Monday, 29 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy -God Bless America

John Minchillo/Associated Press                      The East Coast prepares for Hurricane Sandy

A few years back I stayed in a hermit's hut 
in a Franciscan hermitage in the woods of Minnesota.

It was almost May
 but snow still remained under the trees, 
which themselves looked as though they had been through a fire,
 so seared were they by the bitterness of the winter
 they had survived.

I learned while I was there 
that driving into a white-out and praying to get through,
re-planting your orchard after the trees 
have been up-rooted by a hurricane, 
sleeping in the airport when storms blew in, 
or having a wild cat turn up in your back yard
 are just a few of the things we would see as extremes, 
but there are regarded as routine.

For the first time I realised up close
 that it is the untameable nature of the country 
that maintains the Americans pioneering spirit.

They are a "pick up and start again" people,
 and as if to underline this,
as I write, an American woman
 being interviewed by Paxman on the effect of the super storm
 on the forth coming election,
 is telling him that though it is serious 
they are used to riding out storms, 
and that this will not have the effect we over here imagine. 


As this great storm unleashes it's force,
 and as the American people ride it out, 
I echo the nation's prayer,
God Bless America.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Brightening a Dull Day

On this grey and dismal day
one of my favourite trees
offers golden confetti, and a silver embrace
 to anybody who passes.


Somehow this song comes to mind.
It's Mike Berry singing  "The Sunshine of Your Smile" 
(Do you ever adapt popular songs to worship songs?)

Be Blessed

Saturday, 20 October 2012

There is a Balm in Gilead

I was really moved to read the honesty of this post from Tonia at Study in Brown
this morning.

Many of us can identify in one way or another 
with the need to share something
 of the pain we carry in our hearts,
 whilst trying our best to remain loyal to those we love, 
and over whom we agonise.

We are somehow aware
that not only do we need to ventilate our grief, 
 but also by some alchemy of the spirit, 
others need to know they are no more alone in their suffering 
than we are in ours.

We need to know each others'  grief, 
even as we need each others' hope, 
yet we are conflicted by guilt
 which would try and persuade us otherwise.

I would encourage Tonia to continue
 to believe what I am sure she knows; 
that it is the enemy of our souls
 who tries to shroud the light of her spirit with guilt, 
being true to his name of accuser. 
But yes, as you have rightly said Tonia,
 as you fix your eyes on the one who has overcome,
  love touches love, 
and you find rest and strength for your soul.

Thank you for your honesty
 which reminds us to pray for those 
who watch and wait for the safe spiritual home-coming
 of their loved ones,
 as you do for yours.

I apologise for the poor visual quality of this video, 
but the purity of these voices more than compensates I think, 
as Jesse Norman and Kathleen Battle sing, 
There is a Balm in Gilead,
the words of which came to mind as I read Tonia's post.

Be Blessed

Friday, 19 October 2012

Priming the Pump (or Nurturing the Creative Process)

This morning I went into my poor neglected studio.

It feels like forever since I felt any urge to even so much as lift a pencil 
but in fact it is probably only a couple of months.
It is so strange not to feel the need to immerse myself in line or colour. 
 I wonder fleetingly as I look around at the evidence of my wrestling with creativity,
 if the change is a simply a sign of getting old.

Still, something is compelling me to fidget about
 and try and find some way of scratching the itch I have had 
ever since  I stood among the ruins of Ephesus.

Something of the bone-like colours of the stone and the earth; 
the chisel marks still crisp or smooth under the fingers,
 and the contrast of age-worn silky slipperiness or dust dryness under the feet, 
 wants out.

The dilemma as ever, where to start.
Sketches of course.
But THIS is new, this reluctance to make a start.
 I who usually just throw myself into things with no fear of the blank page 
now deliberately hovering on the threshold of the first mark.

I realise I don't to begin on paper is the problem.
 I so want to start on prepared wooden boards that have been gessoed,
 and left with a little bite so the line can be incised, 
and the paint built, or dribbled; 
 impasto or wash moulding the image.

That's the rub then. 
 It's energy to prepare the boards that is wanting.
Having no minions other than hubby
 I will have to vouchsafe this part of the preparation to him then.

Well  I'm glad I stopped long enough to have this little chat!
It's cleared my thought processes a treat.
Now I can start on paper!

May you find a listening ear if you need one this weekend,
 and whatever you do,
Be Blessed

P.S.  Thanks to my favourite blogger* I find it is Spirit Day in the U.S.A. and want to stand with all who will be wearing purple today.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Perfect day?

It's a perfect autumn day here in the centre of England.

