Illumination

sagrada-familia-snail-barcelona
please click photo for further illustration

Can a snail think? –
asked Joaquin of Janine.

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
reminded him

Humankind thinks
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
cider

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
philosophy

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
journey

Anton Gaudi really gets snails
and apples and rocks and trees

And illumination

Simon Marsh

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.

Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.38.05Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.38.50Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.39.33Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.40.46Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.41.53Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.42.34Screenshot 2017-03-15 19.43.21Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.05.48Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.06.15Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.06.43Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.06.58Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.07.27Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.07.45Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.08.08Screenshot 2017-03-15 20.09.03

Inner work

Self-transformation

Would you like to save the world from the degradation
and destruction it seems destined for? Then step away
from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work on
your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of
humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to
eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate
all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the
greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-
transformation.

Lao Tzu
Chinese philosopher, circa 6th century BC

As early as the 6th century BC philosophers and religionists were thinking and concerned about world “degradation and destruction” – and that thought alone invites me to a bit of silent reflection. It’s in the quieting of the mind, the “getting out of our heads”, the reaching deeper than our incessantly interrupting monkey thoughts, that we begin to have a sense of who we really are – awakening self-awareness, silently knowing our place within the great scheme of the Universe. Lao Tzu was keen that seekers after truth should “step away from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work …”

Day by day in the gym I’m intrigued by the sights and sounds of those hooked into the latest short-term health fads – readily identifiable because of the frowns on their faces, resentful grunting, and the hammer-driven eight minutes they “give up” for distracted “workouts”. And then there are the peaceful souls, there early each morning, who give no impression of being in a hurry. They’ll maybe spend an hour in their same familiar little routines of preference. Quiet smile, bright eyes and gentle pace suggest they’re not too pre-occupied with “degradation and destruction”, apparently seeing something of a higher order – outer AND inner workouts “saving” their work and their worlds.