Category Archives: spirituality

February 2nd – a clover seed

I read these words by American poet Wendell Berry this morning, before I realised the significance of the date. 

On the second day of February forty-nine years ago, he too was feeling the chill and bleakness of the world. And yet, and yet, in the midst of news of war, violence and death, he walked the unpromising land and sowed seeds for the spring. 

A lovely metaphor of hope for this grey, dismal winter morning. 

February 2, 1968
In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,

war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,

I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

-Wendell Berry

Happy birthday, William! – small stone 29

My little grandson is two years old today. Sadly he is many miles away, so I attempted to sketch him from a photo. Of course in real life he would not be sitting like this for long!! 

My first attempt at painting a real person makes me appreciate all the more that indefinable unique quality that makes each human being who they are. Impossible to capture and only really experienced in their presence. 

Wish you were here, William! 

Mediterranean promise – small stone 26

At this time of year I feel sun starved. We have had some sunshine this month, but the chill factor has not encouraged much outdoor activity. Today the recent blanket of fog has lifted, but the clouds are casting a greyness over everything.

So it is amazing to me how the fruit on the lemon tree in our (unheated) conservatory is slowly and quietly ripening. Inspire of the apparent lack of sun, the small green lemons are gradually swelling and changing colour. Even if I feel stuck in a hibernating stupor, the lemon tree is drawing strength from some unseen source and moving on.

My sketch, of necessity, had to be quick. But despite the physical chill to my body,  I feel warmed by the promise of sunnier times and places.

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“Compassion for our ugly” 

In the last couple of weeks words have been used and misused, to deceive, accuse, blame, hurt, malign and divide us. I have frequently felt lost for words and have felt I wanted to withdraw from conversations and hide.

One morning recently, when we as a nation seemed to be doing our murderous ugly worst to each other with words and weapons, I read this poem. Even as we shudder at our own failure, we are not abandoned, we are loved in our ugliness. And we have been entrusted with “the Word” to offer the same to others.

It is when we face for a moment
the  worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, our brother,
the Word. 

Denise Levertov “The mystery of the incarnation” The Stream and the Sapphire

Not sure  – small stone 22

Yesterday I didn’t write a small stone. Too tired, feeling ill and full of self doubt.

Today I was introduced to an American poet new to me – W.S.Merwin.
I have been reading some of his poems on line. These words, describing advice he received from his teacher, spoke to me.

“…I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write”
W.S. Merwin, “Berryman” from Migration.

Perhaps the act of writing is just another example of faith…

Find the whole poem here

 

The holding pages – small stone 17

“I have made an open place, a place for meditation. What if I cannot find myself inside it? I think of these pages as a way of doing that. I have written… to find out  what I think, to know where I stand.”

May Sarton – A Journal of a Solitude

 Re-reading this journal of a creative life, where her descriptions of the changing textures of her everyday life “crack open the inner world again”. 

Unwrapping the present – small stone 3

“I’m sorry it’s not wrapped,” she said.

Gift from a friend, a small green shoot in terracotta pot, a label suggesting its potential.

Days pass and, inching skyward, the shoot is accompanied by two others, whose dimpled buds gaze up as if following a star.

The present is unwrapping itself…

 Hippeastrum – sometimes known as Amarylis. 

Apparently Hippeastrum means Knight’s Star Lily. 

Makes me think of wise men with a star in their eyes, who followed where it led and saw the future unfold in the gift of a newborn.