EYE TO EYE

TOWARDS THE END OF THE DAY I watched three or four squirrels at play. We live in their garden – the one they share with five or six wood pigeons who are so liberally supplied with scraps from the table that I sometimes wonder, as I watch them waddling around the lawn, whether they could take off in a hurry if need be. But I digress.

The squirrels spend much of the day chasing each other up and down the oak tree and round and round the perimeter fence that marks out their territory. Until early evening when, apparently certain of their safe space, they’re often to be found sitting up quietly, as though at prayer. Tonight one of them met my watching eyes – and it’s happened, by the grace of God, before – and we meditated, contemplated one another. And I had a gentle sense that the little fellow was probably rather better at it than I.

And then, at 8pm, our monthly Meditation gathering assembled over in the church. The gentle sound of others’ quiet breathing soothes my soul. Shared silence and stillness. Balm. And I realise that my encounter with God here, the One silently contemplating the other, happened only a little space before with a reflective grey squirrel as we, he and me, were able to encounter each other eye to eye.

the golden evening brightens in the west …

COLOUR AND THE ABSTRACT

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I’M NUTS ABOUT COLOUR and the abstract, even as I’m dotty, too, about poetry and the precise. Both, in quite different ways, leave plenty of room for liberality, for openness to life’s gifts in oneself and in others, for generosity of spirit. I wonder how many images will present themselves to you “out of” the abstract blending above? I enjoyed creating them – but that enjoyment is almost as nothing compared to the enjoyment I’ll gain from returning, and from the never-ending procession of “new” works that will arise therefrom.

I shall try to carve out time in 2014 for a bit more artwork than has been afforded in the past year. In like fashion I’ve embarked upon a new handwritten journalling project for the year. I’m resolved (how effectively remains to be seen, of course) to hand-write a pondered poem-a-day into a specially purchased journal. I hope that the act will facilitate a daily pondering and contemplation. And there’ll be the benefit, in the future, of a slightly more personal than usual returning.

And all this “returning” helps maintain a constant communion with loved ones and with friends near and far, known and unknown, in this world and in other worlds. This returning, this abiding remembering, brings me daily to the constant prayer – a cantus firmus in my life for an end to a few more of the harsher divisions and judgments still insisted upon by some members of our humankind – even whilst being thankful for progress made in the past year. If I’m nuts about colour, and dotty about poetry, I’m absolutely besotted with my conviction that the “will” of God the Source of Life is to draw all persons, all created things, always and everywhere into Unity. Tomorrow I’m hoping to see “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom” – so doubtless there’ll be more from me on all of the above thereafter.

Meanwhile, my Alice Meynell post of New Year’s Eve has touched something in my soul several dozen times since then:

… in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The myriad forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.

IN THE ETERNITIES

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COLD AND WET AND WINDY draws 2013 to its close up here in Cumbria. Late afternoon blue sky brings Alice Meynell to mind as I ponder upon the possibilities for a deeper unity in the heart of humanity in the coming year – and wish joy and peace for loved ones near and far in 2014

CHRIST IN THE UNIVERSE

With this ambiguous earth
His dealings have been told us. These abide:
The signal to a maid, the human birth,
The lesson, and the young Man crucified.

But not a star of all
The innumerable host of stars has heard
How He administered this terrestrial ball.
Our race have kept their Lord’s entrusted Word.

Of His earth-visiting feet
None knows the secret, cherished, perilous,
The terrible, shamefast, frightened, whispered, sweet,
Heart-shattering secret of His way with us.

No planet knows that this
Our wayside planet, carrying land and wave,
Love and life multiplied, and pain and bliss,
Bears, as chief treasure, one forsaken grave.

Nor, in our little day,
May His devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way
Or His bestowals there be manifest.

But in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The myriad forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.

Alice Meynell

Wherever you are, wherever you’re wondering: happy new year!

DEGANWY SUNSET

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MANY GREAT glories around and within us,
Blessing in sunrise and sunset top and tail.
Photo-graphing “writes in light” – as Rembrandt might in oil –
Revealing our fuller, truer nature.

And tonight in Deganwy,
Fortress Conwy behind me,
Vista enough, in fraction of a second,
For everlasting contemplation.

Sunrise, sunset, and innumerable worlds,
Writings-in-light, and paintings in between –
Every twenty-four hours. Abide and rest.
Rest awhile, cariad, but then arise! And shine …

SRM 31 viii 2013

GRANDPA’S VIOLIN

THE VIOLIN stuns me to silence, stillness and tears sometimes – all of which amount to experience of prayer – openness and contemplation.

MARY’S DRESS

BANK HOLIDAY weekend affords a happy extension to “left brain time.” There are always more books I want to read, more paintings I want to paint, more photographs I want to make, more writing to be done, more poems to unfold, more prayer to be celebrated, more people to share some time and stories with, more songs to be sung, more colours to be marvelled at, more silence to be revelled in – than time ordinarily allows. And that very fact is cause for thanksgiving! Life is indeed a rich tapestry. The signs of the reign, the joy of God, are all around me. And I’m immensely thankful for the connections that blogging makes possible with people all around the world.

Today’s artwork is inspired, in Eastertide, by Mary Magdalene, beloved apostle of Jesus, first witness to new life in the Resurrection, loyal provider of intimate and loving support and sustenance, someone generous, open-hearted and giving, someone who just “knew” instinctively, what Jesus’ mission on earth was about, someone released, by God’s goodness, from the kind of prison every one of us finds ourselves in from time to time.

All human persons are “bedevilled” by “Legion” the perpetually underlying and taunting belief that somehow we’re failing to make the grade, we’re unlovable, bigger and better “failures” than anyone else, destined to be “alone”, faithless, heartbroken, misunderstood, wretched. All human persons yearn for the kind of release that Jesus’ love and acceptance brought about in Mary’s life; for the kind of release that she brought about in his.

Mary Magdalene: someone cruelly maligned and abused by religious patriarchy and misogyny across the centuries, but all the while someone I’ve admired and looked to as an icon of life’s richness and fullness, of life’s goodness and generosity, of life’s being – under the vivifying reign of God – a beautifully, colourfully, gorgeously dressed dance with our Creator.

Sydney Carter described Jesus as The Lord of the Dance. In my heart I think of Mary of Magdala as Jesus’ dance-partner and she is clothed, dressed, like the environment all around and about her, in colour and glory. And theirs is a partnership, theirs is a dance that, far from being exclusive and excluding, invites you and I to join. “Shall we dance?”, Mary asks. “And shall we sing?”, asks the Lord of the Dance. And sometimes the colours blur a little in the swirling. And sometimes they’re blended by our tears …

Have you seen the wonder of it? Have you seen Mary’s dress?

YOU KNOW PEOPLE

YOU KNOW people there. Their faces are photographs on the wrong side of your eyes

Carol Ann Duffy, In Your Mind