There’s a place I love

We all celebrate Earth Day in our own way, appropriate to our convictions and personalities. My upcoming trip to the land of my birth has set me on a train of thought about the deep influence of nature on my spirituality, intuition and creativity. I lived on the edge of a wetland and within twenty minutes of open countryside. The wetland was continually drained in the interests of “progress” and began to shrink drastically over the years. Concerned that this precious place was rapidly disappearing, a group of locals bought the remaining land and created a beautiful nature reserve. I intend to visit this beautiful place when I return to Belfast. So to give my readers a sense of the gift of having been brought up beside this marshland, I’ll take you on a trip into my childhood past.

So take my hand and come back with me to the place I loved. Walk down the little path from the house to the grassy patch behind my Dad’s shed. Look to right and left and when you are sure you are alone, remove your adult spectacles and look with the eyes of imagination and wonder. What do you see…?

The morning sun slants across the fields, casting a deep shadow over the line of terraced houses bordering the perimeter of the marsh. Two worlds collide here. The world of poverty and struggle and the world of magic, adventure and golden sunshine. I can step from one to the other by going down behind the shed and squeezing through the spindly hedge into the magic world of the Bog Meadows. The fields and meadows stretch as far as the eye can see, sweeping away from the city into the countryside.

Spring has recently come skipping through the marshland. Grasses spring up, long and lush, translucent green in the sunshine. Gold and purple irises splash colour suddenly as the grasses bend and lean into the wind.Yellow primroses and sky blue harebells cluster and spill over hidden banks. Brown velvet bulrushes stand ramrod stiff among the reeds. They are my sentinels, guarding my place of magic. I sit for a while and lose myself in the perfume of meadow sweet and the concert of birdsong. There are sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, even a couple of black cranes standing erect on one leg in alert stillness.  Suddenly there is a flurry and whirring of wings . Four swans glide into the air, v-shaped arrow heading into the blue. If you listening carefully you can hear the illusive corncrake call, her voice like an old creaking gate swinging in the wind. No-one has ever been able to spot the corncrake so her infrequent call is an invitation to go deeper into the magic.

I laugh as a sudden unexpected shower of rain sends me scurrying back to my own garden. If I wait patiently, the warm spring rain will bring hordes of little frogs, leaping from the marsh water and spilling into the garden and the adjoining street. Frogs are as much part of my childhood as the chattering sparrows. Nature sits upon my  doorstep and continually calls me to her world away from the shadows of an adult world I do not understand.

The light begins to fade and the lonely cry of the curlew breaks across the marsh. It seems he wants so much to be heard that he waits until a deep quiet settles over the land and the light is low. Why does he cry so plaintively? Some say it is a lost spirit calling from Milltown cemetery which borders the far reaches of the marsh fields. No-one ventures into the marshland when the light is gone and only the burp-burp of the frogs breaks the silence.

The door of my home is fastened against the night and it is time for supper and bed.The distant whistle of the Belfast – Dublin train heard on the edge of sleep passes into my dreams as an invitation to journey to places afar , a dream that would come to fruition at last in my adult years.

But though I have traveled far and wide, my Celtic heart finds no peace if not within sight or sound of nature in its various forms. I am so privileged to have made my permanent home in British Columbia and Earth Day is a good day to allow my gratitude to overflow.

Easter Poetry

HOLY SATURDAY

It is accomplished…Now the waiting.

Germination of seed. Transformative pain

reaching into the world’s darkness.

Quiet silence.

Muted voice in a closed tomb

and women’s hearts lamenting on the hill,

the song of grief carried down the centuries

and woven into the fabric of our time.

Women, why do you weep?

For unforgiven scars and bruises

carried down the passage of the years.

Come, rise from your sorrow! Meet me in Galiee

for the stream must flow to the sea, the part become the whole.

Rise! Meet me in Galilee and know the story’s end.

 

RESURREXIT

Winter seed drops grieving and weeping dies alone

Golgotha is shaping Christ in the heart of stone.

Dark and silent waiting, enwombed within the tomb

In naked pain heart seeking eternal stars wove in.

In death’s dark heart dawn’s calling

Flame and stream are one

Light on the earth bends dancing

And the pain is done.

Springtime leaps pulsating

Green sword from buried grain

Love upsurges laughing

Like birdsong in the rain.

 

EASTER DAY

April has come

And winter has been pushed

rudely aside by impatient spring.

Daffodils spread like yellow butter

across the land,

their dance curtailed by the pattern

of cool shadowed fields of green.

The sun has spilled across my floor.

And spring leaps over the threshold

setting my heart singing

as I sit in quiet joy.

Easter day has come!

Laughter and Life

Today is April Fool’s Day. It is a good day to celebrate for it reminds us of the necessity of humour in life. Without humour, life becomes a monotonous drag. An immediate response might be “Just what is there to laugh about? Look around you!  We live in a world of corruption, disease, wars, intolerance. Nothing much to laugh about!” Well, yes but humour lies in seeing beneath the skin of things to what lies beneath and recognizing that these things are a segment of life, not its totality.

Humour and joy have to do more with recognizing the absurd in life which is what we celebrate today. It means letting go and knowing that despite all appearances, at a very deep level, we are safe and nurtured by the Universe. It means weeping long and deep and knowing we have survived. It means laughing in the teeth of life’s storms with the knowledge  that this too will pass.

It is no accident that April Fool’s day is celebrated when the land is reawakening and life is being renewed. Spring reappears without effort and the long cold, dreary days of winter are forgotten. Another season has passed and a new one has begun. This is the pattern of life. We laugh in winter because we know spring will come and cannot be stayed. It is a paradox that those who have suffered deeply often have the ability to laugh more readily.

So find something ridiculous today and have a good belly laugh about it for …”When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.”  Muslim Proverb