The Hippo Moment

Step by step
moving the surface interface
from air to water,
sliding into an alien
yet not unfamiliar medium,
warm surrounding water
strangely supporting the body

Buoyancy,
from long ago
a feeling recalled,
the facility for deeply held
memory kicking in,
before birth
this sensation recognised
again as known
when eons before
the only place.

Memory,
of fear and thrashing,
not a distant life
but this one
bathed in anxiety
fretting afraid to leave
the security of the side
for deeper waters.

Encouragement,
reassurance
in holding onto the confidence
of another for whom
the medium of terror for me
is one of pleasure and freedom,
slowly learning to trust
the presence and the voice
that it can be done,
head under the surface,
glide, kick, stroke, breathe
head under
blow bubbles
reach and turn to the side
breathe,
suddenly it seems
swimming.

Now comes enjoyment
relaxation and achievement,
otter companions unseen
enter the pool causing
mischief chitting encouragement
showing how easy
it is to be in water,
laughter at slow success.

Lesson done,
high fives and weariness,
for it is well into evening,
sliding into the night,
time to go,
time to change the mediating
medium of being once more,
taking the steps,
almost weightlessness
alters in the moments
step by step
trading selkie skin
for the human one,
another transformation
there is the time between
being water borne
and once more air held
a sudden awkwardness
when gravity is once more
felt with every bone and muscle
weightedness returns.

Ah, the hippo moment.

I dedicate this poem to my amazing swimming instructor Kelly Deakin. The invisible otters and ‘The Hippo Moment’ as I called it made us laugh. A big thank you!

Advertisements

Mystery Bowl Contemplation – One

It has been ages, or at lease feels like it, since I introduced this new mode for me to engage in deep contemplation of the elements as I was led to use one for each day of the week. Like everything else over the summer this ground to a halt, but as I have reclaimed myself and my journey this aspect has reasserted itself in its proper place in my spiritual practice. Today is the first day I have claimed back the time and set aside the body/mind/soul space to enter what I knew, as it unfolded for me, would have a profound impact on how I comprehended everything.

0921 hours

The cats are fed, their litter trays sorted, and we’ve had a good old bash of chase the stick and attack the red spot.

Being a Sunday, today’s contemplation is Mystery for which I hold one of my small Iona bowls. It now has an inexpensive white metal spiral in the bottom that surfaced as I was hunting for something in my trim and notion drawer.

Immediately, I am taken to visions of Spirals of all types and sizes: to the swirl of galaxies; the double helix of my DNA; the eddies of water in streams and rivers; whirlpools; hurricanes; tornadoes; spiralling circles in folk dances; whirling dervishes; the unfolding of grape hyacinths and hibiscus flowers; spinning prayer wheels; cats and dogs chasing their tales; the winding steps to the tops of towers; fern fronds and pea tendrils. Each of these images emerged in rapid succession. Everywhere spirals, as everywhere mystery.

It matches the expanse and extent of the pervasiveness of mystery as I contemplate it this morning. Mystery. My-story. Mist–story. All word plays. Mystery, that which is hidden in plain sight before me, around all of us. There is mist/fog/low cloud, call it what you will, settled over the Maize Mothers gathered across the road. There is an ambient and chilly dampness pervading the air and seeping into the bones.

More Spirals. We speak of inflationary spirals in economics. Some know all too well the spiralling descent into depression. When events, behaviours or things go terribly wrong we say they have spiralled out of control. We live our lives on the arm of a spiral galaxy. Our art from earliest times and across divergent cultures use the spiral.

So, the mystery at the heart of today’s contemplation unfolds in me, before me, as I gaze into the bowl cradled in palms of my hands, cupped holding this container of wonder.

The mystery here, for me at least is best stated: How did this come to be? How did this image take such a hold on our collective imagination that is it used in describing so many areas in life?

After all, we use it to describe the pattern of our deepest most intimate reality, that which is at the depth of our very making. The swirling, twirling, spinning we share with so much of the life about us.

Again images emerge. The potters at the wheel, spin and draw up clay to form a pot or wind ropes of clay to do the same. The basket weavers do the same in a different medium. Squirrels chase each other over tree trunks in spirals. Some birds construct nests in a sort of spiral pattern. Yarn is spun twirling fleece or cotton or silk into long, long spiralled strands.

Mystery and spirals merge and part as I continue my contemplation.

