Teasing

You tease us for a day,
give us blue sky
and a warm breeze,
once the early morning
chill and mist lift
from the combes
and hillsides.

You tease us into thinking
that because you are here,
have arrived,
it is safe for us to venture out,
walk footpaths,
climb tors,
stroll gardens,
enjoying the sights:
dangling catkins,
dancing snowdrops,
delicate crocuses,
and we are willing to be lulled,
so tantalising are your offerings,
for we want you to take from us
the sting of Winter.

You tease us with
a warming sun suspended
in a bright blue sky,
but it is a rouse
and Winter-weary
we are easily taken in,
blissfully trusting
the cold and gloom
are driven back,
so out we go unprepared
believing the promise
of a clear bright morning.

Then of a sudden
you raise dark clouds
upon the horizon
blotting out the blue sky,
warm sun-drenched breezes
forgotten in an instant
as sleet-bearing winds
lash out stinging our faces
before horizontal rain
descends in torrents
obscuring the view,
pursue us scurrying for cover.

You tease us into complacency,
for we are too eager to believe
harsh Winter is gone
replaced by gentle Spring,
gullible and optimistic,
we foolishly think
and unwisely assume
your gifts set forth in
dangling, dancing, delicate
crocuses, snowdrops, catkins
mean more than what they are:
heralds, signs and promises.

Teasing February,
every year on each bright day
when the sun warms
more and stays longer,
you catch us out,
tricking us into trusting you
the seasons have
well and truly changed,
and in so doing
hope for renewal
is kindled in our souls.

 

Winter Arrived

Rain falls.
Mist rises.
Clouds glower.
Sun hides.

Winter.

The outside world contracts.
The inside world expands.
Darkness overtakes daylight.
Morning shortens.
Evening disappears.

There is day.
There is night.
Dawn shrinks.
Dusk vanishes.

Only two times now:
shortened day,
lengthened night.

Winter arrived
damp and dank,
cloud shrouded,
sun starved.

When the golden warmth
appears
suddenly,
an unexpected afternoon
of sunshine
fleeting glorious heartening,
before clouds once more overtake,
dropping temperature,
stealing our illusioned sky
turning vibrant blue to dull gray,
a new pattern
autumn well and truly gone,
replaced subsumed forgotten.

Horizontal rain
wind borne
lashes whips rages
reality tipped sideways longwise
playing with our minds
toying with our souls
dampening our spirits . . .
unless until
acceptance.

Welcome the time of retreat
when dark and chill
replace light and warmth,
preparation for regeneration;
face discomfort
to shatter complacency,
accept lessons
in softer seasons ignored,
embrace the work of winter,
learn not to fear darkness
but to cherish light.

Winter the harsh season.
Winter the winnowing season.
Winter when then and yet
hide forcing the now
into shard-sharp relief
focusing what is most important
no frills no embellishment no decorations
can hide us from ourselves.

Allow the trees’ austere forms
to show what we avoid —
that we too stand naked
before the cold truths unavoidable
we are vulnerable
we are fragile
we are capable of hope.

We say we know

We say we know,
but we do not understand the way,
we do not perceive the paths
torqued and tortuous
through the deeply shadowed
regions of the self,
the secretly inhabited
landscape of the soul,
the mysteriously wrought
structure of the heart,
where desires dwell
where hopes haunt
where wishes wander
unvoiced unfulfilled unannounced
to the consciousness of the mind,
which could not bear the revelation,
could not endure the unveiling
of the hidden terror
of the unacknowledged fear
of the dangerous truth,
that we are all more
than who we appear to be
and less than we believe we are.

A Day History is Being Made

My alarm went off at 0700 this morning, as the polling stations in Scotland were opening. It is a day history is being made.

I live in the southwest of England. I have lived in Orkney, on one of the outer islands. I have travelled though Scotland many times and spent time there. I have my own opinions about the referendum, but that is not what I have been reflecting on, nor what I woke up this morning keenly aware of looking out at the low clouds through my bedroom window.

This morning I feel the weight of history. Trained as an historian I have read a lot of the patterns of change and the alternations in the fates and trajectory of nations. What I am most aware of is the burden of change facing all of us who call at this moment the United Kingdom home. No matter what happens by this time tomorrow, or soon after, we will all know in what way the difference in all our futures will be shaping.

All of us are living through what our grandchildren and our future descendants will be reading about in their history books. I know this is true of many things happening in the world right now, the actions of Russia and its agents in the Ukraine, the Ebola epidemic in the west of Africa, the ongoing and terrifying deeds of IS in Iraq and Syria . . . all these are making tears and ripping huge gaps in the tapestry of stability as we have come to perceive, or misperceive it in the geopolitical, cultural and social maps of our world as we have tried to come to terms with it in recent times.

But the Scottish referendum is here. It is now. It is happening in our own country. What it will mean, let us be honest, neither side really knows. There are projections and modelling from both sides of the issue. What is undeniable is that it means uncertainty and dis-ease for many months and years to come. Perhaps because this vote and the journey to it have happened in such a public way, in such a disciplined and carefully argued and negotiated way that it seems unlike the chaotic and disorder way such events have occurred in the past. But there is the anxiety of chaos and disorder underneath it, there are the currents of passion and footfalls of fear sounding not far below the surface.

History is being made today. Yes or No, it is history shaping into the future very close to home. We may have been aware of it vaguely or acutely with other actions or votes or treaties before, that our movement onward would be altered, but somehow this feels different.  Perhaps it is just me and the way I perceive and sense and feel the shiftings of energies. But there is a weight today pushing down all around and even so far away from where the choice is being made it feels like there is a collective holding of breath. A sense of worry. A presence of deep unease. The palpable feeling of hope and the testing of trust.

Whatever way the vote goes, some of this feeling will be around for a very long time.

Right now I am going to get dressed and go for a walk. I am going to visit Rev’d Mother, an old oak tree of my acquaintance who has lived through much history, who is wise and insightful. I seek her out today for a sense of deep continuity to balance the disrupted energy all around me. I seek her out and the gods and ancestors for their wisdom and perspective that is far deep and broader than mine.

The world is not ending because of the referendum in Scotland. But something may do. And with such an ending at stake it is important that I seek and spend time with a being who has endured as we all shall do. We shall endure and carry on because it is what we have done. Even in the face of change, to whatever degree, it is how we have survived. It is how we have lived through the ravages of history and it is how we shall live into the future being shaped today. Each and every day we wake up to and with the potential to make what happens in all our tomorrow different. It is something that is so easy to forget, but that is one thing that the Scottish referendum has given all of us, a reminder that we have choices to make and courses to set for ourselves, doors we can open and those we may close as we write our own personal histories minute by minute, day by day.

Ah, the mist is lifting and the sun is beginning to shine.