Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The grammar of Beauty

Read this poem tonight at team Fury and it really grabbed me - especially the line "In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty."

beautiful stuff


Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.

Tony Hoagland

Sunday, April 05, 2009

To Spring (and Love) - and all that will follow.

O Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell each other, and the list'ning
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turnèd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.

William Blake

Its that time of year - the bike has been rescued from its winter hibernation in the garage, had its yearly service and I am once again riding through the forests of Sanctus B. And its glorious - you can smell spring in the air, the new life is bursting through the earth and everything feels new and possible and glorious. I love this time of year in Ireland when the moving from one season to the next is so clearly defined. Which brings me to my own moving from one season of life to the next. It happened like this......

On a sunday afternoon we took a drive through the rolling drumlins of County Down. The clouds scattered and the sunlight flooded the car. We stopped at a country church, built on the site of the first church established on this isle by St Patrick. Inside its simple stone walls there is an altar with a silver cross and a lone stained glass window. The Sun bled through the many colours of the saint and filled the church. We stopped to enjoy the silence and then prayed on the sacred ground. Prayed for wisdom and blessing and all that would follow in the fullness of life both in sorrow and in laughter.

A short drive up the shore to another Holy island on the lough which had been the site of an early Irish Celtic monastery. The remnants of the church, the walls and the High tower are still there and the view over the water is breathtaking. In the shelter of the tower we read some Mary Oliver .....
'You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine'

because real life is as much about sadness as it is about joy and its good to make peace with that from the start. And then we sat overlooking the Lough , exactly where we had broken bread almost a year before, on one of our first dates. And in the twinkling of an eye I knelt and asked my Anam Cara to take a risk and share our lives and our journey from here to the place where all journeys end.

With that one small word of an answer both of our lives changed forever in ways we can't yet imagine. We journeyed back to Belfast where the community toasted us with champagne and Father Padraig blessed the day in poetry and song - using the ancient tongue of our island to call down God's blessing on our new life.

And so spring is full of joy and I walk towards the future more in hope than fear.

The Blessing of St Patrick surround you.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lenten Questions

Tis the time of the year when some give up things, others take up things and some do nothing at all. I've always had an ambivalent relationship with Lent - sometimes giving up things but not necessarily thinking deeply or entering into any new discipline beyond not eating chocolate or whatever. This year I’m trying both. I have said goodbye to all things sweet, all things alcoholic and have banned myself from Facebook. But that’s all well and good – I may lose a few pounds and have some more time but will I learn anything?

So my plan is to use the time for more reading, thinking and the occasional bit of writing on the blog. But Lent itself – almost a tithe of the year that we give to something holy. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to ask the question of what it meant to be Jesus. Perhaps we could spend the time during Lent asking ourselves some questions. In Beyond Words Frederick Buechner gives us some ideas.

“If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?
If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would that be in 25 words or less?
Of all the things that you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?
If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like that is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end. “

I’m wrestling with these questions over the next 6 weeks. I can’t promise to post the answers to all of them but I will post some. Maybe you can join me on the journey.