I was meeting in a coffee shop this week sharing ideas and experience on volunteering, a church organisation and future thinking. To dream, plan, conjure and play with others is a delight. Hildegard you would have been so at home there. Two school girls, still in their school uniforms, were auditioning and we gave them a glowing review between bubbles and chai latte. I am sure I got to sneak preview of what will be a duet to rival my beloved Indigo Girls.
So, an old friend and a new one, chatted to this sound track of delicious young women melodically fusing their voices and their guitars. And while we chatted one of their mother’s looked on and the business owner confirmed they got the gig. We had just witnessed the beginning of their public careers – taking the step from the classroom and bedroom to the front room of a coffee shop. What a privilege to see that step taken – these postulants making it to novice. The coffee shop, as true a convent, as any of yours Hildegard. A sacred space for women to listen to one another, plan for the future of a church organisation, fostering young talent and spirituality, breaking bread and sharing wine, communing with one another. Here we were celebrating the threads that bind us invisibly together as women and custodians of the past, present and future.
A transition to the next stage of something not quite revealed was peering out behind all our voices.
There have been a few transitions I’ve witnessed of late. Seeing the aging folk star move to eldership inviting a young guitar technician to share the stage, while we all ached for times gone by grounded in our common knowledge that from little things, big things grow. The 60s were a very good vintage and the the echo from the past, as well as the sounds of now and the future were alive in the coffee shop too.
Working out how to disappear with grace and gratitude is a daily challenge and a practice and a discipline that I have fallen short of many times. In its place grumpiness worthy of Oscar the Grouch takes hold and my demons dine out!
The contrast of the virginal duet to my deep throat murmurings is stark.
I yearn to recognise all the spaces I am in as knaves and altars of the underground cathedral (a concept offered by the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey) – places where the architecture to sustain is neither Romanesque or Gothic – but a recycled retro fitted coffee shop, that has fair trade products and young women singing like angels, to soothe the soul of a cranky crone.
So Hildegard, I will recognise the underground cathedral in I am in, when I find the seductive siren Cynicism calling me. There, I will find more of the spirit of joy and not have a stale taste from the bad mouthing I had been up to this week.
John O’Donohue, it is fabled, blessed his penitents to go and sin beautifully. I have a smile on my face when I recall this story re-told by his friend David Whyte, and so by way of confession and penance, a poem.
She calls out to you.
You are captured by her spell;
You are in her grip.
No matter how much you try,
Cynicism has arrived at your door.
The daughter of distrust,
Doing a strip tease to your soul.
Your better self, unable to resist the temptation.
You bathe in it;
A bath of thought bubbles appear.
Cynicism dances and prances around you:
No chance of getting this geni back in the bottle tonight.