Listen

I was sitting in the hospital waiting room surrounded by dozens of people all waiting and listening for their name to be called. Some were reading, some scrolling through things on their phone, some flicking through old magazines, some just sitting and waiting and listening. Look at their faces… wrinkled frowns, worried looks, mouths down-turned, eyes focused on the desk where the nurse or doctor will appear and call their name. Heads tilted to hear the voice, anxious not to miss it.

It occurred to me that I don’t listen enough. In the morning the radio goes on and stays on all day. In the car music or words accompany me on my journeys. I get bored so I phone someone for a blether. My prayer book tells me silence should be left here and I pay it little heed. I count to ten. Will that be enough for the introverts? It’s Lent so I’ll make it twenty.

And I remembered a poem prayer I once read. But what was it called and who wrote it? And I found it in my Quotes Journal and I read it and switched off the radio and listened. Today I remembered that peace can be mine if I just listen. I might hear my name called. You are my beloved child.

The Word

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between ‘green thread’
and ‘broccoli’ you find
that you have pencilled ‘sunlight’.

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning – to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or safe spare tyre?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

Tony Hoagland

Image result for hope george frederic watts

George Frederic Watts – Hope (1886) Tate National Gallery

Light and dark

In the dark waters, unseen …….
mud from the river bed smears the eyes … silt of the earth, brown, gritty and grey.

She is hidden, submerged, ready to be born, ready but maybe not prepared for some explosion of revelation.

Surfacing … emerging ….

image

In the light of early morning there is blinding intensity, colour … eyes shaded to cope with shafting light of sunbeams, arrow straight … all the colours of white light, split into a never-ending spectrum ….. bursting sparkling eddies or turbulent cataract. Salmon leap and sparkle, striving for calmer waters ….. down again to the safety of soft, shadowy grey.

Sight is blinding.

Sight is wonderful

But sometimes the eyes close and contemplate the moving images of dreams …..
….. under the light …. in the darkness where hope is constant and waiting is a patient thing.

Is she ready for this light, this blinding?

Perhaps light is a truly fearsome thing.

The Gathering

DSCN3534Many years ago I awoke and made ready for the day ahead. Spirits soared at the prospect of ascending the lofty ridge towering high above Glen Kingie. My heart leapt in anticipation of standing atop Sgurr Mor to survey the wild and piercingly beautiful handiwork that has emerged from the celestial crucible. A herd of deer leapt with me. Rugged mountains plunged breathlessly into the depths of shimmering sea lochs as the gulls swooped silently below my feet. From the sparkling, tumbling burn I could hear an orchestra of sound as sunlight shimmered and danced on its bustling surface to the ambrosial conductor’s quickening tempo. Isolation amidst raw beauty- wind; sun; rain; river; sea; mountain ridge; the silence of solitude. A time of rejuvenation; of communion with God; of self-discovery.

By the end of the week the silence felt louder than the shrieking winds that seemed to slice through rock itself. My senses were heightened- high mountain grasses thrust skywards like individual spears of rusty red and burnished gold; the cold and hunger made for unwelcome bedfellows; the imposing flanks of Sgurr Mor appeared as monstrous tidal waves looming through the gray and damp mists, threatening to engulf me as readily as the wild beauty was ready to consume me. I felt alive, joyful, and afraid in equal measure.

Following Ash Wednesday, we take those first tentative steps into the lenten journey. Each year as I look inwardly and outwardly, I am reminded again and again of that heady sensation of fear, of joy, and of life I experienced in the mountain wilderness. I bring on this path my successes and my failures, my joys and my sorrows. Every year that we gather we are each drawn, week by week, closer and closer, to our own high mountaintop and to the parapet of the Temple where we feel the tension as our own failings meet with the path Jesus has set out for us to follow. I am not yet ready to gaze upwards at that blood encrusted cross- but at this early stage of the journey I give thanks for the gift of life and the people in it with whom I share its glorious mysteries. And I thank God for the gift of the Church in holding love, grace and forgiveness as lanterns to guide us.

He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Luke 4:11 NIV)