Mystery is part of my-story. Wonder. Yes, we know we can explain how certain phenomena occur in nature. But that doesn’t rob from me the elegance of mystery, the mist-shrouded sense of something deeper than what empirical evidenced base science can prove. Intellectually, I can understand much of the language the sciences of meteorology, astrophysics and biology use to describe the mechanisms at work in the certain kinds of spirals; but the spiral that made me and the one I ride on through space/time remain wondrous and awe-filling.

To fall back on Mystery to explain something of faith or what is truly impenetrable is not a copout. I do not feel it is a fudge. For me it is an acknowledgement that there are things, experiences, events and even realities that are cloaked and that Knowing in these instances is a matter of trust, and have nothing to do with empirical knowledge. Mystery is what lies at the heart of wonder; it exists at the limits of human hubris; it is the soft fringe of spirituality and the hard edge of religion.

Now as I ease back from the depth and breadth of this contemplation, and feel the slight weight of the Iona Mystery Bowl in my hands becoming aware I am here, I am aware of how appropriate it is that this bowl is the one for my Sunday Mystery Contemplations. I recall all the journeys I have made to Iona, most at this time of year. Those journeys changed me because the experiences and encounters I had on beguiling, thin and dangerous Iona altered my life, my-story, irrevocably and forever.

How? How did the patterns shape as they did? Why? Why were choices made regarding certain encounters? Why were particular events so charged with significance?

Why? It’s a Mystery.

Beyond the Day of Balance

Yesterday was an amazing day, the beginning of which I wrote about and posted in the morning.

It was of course followed by the rest of the day . . .

A day marked by intensity and contrasts, of emotions and reactions. I felt myself open, or being opened to a far deeper experience of the world around me, particularly the natural world. The terrain of my gods, those of this land and its memory. The landscape of my ancestors here and their wisdom. The spirits of the land upon which I live and who share with and sustain me as engage them walking  the fields and the footpaths near my home.

The opening up further, sensing more deeply, apprehending more fully came as a bit of a shock. I heard more that would be unuttered but for the the rustling Maize Maidens in the wind, the beating of the bird’s wing, the whistling of the breeze through the corvid feathers in my hat (that sometimes I mistake for the buzzing of bees). The longings of the small ones to be safe; the worry of the badgers, tucked in their setts along the path I walk, for their kin in the midst of the cull; and the relief of the apple boughs released from the burden of the fruit bending them nearly to breaking.

The happiness my cats feel at the demise of the fleas that have tormented them and me for too much of the summer, is palpable in the cottage. Their purrs are freer and more freely given as they stretched out in the morning sunshine in the middle of the floor in the same room within touching distance of each other. This I rejoiced to sense and to hear – their gratitude.

I looked at the various writing projects that have stacked up for far too long. Projects I could not face. Did not know where to start engaging. I looked at the stories and the worlds renewed before me. The characters, whose names I have heard for so long, reached out to me from the pages both typed and handwritten. I was able to renew the relationships, friendships with these individuals who have trusted me for so long to share their lives in story, history, poetry and song. Again, profound gratitude and a sense of responsibility — trusts remaining unbetrayed, and promises made, yet unfulfilled. I hope they wait in an orderly queue.

I am ready, with the experiences of yesterday, to embrace the disciple to fulfill those promises and keep faith with the trusts granted me. And for me to write more poetry, and share my insights in case there is meaning in my words not only for me, but for you who read them.

I feel still as if either I have burst some inhibiting bonds, or they have been shattered for me. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do with this newly found and new felt freedom. It is the time to do, more than to be. For me being, in the sense of the opposite of doing, is not a good place for me to stay. It is stagnating. I need The Awen to flow,  and more importantly, for me to flow with and be immersed in it. I can no longer just watch it go past, or ride it but to no creative result. The flow has certainly burst its banks. I have engaged The Awen and pledged myself to its work for me, but until yesterday I was somehow constrained in the fulfillment of my pledge, unable to work constructively with the energy. Even though I knew and know it is the energy that is at the centre of my life, the core of my being and the shaper of my soul.

I don’t really have any idea what happened in the intervening months, but they are then and this is now and yet beckons me onward. I am sure there were some lessons I had to learn, and I sincerely hope I have learned them and have, in ways I do not comprehend, assimilated them into my life to help carry me onward.

