Love and hope and memory

when you go home tell them
of us and say ‘for your
tomorrows we gave our today’

i

perhaps you did not
see one hundred years ahead
yet Sir you graced each

ii

thank you for singing
love and hope and memory
as you gave your all

iii

you did not know me
but sacrificed anyway and now
live in Love in all

SRM – MM Haiku 51 Day 81

Aloft

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Stories

Sometimes the stories of
the garden of our lives
are written in ink or
by ribbon or toner and
machine, engineered
instrument or flight-capable
quill

Sometimes the stories of
our flowering and light
are written in soft breath
gossamer touch, sunlit
thread, the sudden
resurrections of graces
we’d thought might be quite
dead

Sometimes the stories of
images arise in our hearts
the aching loves and the
false starts and the hopes
and aspirations turned, as on
a wood-artist’s lathe: formed
resuscitations

And so day by day I return
to the garden to be still –
howsoever the stories are
inscribed, however revealed
my spirit knows that in this place
simple, silent and smiling –
they will

SRM

Over our own fathoms

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photo at pixabay

‘But the silence in the mind’

But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence
we call God. This is the deep
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean
we launch an armada of
our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our
own fathoms. What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?

R S Thomas
Counterpoint, 1990

Many years ago I spent a night in a comfortable bed, set in the centre of a palatially large stone-walled bedroom, in an exquisitely beautiful converted priory in Northern France. Many generations of monks hadn’t entirely left. The beauty of deep silence all around me moved me to inexpressible joy. Silence spoke eloquently of one of the chief trials of contemporary, Western, human experience: the perils of too much noise.

In the morning sunlit-warmed mist, over wide and silent horizon, rooted me to the landscape. It was painful to leave. And I am daily faced with a choice. Either to complain about noise, or to make space often to withdraw from it. Most often I choose the latter, having found it entirely possible, for most of my adult life, and much of boyhood too. Letting go of complaining is best, for it takes up too much time and energy.

Better to remember that old priory, and the morning mist; better to listen for deep calling to deep, the bottomless ocean, the presence. Better to choose regular silent space. And to be still. It’s a matter of will. Yes: counterpoint.

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Inward and outward

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barcelona dawn | photo at pixabay

The Inner History of a Day

Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that travelled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

John O’Donohue
The Inner History of a Day
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

I’ve been enjoying photos of the Eclipse as seen in the US; and good and brave souls embracing and ‘getting back to normal’ on Las Ramblas in beautiful Barcelona; and hundreds of other snapshot fragments of life around the world on the 21st August 2017.

And I’m so grateful for John O’Donohue’s calling our attention to the ‘eucharist of the ordinary’ – that quiet inner life, the dawn ‘born quietly from deepest night,’ where all humankind and natural phenomena together are joined in the ‘work through which the mind of the day / and wisdom of the soul become one.’

Transforming our broken fragments.

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Allegiances

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photo at pixabay

Allegiances

It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.

Far to the north, or indeed in any direction,
strange mountains and creatures have always lurked –
elves, goblins, trolls, and spiders: – we
encounter them in dread and wonder,

But once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold,
found some limit beyond the waterfall,
a season changes, and we come back, changed
but safe, quiet, grateful.

Suppose an insane wind holds all the hills
while strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,
we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love
where we are, sturdy for common things.

William Stafford
The Way It Is – New & Selected Poems

A few key dates in William Stafford’s life: born in Kansas in 1914. A conscientious objector in World War II. A man whose habit was to write something daily, who would rise at 4.30am to ‘sit and wait’ for what he knew lay within to be written. His volume West of Your City published by Talisman Press in 1960; Allegiances published by Harper in New York in 1970; the author of over fifty books, he died at his home in Oregon in 1993.

William Stafford thoroughly understood that once we have tasted far streams … / found some limit beyond the waterfall, / a season changes, and we come back, changed …

And therein lies our hope for this old world in our own time and season.

Dreadful elves, goblins, trolls and spiders have always existed. Some of them, some of us too, have sought to be ‘heroes’ – fenced around by their and our own ignorance. It is time for all the heroes to go home.

How then may I and we locate ourselves by the real things / we live by – ?

Perhaps – having tasted – it has always to start with me, with what I now clearly see: that instead of kidding myself it’s my job to change the entire world (whoever I am, whatever my place of birth, gender, skin colour, creed or lack thereof, and wherever on earth I think myself called to be the hero, the unsolicited ‘saviour of the world’) my best contribution to that same world will be to allow seasons and experience to change me.

While strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,
we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love
where we are, sturdy for common things.

Note sturdy. Not wimps without cogniscence of – or willingness sometimes to act upon – right or wrong. Not people who turn blind eyes to goblins and trolls. Not people who do not grieve, or hope, or offer healing or hospitality, or pray, or live and die. But sturdy. Believing in the possibility of being positively changed. Experienced in the quiet and slow methods and the poetry of seasons.

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Recovered

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The songs of small birds fade away
into the bushes after sundown,
the air dry, sweet with goldenrod.
Beside the path, suddenly, bright asters
flare in the dusk. The aged voices
of a few crickets thread the silence.
It is a quiet I love, though my life
too often drives me through it deaf.
Busy with costs and losses, I waste
the time I have to be here—a time
blessed beyond my deserts, as I know,
if only I would keep aware. The leaves
rest in the air, perfectly still.
I would like them to rest in my mind
as still, as simply spaced. As I approach,
the sorrel filly looks up from her grazing,
poised there, light on the slope
as a young apple tree. A week ago
I took her away to sell, and failed
to get my price, and brought her home
again. Now in the quiet I stand
and look at her a long time, glad
to have recovered what is lost
in the exchange of something for money.

Wendell Berry
The Sorrel Filly, Collected Poems: 1957-1982

What is to be done after a reading of Wendell Berry? A walk outdoors as soon as possible. And if the poem has been feasted upon in early evening then a sunset walk will probably be necessary – with a camera close to expectant hearts.

And so it was … and tonight we did ‘stand / … glad to have recovered what is lost.’ And though these images are written well enough upon the aforementioned hearts, still the photographs, the written record, will remind us, over time, to stand … glad, again and again and again. Awed.

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