A Universal Song

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Writing is a journey of discovery that takes me places that I never expected …

… a friend wrote to me today. And – in the way of such things – I have been taken thereby to places that I never expected, wondering all day about the extraordinary gift of languages in words, and in music, which can sometimes transport our words so exquisitely.

When I was first moved by Les Miserables in the 1990s I remember being sure in my mind that Marius’ grieving in Herbert Kretzmer’s Empty Chairs and Empty Tables was not for one revolution alone, but for every reflection and reconsideration of past, present and potential. A Universal Song.

Hearts are breaking all over the world for innumerable reasons today. Too many empty chairs and empty tables. I find myself awed by the purity of young Cormac Thompson’s rendition here – a clarity that carries an invitation to reflect straight to human hearts.

May our words be quiet, kind and clear; may our music sometimes be hope-filled silence – so that we really hear both, allowing ourselves to be reshaped, that we may the better transform our world. A quiet revolution. Thus may we be taken to unexpected, perhaps joy-filled and hopeful places.

archive – a list of all earlier posts

Songs of Springtime

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My lovely friend and poet Julie Carter came for supper tonight. We’ve laughed a lot, been thankful for a lot, and cried too. Most of all we’ve talked about our human need to hang on to hope whilst noticing the indomitable insistence on peace and the fundamental goodness of life in some of the most unlikely, hurting places. May I commend this video, and Julie’s ‘Songs of Springtime (link) … ?

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archive – a list of all earlier posts

Some times

Photo by WildOne at Pixabay

Sometimes – I hear a tap tap tapping though I’m looking at a photograph of a typewriter – which image makes no sound; I encounter story in silence where neither keys nor pen have yet shaped words; I feel what is over an horizon though it be beyond my sight; I sense poetry busy in the act of creating; I touch that which is not yet present. Sometimes all of life presents as mystery to be aspired to – and hoped for.

Some times.

Lament

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Caoineadh Cú Chulainn, Bill Whelan
Uilleann Pipes, Tara Howley

This is lament and love for an entire culture: a piece about mourning Cú Chulainn, a warrior hero and demigod in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. The underlying ‘drone’ of orchestral harmonies that are gradually heard here, like ‘dawn’ behind and around the lone (in this case, female) Uilleann piper, may bring tears to your eyes. Our lives are surrounded and supported by ‘other’ sounds – the cantus firmus, the enduring melody.

Friends have responded to a musical note at the end of my piece about Riverdance the other day: that it might usefully take up a post in its own right. ‘Lament’ has a place in all our lives as an encourager of reflection, a being present to what is, now, and an invitation to hope for the future, even when ‘the times’ feel bleaker than bleak – immense courage notwithstanding. This morning I heard a young girl, a seven year old soloist, beautifully singing the Ukranian National Anthem in a crowded Polish stadium. I cried. And I cry out, reaching for hope and harmony. Riverdance (and all that the notion of a river’s ‘dance’ might imply) came to mind, in company and in harmony with treasured friends, and again and again I have listened to the depth in this Lament – and invite you today, in the coming days, and months and years, to listen and to lament too – because harmonies do dawn – quietly, courageously, and persistently. And tears carry pain away down-river – to join in the being held, by a vast ocean.

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Courage and hope

Screenshot / Credit: BBC News

News bulletins 24/7 speak of terrible atrocities, fear, grief, hunger and pain in Ukraine. Hope is not easy to come by for people under bombardment and terror-struck.

May the sight of the homecoming of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori be an icon of courage, hope and all things humane. Whether at home, on the move, or in the corridors of aid, diplomacy and power, may hope and courage prevail.

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Returners

more @gardenstudiogram

Sometimes I’m surprised by the most vivid memories of people, places, thoughts and treasures – and I’m so thankful for the wonders of the reflective human brain, albeit that as a young schoolboy I was convinced that mine was duller than everyone else’s!

These images, captured in Edinburgh a year ago, make me glad to be alive – and hugely looking forward to my forthcoming return there. I am one of life’s ‘returners.’ I love to retrace my steps in the times and spaces that have brought the joy in the centre of me most fully to life – even whilst occupied, too, with the new.

I am so lost for words when I think of Ukraine today that I hardly dare speak of it at all. But being ‘lost’ is no excuse for forgetting – and I am in awe of the courage, hope and kindness that we’ve seen coming to the fore in many a news bulletin – in the face of truly unspeakable events.

Perhaps we all love to retrace at least some of our steps? Perhaps our human ability to ‘relive’ joy is one of our chief sources of fuel for life – and even for facing up to the reality of (our own) death; for courage in times of darkness, for compassion when we hear another’s crying, for hope when everything we hold dear appears threatened?

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Voyage

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Oh! ABBA there is
such tenderness in this long
awaited hearing you –

heart and soul and mind
and body resonate with
rhythms long familiar –

and celebration
of our fragilities lights
paths before us all

as hope-filled echoes
of your Andante call us
to courage in shared

Voyage

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

From dust

Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.37.10

click images to enlarge

It was warm and we were ambling. Glorious cloud formations floated in the blue dome above us and I suppose I must have been waxing lyrical a bit! ‘Where does your imagination come from?’ my friend asked. ‘From dust,’ I replied immediately. ‘Or, to be more precise, from dust flecks in my eyes.’

Everyone’s experienced them. Perhaps lying in sunshine, on a freshly mown lawn in August. I didn’t know then, as a very small boy, about the Hebrew vision of Creation formed out of dust. But, in company with summer daydreamers all over the world, I could see – behind closed eyelids – little floating flecks of dust (or whatever it is that floats there) and thus began the habit of a lifetime: ‘watching’ a Creator’s playtimes. The beginnings of meditation, one might say. Knowing with a faith-full certainty that there are colours and causes, glories and great wonders, lights and shades of darkness, silences and sounds, warmth and coolness, profound music and mysteries, that are already ‘accessible’ to us long before we complicate our lives by straining (or training!) to see, or hear, or smell, or touch, or taste.

And in that garden ‘knowing’ I learned that faith is about something deeper and greater than humankind could possibly draw ultimate boundaries around. So, for me, our philosophical, political and religious convulsions, and our loves and hates – important though they be – are situated in a space much larger and freer than we usually inhabit.

And here, and there, in the poetry of eternal creativity, I anticipate, I imagine, and whether my eyes are closed or open, for me and for all of us, I hope. Today’s flecks of dust – ourselves and all created things – will be reshaped for the joy of creation.

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