Tag Archives: blessing

New Shoes

10 days ago

Any self respecting pilgrim would have left their shoes at the end of their journey. I left mine in Ennis, County Clare. I first put them on when I started going to the gym, almost five years ago, intent on keeping fit enough so that I would be able to be physically and mentally prepared for mid-life and beyond.  The shoes served me well and were obviously good value for money!  They took me to the gym three or four times a week, to the Willunga Farmers Market most Saturday mornings, to countless short trips to familiar places, to far off lands and to the shores of oceans and streams.

After being on The Burren I knew I was going to say goodbye to them in Clare. And with that goodbye,  I would but some new ones in the new world of Dubai on the way home. And that is what I did.

This new journey warrants new shoes.  Ironically the ones I left behind were designed for walking and the label on this new shoe box says they  are designed for running!  I wonder if the shoes are being prophetic?

I thanked the shoes for carrying me this far and explained to them they had done a great job and their wear and tear was evidence of that. The right shoe had lost all its stitching on the toe perhaps channelling the number of times I have wanted to kick someone or something in or out of my way.
My new shoes were bought at one of the many temples to mammon in Dubai during Ramadan – an oxymoron to this reluctant shopper. Dubai is as far as any one could get from Patrick McCormack and the farmers in Clare.
The shoes will need to be broken in and I will reluctantly be back at the gym in a few days  and maintain my original intention and if the shoes are prophetic I will need to be ready.
I come to the end of these 30 days home and rested with the sounds of the pigeons in the distance, hearing The Ashes and with soup bubbling on the stove to comfort and reassure that I am indeed home in body and soul and ready with my new shoes for the next steps on this pilgrimage.
Today
Dear Hildegard, I have just read what I wrote ten days ago; and it has taken me until today to put on my new shoes. Yesterday there was the most glorious of sunrises and Brother Sun was telling me very clearly it is time to start again!
I think my procrastination is about not wanting the old journey or my holiday to end. But this day has come and on they went. One foot in front of the other the only way to walk – baby steps first.  I am remembering the instruction of The Burren, carefully watching where I am going; being mindful to the hidden holes; enjoying the flat land as a moment to relax vigilance and to test the rock for movement first before completely committing to the stride.  The Burren is a challenging spiritual director.  My new shoes will carry me to new territories and help me through familiar ones as well. They will need to be prepared for times when my reluctance will need to be met with patience.  They will need to be ready for times of both safari and pilgrimage.
When the time comes for these shoes to be rested I will have taken them to who knows where and whatever paths I find myself on with them I hope they serve me as well as the old ones.  So in the spirit of John O’Donohue who, it is claimed, could bless a carburettor and bring divinity to the moment, I have been self indulgent and written a little blessing for myself and my new shoes.
Blessing for the Pilgrim’s New Shoes
May the left shoe lead you to clear horizons.
May the right shoe follow in even time.
May they both hold you firmly
May they help you walk; and climb.
May they cup your feet so you feel grounded.
May they hold your ankles so you do not trip.
May they take you near and far
May they help you run; and skip.
May you always know to thank them,
For accompanying you along the way;
And may you let them bring you home safely,
At the end of every night and day.
Morning 25 July 2013

Morning over Willunga 25 July 2013

Betrothal Panel in the Triptych

I have never lived alone, was married to my one true love at 19 and had four children under seven well before I turned thirty. I followed the pattern of my mother and her mother before that – love, marriage, baby carriage.   So when I came to turn fifty several years ago I was struck that I had not made much of  vow to my true self.

When I turned fifty I invited my women family and friends to join me in a ritual to celebrate my arrival into cronedom. Even though I was not yet through the menopause and not yet a grandmother I thought marking the beginning of my sixth decade was an appropriate moment in time.   This was a ceremony I did without the men in my life and the vow I took that day was to take up more of being married to my self. To begin to own the wisdom I had accumulated over my lifetime of womanhood, motherhood, wifedom, sisterhood and auntiness. I wanted to claim both my singularity and my collective experience of being a woman.  My own betrothal to myself to be intentionally on the journey to union with the cosmic powers of creation and the centrality of our mother earth.  I was so blessed that day by the presence of a woman from this most ancient land the Kaurna people who smoked the site for us to come together and who generously gave us permission to be there invoking the generations and the spirit of the land to support me and the community of women who had gathered.  I was further blessed by a woman who shared my faith journey and celtic spirit to lead the ceremony. The women who gathered were from all parts of my life and as I have no sisters and no aunts and therefore no cousins (male or female) I had created this sisterhood and was blessed by their presence.  During the ritual I crossed over to Cronedom and embarked on the next stage of my life, knowingly supported by my experiences  and memories gained as a maiden and a mother.  This threshold welcomes wisdom, holiness, a right to be revered and respected, a gateway to transformation and capacity to live with the ambiguity of mystery.

