The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!
So we may send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!
Edwin Markham The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems, 1929
Whether we conceive of the infinite religiously or not, metaphorical bridge-building is, consciously or unconsciously, the stuff of human life – billions, trillions of ‘timid thoughts’ sent out into void and – somehow caught, transformed, transfigured, vivified and made strong enough to reach deeply into present-day aliveness, here and now.
I love to be aware of this bridge-building consciously, daily, awake, in returning again and again to the silent music of meditation. And – joy of joys – anyone can do it, anywhere. Just by sitting quietly. Just by breathing. Threading the deep. Yes, indeed, in The Shoes of Happiness.
I enjoyed tv’s Angels in my teens – since when I’ve thought of nurses generally by that epithet. My eighty-five year old Dad is in their long-term care in hospital at present, and a recipient of their goodness, together with that of many of their cheerful and hard-working colleagues.
The experience of visiting loved ones (or anyone) in hospital is enhanced immeasurably when there’s obvious, visible ‘connection’ between carers and the cared for.
Today I want to note enormous appreciation for those whose care for my parents, family, me and mine makes a world of a difference. I appreciate it being a part of their daily routine, time and again, with whoever is before them. Not for a moment an easy profession, but the cheery ‘it’s lovely to see you looking your old self again’ echoes … in hearts. Thank you to the ‘angels’.
Spring is always poignant because nothing stays. It must be caught and appreciated on the wing, for soon it will be gone
I had a lovely morning reminiscing with a friend from student days 40 years ago when we were, as he put it, ‘just boys really.’ How did anything happen forty years ago? Time passes in a flash – poetic reflection has spoken of it since poetry began, but the wonder of it (the awe of it – as in fear sometimes) never fails to surprise, no matter how many times we come back to the subject.
Wow – did we talk, and talk! It’s extraordinary how memories come flooding back – the big memories and little details too. And all the years in-between are touched upon. And there’s tacit acknowledgement that among the things we’ve learned in life is the importance of living in the present moment – taking the time to slow down enough, often enough, to be fully mindful of the grace, the deep and full richness of our lives in this world, in good and happy times, and in the inevitable doses of the bad and the sad.
We left Brittany a little over a week ago but I can still hear the gentle lapping at the riverbank, see the view of the river from, and taste the air blown through the wide open bedroom window. It is a tranquil scene. This tidal river never appears in a hurry. The turning of the tide gently pirouettes the moored boats as though deliberately practiced in the arts of slow motion. Regular returns to that window and that river are restorative. So, too, is my daily return to river-like practice and pirouette. A life long lover of the lexicon, favourite words, thoughts and practices are tranquil.
Sagacious the Snail
slithered and smiled
his ponderous route
down the turret face
of the Baptistery of La Sagrada Familía
They’re obsessed with
themselves – his feelers
itself the centre
of the universe
and doesn’t allow
time for contemplative
snail sliding, or the
forest from which a
Christmas tree was
plucked or the
apple that will
surrender its life
and history to the
grace of a sparkling
Nor do they wonder
how far down below
them this hardest of
all rocks began to form
millennia ago before
being raised and washed and
dressed and hammered and
shaped into sky-searching
spires in a Temple of Light
that gives part-lie to the
weakness of my snail-like
For here in and
on this basilica in
Catalan sunlight one
contemplative member of a
sometimes brash homo sapiens has
afforded space and
glory and its own unique
history of species to an
oddly permanent Christmas
tree, fruits in painted
stone and giant snails
among other creatures on
an unimaginably spiritual
Anton Gaudi really gets snails
and apples and rocks and trees