Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Community in sadness and in joy

A strange week bookended by life and death. One member of our community loses a loved one while another welcomes a new life into the world. Both ends of life and the rest of us in the middle trying to make sense of it all and find in each other the strength and love and support to keep going.Joy and sadness mixed.

But community has to work in sadness as well as joy or theres no point - we laugh , love and weep together or not at all.

Continuing to read Benedict and his thoughts on community are as ever simple and profound.

"They should each try to be the first to show respect to each other , supporting with the greatest patience one another's weaknesses of body or behaviour."

Rule of St Benedict ,72 'The good zeal of monks'

I pray that we will continue to do so at this sad and also joyous time.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lessons for a slow learner

Contentment in Sanctus Boscus.

Am sitting by a turf fire at midnight , Emiliana Torrini is singing on the Ipod and I have a glass of single malt Macallan uisce beatha in my hand.

I'm learning the beauty of slowing down and listening to my life. Tonight it was catching up with a good friend - listening to each others lives and realising that life itself is grace.

Thats all it was, nothing spectacular - just 2 good friends sipping tea by a fire and finding out what was happening in each others lives. And yet I am more content than I have been for a long time.

It is in the little things that we find the greater truths.

Try it .

good night

sleep well and remember that life is grace and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made .


Monday, January 15, 2007

District and Circle

Irelands greatest living poet Seamus Heaney has won the TS Elliot award for poetry for his latest collection, District and Circle, which draws on his travels to work on the London Underground in his younger days.The prize was presented by TS Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot, at a ceremony in central London.Heaney's work was described by the judges as "exhilarating".
The TS Eliot Prize for Poetry is organised by the Poetry Book Society, which was founded by Eliot in 1953 to develop and maintain poetry reading in the UK.

I remember being introduced to Heaney at school and the poem which I started with has remained to this day my favourite. A changing of the guard from old ireland to the new ireland - a new way of digging for a living , nay maybe even to survive. Anyway I'll be raising a glass to Seamus tonight - ok so he's already got a Nobel prize but still well done.


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sitting by a Turf Fire Resolving

When turf burns it fills the room with a fragrance and also with memories of the uncounted years ...memories of the earth ...of things that have been and gone maybe a thousand years ago but still there is a trace of them left in the earth. Nothing is ever quite forgotten in this land of saints and scholars and those who are somewhere in between.

Its the time of year when many of us make resolutions - I've never really liked them but this year as we sat round the dinner table here in Sanctus Boscus on new years eve we talked about how we would like to live in the year that will be known as 07.

For myself I would like it to be a year of living generously. A year of investing in friendships and people and of realising what is actually important. I've been reading a book called Finding Sanctuary - Monastic Steps for everyday life by Abbot Christopher Jamison. Its basically a simple up to date explanation of the rule of Benedict and how it applies today. One of his main points about the business of modern life is, that business is our choice. We choose to be running from one thing to the other and complain about not having enough time. Well I'm going to choose this year to be less busy and to have mroe time for the things i love and that are important. Reading books , walking on the beach , listening to life - my own and those I am lucky enough to call friends and trying to work out what it means to believe in God in the 21st century.

So heres to a year of hospitality , silence , contemplation , meditation , friendship and occasional faith .

As a good friend texted to me on new years eve - May it be a year of living out your dreams, be they big or small , of daring to love and being loved for who you are. You are precious.

May we all be generous with each other , embrace the mystery and enjoy the ride .

blessings .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Very Celtic New Year to y'all

As we sail into another year I have been reading a little of the 3 surviving works of St Patrick. Of the 3 perhaps the most famous is the Lorica of St Patrick - a lorica being a type of prayer of protection (literally meaning "breastplate"), which was popular in Celtic countries. This particular prayer is said to have turned St. Patrick and his followers into deer when they were being pursued by the king’s men early one morning--hence the title "The Deer’s Cry."

Although I enter 2007 more in hope than fear it does no harm to recite the breastplate of St Patrick - may his blessing and protection surround you this year.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the creator.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgement of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In obedience to the Angels,
In the service of the Archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of Holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me and these evils
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of heathenry,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.

Christ to protect me today
against poison,
against burning,
against drowning,
against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my leftChrist where I lie,
Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of Christ
May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.