6th January 2017
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey.
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter .....
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death ? There was Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt -
I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different,
This Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us,
like Death, our death ....
In Chester we have had many variations in the weather....
Perhaps they should be called
VARIATIONS ON A THEME ?
On some days we awoke to frost,
on others to a grey dullness, with periods of sunshine.
During the night wind howled around us
but rain stilled it before dawn.
Gulls have perched on the roof of our guest-house,
crows have waited on the roof of the building
which we call "The Wing".
Periodically, for no apparent reason,
the gulls shriek, heralding internecine warfare.
Yesterday the Christmas season ended.
We are now liturgically back in the Weeks of the Year,
with green vestments.
In our garden the grass provides a green cover.
It is very dark.
Even the cats are reluctant to venture out.
Most of the paths and flower-beds are now bare,
the old leaves having been cleared away,
but there are already signs of new life
as bulbs pierce through the soil.
Behind the now still trees the dull sky towards the west
obscures the Welsh hills.
There are times when we need to concentrate
on the here and now ... as we do when we pray ....
but even then distractions lurk in the mist of thought,
waiting to reveal themselves !
The full moon is hidden behind clouds
while a cold wind howls around the house.
Snow has fallen elsewhere .....
Homeless people, refugees are in a cold darkness
all over the world ....this has been
part of our human / inhuman history throughout the ages.
There are people who risk their lives to help them,
trying to provide food, shelter and safety.
When houses are flooded as rivers overflow,
or coastlines are eroded and houses on cliffs are in danger,
one hears of the generosity of local people.
We can only pray, and give donations to
various Charities, for use either at home or abroad.
The wind continues to howl.
Symbol of Peace
The Gospel at Mass today was from Mark 2:13-17.
It describes the call of Levi.
"When Jesus was at dinner in his house,
a number of tax collectors and sinners
were also sitting at table with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many of them his followers.
When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him
eating with sinners and tax collectors,
they said to his disciples,
Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?
When Jesus heard this he said to them,
It is not the healthy who need the doctor,
but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous,
The celebrant, in his sermon, mentioned, Simone Weil.
( 3 February 1909 - 24 August 1943)
She came from a wealthy French family, and became
a social and religious philosopher.
She chose not to become a Christian as Christians
were seen as a people apart.
She was politically active, and took part in
the Spanish Civil War, and the French Resistance.
She died in Ashford, Kent in 1943.
The reading from the Gospel of Mark
shows that Jesus himself preferred to live
among those who needed his help.
Simone Weil herself wrote:
"At the bottom of the heart of every human being,
from earliest infancy until the tomb,
there is something that goes on indomitably expecting,
in the teeth of all experience of crimes committed,
suffered, and witnessed,
that good and not evil will be done to him.
It is this above all that is sacred in every human being."
The days have flown away, veiled in darkness,
while hyacinth bulbs pierce through the soil
and snowdrops flower.
Blue winter iris, accompanied by
soldier ranks of future daffodils,
now pierce through flower beds
where hope blooms.
MM Iris - needle work
The following poem was sent me by a friend:
by Lisel Mueller
It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
which sail from the top of maples.
It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
it is in the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is in the mouth which inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another:
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL
Conversions are not always happy occasions:
Saul was blinded by a great light
as he travelled to arrest Christians in Damascus.
Jesus spoke to him in this darkness
while enlightening him spiritually.
Ananias, man of faith who lived in Damascus,
when asked by Jesus to heal Saul physically,
was hesitant and uncertain about it
as he knew that Saul was a former persecutor.
But only when Ananias completed his task
were Sauls inner and outer visions reconciled.
No, conversions are not easy matters for some of us.
We can, sometimes, exclaim "Why have I been so blind?"
when the reality of truth finally reveals itself to us.
Hellebore in flower in January
It is a cold but sunny day today.
The sound of a lawn-mower heralds
the demise of some decaying plants in the meadow.
The gulls were wary of Dave as he cleared
more flower-beds in their feeding area,
while cat Murphy came for food bright and early.
It is difficult at times to record events in a monastery.
We have a regular time-table but it is not boring.
The psalms periodically flower with new meanings,
opening vistas which we have not seen before
even though we have been reciting the psalms together
from the moment we entered the monastic life.
Yes, they can be like flowers newly opening,
revealing different patterns and sending out fragrance.
Our optional meetings before Vespers every day
are full of different insights - we all see differently.
When we were young we quested for the understanding of others:
now we are happy to hear what others discern,
seeing from a different view point,
appreciating the insights of others.