Tag Archives: Glenstal Abbey

Year of Self Compassion #5 Being held and carried

The feeling of being carried and my hand being held continues, cries and sobs are heard. And let’s be clear there is a difference between crying and sobbing. A cry is an acute response, while a sob is chronic – an ache that seems to go on and on.

In this year of self-compassion there is a lot more crying and sobbing than I have done for a long time … and it not all grief. It is also release, the pressure valve being discharged and letting off steam turned to tears. It is also coming to terms with reality, a veil being lifted to see what was hidden and facing facts. Reality isn’t all its cracked up to be (and I am convinced the way we remember is one of nature’s ways of showing compassion towards us, only revealing what we can handle one bit at a time). Memory does play tricks on us and I am having lots of flashbacks to times gone by and reconstructing what was going on with a new lens, or sometimes with no lens at all, just seeing facts. It is possible to have more than one memory, more than one reality, we all live on multi-planes as we go about our lives on this planet.

As a child I loved (and I still love) science fiction and I used to imagine that we were living in a multi-verse – things happening in different dimensions at the same time all around us – even though we couldn’t see them such is the creative power of time and molecules. This is a common experience. In my multi-verse, time was the same in each place, but it was different configurations of people, places and creatures. Time being the foundation holding all the verses together even though they were parallel universes – a bit like Dr Who in the Tardis having a Groundhog day in many worlds. I haven’t thought about this idea for a very long time, maybe half a century, but it has returned to me in this Year of Self Compassion, offering me a way of seeing and understanding what is going on in my life with the familiarity of the world clock (my constant companion when I was working internationally for five years). It was perhaps my first exposure to the idea of liminal space and time.

Going under each lintel and over each threshold to new places, new beginnings you cannot cross on your own, you are carried. The tears open the door, which needs to be open to before you can go through. The ancestors, the angels, guardians, witnesses, escorts – all carrying me. Such a powerful realisation of being held and that old familiar experience of moving on and holding still.

Having had a couple of falls recently and feeling very unsteady on my feet and being ungrounded may well have been the invitation to be held and to be carried. To being lifted over a threshold to come to a new place, to not let my feet touch the ground. This is in contrast to the horrific origins of women being carried over the threshold of the new home on their wedding day. (This tradition dates back to Roman times where soldiers abducted and raped the women and carried them off against their will as reflected in the mythological Rape of the Sabine Women.) In my version of being carried over a threshold at this time, I am not touching the ground, it will be there for me more solid when I am ready to cross it and go out into the world having been in a new place. This is a constant renewal as you are never the same going in as coming out. But this post it is about being carried and recognising and naming the experience, honouring and acknowledging the invisible help.

The safety net offered by those closest to us who turn up over and over again invited and uninvited intuitively knowing when the moment is to step in and hold up with no fuss, no show and no comment is how I know I am being carried and held. Being held, banishes loneliness and being carried, reduces the chances of stumbling and falling.

I am overwhelmed by the visible and invisible acts happening in real time to get me over thresholds. In the new places, where the ground is less likely to go from under me, I can face the facts of parallel universes and move on while holding still.

741172_10201425990240837_82775990_o

In the garden at Glenstal Abbey

 

 

Vintage Cynicism

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.

Vintage Cynicism

She calls out to you.
Beckoning.
Alluring.
Inviting.
Seducing.

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 indulge.
You revel.
You bathe in it;
A bath of thought bubbles appear.

Cynicism dances and prances around you:
Flaunting herself.
No chance of getting this geni back in the bottle tonight.

Gingers, Goodwood Rd

Gingers, Goodwood Rd

B flat

I’ve always loved B flat as a single note and F#minor as a chord. This week I was in the presence of the legendary Noirin Ni Riain and as a result I bought her autobiography. The pages revealed some common threads between us, a love for you Hildegard, among them. But the revelation that jumped completely off the page was the information she shared about B flat. She writes:

” … NASA astronomers have discovered that the earth is constantly vibrating to a steady drone that they have defined as B flat – fifty seven octaves down from the tone below Middle C on the piano. This mystical tone is one million billion times lower than the lowest sound that you can hear. So every time we sound the note B flat, we are harmonising with the ultimate, primeval cosmic music. This is the incarnate, cosmic sound of God. ‘From heavenly, heavenly harmony, The universal frame began”(John Dryden)
p124 Listen with the Ear of the Heart.

How often I have felt I was aiming to live a middle C life, and yet am constantly drawn to being a little off centre; drawn to B flat. This new knowledge is so liberating, each time I was going for middle C and denying my natural centredness which is to be in tune, in tune with B flat.

We’ve been invited in this pilgrimage at Ballyvaughan to find the beautiful question for ourselves and today were also invited to find the name we would give ourselves if we weren’t afraid of loss. In my quest this year to be more of myself, more of the time, I was drawn to own over and over, deeper and deeper my own name Moira. Moira who is Mary, great mother, Moira named after a dead little friend, Moira another name for Gaia – Mother Earth, the moiraes – daughters of Zeus – spinning, weaving and measuring life – with all of heaven and earth unable to escape from their jurisdiction. But now, as I reflect what name would I want to look back on for myself at this time and maybe it is B flat?

What would it mean to be known as B flat?

Centred and in sync with the rotating seasons; living harmoniously with the sounds and spinning of the planet in the universe. A solitary piece of the universe moving from a strong and constant axis drawing energy from a deep, dark place invisibly.

I am wondering if you had a favourite note Hildegard? And also what key you wrote your music in? Something for me to research at a later date.

I have finished my week with David Whyte and am not disappointed. It is too soon to write about the grace note resonating in my soul, but I do know listening to the tune within is pure and simple and is joining with the wind as one.

Listening to the Benedictine monks at Glenstal Abbey at vespers tonight helped me gather up the remains of the day and indeed of the week, with a final Magnificat to start singing me home.

B flat