Posts tagged nature

Sparrows in the hands of Saturn

I wish to live like the mountain; the stream, the forest,
I wish to break like the tears of our own private angels
Upon the moments when mystery cloaks.

I wish to roam, with the legends ingrained in the riverbed
Of my psyche, alive in the footprints of our myth.

I wish to sleep by the fire, at the doorway where all spirits gather,
Touching the feet of the universal guru.

I wish to be blessed in the language of birds,
Freed like the sparrow flying up, into the hands of Saturn,
Free like the ripples of the silent ocean beyond death.

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Hummingbird

The magic returns to the temporal glade

As the longing to live steps out of the shade.

 

In each heart wood, locked deep in the grain,

Beams of infinite love and a simple peace profane.

 

If the strains of heaven now grace the earth,

The light is clear as the silence turns.

 

Somethings unspeakable has happened to my restless soul

In this place on high;

The hillsides and forests that encircle the wasted plains.

 

To slowly drink the air here purifies the condition,

Humanity rejoices in nature’s joyous vision.

 

We regain our senses, beneath rare flowers and trees;

Rejoicing within the harmony of being simple and small.

 

As the flitting humming birds, riotous emeralds in flight,

Sip the nectar of the seasons in oblivious delight.

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Bardsey Island – The Island of 20,000 Saints

Yesterday we walked around the northern coasts of the Llyn Penisula (North Wales), braving the high winds and feral seagulls.  There is something quite dramatic about  the Llyn, with the trio of mountains (known as ‘The Rivals’) forming a gateway to a landscape dotted with remnants of ancient settlements and worship.  It seems that each time I visit the Llyn I am drawn deeper into its story.

At the tip of the Llyn Penisula we find Bardsey Island and there is definitely something about Bardsey.  In English its name refers to an island of bards, in Welsh (Yns Enlli) it suggests an island in the currents.  It sits like a small jewel off the tip of the jagged coast line and has been inhabited since neolithic times.  Bardsey has been a pilgrimage site for many years, three trips to Bardsey was the equal of a trip to Rome.  A hermitage has stood here since the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, although it has been knocked down a few times along the way.  Brave and devout souls floated over from France and Ireland on rudimentary rafts to preach the words they regarded to be true and lead this wild and untamed island nation away from sin, towards redemption.  These remarkable old saints, hermits and pilgrims were very wise, putting a little ocean between themselves and their rabid flock (although that didn’t help when the vikings showed up!).

The history of this isolated retreat is fascinating, its location stunning, but as usual, the myths and legends are what sets it apart and fuels the imagination to imbued a large rock with magical properties and some intangible, mystical allure.  20,000 saints are said to be buried on the island, making the soil rich and fertile.  It has even been claimed that Prince Arthur is buried in a cave there.  To get there, you still need to call a local chap in a small fishing boat to take you there and hopefully back.  If the weather flares up, you can be stranded on the island, where there is still no electricity.  It suggested that you draw up a will before visiting Bardsey, it is said that the Llyn extends into the ocean just as life extends into the unknown emptiness and once we have reached Bardsey, we are relieved of earthly cares (meaning we are now number 20,001).

What can be said about the allure of Bardsey, it seems so close from the shore, we feel that we could touch it, except it is far enough away for us to fall and perish in the fierce waves of the Irish Sea.  I see Bardsey Island as a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life, as we build a bastion from rocks and earth to hide us from the endless waves and commotion, deep inside our soul is ever drawing us deeper towards harmony, as we venture out into the raging oceans of calm and set sail into the blissful unknown.  One pilgrim wrote that Bardsey is “the land of indulgences, absolution and pardon, the road to Heaven, and the gate to Paradise” and on a day like yesterday, I can see why.

I have included some photographs and poetry that I hope captures something of these sentiments:

 

Bardsey Island in the distance

Bardsey Island in the distance

Gorse and Heather

Gorse and Heather

There is an island there is no going
to but in a small boat, the way
the saints went, travelling the gallery
of the frightened faces of
the long-drowned, munching the gravel
of its beaches. So I have gone
up the salt lane to the building
with the stone altar, and the candles
gone out, and kneeled and lifted
my eyes to the furious gargoyle
of the owl that is like a god
gone small and resentful. There
is no body in the stained window
of the sky now. Am I too late?
Were they too late also, those
first pilgrims? He is such a fast
God, always before us, and
leaving as we arrive.

There are those here
not given to prayer, whose office
is the blank sea that they say daily.
What they listen to is not
hymns, but the slow chemistry of the soil,
that turns saints’ bones into dust,
dust to an irritant of the nostril.

