My friend Sally Livsey recently shared this picture along with a revelation that has come to her while travelling:
« I heard the long beep of a car horn and it sounded like a cello tuning up before a concert. Two different stories arise in my mind from this single experience… Surely we can choose between stories? Perhaps today I will go with the cello; calling out from literal experience to the silent violins of my heart.
« I need the whole orchestra, to walk into this day fully awake; before the mystery that God is infinitely in love with me. »
As soon as I read this, a song popped into my head. I have sung this song to God and heard God singing it to me as well. It’s as though we sing it to one another, over and over. There have been moments in my life where « everything has changed » in this most beautiful of ways. The ordinary is revealed in all its unspeakable miraculousness. And today was a good time for me to be reminded of the miraculous, and of Love, in the midst of difficult and intractable worries relating to what is happening in the world and to the people I love the most.
When someone beeps their horn at us, may we somehow manage to hear the cello…
7 years ago at this time I was reeling from the news of my cancer diagnosis. I still remember how encouraging this particular card was to me then and remains now. I am so grateful for my journey of healing, for my friends and family and for the faith that has come to me as a gift 🙏💕
How come the dying vestiges of autumn look so much like joy? A paean of praise all dressed in yellow. The forest floor littered with a million drifting and dropped forms of gold. Treasure that cannot be earnt, bought, bartered or won but comes each year as gift.
Even the process of uploading the videos, which involves watching them again, has brought a kind of stillness, settling over me at the beginning of a new season. It seems to me that we are living in increasingly anxious times. This stillness sparkles like a jewel when you find it. I hope these little videos will help many people to find stillness. Without it, I fear we will inevitably find ourselves making decisions out of anxiety, which will rarely, if ever, be good decisions for us or for the planet in general.
I had the extraordinary experience of encountering Gaia, by Luke Jerram, hanging in mid air outside at Greenbelt Festival recently. It’s an inflated globe, with NASA images of the earth from space somehow projected on it. It glows at night. During the day, you could hear recordings of the astronauts’ astonished conversation as these images first came into view for them as you walked under the globe.
Then there were these other worldly golden beings giving everyone pause for thought about the sun, global warming, this year’s increasing droughts, wildfires and the looming reality of climate crisis. I can’t really articulate in words the effect all of this had on me. But it was something to do with awe, wonder, stillness and a commanding of my attention in a beautiful way. May this stillness lead to compassionate and creative action that will make a difference. That is my prayer, which I am seeking to live out, keeping open to possibility of how I might embody it.
A friend shared a vision they had from God, which reminded me of this today. A lovely invitation to deep rest. I listened to the music below and reread the ancient poem below that and dwelt with that image of the weaned child. Wonderful.
This is my favourite recording of Spiegel im Spiegel (« Mirror in the Mirror ») by Arvo Pärt, performed with such brave vulnerability by Daniel Hope. Most violinists would add vibrato to make it sound professional. But he captures the simplicity and vulnerability of this music-prayer beautifully: https://youtu.be/QqmZxtrUVK8
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.
It amazes me how easy (and yet how difficult) it can be to find a still moment in the middle of a busy city. I have made a habit of seeking out stillness and filming it for a minute when I find it. I love it! It makes me receive the gift of the moment; the birds, trees, water, reflections; of just being alive.
If you’re the kind of person who sometimes just needs a minute to stop, be still and reconnect with yourself, and with nature, have a look at this👇🏼 and the other videos on my YouTube channel. I am finding that sometimes just a minute of stillness can make all the difference to my day.
I love the paradox of stillness and movement in this video and in life in general.
And for some reason I find it fascinating how the waves never come up exactly the same distance onto the shore. There is a sense of endless variety and unpredictability about it, even when it’s quite a calm day.
I wonder what or who you notice in the sunset video below? It’s only when I stop to contemplate things for longer that I notice what or who is actually there. My eyesight has been poor since childhood, though corrected with glasses. Maybe that’s why noticing visual things has never been my strong point. It was a while before I noticed someone right in my line of sight, quietly contemplating the scene herself. https://youtu.be/mTgnKGPSa5A
Recently, two years after the first UK lockdown, I contracted Covid 19 for the first time. I have found the fatigue the most significant symptom; it has stopped me in my tracks, repeatedly. But one of the benefits has been waking at dawn and hearing the dawn chorus of Spring. What a delight! https://youtu.be/XIfqlePyx2A
A poem written in response to this thought; « We are a community of people failing in the company of others who are failing »
Lying face up on a trampoline a friend to my left and to my right; they bounce with glee! Their bounces send me skyward, briefly, which makes me giggle. Then I am still and I am gazing; gazing with delight at the sky, the trees, and a fleeting glimpse of my friends’ arms
Constant movement and stillness. Everybody’s going somewhere all the time. (This was taken near the station in the city.) Rushing like the water onto the next thing. I’m currently in Covid isolation though, which is making me appreciate the stillness the stepping aside from any rush at all.