Tag Archives: 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