Sunday, 30 September 2012

Haleg Monath

A salute to September before we leave it for another year. Known in the Anglo-Saxon calendar as Haleg Monath - Holy Month. Even the Venerable Bede was not sure of the reason for this name, but to me it always feels like a "thin" holy time of transition. For a beautiful, evocative description of the flavour of this time of year have a look at Quinn MacDonald's thoughts on Celebrating New Year in Fall. Please do - before you read any more from me; she describes it so wonderfully...

And some music...

My favourite autumn song - Marigold by Maddy Prior. There's some rather esoteric* imagery in the
You Tube poster's video but the song ends with a hymn of praise from the assembled company of Steeleye Span. Enjoy - and bring on the toffee apples, treacle and mulled wine!

Finally, it was Michaelmas yesterday. As always, Archdruid Eileen of the Beaker Folk writes better than I can about why it might be that we celebrate St Michael and all the angels at this darkening time year.  Blessings!

* Can you have "rather esoteric"? Or is it like saying "rather unique"?
You'd expect some Burne-Jones angels from me for Michaelmas!

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Some words from Sister Macrina Wiederkehr:

"...I stand in the gloaming. One hand cradles daylight, the other welcomes night... I sense a very thin veil between heaven and earth." (Seven Sacred Pauses, Sorin Books, 2008 p. 135)

She's writing about evening, but her words could just as well apply to this "thin" time of balance, a gentle pause (that word again) when day and night are of equal length. In the part of the planet where I live it's the beginning of autumn - and today, just to mark the occasion, I found the first conker (horse chestnut) of the season! I've also bought a pair of furry slippers for the coming chilly evenings, to replace a pair that have at last fallen apart. It's been the most beautiful, sunny, perfect autumn day. A picture from Wikipedia this time as I'm having a quiet, balancing evening, and it's simpler! I'll try to dig out some of my own autumn photos for another post.

Ignatius was keen on the idea of balance - he counselled a poised, open-handed, grateful freedom in 
regard to all created things. And, above all, he said that the spiritual director should be "like a balance at equilibrium", not trying to sway the pilgrim one way or another, allowing "the Creator to deal with the creature". This seems a good grace to pray for at this time of the year.

I read that the Equinox is a good time to see the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights. If, like me, you live where you're unlikely to see them, here's a beautiful sight of them from One Cannot Have Too Large A Party. As the author says, enjoy!

How about this for a Sun-dance for the Equinox? From NASA's daily picture site - read about it here

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ignatius's shoes

Ignatius's shoes, in his rooms in Rome
I've just spent the whole day interviewing prospective students for the Ignatian Spirituality Course in London. Exhausting, but a great joy. It was good to meet such a diverse and enthusiastic group of people, all with so much generosity and desire for the "more". I'm looking forward to walking in Ignatius's footsteps with them. Term starts at the beginning of October, and I'm sure we'd all - staff and students - value your prayers.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Cumulonimbus cloud hits the tropopause

It serves me right, alluding to the menopause in yesterday's post. Partly because of a lazy day yesterday, partly because of some physical discomforts arising from the aforementioned condition, I slept very fitfully last night. Words, as they often do when I'm lying awake, kept rolling round in my mind - especially the m-word. Menopause...

Pause...  "Hit the pause button a minute..."; "Can we pause there a moment?" So often pause has such a fleeting, momentary sense. Nothing of great significance. But at its root is something stronger: stop, cease, ending.  And therefore, beginning? Some other "-pause" words...

Tropopause. The boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, where air ceases to cool with height and becomes almost completely dry. Literally, the place where the familiarity of weather stops. Where even mighty, vigorous cumulonimbus clouds are stopped in their track, their heads flattened into anvils: beware storms! The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? The Boundary of the Beyond.

Heliopause. The elusive and long-sought-after boundary between Earth's solar system and interstellar space. Where the solar wind drops and the Sun finally relinquishes its dominion; the edge of our own neighbourhood, where Deep Space begins. The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? The Boundary of the Beyond.

As always when I can't sleep, I remembered this poem:

The Unending Sky (by John Masefield 1878 – 1967)
I could not sleep for thinking of the sky,
The unending sky, with all its million suns

Which turn their planets everlastingly
In nothing, where the fire-haired comet runs.

If I could sail that nothing, I should cross
Silence and emptiness with dark stars passing,
Then, in the darkness, see a point of gloss
Burn to a glow, and glare, and keep amassing,

And rage into a sun with wandering planets
And drop behind, and then, as I proceed,
See his last light upon his last moon’s granites
Die to dark that would be night indeed.

Night where my soul might sail a million years
In nothing, not even death, not even tears

Thank God, there is no Theopause!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Dramatis Personae...

... Or, It's Not All About Me. As I discover more about the world of blogging I realise I'll need to find ways of referring to those around me. My long-suffering husband is certain to feature in a post sooner or later: "Mr [or, as it should be, Fr] TLTMTS" seems a little cumbersome. He suggests I use a name given to him in his days as a Naval Chaplain: HALO, which stands for High Altitude Liaison Officer. Happy to do so - so watch this space!

The third person in our marriage, our dog, has already been mentioned several times and even had his picture in my last post. (He is also the small white dot in the beach photo at the top of the page). I think I'll call him Canis Minor. "Minor" in the sense not of smaller (there's only one of him) but of rather small - he's a Parson Russell, that quintessential big-dog-in-small-body.

Just in case you're interested...

Saturday down-time

It's been my first full week back at work. I'm appreciating the "Sabbath" of Saturday more than ever. Saturday = Saturn's day, and yes I suppose I'm feeling my age. (Do have a look at this Greenpatches post - and especially, do check out the link to Victoria Wood!).

As always, I have much to learn from my dog!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mary's birthday

Happy birthday, Our Lady! Some words of Pope Benedict, quoted in this month's edition of Magnificat:

"The Church always argued that it was premature to celebrate [a saint's] birthday because the rest of the life of a person born on that day was subject to such ambiguity. The nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an exquisite exception since her soul was the space from which God was able to gain access into humanity."
Star of the Sea, from The Apostleship of the Sea