The sky is a beautiful washed blue and white porcelain one minute, and smudged with passing cloud the next.
Then the high wind sweeps the sky clear for the sun to return,
 and fills my ears with the sound of the sea.
  There is a clean, bright feel to the world
but as ever, there is another side to the story
 and Abbey Fields shows signs of decay, 
as well as of life.  

More than one tree has been brought down
 in the recent wind and rain, and raw stumps gleam,
 gap-toothing the familiar scene.
The broken bough of this willow dams the river 
so it bulges out of it's banks.

I wonder what the world would look like
 if the old never gave way to the new;
or if conditions which exhilarate and revitalise
were unchanging.

I wonder what my world would look like.

John 15
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 
 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 
 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 
 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Be Blessed

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I am deeply suspicious
 of the whiffly, whaffly, type of spirituality
 that calls us to hover in some everlasting ecstasy
 which runs counter to the muscular reality of the incarnation.

An essential hallmark of holiness
has to be it's full acceptance and realisation of humanity.

I was delighted then, to spy these directions
 when looking for the ubiquitous "ladies" queue at
Meryem ana / Mary's House.
(The subject of yesterday's post.)
That's what I call a truly holy sense of humour.

Be Blessed

Monday, 15 October 2012

Touching A Mother's Heart

 While we were away we set out from the ship,
 away from the port of Kushadasi, 
and up into the hills not far from the coast.

We were on a planned visit 
to the site of the ancient city of Ephesus,
but our tour guide had another stop scheduled
 before our original destination.

Fortunately we were the first tour bus of the day,
 and swooping down to rest 
near the entrance of Meryem ana
for a short while our sole companions were the staff, 
and Turkish soldiers guarding the quiet olive groves.
 I don't know how I could have been unaware of the site 
of Mary's House. 
 Usually I pre-empt the joy of travelling 
with copious reading  and researching,
 but this time I just hadn't had the time, 
and was enjoying the unexpected.

Our guide was a young Turkish/Jew, 
and a gifted communicator as well as an archaeologist, 
so we were doubly blessed as he prepared us 
with the history of the site.

 He began with Jesus, from the cross,
 gifting His mother into the safe keeping of John,
the beloved disciple.

He brought home the tenderness of the relationship
 by underlining how inconceivable it was
 for John ever to been parted from Mary from that day. 
 So it is believed that when John came to Turkey,
 Mary too made her temporary home in these hills. 

Of course there are many "sites" 
connected with many historical and religious persons 
scattered all over the globe
 and even as he filled us in with the details, (see http://en.wikipedia.orgwiki/House_of_the_Virgin_Mary)
I confess to a certain cynicism.

How then can I explain the profound effect upon the party as we walked through the cool shade of the silent trees 
and into this little house.
 The house itself consists only of one small room
 and a further tiny room to the side.

Before we entered we were told that 
only silence was permitted, 
and our guide spoke to us about the opportunity to bless others 
who needed prayer by the lighting of a candle or two,
 and leaving a written prayer too,
 should we so choose, 
amongst the garlands of prayers which festooned the walls outside.
 There was blessed water piped from the spring to be drunk as well.

Now, bear in mind that we were a coach load of tourists,
 fresh from a cruise ship fetching up,
 mostly unprepared for a visit to place such as this.
I know there were many in tears, and that the silence was deep, and full, and absolute.

In those few unexpected moments
 a mystery had stirred. 
There are no words
for such matters of hope,
and of faith,
and of a mother's heart.

Be Blessed

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

I have had a break from blogging,
 and part of my time away has been spent
 on an Aegean cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

One day last week we were in the much photographed island of Santorini, 
with it's deep luscious Greek blues, whites, and pastels,
and it's almost dreamlike beauty.
A peek into some body's courtyard.
Don't you love the sculpted flames of the Holy Spirit in the foreground on the walls of the Church of Saint John the baptist?

 The shock of going from our miserable British temperatures 
to the lower forties 
sent us scurrying for some shade.

There were enticing spots like this dotting the precipitous pathways and inviting us in.
Typically, we prefered a somewhat more casual  (and cheaper) approach, 
with a simular view and a cold beer!
Today we are back home and walking in our own locality again
and I am thrilled to 
drink up colour and light which may be cooler and different,
 but is no less luscious than we discovered on our travels.
I even found some Grecian blue, 
 courtesy of the paint the Water Board
 has used to mark their iron work.
And there's a bit of sugar pink for good measure.
I wonder what you may find scattered around your usual places 
that will lift your heart today.

Be Blessed.