may be an outsider but I am not outcast –
not from God’s Love, not from Christ’s Body.

To know that being ‘useless’ means being available to the Spirit’s desire. 
To understand that I can only be ‘useful’ to God by being empty, by being vulnerable.

And. Lord, seeing this, knowing this, does not make it easy. Not for a Martha like me.
left behind

But in this sacred space filled with the humility and devotion of Chiara and Francis may I find my own place at your table.
So I thank you, Lord, for the challenges and errors that got me here.
For showing me that nothing is impossible; 
that I am braver than I thought I was;
that I have  friends; that I have You.
Take my life Lord, fill it with Yourself.




wordinthehand2013

Friday, 2 August 2013

Lammas Blessing



The beginning of August is Lammas  from Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mass, "loaf-mas", the festival of the  wheat harvest. In pagan culture, the festival celebrates in  thanksgiving for the fruits of the harvest which had been given by the long days of the Sun. This is a place of in-between; the summer sun can be at its strongest and often interspersed with the storms of Lammas tears. 

The season is dedicated to the Celtic god, Lugh; who offers his life to be reborn in the harvest and the goddess, Demeter; who offered her daughter Persephone to the lord of the underworld for the months of winter. 

This was the time when, on the highest of hills,  the Harvest King or Queen would be seated in a throne of late summer flowers and sheaves of wheat; a sacrifice of thanksgiving from the community. Whether this became an actual 'sacrifice' is lost in the legends of time and was later baptised by the raising of  Celtic Crosses on 'hills' of stone steps in the village square. 

Wheat is usually the first harvest of the autumn. Bread would be made from the first pickings and used as a protective charm around the barns and houses, with an expectation that, as long as the bread was there, no-one would go hungry.

In Celtic Christianity, very little changed -   a loaf would be made from the first pickings of the crop and brought into church for the Mass. The loaf was blessed, and divided amongst the congregation; it would be kept in the home as a symbol of the sharing of God's blessing. In every Mass we give thanks to God who gives us the food and drink that we need to live.

As Christians we should be aware of  the generosity of our God,  Lord of all Creation. Particularly in these times when there are many of us who live well and often,  because of processed and fast foods, without any knowledge of where our food comes from. It would be good to take a moment sometime today to realise that even the most basic of foods has a life in God; has come to us through a cycle of life that has spanned centuries; that belongs to a pattern of interdependence that we are a part of - not in charge of.

You may not have a field to harvest, or the wherewithal to bake the first loaf of the season. Perhaps instead, take a moment at mealtimes to consider our food; how it comes to us; how we would be without it; how we could share it  - and to give thanks.

Lammas Blessing

Blessing of the Seven Days 
that bring the world to life

Blessing of the Sun and Moon 
that bring the seasons of the world

Blessing of the Earth and Rain 
that form the cradle of the world 

Blessings of the Seed and Shoot
that find birthing in the world

Blessing of the Harvest
that  celebrates its life
by giving it away.

Blessed be

wordinthehand2013

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Do you really not know



Do you really not know who I am
Is your heart not ablaze at my voice
Lift your eyes from their mirror of fear
Let the promise I made you be true

Is your heart not ablaze at my voice
Love seeks to be truly embraced
Let the promise I made you be true
And the song of the heavens ring out

Love seeks to be truly embraced
In the silence, the soul touches soul
And the song of the heavens ring out
Star speaks to star in bright silvered light

In the silence, the soul touches soul
In the longing you don't know you know
Star speaks to star in bright, silvered light
O come and be part of the making

In the longing you don't know you know
Lift your eyes from their mirror of fear
O come and be part of the making
Do you really not know who I am



wordinthehand2013

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Corpus Christi



Given, helpless
Sticky with blood
Slippery with sweat
Enfolded into his mother.
First words; first steps:
Giggles and tickles;
Sneezes and coughs;
Tears, hiccups.
Body of Christ

Falls from trees
Scraped knees, bloody noses;
Splinters, ‘too hot!’ burns;
Nettlerash, pimples;
Dirt ingrained in fingerprint whorls
Calluses, bitten nails
Blistered shoulders
Slipped chisel scars
Body of Christ

Face of a wanderer
Laughter lines etched deep
Leathered skin
Speaking of Love
Giving peace with a kiss
Courage with a word
Sharing of Body and Blood
Food for the journey
Body of Christ

Surrendered
Agonised flesh
Tortured, tormented,
Defiled, pierced
Given, helpless
Sticky with blood
Slippery with sweat
Enfolded into his Father
Body of Christ

Wordinthehand2013

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Reflection Psalm 89





I was one voice, Lord
Singing your faithfulness and your compassion
A song that repeated my own heart
‘I will love you always’.


