Acorns, owl feather and ribbon

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photo at pixabay

I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel,
about the Sacraments –
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
back holding some acorns, an owl feather,
and a ribbon he had found.
And I just smiled and said, “Yes, dear,
you understand:
everything imparts
His grace.”

St Francis of Assisi
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems From God: Twelve Voices from the East and West

My beloved Dad died last Wednesday. Mum’s now in hospital having fallen and broken an arm a day later. Many miles away we’ve been seeing the inside of hospital too. And friends have just been bereaved … and … and … and … well, everyone in the world knows how it goes, for all of us, for some of our time. Grief. Pain. Fear. Distance.

So is Francis right? Does ‘everything’ (even if not quite literally) impart grace? I’ve had a few opportunities to find out over a scary weekend. And my answer’s a resounding ‘yes!’

Here’s a bit of a list: wonderful life-partner, children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, advisers, counselors, doctors, nurses, neighbours, weight-bearing friends around the world and ‘there’ and ‘here’. Friendship’s love, candles lit, and prayer communicated from afar.  ‘A Taste of Italy’ on TV, memories of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ sung at high volume by my parents, sister, brother, cousins, children, and me. Thank you notes from baby grandchildren and a great-niece. Deep meditation’s peace.

I’m with you, Squirrel: acorns, an owl feather, and a ribbon [you] found. I just need to remember to run into the hollow. And there, and also everywhere, I find, and am found. Grace.

Delivered

Some joys that come to our doorsteps, inevitably, outshine others. Perhaps because some such joys carry a particular measure of comfort. Something along the lines of – no matter how awful things may appear at times, this life is full of so much richness and goodness that we cannot help but tumble into the kind of response that is the very name of this treasury of awe and wonder. Devotions.

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Autumn garden days

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I love autumn garden days. We’ve had a mixture of rain and sunshine today so everything has a fresh-washed look and a maturity-in-colour that speaks of the passing of time, of life’s changing seasons, and of richness in all of it. During the course of the day I’ve watched the tournesols doing just that, turning their smiling faces to the sunlight. (click photo to enlarge). One cannot help but smile. Cheered. Grateful. Autumn.

Changing hues

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A return from Retreat is to encounter how both we and our environments have changed. Emails and phone calls have been shared about the efforts required to adjust to ‘normality’ after five days and nights on Iona with an inspirational group of writers and poets.

We’re changing all the time, of course, like the lakeland colours above Ullswater close to home this morning. But Retreat helps us to step back awhile, to stop and notice the view.

I enjoy my daily routines – journaling included. But just as I was about to fret a bit about having missed a few days I remembered what this most recent retreat, and every retreat reminds me of: that it’s important sometimes, often even, to simply be rather than just do!

Shades of Ullswater ii

Memories of chewing the cud

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Pipe in hand

There was once an old man lived on Martyrs
Bay who, pipe in hand, told of a foot tall
soul whose hair was green, and – many a long
year since – skittering about the Old Nunnery
garden, he had seen

quiet as a mouse and quite inoffensive, she
whispered in human ears: ‘I’m come from a
schlemaig just West of the highest mountain on
Mars by way of light years, aeons, suns and moons
and stars

and I whisper a missive from Mother
who sent me: though legend and myth
may sometimes purport otherwise, nothing
in the Universe is ever wholly ruined – for
every atom retains

potential, giftedness and grace, ever cheered
anew by Wisdom’s breeze across its face: so on this
rock though your roof be blown off and you’ve
neither window pane nor door, allow the little
one from a Martian schlemaig a paean to more –

for you came here to learn that not only is She
our family name, but Wisdom, dear taller siblings,
is eternally ours, and Her Source, the Same.’

And I honour the old man on Martyrs Bay sand, who
content with tobacco and pipe in his hand, speaks
gently even now of a skittering he had seen, and of
whispers shared with a delightful pint-sized sprite
with hair of Iona green

Simon Marsh

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Figurehead

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September on Iona

There’s metaphor
somewhere in grey cloud
hung low over Mull on
the other side

not entirely
unattractive –
illuminated even but
nonetheless grey

whilst dappled sunlight
in and on the rippled Sound
issues invitation to a
pilgrim soul

to this side –
entirely beautiful from there
shades of green and Michaelmas
blue

yellow daisy at the door
bench I’ve dreamed upon before
I would stay awhile with you
here rather than there

Now

perhaps I’ll pen illuminated haiku

_______

yellow daisy. door
sunlit soul open to Sound
michaelmas blue

_______

dwellings host watchers
swell carries voyagers home
bring me too with you

Simon Marsh