Nature speaks

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Very mixed weather in Ireland this week,  snow on Wednesday followed by warm sunshine on Friday. Our experience too can be mixed, with encouraging  moments at times and moments when discouragement reigns

But patiently, underneath it all, something emerges and we learn to let go…

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Philip Larkin

Be firm like a rock

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This prayer is attributed to Saint Patrick, when he was in danger of being ambushed by the High King,  Lóegaire mac Neill.  To defend himself he takes in the energies associated with different elements of the natural world. The early Celtic Christians developed their inner life through paying attention  rather than seeking direct visions. They cultivated this skill, rooted in the body, tuning into the 5 senses, or as they said, learning to play  ‘the 5 stringed Harp’.

I bind onto myself today through the power of heaven!

The Light of the Sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendour of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of the wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

St Patrick’s Shield, 8th Century

How can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these –

the untrimmable light of the world, the oceans shine

the prayers that are made

out of grass

Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Things could be otherwise

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A day when I am aware of the gift of life.

This poem was written by Jane Kenyon shortly before she died of leukemia at age 47, aware that things would soon change for her.

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon, Otherwise

photo harald hoyer

Hold things lightly

clouds-square

February has begun rainy and very wild and windy here in Ireland. I am reminded of how Ryokan worked with the mental energies, thoughts, feelings and moods which passed through his body-mind. We can learn a lot from these monks on how to work in a practical way with our daily experience:

Not being so attached to our facts,  or even our “alternative facts”, and how to let go of certain types of thoughts which are just not important.

If someone asks about 
the mind of this monk, 
say it is no more than a passage of wind 
in the vast sky. 

Ryokan, 1758 – 1831, Buddhist monk, hermit and poet.

The wonder of this day

square-treees

All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shells of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

John O’Donohue, Morning Prayer