Ash Wednesday – Lenten Times 2016

IMG_20160212_212632 Ashes and Sand.

Ash Wednesday arrived. I made it to the 10am service and I didn’t realise or think ahead to the solemnness or pilgrimage that it marks the start of. A pilgrimage without a physical walk in the sandstorm that rages within; not so much unknown this time, I am looking to seek out those transgressions that need to be smoothed by the sandstorm. There is no visible way through a sandstorm, all the references for guidance are gone, like in hillfog where the cairns are silent sentinels waiting to be discovered and marking our arrival on the summit to offer shelter.

In this internal sandstorm I know I will have GOD’s cloak to comfort me in times of need and I know that this time I will not be alone even though there will be moments that it will feel that way, I won’t feel totally abandoned and desolate; this time I know that I have to stop and ask Him for His presence and He will be there. Christ will sit by my side to give me strength and courage to move on. Even though I can only offer that moment, one day at a time, He already knows that I will battle with that thought each day and yet, He waits.

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My drawing reflects a momentary glimpse of an image in my mind that trys to depict the precipice of the sandstorm that awaits me or that I am already in. The circular / spiral motif is one that I seem to unconsciously draw time and time again and so I stick with it. In my linear timeframe, Christ gave me a grain of sand and in this was all what He is (long before I was aware of Julian of Norwich’s hazelnut!) and the circular motif was how I tried to convey and share my experience with my prayer guide at the time. It is an image that is significant to me.

I am not following Malcolm Guite’s “The Word in the Wilderness” for Lent this year but I will dive into the poems as his work is always a treasure trove of rich references to theology and literature, thought, poems and reflections that needs our attention because we need it. However, I wholeheartedly recommend that you try it out and bathe in its lavish resources to explore Lent this season x

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Gosh, we had sunshine and warm days last Easter!

https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/blog/

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Advent Diary – 23rd December 2015

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Culmination

Today is the culmination of all things, the preparation coming together so that we can move forward from a place of great spiritual strength, even if it only lasts for one moment it does not matter. I love Malcolm’s wonderful reflection on the hidden names of Christ in the incredible O Antiphons, the play on words in its simplest form, on the references in “O Emmanuel” to items that reminded me of a Pilgrim’s bag.

A chap called Steven Payne has spent part of Advent walking as a medieval Pilgrim from Southampton to Canterbury, sleeping under hedgerows as a Pilgrim would have done, in anticipation of the destination the only hope to keep them on track. I thought of Steven’s blog in the single phrase of, “..O quickened little wick so tightly curled..” (from Malcolm’s sonnet, “O Emmanuel”) as a reference to a precious little candle stub to light on Christmas Eve to herald in the coming of Christ. This is the wonder of Advent and Christmas. All are waiting for this arrival with us – in us – as a new life and this new life is reborn within – in – us. Advent is the culmination of preparation of not only our home but our home within – our soul and our spirit; within we nurture that precious little candle stub with its curled wick.

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I had an idea or two for a drawing, a Pilgrim’s bag, the little candle stub, but I kept coming back to a photograph I took when on retreat at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. It was a moment of pure bliss when the Sun just poured in through the gap in the curtain and lit up the atmosphere with a ray of light. This chair in the photograph is a representation of waiting, the anticipation of the next step on retreat, a moment of awakening in creation and the Cosmos of Christ’s Light. The final great O of Advent. O Come, maranatha, GOD with Us.

Steven’s Pilgrims Progress blog can be found here.

Malcolm’s word can be heard here.

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Advent Diary – 22nd December 2015

IMG_20160104_172839Foundation.

We all need a solid and strong base in which to launch ourselves into each new day, into our lives. I am not sure that any of us know the end game, what GOD really has planned for us. Yet, he sets our corner stones and foundation focus to set about building our own structure though every now and then He comes to help repoint our stonework and realign our setting. It is no easy task to find our path reset as our ego wants to go on a different alignment to suit our purposes yet we do not appreciate GOD’s long term goal for us because we cannot see it and have no faith.

When I followed Malcolm’s last reflections, “The Word in the Wilderness”, I realised in a significant and profound moment that even though GOD put me back together after the most darkest period of my life, He would do it again and again each time I broke and fell apart. All I would need to do is to go before Him and hand Him my broken pieces and He would make me whole again, smooth over my cracks and forge a stronger bond to make me stronger, not only in myself but in my faith also.

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Despite the tape not sticking down the sixth great O, here is the Potter’s Hands remoulding me and putting me back together again. This process of understanding began when I attended Portsmouth Diocese’s “Inspire” year long course at the Cathedral. This came to me at the darkest period of my life, in Dante’s cave with no way out, at the door of the darkest place in the Universe and GOD gave me a hand, showed me a path and people who would help me. Here, on this course during the accompanied prayer week, I experienced the most profound of dreams as part of a conversation that I had with Christ every night during that week. And here, before I even knew about the Potter, I experienced my broken pieces in a pool of water and then, weeks later, my pot was whole and it has remained a positive image in quiet moments when I need to see it again.