Beyond the Day of Balance is living with the full awareness that whilst balance allows renewal, it is not a place to create from or in, but a place to go where insight flares demanding acknowledgement, then from the few hours of refuge to begin once more the journeying forth into the next adventures and even more meaning.

Trust and Assistance

It has been many weeks since I last posted. Many weeks of wondering and stressing. Many weeks of holding on to trust and continuing to know I would be led to my new home. Baskin (see previous post The Badger’s Gift) was with me, reassuring me, snuffling about quietly, but never far away.

My friends were losing sleep for me. My friends were hassling me to do this or do that. Those who were once close were giving me advice that was totally unrealistic and inappropriate. I did things in the order that worked for me. I took steps as the time presented itself to me. It was not in other’s time, or the time others were sure was right for me.

The time ticked away. I did what I could. I continued to trust. I felt the presence not only of Baskin, but also Nemetona. Other’s fretted and panicked. What would I do if I did not find a home? All I knew is that I would. I trusted as I looked on the internet at places I could not afford, in places I knew I was not supposed to live. I looked everyday. I called a few agents and when they heard my situation they pretty much told me to forget about it.

I was offered through a family member help with paying a deposit. And when I learned I’d have to have a guarantor I approached, with trepidation, this same family member to do that for me as well, the answer was of course. I breathed a sigh of relief. But with only a couple of weeks to go nothing had turned up. I was in the nearest town visiting agents when the agent for the property I was being asked to leave because it was going to be sold texted me. He had a place that had just come up and offered to show it to me. He met me at the then home and took me to the new place. It was on the other side of the village I knew I was not supposed to leave.

As soon as I walked in I said yes. It felt right. It was a home. A bit tatty. Cat airlock already there (a little porchy bit). Big fireplace. Enough space once I got rid of extraneous stuff. I breathed another sigh of relief. Things were immediately set in motion. All the papers were signed four days before I was due to be out of the old place. Unfortunately the guy tidying up the new place was not to finish until midday of the day before I had to move.

The move took ten days. I had friends and friends of friends who helped me. Cars and a trailer. I was given grace of an extra week to clear the old place, though I lived in the new place from the day I was due out. Another family member came for three days from a considerable distance away to help me, she offered I did not ask.

I am awash with gratitude. I did not have to spend any money. I was helped because I needed the help and my friends rallied around me. An hour or two here and there, willing hands and generous hearts. I said thank you lots and some of them got little gifts that were appropriate and suddenly given. There was never a plan, only knowing at the time this was for that person.

As I sit here still getting rid of stuff there is not room for and things I do not need, I reflect on the gifts of friendship. I ponder the inexplicability of trust. I give thanks, so much gratitude to so many.

I am aware that Baskin is still with me and is a guardian of this home, this sett he helped me to find. I am aware of Nemetona whose presence graces the energy in which I now reside in a way much fuller than from the place from which I came. I am aware of the determined energy and power of trust, when coupled with the inadequate actions I could take in the face of what confronted me. I did my bit, and all along I was aware I would need a different sort of assistance.

On the last day of dealing with the previous property another lesson came. It was a rainy morning, I was told I really needed to sort out the garden before the owner of the property came the next day to do an inspection. I was tired. I did not think I could do any more there, and was surrounded with what felt overwhelming where I was. All of a sudden I felt a presence of one I had not thought of in over 20 years. I felt the presence of St Fiacre, yes I am a Druid but I am willing to receive assistance from those who offer it, the patron saint of gardeners. I felt within a few moments renewed energy. I knew I was not alone in this project. When I got to the house in the rain, wellied and waterproofed, with my sturdy push broom and a bag with a plastic dustpan and a stiff boat brush, I got to work. Two sheds had been in the small sloping garden for a number of years so I had to reshape the slope and take up six cement squares supporting the larger hexagonal shed. When I flagged I knew I could lean on Fiacre’s spade for a bit. In a little over two hours what looked like an impossible task had been completed. I was a mess, but it was done.

I was texted the next day by the letting agent that the owner was perfectly happy with the way I’d left the place and that I’d done a great job with the garden.

Now I am working my way to bring order out of chaos. Of getting back into a routine in a place I know will be good for creating. I feel I have missed a lot of the early spring. I’ve not really been on a proper walk, not taken any photos. But I am home. I know I have friends and family who love me. I trusted. I did what I could do. I accepted assistance when offered, and was willing to ask for it when I needed it. I learned much. I have a renewed sense of contentment and energy. I am home.