This poem was written as a collaboration with artist Linda Kelly’s painting
”Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, The Art of Suffering”
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
It’s out of season you know.
This gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Like so much in our lives at the moment.
And the art of suffering?
I’ll stay with the art
and try to avoid the suffering.
Spent a lifetime doing that but
now radiant gold shines out, woven
into the tapestry of life.
Fragrance of frankincense healing wounds
so costly the scars.
And precious myrrh poured out
transforming pain into beauty.
The tracks of my tears.
These winds that flow into
new rhythms and movements.
These gifts of wisdom to be opened.
Out of the suffering like a river
flows the art soaked with the
fragrance of heaven.
Cold Days Of Winter
Its been a long cold winter
and some of us now watching for signs
in these slow moving minutes and days.
Still cocooned, weaving our dreams
on the loom of our hearts.
Looking for early stirrings
of earth, leaf, shoots and sap
that come like the poetry
of our own unfolding.
Then days come when tectonic plates shift
shaking the ground beneath our feet.
The dark will bloom and sing again
in this wild silence when
hope lights up these
Into the light..
In this time of transition and deep uncertainty and when we cross the threshold into the new season, may we yet find that ”still point in the turning world” that is waiting for us even in these wild wetland places…..
Song At The Years Turning
Let winter come
across these ragged wetlands
sparkling in the sun now low
in the morning sky. Soft light floods
this ancient place of mist and marshes.
when autumn leaves
fell like dazzling drizzle
blizzard of reds, gold and copper.
Fragrance of death and decay.
But winter comes
between wind and water,
call of the curlew
and the breathing of the trees.
Let winter fall
on the edge of this frontier place.
Still point of the turning world.
Between known and unknown
flows the fire of
Some of us in exile, some of us in confinement again. Some walking the old pilgrim roads across Europe. Some of us on journeys taking us to places we don’t even want to be on, but there’s always another journey we can go on…..
Like the flight of the falcon
Like the flight of the falcon
Soaring on the wings of the wind
Like the breath taking hawk
or dazzling wild geese turning south
high in the pale ice blue sky,
so other pilgrim travellers
cross the mountains to what is beyond.
Heart of explorers, explorers of heart
Travelling light to the Gate of Awakening.
And now a new road opens,
Beckons us, calls us again
And so the heart our last frontier.
It’s always been a journey,
but now it’s the journey within.
There always was a journey
And now it’s a journey of heart.
Open roads, open skies, open heart.
Come healing winds come blow
upon the journey of the heart.
You know that feeling when the tide has gone out! Everything has changed. You can smell it in the air, feel it in the sand. And sometimes for us too the tide suddenly goes out, and we wait….And so the movements of hearts and lives……..
In Sight Of The Shore
Came running to the sea again
Only to find that the tide’s gone out.
Leaving behind green salt grasses
and cockle pooled shell shore,
but the tide’s gone out.
Light breaks over silver skies,
strong winds blow billowing clouds.
Sands stretched to western seas
But the tide’s gone out.
dancing between the shades of light,
weaving their patterns across the bay.
Far horizons and white surf turns,
But the tide’s gone out
In twine tangled webs,
But the tide’s gone out.
I’m still sat here waiting
For the turning of the tide.
Sometimes there are days when we wake up and know that everything has changed. Now we are living in the midst of such days Everything we thought was normal is no longer normal, but as we know ”This too shall pass…….”
In The Days Of The Plague
When the shadow moved across our land.
When the plague dogs howled at midnight.
When the winds of death blew through the streets.
When the raven stalked the evening skies.
When the tears they fell at midnight.
When the sound of grief was heard on high.
When the shadow lifted from our land.
When we woke to skies so clear,
Wild flowers and the singing of the birds.
Stepped out, dazzled, dream again,
Into a world where everything had changed.
New song rising but we will never forget.
We will never forget.
The most important journey is our journey home. Through the storms and darkness this guiding light is still shining out. Today…….
There’s a fragment of dream here
or memory perhaps
of the roar of wild seas
crashing shingled sea shore.
Breathing in. Breathing out.
And there soaring above
the Old White Lighthouse
still shining out
through this winter storm.
There’s a light in the window
that’s calling me home.
Still point in a turning world.
to where I belong.
This my house of light
This my house of stone.
This my place called Home.
Always on my Journey
Picture by Denise Di Battista. with thanks.
This journey takes us upwards, always upwards, and then we emerge to see this new landscape spread before us. There’s a new invitation for us to explore. We’re hearing a different drumbeat others don’t hear, glimpsing the new vision, fully alive…..
Song Of Ascent
Ascending above this city of Trees.
And still the climb. Weary legs.
Above the fluttering sparrows,
Above abundant green ferns,
spreading bamboo and morning glory.
Through early morning mists,
Jasmine fragrance drifts.
