Friday, 22 July 2011

Meadows of delight

My last post on trudging through treacle struck a chord with many people. Thank you so much for your words of empathy and wisdom, and the offer of custard to pour on my sticky toffee pudding.  
One of the many things I love about this blog is the richness and variety of your responses. Catherine, who lives just a few streets away, knows all about the stickiness of treacle, and how hard it is to stay afloat and not drown.  Murthy emails me from India to share his response to the stress of developing diabetes: recognise the crisis, identify changes needed and harmonise them with other aspects of life.  Deb writes about the suffering of others as being tiresome but necessary work to take on; and how “cultivating loving-kindness" may help us to keep giving without the feeling of emptiness. And for Katie, vulnerability is part of being human.
Indeed it is....  We are in this together, for good and for ill. We can’t just choose the fun bits, and leave the rest behind. They’re all part of the package.
I’ve been thinking about the17th century poet John Donne, and his famous poem No man is an island, all about the indivisibility of humanity, and how we can’t help but be affected by the loss of others: ‘never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee’. And Garth Brooks’ lines from The Dance, about the end of a love affair : ‘I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance’.

And – mostly – I’ve been revisiting the writings of the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, who died far too young in 2008.

Beannacht (or Blessing) is one of his very best poems. Here it is, in its entirety:
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
(You can find John reading this here)

There are so many healing images in this poem, I can't begin to do justice to them all. They are grounded in the natural world around us - the safety of earth, the energy and guidance of light, the fluency of water.  The wind as an invisible cloak: this puts me in mind of Sue imagining her father's overcoat spread protectively around the aeroplane, whenever she is flying.

The treacle is runnier now, and I don’t have to trudge any more. I can stroll through it, and enjoy the feeling of it trickling and gurgling between my toes.  Perhaps it will nurture my own meadow of delight.  

No comments:

Post a Comment