2013-06-24 23.40.45 My original drawing, in oil pastels.

Malcolm’s word can be found here.

 

Advent Diary – 21st December 2015

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My Morning Star

I’ve been writing about my Morning Star all year. There is a modern song that has the repeated line, ‘He is like …’ and words full of wonder follow. Malcolm writes in the wonderful “O Oriens” reflection that the idea of Christ as ‘a rising light in the east’ as deeply moving and oh, I find this too!

To follow this thought after the darkness of despair is filling my heart to the brim. I would like Him to do this every day in order to beam away the sadness that sometimes grips too tightly and then I will reflect His joy more so. To know that He is always there awaiting me and then to fully acknowledge His presence, gives me comfort.

Malcolm speaks of the Dawn Treader and the translation of ‘Oriens’ to be ‘DaySpring’ I find equally beautiful. This mention of the Dawn Treader took me to my Coracle in which I often see myself adrift and I reflected upon this during Lent. The next time I see my Coracle adrift I will remember that my Morning Star, as DaySpring, surrounds me with His everlasting Water and I will remember that He always sustains me, like the Hart at the water’s edge. The everlasting Light, the eternal Spring, DaySpring, my Morning Star.

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My drawing, using my retreat painting, symbolises my Morning Star blazing through the darkness, His everlasting Spring flowing through the centre and into the seas upon which my Coracle rests. Set within the fifth great O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 20th December 2015

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Lock and Key.

I did not want to visit memories of Dante’s darkness in Advent yet here I am reminded of it within the lines of Malcolm’s sonnet … “Even in the darkness where I sit, And huddle in the midst of misery …” but I know now that every chasm of darkness, every corner of the cave, Light will shine through and in ‘O Clavis’ it is the key that brings forth this Light. A light to make the blind see, the thread in the centaur’s maze, the breadcrumbs in the dark.

Even though depression and sadness bites in me every day, its as if the teeth leave holes for the Light to shine in and illuminate hope of a new moment within. There is beauty in knowing this dark because now I know that something glorious awaits me in the day. This propels me forward and changes my mindset but to get to this point I had to experience the depths of Dante’s cave in order to truly appreciate the Light and the hope in Christ it brings.

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My drawing partly reflects on the reflection the day before with the glint of light on the blade’s edge but on it’s guard hangs the key. This is the fourth great O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 19th December 2015

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Seedlings.

I thought of a seedling with its single shoot and its complex and purposeful roots; I thought of the gift of hazelnuts from my little Hazel Tree and then my grape vine. And, at the turn of the page of Malcolm’s sonnet (‘O Radix’), I find the mention of the vine in John 15:5.

Malcolm’s own Antiphons to me, so far, sing of creation, of GOD at the heart, Christ as the Light, Mary as the Bearer – all linked in that root. A golden thread, the umbilical cord of the Divine grafted in all of us, the Light within. And then, in the last paragraphs, Malcolm reflects on Larkin’s “Afternoons” and the insightful genius that he has to see the meaning like a glint of light on a blade edge – one that disappears as quickly as it appears.

Here, in this turning of the blade from that glint of light to shadow. Malcolm reflects on the dangers of our disconnectedness of our spirit, our soul, from its root. If a plant above the soil disconnects from its root it withers. This is what is happening to us, we are withering away, being diverted from our source, we must turn like the blade-edge and catch that glint of Light but this time, have the courage and determination to stay within His gaze.

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My drawing, based within the third great O, is of a seedling with its roots underground. On one side, the plant is healthy and flourishing because its roots are entwined with the Creator’s spark. On the other side, the roots are disconnected and are withering away.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 18th December 2015

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Adoring.

How can I possibly manifest today’s reading into a drawing? All the sacred word hoard expressed in ‘O Adonai’. The touch of GOD, His presence in our life span, a Light so pure, so bright and so radiant that I cannot look or dare to engage in the sacred gaze.

But, we can engage with Him, our Almighty Creator and Father by gazing upon His signs in our life; the whisp of a feather suddenly at our feet, the glimpse of light from the depth of our gloom and depression – it is there – a sudden sparkle of birdsong in my ear, the detail of the shiniest, bright red ladybird in  stark contrast to the green leaf and a sudden fresh breeze on my face coming from nowhere but Him, the sort of breeze that momentarily and briskly blows away the cobwebs that cling in my mind.

It is such things, such signs, as these that make me say, “O!” and then “Adonai” when I realise that His presence is all around me. This brings a tear to the eye and a momentary lump in the throat. GOD is with us.

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Today’s image is based upon a photograph I took whilst on retreat at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. This was taken in a side chapel, a simple adornment of stone and a cloth but the light coming through the narrow window was perfect and brought “O Adonai” to my mind and me to His presence. The second O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.