Saturday, 22 June 2013

Anything more wonderful?

I'm a day late for the Solstice (end of term looming: it's been a busy week...) but here's a Mary Oliver poem which I think is worth waiting for.

The Sun

Have you ever seen 
in your life 
more wonderful

than the way the sun, 
every evening, 
relaxed and easy, 
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills, 
or the rumpled sea, 
and is gone-- 
and how it slides again

out of the blackness, 
every morning, 
on the other side of the world, 
like a red flower
streaming upward on its heavenly oils, 
say, on a morning in early summer, 
at its perfect imperial distance-- 
and have you ever felt for anything 
such wild love-- 
do you think there is anywhere, in any language, 
a word billowing enough 
for the pleasure

that fills you, 
as the sun 
reaches out, 
as it warms you

as you stand there, 

or have you too 
turned from this world--

or have you too 
gone crazy 
for power, 
for things?

Mary Oliver

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sitting with the stars

Looking at the stars
Consideration - one of the many ways of praying mentioned by Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises (fifteen-ish and counting: please don't let anyone tell you that "Ignatian prayer" only means imaginative contemplation. Maybe that's a theme for another post...)

Anyway, consideration. Many years ago I was lent a little book about prayer which talked about the prayer of consideration and said that the word comes from sedere, to sit. We sit down together (con) with God and, well, consider. Chew things over, ponder, treasure in our hearts like Mary. And that was what I thought it meant. 

Much later I heard another etymology. According to this,  Consider comes from sidus, sideris - star.  Consideration is star-gazing!  Isn't that exciting? Some echoes for me: "I will consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers" (Psalm 8); "Church bells beyond the stars heard" (one of George Herbert's definitions of prayer); and of course Oscar Wilde's "all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars".

This week I pray that I'll make space to stop and consider. And that this will become prayer.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Kissing the ground

A moth on the wall at the station. Simply being.
Synchronicity... This morning as I lay in bed thinking about getting up (it's Saturday, and yesterday was a lo-o-ong day) I remembered someone I know saying that every morning of his life, when he gets out of bed, his first act is to genuflect - to greet the Earth and to celebrate the Incarnation. I don't do that - not physically anyway (I'm a bit too creaky in the mornings) - but I often think of it. Back on Palm Sunday I wrote here about humility. The very word means keeping your feet on the ground, remaining in connection with the Earth. Lovingly.

I was also thinking about beauty: easy to do on a bright summer morning, sunshine pouring through the bedroom window, the garden lush and green, swifts whirling above, beautiful music on the radio. Pope Benedict wrote that for faith to grow, in ourselves and those we accompany, we must be introduced to the saints, and to beauty. Something for spiritual directors to ponder... It's also the way, I think, for humility to grow. I pray that my eyes will be open today to the goodness of saintly hearts and to beauty in unexpected places, while my feet stay firmly planted on God's good Earth.

And then, at breakfast, I read this (h/t to the Poetry Chaikhana blog):

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~ Rumi

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Tomato prayer

A prayer by Michael Leunig (from A Common Prayer). Enjoy!

It is time to plant tomatoes. Dear God, we praise this fruit and give thanks for its life and evolution. We salute the tomato, cheery, fragrant morsel, beloved provider, survivor and thriver and giver of life. Giving and giving and giving. Plump with summer's joy. The scent of its stem is summer's joy, is promise and rapture. Its branches breathe perfume of promise and rapture. Giving and giving and giving.

Dear God, give strength to the wings and knees of pollinating bees, give protection from hailstorms, gales and frosts, give warm days and quenching rains. Refresh and adorn our gardens and tables. Refresh us with tomatoes.Rejoice and rejoice! Celebrate the scarlet soul of winter sauces. Behold the delicious flavor! Behold the oiled vermilion moons that ride and dive in olive-bobbing seas of vinegared lettuce. Let us rejoice! Let this rejoicing be our thanks for tomatoes.