Crossing the Sound

Sun and sea and rock and sand. Clouds and sunshine, wind and rain. The steady passage of the CalMac ferries between mainland and islands. Sacred histories, present blessedness, the arc of poetry, prose and prayer in countless forms and shapes and voices. The sound of the pipes and the songs of the surprised. Newfound friendships, laughter and tears, love and longing.

Food and drink and gracious hospitality. Hearts, minds, souls and bodies stretched and opened and glad to be alive. Pens taking flight across paper. Single track roads built for slower appreciation of our life’s journey. Glorious waterfalls cascading out of misty heights. Time, time, time, slowed and savoured. Glad remembrances contemplated and celebrated.

Work and rest and play each day. Oh, Iona. We crossed the Sound only 24 hours ago and thought we were leaving. But all that we have known in these past days has come home with us, much as we have come home to ourselves.


To such an ordinary room
they come – angel enquirers
every one

searching eyes and
listening ears
gathered and gathering
hearts will each play
their parts and
gossamer touch of
angel wings settle
them as a new joy in
the depths of them
wondrously sings and
brings them home to
themselves again and

Home to lighthouse in an
ordinary room on an
island set in turquoise and

mermaid tears – their
beloved soul window



Misty pink and
yellowed grey’s
wingéd chariot of
the morning
opening times
to greener
bluer revelation of
grace-filled dawning
and hours’ passing
now upon now
upon now
as the great arc of
the sky widens
and stretches me
tidally towards
cerulean oranges
before gazing
upon stars
and moon and
all profound
universal relativity


Catching joy

I need air after the News at Ten even before Big Ben’s
tenth hiatus so at the front door I’m stilled
quietened by frozen leaf’s twirling and candlelight

Our fox pads by across snow covered sloping
lawn and in the moonlight I hear silent music
better poetry between the lines calmed brainstorm
in the final waited-for thrum of the singing bowl

And thinking of a perfumed rose unfolding sets news in a
wider context – I see the Spring that will surely follow
these winter nights and

how the butterfly will flutter by and the lizard’s tongue
will flick to catch its joy with the absolute accuracy of
the laser


Watching the hours

The Nunnery, Iona

It is our plainchant
watching of the monastic
hours that is our lifeline
here Sister Columba –
for the time they afford for
praise and recall blesses
us with our glad
remembrances of past
present and abiding future

For it was not that we
were running away in
our coming and in our being
here but rather that we
have been possessed of an
absolute holding and an
inbuilt need to be reminded
of the mothering grace
from whence we all came

Ah I recall now when we
made our wedding vows
Sister Columba and caught
true and willing in our
cantor’s prayer we were
pink and young and new and
true and you loveliest of
the brides I had ever seen
or have seen since

And we were clothed in new
habits clean and girded about
with perfumed leather for our
lifetimes and so we have watched
and chanted and panted the hours
and this familiar plainchant
chants plainly the birth of
our coming and of our being
and of our returning

It is our plainchant
watching of the monastic
hours that is our lifeline
here Sister Columba –
Yes: and now the leather
cracked and broken
wedding habits patched and
mended over and over between
countless Magnificats

we have remembered


see travelpad

Cantor’s echo

There’s a mossy dampness
and the cloistered echoes
carry the plainsong of the
great cantors of the past

I AM, I said

and my young feet padded
along beneath ancient
memorial tablets keenly
whilst my young nose
registered that mossy
and dampness were for me
happy conditions to be gladly
returned to serenely, mustily

I AM, I said

the Ancient of Days and the
young exploring modern
and I belong here and
long here and love the
heavy creaking of this
old oak door and I want
more of this mossy
musty dampness and

I AM, I said

in the vibrancy of the
cantor’s echoing I AM, I said
the Ancient of Days and the
young solitary in search
of the Mothering Spirit
and the profundity of quietness

I AM, I said

and came upon a tiny
oak-framed illuminated
cobweb whereon is tenderly
painted the Mother and the
Child and lest the grace-filled
softness of her speech be not
fully heard another illuminated
frame stands soft guide for
a child:

Go placidly amid the noise and
haste and remember what peace
there may be in silence

Desiderata – a cantor’s echo:

I am, I said



Lovely trip north today – once past the Glasgow traffic the roads quietened very quickly and the drive was easy and varied. Glorious physical scenery is further beautified by weather changes almost by the minute. One moment brightest sunshine, the next the mountains and lochs – sometimes mirror-like, sometimes quite choppy, can be shrouded in atmospheric mist. A picnic and ice cream stop in Inverary afforded an admiring view of the Duke of Argyll’s imposing castle and a photo-op with the little fishing puffer Vital Spark I’d remembered enjoying back in 2010. Our home for the night in Oban provides a grandstand view of ferries coming and going between Hebridean islands, and the call of Iona and meeting up with fellow contemplatives and writers there tomorrow makes for peaceful evening hours

see travelpad