Sun bleached scorched stone.
Above storms and wilderness
This place of battle silenced.
Now hear the wind chimes, far below
the ringing of a distant bell.
At last I clearly see these far horizons.
Perspective changes, walking with angels.
Now I rest raw, but tender
within this hidden garden
where song birds play,
and cool breezes blow,
before moving on again.
Ascending into this fierce light.
into the blue.
Sitting in darkness and the miracle of transformation happens again. Sometimes it seems unlikely, often unrecognized or ignored but I’m so glad that it comes afresh to our troubled world. Light floods in. It’s a new day.
Towards The Dawn Sierra Nevada
Those moments in darkness
silently sitting, waiting for sunrise
and the returning light of dawn
across the snowy mountain range.
I wonder, but will it really come today?
Then slowly, so slowly
over the horizon I see
golden glow of fire.
Shadows shrink, light pours in
and shimmers across the skies.
Land soaked with gold,
stained with light.
Again I honour the miracle
Sometimes there are moments in silence when suddenly we see again those things that have become lost and shrouded in mist, like Mount Ararat. Beautiful Armenia. Time to see again………..
Ararat of Armenia
There you stand
Hanging in the sky like a precious jewel
Floating in the clouds
Still keeper of secrets in the snow.
Majestic mysterious mountain of hope
Above the city of winds
Resplendent with light.
Unveiled suddenly as clouds lift
and sunlight falls.
And sometimes too
there’s breathtaking moments
when inner mist lifts
and we glimpse again our Mountain
behind the mountain.
Clear vision, grace rinsed eyes
November 8th 2018 was the day when wild fires raced through the town of Paradise in California in a catastrophic way. In April this year we visited and could still see the destruction everywhere and had the chance to hear stories of survivors. It left a profound impression……
Hell in Paradise
The morning walk and plumes of smoke
are seen upon the ridge.
Then darkness falls
As sun is gone
with choking swirling smoke.
Scorching winds howl through this land
bringing deadly fire storm
as wall of flames sweep through
destroying all before.
True apocalypse war zone.
And deathly silence. White ash
Like snow covers burnt out cars,
scores of homes and mangled steel.
A town razed raw.
Now walking through these ruins,
we see the picture of this Face.
Beauty in ashes. Tears for Paradise.
And still the birds they sing,
today in Paradise.
There’s a beauty and mystery to whales. It’s fascinating to discover that the communications and songs of whales can travel hundreds, even thousands of miles in deepest oceans. For some of us they are also a symbol of days of great darkness when we have sat in their belly before emerging alive again………..
Song Of The Whales
Diving deep descend to depth.
Then bursting out above the seas
With leaps of joy that dazzle.
These humpbacks, hammerhead,
blue, white and orca grey,
And you know they sing?
haunting, ancient songs of beauty
echoing across the oceans.
These mountains of the deep.
And sometimes in our dreams
and swallow us alive. We sit
incubating deepest darkness
in that whale belly.
Till hurled out again,
staggering on dry land.
We’re restored to life,
through the gates of awakening.
Embracing new destiny
Standing at the gates at the turning of the year, and hearing a new song rising. Walking into an unknown country of 2019, and never been this way before……….
Into the Wild
Spread your wings and fly
On the winds of the dawn
Knowing the call of the wild
comes calling again.
Into that unknown country
Crossing new frontiers
to what is beyond.
See snow capped mountain peaks
and golden eagles soar
and where we meet
the tenderness of wolves and bears
Heart of an explorer.
I hear this song
at the turning of the year
calling me again
into the wild.
There are days and moments when suddenly everything in our lives change and we find ourselves in completely new territory with many new lessons to learn. There’s no turning back…….
fierce white light, red heat.
I’m down, hit the ground
but not running today.
Piercing, searing knife
like shard of jagged glass
takes my breath away.
A cry from lips and hip.
That moment when
…And now the
cold blue steel and
healing scar I carry
tells my story.
like autumn leaves,
leaves are falling.
I am always drawn to the sea and have had the good fortune of living close to the sea these last fifteen years. Always a place of encounter……….
The Turning Of The Tide
I want to go to the sea today
Taste the salt and smell the breeze
Hear the singing of the tides.
Ebb and flow, rise and fall.
Roar begins and falls again.
The swell is deep an deeper still
within. The echo of these seas.
The rhythms and riddles of the heart.
Again the rise and fall.
Again the ebb and flow.
Again the growing swell.
Movements of the heart.
Knowing I can’t hide
from the turning
of the tide.
So I was on a beach overlooked by the beautiful Isle of Arran. Its often in the ordinary that we get a glimpse of the extraordinary and see reality as it really is. Just a stone on a beach, yet another doorway to walk through………
Stones Of Fire
So I stumble upon this stone
washed up on Western shores
At low tide in soft evening light.