I am thinking about all this as in the past six months two of my children have announced their betrothal. I like the power of the word betrothal.  It declares, it states intention, the promise to act and to follow through. A sacred pledge to the world that you are for a single person and they for you. As two lives become threaded and woven together the tapestry you will make together begins.

As the families and the communities gather together to support the couple and give witness to the love and the intentionality it is also a celebration of betrothals of the past that bear witness and are bearing fruit.

Each generation works out what this commitment will look like for them. The deep seeds sown in the dark so long ago are now in bloom and the fragrance of love is heavy in the air.  I am taking a moment to remember those early days of being head over heels in love that I now know lead to the promises of being “true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and until death do us part”.  The promises that lead to many gifts, and for me those gifts included children.

One of the betrothed has never lived alone and I am delighting in the knowledge that it will be a tribe gathered today as the commitment is publicly declared.

I am encouraged again by David Whyte from his book The Three Marriages, when he writes of the conversation between the triad of marriages – with self, a partner and work that this conversation offer us  “a sense of profound physical participation with creation, the reconfirmation that we are not alone in the world, and the reminder that there is a larger context to existence than the one we have established ourselves.”

I am seeing the croneing ritual for my fiftieth birthday as my betrothal and the conversation maturing as I head into my mid – fifties and so perhaps the marriage to myself is taking its right and proper place in my triptych. It is a Garden of Earthly (and unearthly) Delights!

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Study in Blue

Hildegard Man in Sapphire Blue</a>Man in Sapphire Blue

I decided to mediate on one of Hildegard’s illuminations this week and see what she had to tell me. I chose the Man in Sapphire Blue. When I looked at it, I was reminded of finger stitching we all learnt as youngsters and created on the top of cotton reels with a square of four little tacks or nails. Do you remember creating one? Then winding it round and round into a circle?

In this image the weave surrounds the Man in Sapphire Blue and has one entrance and exit. Matthew Fox invites us to notice “the aperture at the man’s head, so that this powerful healing energy can leave his own field and mix with others – and vice versa” (Fox, M Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, 1985 p.23). The energy we have to heal and to receive to be healed can seem to seep into and out of us if we allow ourselves to receive that energy and let it soak in. The outer concentric circles remind me of two things – the planets pathways circling around the sun and ripples on a pool when a stone in thrown in. Both these images require something solid and steady and energised at the centre and here she has the Man in Sapphire Blue holding that space.

I have held the Man in Sapphire Blue at the centre of my meditation, and considered what healing energy might ooze out to me this week. Interestingly I was surprised that the focus I drew was on the little (and big) prejudices I hold and how I allow them to be reinforced. When I hear about the tragedies of shootings in USA, it reinforces my attitudes to the US as gun toting, war mongers who don’t appreciate their place in the geo-political realities of being a super power. When I hear someone shouting at their children in the shopping mall I wonder how long it will be before child protection services will need to be called in. When I see a man being extra helpful and kind to a woman I am suspicious of his motives. All irrational and illogical connections, but ones built on some flimsy facts and experiences.

As this has been a Study in Blue, I also was drawn back of a song of Sinead O’Connor’s: We People are Darker than Blue and with the choir and a mixture of musical styles yearns for the end of prejudice, segregation and separation.

Divisions are big and small – from the Gaza strip to the internal conflict between our false and true selves. It seems to me that there are big and small prejudices just below the surface for those of us who think we may be above them. None of us are really exempt from the virus of division, and it is an act of constant vigilance to keep above it all. There are many times however where I hang on to my prejudices and they even serve to protect me – but isn’t that the lesson? To learn to be vulnerable in spite of our differences?

Hildegard’s Man in Sapphire Blue seems to be reaching out with outstretched hands as if to channel a blessing for equanimity to me – surely the antidote to division.

I wrote this little Blessing for Equanimity in the genre of Blessings shared by John O’Donohue.

Blessing For Equanimity
As the dawn breaks and your head aches
May you be blessed with a still mind

As the morning opens to the day
May you put down divisions and look for synergies

As the sun reaches its height
May you call on your higher self

As vespers arrives and unfinished business haunts
May you gratefully gather up the remains of the day

As evening comes and you toss and turn
May you be rested and refreshed by a deep sleep

As the darkness settles in
May you be filled with starlight.

And may the Man in Sapphire Blue
Bless you with equanimity.

(c) M Deslandes, 2013