Saturday, 26 December 2009

The landscape is calling to me

The landscape is calling to me
- from the darkness of the inside
into the brilliance of the cold sunlight
I step into a sharp and bitter landscape
that now gradually reveals its colour
from beneath the melting whiteness.

From the high expanse of blue
light warms when sheltered from the biting wind
crystals fade to reveal the greenness of corn
and the saturated leaf blackened earth.

The landscape is calling to me
Where snow lies and creates form
the land reveals its essence of hollows and ridges
and the lowness of the morning light
brings places of cool shadows
in contrast to the melting warmth.

I see gliding red kite, buzzard and kestrel too,
long tailed tits chatter in the cold branches
and then, just a few paces away, beneath a tree,
a squirrel: gnawing a yellow maize cob
as in stillness I sketch the spirit of the land.

The landscape is calling to me
with subtle water trickling with graceful bubbles
sneaking their way from the confines of the frozen
- an element of such surprise and change
it creates movement, mirrors and presence
where usually, seemingly none.

It seems to take a long while
to adjust to hearing the voice of nature
and to quieten to the senses around me
- I feel overwhelmed with awareness.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Winter Solstice

The landscape of snow before me - white, sparkling with diamond-like ice crystals that reflect the blueness of the cloudless sky above. Light seems wild and demanding, even the shadows cannot hold any secrets. Against the silvery and almost glossy white, bramble leaves - between me and the sun - reveal their transparent colours: greens, reds, oranges and yellows. And against the whiteness the enhanced shapes of trees stand - revealing their deep forms and colours with enhanced presence.

We sit around the candles that we have lit and, like their peaceful and warm light, we find a spirit of sharing and like-mindedness. Ten souls have gathered to reflect on the past year and to look to the new. In the warmth of our special place we drum for each other and for others - particularly those who may not be able to celebrate this festive time as we are able. Through times of silence and meditation we are able to journey in our minds or reflect on our path. Through the enjoyment of warming and delicious food we feel a sense of sharing and belonging that many of us have be patiently waiting many weeks for. We acknowledge each others presence and share a spirit of connection and encouragement. We all have our own path and yet today, amidst the cold and snow outside, we have found warmth, fellowship and friendship and, hopefully, something to take away with us that will bring the sacred into each and every part of our lives.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Living Universe

Reflections based upon an article in Resurgence magazine, No. 256 (Sept/Oct 2009): A Journey of Awakening by Duane Elgin.

My summary of the main points in the article:
The Universe has usually been perceived as being inert and non-living. This has led to our materialistic, consumerist, unsustainable lifestyles and environmental destruction. What if it were, instead, unified and uniquely alive? This would change our perspective and transform our understanding of the cosmos, the nature of human identity and our evolutionary journey.

1. Where are we? The universe is almost entirely invisible and is continuously regenerated by the flow of large amounts of life energy which include consciousness or a reflective capacity enables systems at every scale to exercise some freedom of choice. It is a living and learning system that is alive, subtle, intelligent, purposeful and free. We need to discover the humility of a living systems perspective to rediscover our home.

2. Who are we?: We live within a living universe that arises, moment by moment, as a unified whole. We are beings the universe inhabits as much as we are beings who inhabit the universe. Our life is inseparable from the aliveness of the living universe. Our aliveness and consciousness extend beyond our biological bodies and reaches into the living universe. Our bodies need soul-growing experiences and we can open to a larger sense of self that connects into the subtle aliveness of the universe.

3. Where are we going: We need big changes to live sustainably. We need to discover a common sense of purpose for pulling the human family together: reduce needless clutter, develop authentic relationships, have meaningful work build caring communities and develop creative expressions.

We need a living universe paradigm and understand that our bodies have biological and cosmic dimensions. We need to communicate with the depths of the universe.

I found this an inspiring and thought provoking article that led on from a housegroup discussion last week where I was talking about the creativity of God within the universe and in creating man and Jesus. Although I might question some of the points made above, I thought the idea of a living universe fell neatly into place within an ecological framework. Could it not be said that the underlying life energy is the spiritual energy of the Creator God with the eco-Holy Spirit enlivening all living things and Jesus the embodiment of the earthen elements (air, fire, water, earth and spirit) in human form.

This next passage is copied from the article 'Christians and Druids' by Richard Thomas (

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

This is something that most Druids will recognise. The ‘Awen’, or inspiration, is both the driving force of the creation, and is also responsible for its beginnings. One of the central features of Druidry, the desire to understand the energy of life itself, to honour ‘Awen’ and to draw it into oneself, is also a central feature of Christianity. The language is different, but the meaning is strikingly similar. This is prayer, and prayer, for each of us, is a desire to enter into the sacred, the divine heart of the Universe. For each of us, prayer can be song or silence, action or stillness. For each of us, it is a sacred space where we are called into a relationship with the sacred.

So from the very first words of scripture, Christians and Druids begin to find common ground. The ‘Breath of God’, the Inspiration, the ‘Awen’, moves across the darkness and chaos of matter. Those two small words, ‘moved upon’, barely reflect the strength of the original Hebrew. They are words of storm and power, and reflect an imagery that itself creates movement and response. The language is both mystic and sexual – the Spirit of God penetrates the chaos of unformed matter, inseminating it, bringing it to life. These same ideas are echoed at the start of the New Testament, when the Spirit of God ‘overshadows’ Mary, bringing about a conception that is both human and divine. And so Christians, as well as Druids, can understand the formation of our universe as a form of birth. We can speak of the Spirit of God making chaos pregnant with meaning, form and purpose. We can speak of the dark warm woods, the wild animals, the buzzing insects, even the great seas and mountains, as both spirit and matter: rich and pregnant with the divine nature. Druids and Christians have common ground not simply because we share the same humanity, but because we have a similar understanding of our nature: we are creatures of both matter and spirit. And in speaking of the things that are sacred, our spirits reach out together towards this ‘something’ that is common to us both.

Both of these two explorations of the nature of the universe seem to have much in common and speak of connections and interconnections between ourselves and the universe that surrounds us. I am left with wondering how a purely evangelical Christian perspective might fit into the equation. With an emphasis on a mostly paternalistic God, required personal relationships with the Trinity; literal Biblical interpretation and sinner/saved duality, something somewhere seems to have lost the beauty, mystery and magic that is present in this great created cosmic creation in which we find ourselves. Both passages also speak to me in a language that I can understand and relate to and it is a great joy to find writers who can express thoughts and ideas in such a way. There is a weaving of words, ideas, story, history, nature, mysticism, possibility and creativity that allows room for one to reach out into the realm of personal exploration without the anticipation of judgement or wrongdoing. This is my spiritual path and from time to time it draws me in to explore inwardly and outwardly - to connect with myself and with all that exists around me.

One query I have is how much of our body, consciousness, soul or whatever exists externally to our physical bodies. The first passage alluded to this and I come across it from time to time - is it energy, an aura, prayer....?