There is no time on this island.
The swinging pendulum of the tide
has no clock; the events
are dateless. These people are not
late or soon; they are just
here, with only the one question
to ask, which life answers
by being in them. It is I
who ask. Was the pilgrimage
I made to come to my own
self, to learn that, in times
like these, and for one like me,
God will never be plain and
out there, but dark rather, and
inexplicable, as though he were in here?

“Pilgrimages” by R. S. Thomas

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And that’s why I have to go back
to so many places in the future,
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy.
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

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We passed the ice of pain,

And came to a dark ravine,

And there we sang with the sea:

The wide, the bleak abyss

Shifted with our slow kiss.

Space struggled with time;

The gong of midnight struck

The naked absolute.

Sound, silence sang as one.

All flowed: without, within;

Body met body, we

Created what’s to be.

What else to say?

We end in joy.

The Moment – Theodore Roethke

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When Blood Greets Earth

Up in the early morn on the mountain glen,

From the wild woods, many strange sounds ring.

 

The morning fire lies smouldering by the old rocks

And moss lies heavy and true.

 

Around this grave a wanderer, knelt by the cairn;

A pile of skin and bone, rapt by natures affairs.

 

The heather shakes in time with the silent seas,

The mountains surround are throne and protector.

 

When blood greets earth, may we no longer roam,

The silent storms will cease, as beauty unfolds.

 

No legend greater than this myth that I hold,

A giant alone in a universe of sparks and molten dreams.

 

And the sun arches in glory upon the heavens we build

Up here in the lonesome valley hills.

 

Blessed with such a sloping vantage point, a crag not far

From the buzzards steady gaze,

 

Encamped on dappled autumn plains, where the glacial streams do cleave,

Spirit swirls and evokes, perfumed with brazen gorse.

 

When blood greets the earth, the battle recedes,

We are destiny emblazon over these hallowed peaks.

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“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair” – G.K. Chesterton

The Lady of Shallot (Garden Rose)

The Lady of Shallot (Garden Rose)

One sees great things from the valley, small things from the peak.

 

The true object of human life is play; the earth is a task garden, heaven a playground.

 

Religion has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.

 

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you have taken things for granted or taken things with gratitude.

 

A room without books is like a body without soul.

 

Art like morality means drawing the line somewhere.

 

One may understand the cosmos but never the ego, the self is more distant than any star.

 

The only way to catch a train is to miss the one before it.

 

Education is simply the soul of society as it passes from one generation to another.

 

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

 

G.K. Chesterton

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Lazy Love

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Beach on Bohol Island, Philippines

In the clouds over the beach,

The wonders of the world.

 

In the sands, buried hands

And jewels yet to sparkle.

 

Oceans filled with pearls and promise,

A sky open to a return.

 

Shorelines of many colours and

Carved wooden Gods line the jungle trail,

 

All things envisaged

Refreshed in a beauty profound.

 

Our naked bodies in the waves,

The dark oceans carried us

In phosphorescence warmth and

Forces unknowable.

 

Our hearts warm and open,

Like buds they burst,

Free in the new world.

 

Here we passed many lives,

In a tin shack filled

With lemon trees and

Lazy love.

 

We live there still;

How do we lose such memories?

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Guardians of the World House

 

 

The Kogi Tribe, Columbia

Only the birds can leave the massif

As we study our planet in miniature;

Conquer the sky, fell the trees,

Bastardise augury

And what we reap is disease.

 

Where once there was richness

Now cities function, cities born in the mire,

Lost cities, where focus falls foul,

Built far from the awe of nature.

Where are our monuments to beauty?

 

Descendants of the flourishing conquest.

How can we take care of the world?

In the heart of the earth, her hidden folds,

We are touched by a silent empathy,

We seem young and all too

Aware of our cancerous dust

And darkness we have wrought.

 

Cutting the heart out of the mother,

Severing our ties,

How can we look away

As she bleeds for us.

 

The hunting season is coming to a climax,

The world is fertile, her blood is gold,

It flows within all life.

 

We were given the earth in harmony,

To take care of, to nurture

And bear witness to its unfurling

Splendour.

 

In this world house

We must listen to the teachings,

The wind tells a story

Opening our hearts to remember,

Now to resurrect our inner world

With divination born of heart.

 

We are running around, wherever we can,

Not knowing what to do,

Far from enchantment or the rituals of soul.

Scattering our finest thoughts

Until nothing is left and, as one,

Are worthless, meaningless.

The minerals we need

Are being robbed by malice

And misplaced rationality.

 

The earth is innocent before us,

A noble friend,

Our one true mother;

To be adored in her sacred moods

And turning complexion.

 

Green disciples fixed in glory;

The earth is shaking

Can you hear the omen?

Doesn’t it stir your blood flow?

See through the smoking mirror

And venerate what is with tender care.

 

All people the creation of one clay,

Free to love and swim the waters of life,

Envisage a better world

And honour those dreams

With honest sacrifice and sincerity.

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