I watch and see the shimmer
from this ancient rock
as I hold it to the sunset skies.
Feel its warmth on my skin.
Took it home, scrubbed it clean
and see the thin blue vein
in this heart of stone.
I will polish that blue
shine it till the light shines through,
till its radiance is glowing.
I’m going to rinse that stone
rub it till the blue
Glowing like fire.
Its true that the greatest journey we can make is the inner journey of the heart. Like those cavers in Derbyshire UK who discovered the biggest cave in Europe from an old 200 year old map, we can be amazed at what we find. #soulexplorers. #newhorizens
The journey from mind
to heart is oh such a journey,
from mind to heart a journey it is.
Its like those cavers
tunnelling through honeycombed hills,
digging shifting rocks and stone
and slowly going deeper.
Seven years of bloody sweat,
and then that day- breakthrough.
By rope descend deep down
Into the unknown blackness.
Hanging there above abyss
till lights flicker and reveal
A cathedral, a sculptured cavern.
Majestic vast breathtaking space.
The journey from mind
To heart is oh such a journey.
From mind to heart a journey it is.
There are days when the morning mist lifts over the East and its like the opening of eyes and ears long closed. Today its a new way of seeing…………
The Singing Bowl of Alhaurin
and there’s orange gardens, ragged
Patchwork of olive groves
spread before me.
And behind? The rim of Sierra Nevada.
Encircled by misty blue
Creates this singing bowl.
Bark of distant dogs, bullfrogs
In these pastures of heaven.
Fragrance of jasmine,
chatter of chaffinch.
As faintest breathe of breeze
softly wraps around my skin.
And light pours through these hills.
Multi -layered mountains ripple back
as far as eye can see to sea.
In early morning light
flash of swift wing.
At last this singing bowl
Begins to sing.
dawn chorus just
to bless this
Sometimes its good to walk beneath the stars and gaze into the heavens on a clear night. I remember walking under the Southern Cross and the Milky Way so seemingly close in New Zealand. Such majesty brings such a sense of awe as the radio telescopes and observatories scan the skies. Out there is a story waiting to be told………….
It’s like those domed eyes to the skies
in the soaring mountain peaks
where eagles fly.
Beneath those dark clear skies .
Those eyes that search the night.
They survey infinite tide patterns
and snow blizzard galaxies.
Deep space, distant worlds.
And now I too lift my face
to heavens above, heart so alert
to a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Waiting, looking, searching
I interrogate the silence.
Eyes now trained and ears attuned
always listening, always waiting.
Earth and sky star gazing.
So we scramble across this rough, bleak lonely hillside. Here we find these three small streams. Who would imagine that from these three springs come three of the greatest rivers of the nation
And so in us, That which appears so insignificant can in future days become the most valuable of all. Sometimes it’s good to go back to the place of the source of smallness and insignificance and so often that’s where we find the solutions and the keys that we are searching for.
BACK TO THE SOURCE
Springing up from this cold earth
That clod wet ground.
Sounds of icy waters flow
on singing dancing stones.
And from this source
wide rivers flood
shaping distant shores.
So now we come to fresh heart springs
of streams that rise today
And who’s to know there’s not dreams in us
That won’t flow to distant seas?
From source to spring to stream to shore.
Its back to the source for me.
The Journey Home
Early that morning we set out
from the Great North West.
Signs in the sky as
wings of wild geese beat high above.
The journey home begins for them as us.
They fly away to safe havens
catching their trade winds.
They’re going home. Ah journey home.
I too feel that pull, that prompt
that inner radar, calling me home.
That place of heart belonging.
Place of beginnings
place of roots
place of likeness
mosaic of presence….
…… Then turn oh heart
and walk towards the open door.
It’s always in these places where new grace is found for the next stage of the journey. Out on the estuary for me that night……
Stars, Tides and Breath
Above me, distant constellations
Beside me waves roll in
turning, crashing on the shore.
Within me the heart beats.
I breathe in and out.
Pulse beats to heart rhythm.
I know yes!!
As the stars, so the tides,
so the breath, so the pulse.
So the patterns, colours, rhythms of life.
And so the silence.
The life I live.
The life that lives in me.
I watch the star patterned sky
listening to tide turning sea.
Touching the silence.
Then silence touches me.
Sometimes as we walk through these pine trees we learn to listen again, breathe and stand tall………
Wisdom Of Trees
So I’m told that
trees breath through their leaves.
Walking through these tall
Stately majestic pine,
Their rich canopy spreading
To the heavens above. Autumn
Leaves falling like golden rain.
Inexhaustible beauty of design.
Flash of blue jay early dawn and
Everywhere the sound of silver singing streams.
Shadows penetrated by light
like some ancient cathedral.
Breathing trees stand serene.
These immense silent firs.