The heavens caught the air
Stars bursting with melody across the skies
The metre marking light speed
In praise of Love eternal.

As above, so below
The rhythm of Earth’s lifeblood throbbed.
The cadence of the tides
Love’s own heartbeat.

The compass of the Universe turned
Drawing harmony and counterpoint together
Creation wove the score in rainbow shades
A celestial symphony.

Magnificent, but too much
I am just one voice in this song of the spheres
And all so far above me
I have lost my place.

Only a sigh, Lord
But a remembering of where we first met
In the pause between breaths
In the rest of a heartbeat.

That is where you are, Lord
The music refined by the mystery of your Presence
Your song to me in the spaces between
‘Always, I will love you’.



wordinthehand2013

Monday, 15 April 2013

Psalm 23 Reflection




You care for me as a shepherd for a lamb;
Finding fields of  fragrant clover;
Pools of clear water;
A haven for my soul.
With You I walk in ways of truth.

Death holds no fear for me;
Depths of despair will not bind me;
For you have not left me alone;
You guard me with weapons of truth and justice.

You feed me with the Bread of Life;
Despite those who rage against me;
Blessed by your Love;
I can ask for no more.
Every day of my life is filled with You;
My resting place in Your arms
Forever.

wordinthehand2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Pass it on



As the Father sent me, 
so I am sending you –
Pass it on.
As the Father loves me, 
so, indeed, do I love you – 
Pass it on.
The Kingdom's not another place 
It’s  another frame of mind, 
Go and proclaim
Go and show
Go and tell
Go and do
Go and live forever
In my name
Pass it on




wordinthehand2013

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Litany for the Unworthy


Litany for the Unworthy


Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

have mercy on us
We who demand to be fed
We who listen but do not understand
We who would have followed the crowd
We who would have ran away
We who have the answers
We who do not show mercy
We who do not say thank you
We who know better
We who define you
We who can only go so far
We who betray you
We who cage you
We who do not see you
We who love you
Have mercy on us

And let our hearts be broken

Let our hearts be broken
By the generosity of your love 
By the humility and obedience of your kingship
By the injustice and cruelty of your sacrifice
By the knowledge of your innocence
Let our hearts be broken 
so that through our wounds 
you may enter
And take away our sin
Amen

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Candlemass

Candlemass

Forty Days after Christmas; another journey of faith through the darkness to the mid point between the Winter and Spring Equinox.

The winter has been filled with blessing and prayers for the light to come and just as it seems that we have waited too long this time.... 

...overnight the morning sky seems lighter and higher; life begins to glow in the blanketing of last years leaves; suddenly there is  birdsong and the flitting of robins and wrens through the budding hedgerows.  Moods lighten and fingers itch to out in the gardens; feet seek out the old paths beneath the dead grasses. Only now we notice we have been holding our breath for this moment...
  
Forty days after the birth of their child, in the Jewish tradition, Mary and Joseph take their son to the Temple. Simeon, the upright and holy man acknowledges a promise with a daring prayer of thanks. 

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’
The Light is for the nations; the people of Israel have brothers and sisters, and we are all chosen.
Baskets of candles will be blessed today to be taken home as witnesses to the light. Light in a window will always attract attention; a beacon; a calling; a  celebration; a welcoming; a sign of illness; always a sign of hope.
A Light for all people; for all nations; for all time.


Prayer for the Blessing of Candles

  Loving God, whose Son is Light Eternal
Recall to us the promise of Simeon
That your Light belongs to all
Bless + these candles
May they light our homes with your grace
Help us walk in the path of goodness
and lead us to the light that shines forever

blessed be
wordinthehand2013
 
 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow for Crows

 Snow for Crows
feigning nonchalance in their dancing gait
highwaymen crows patrol the snowswept field edgings -
because you just never know...
 
wordinthehand2013

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Small Stones - the Fifth Day



Small Stone 

It won't be the first time
I have missed the boat

wordinthehand2013



Friday, 4 January 2013

Small Stones - The Fourth Day - Iron Man


Small Stone

Iron Man at Crosby Beach
neither waving nor drowning

wordinthehand 2013

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Small Stones - Blessing of the Third Day



 The unbearable being of Rain 
 
 it will rain until it stops 
and then it will do something else.
That's weather for you.

wordinthehand2013

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Small Stones - the Second Day


Morning Mass at Carmel

The Sisters sang the Gloria
And afterwards offered breakfast
whilst we complained about the state of the world

wordinthehand2013

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Small Stones - Blessing of the First Day


New Years Day

Maybe it's not about being happy
It's about being Blessed;
And knowing that you're Blessed
Even when you're unhappy

wordinthehand2013