Breathing trees fragrant pine.
Deeply rooted standing tall
Stretching to the heavens,
Teaching me to breathe again
Teaching me to stand
Teaching me to live.
Wisdom of trees
So I climb steadily high up on the hillside on a late spring evening , and sit watching the movement of the tides, tasting the salt in the breeze. Just these few moments of real stillness, and a new way of seeing. New vision. Now I can breathe again.
ISLAND OF MOVING TIDES
There is an ocean of colour
From turquoise blue, deep green
and mercury grey.
Shafts of silver through dark cloud
And dazzling white light dances sparkles,
A tapestry, a patchwork of light
Ever changes, moving sea before me.
Below hard rock, grasses
And guillemots cry.
There are moments when
New ways of looking when
Sight becomes insight and
With a new sense of wonder.
Island of Moving Tides.
…..I love to meet those who have walked the Borderland trails and returned with stories to tell, and recently its been a privilege to sit and listen to some of their stories. Stories of hope in the midst of the storms. Stories of failures and broken dreams, yet transformation. A place of longing, and crossing over. Welcome to these trails………
We’re learning to walk
Softly along these borderland trails,
And even lived there for a while.
These rugged places between
The known and the unknown.
The reality and the dream.
Between success and failure,
Light and darkness.
Earth and Heaven.
Word and song.
Head and heart.
These new frontiers on the edge.
A wide place. No maps here.
To have crossed the borderlands
And returned with stories to tell?
What stories to tell!
Wild places, these borderlands.
Again they call.
And then sometimes there are moments when everything becomes clear. The fog lifts and we can see, sometimes for the first time. When we can glimpse beyond ourselves to the greater reality, and then new doors swing open. We treasure moments like these………….
And that river of glory
that flows cascading full of
passion, presence, beauty, joy.
That twisting, dancing river
through and out beyond me flows.
That song rising.
That great dance, rhythm of life
flowing, swirling, flowing life.
My Father, Son and Spirit
Circle of love enfolding
through and out beyond me flows.
Circle of life extending.
And you come again to me
lifting, weaving fragments, parts
streams of my life.
Joining me to your laughing
Great, joyful, triumphant dance.
Your story is unique, totally unique!! I read an article once that asked the question ”Who knows your story?” Nobody really really knows your story- except you. As I was reflecting about this I realised that not one person on the planet knew the story behind the scar on my hand. Only me. And I went on to reflect on the story my hands held. What’s the story in your hands? And what seeds of destiny are held there?
I’ve met those
Who read destiny
By gazing at lines
Engraved on the palms of hands.
I read history in mine.
Look at these hands!
So uniquely finger printed.
And who knows their story?
Eight fingers, two thumbs
Two ragged scars
Now one torn
One golden ring.
One hand held stone that stayed
That night on cliffs when all else
Turned to clay.
I’m told that skin holds memories?
In hands now marked by history
We find new seeds of destiny.
Come blow new winds of destiny
Upon these seeds now blow.
New seasons, new rhythm, new dreams, new hope. Its Spring! And so the year moves on. For ten years we lived in a house in Wales where I was amazed every March of seeing the yearly miracle explosion of colour in an old seemingly dead bush. I wrote this five years ago after a particularly cold winter.
Its been a long cold winter
Bitter winds blown across the estuary.
Looking from my window I’ve watched that bush
That shrivelled-dead bleak barren bush
Battered by winter winds.
March comes and brings early promise.
Flecks of gold on branch appears.
Hints of hope spring upward and
Become vibrant lemon-yellow flakes.
Forsythia sings spring!
This morning from my window
sunshine streams down
Upon that bush
Blaze afire with life.
Luminous fire-bright bush
At last you have my attention.
I come again and listen.
In 2009 we flew into Darwin in Northern Australia, then drove down to near Katherine, out in the Bush. For many miles we saw burning scrub by the side of the road. Here we visited an aboriginal community and what a privilege to sit and hear hear their stories!!. Later we went on to Sydney and visited Botany Bay where Captain Cook’s first ship arrived. What a contrast to what we had experienced with the Aboriginal community, what a sense of history! And so the poem:
Kaman – Botany Bay
Today I’m standing on the edge
of this ragged bay, towards the sea.
The ache, the air, the wind and trees.
And eight days that changed everything.
What was seen by watching eyes
From where I stand today?
What plague ships came on evening tide.
From distant shores to wound the land?
What death winds blew
To scatter life and seed?
An ache, a groan, a sigh, a cry.
And this ……
The birthplace of a nation?
I return again
Again I return
To that amazing inner sanctuary
That cathedral of Spirit
That spacious place
That dwelling of light
Chambers of heart
Place of His voice
Place of His presence.
To this place I come
There is a secret pool
Where gentle breezes ripple
Across from distant mountains.
To this place
I return again.