REFLECTION: ‘I’m not sure where I’m from. But I do know where I am. The concept of being from somewhere is complicated if you have lived in lots of places and been shaped in some way by them all. This stance is about nurturing a sense of belonging wherever we are, believing that this will be good for us and good for those around us. This can transform the way that we feel about a place. And perhaps more importantly it can change how we bring good to a place and to its people…’
PRACTICE: ‘Ask yourself these questions about your locality or neighbourhood and see what action they may lead you into: What draws you to this place? What do you find difficult? How could you express your belonging here? And how could you love this place more?’
We are really pleased to let you know that Ian’s new collection of poems ‘Unfurling’ is published this week by Canterbury Press. Ian says of the collection:
‘To make a poem is to attempt a holy thing, asking what it means to be truly alive. From a season or a moment of attention a single image or idea seems to emerge, a gift should the poet find the courage to work with it. A seed in the hand. Then the task begins – by turn perplexing, demanding, joyous and even blissful – to find words, shapes and patterns that may enable that image to gift itself far beyond its origin. Both poet and reader-hearer may, of course, be changed by the poem. The seed dies, new shoots emerge, new seeds are scattered. As we discover the poem, the poem discovers us.
If there is a thread that runs through these poems it is an instinct that if our world is to rediscover her harmony and peace, such a rediscovery needs to begin within us. Through loving attention to the sacred presence in all that exists – to the earth and its creatures, to the people around us, to ourselves – we may begin to rediscover our deep at-oneness. This may gradually come to be experienced as an unfurling from all the fears and anxieties that keep us bound.
And so may all unfurl…’
Unfurling is available direct from Canterbury Press, to order from your local bookstore, and from all the usual online outlets (including free delivery worldwide from Book Depository). We hope that you enjoy the collection – and may it be something that you keep on returning to…
This new series of Morning Bell explores the writings of Louisa Jaques (1901-1942), a largely unknown sister of the Order of Poor Clares of Jerusalem. Her ‘spiritual notes’ are a record of what she perceived to be a series of conversations with the risen Jesus. We find them to be both moving and inspiring. Her great theme is the love of God – a love that if embraced will truly keep us ‘free and transparent’. The photography for the series is from a set of street photos taken by Ian in Sidmouth at the time of last year’s folk festival.
We hope and pray that in meditating each day with the image and words you may find more of the freedom and transparency for which we all long…
There are various additional ways to access Morning Bell each day:
REFLECTION: ‘We are conditioned, it seems, to imagine that our position (whatever position we are in) is always under some kind of threat. The fear of dragons both describes and fuels this experience. This sense of threat may have its roots in our age-old learning how to survive as early humans. So to break out of this way of thinking will take determination. Nevertheless sometimes, here and there, be dragons. So what is to be done? How can we resist them? Returning fire with fire may occasionally have its place, but the fire of dragons is often best not fought with fire. We want to suggest – with the desert monastics – the possibility of humility as a stance with which to engage the dragons we face…’
PRACTICE: ‘So how do we practice humility? Fighting Dragons, with Humility is a stance, a way of being that we need to learn and to which we commit ourselves until it becomes once again a natural element of our being. But there are some physical actions that we can take to help us find this path and keep on it. A gesture of humility when we meet people can be really important. You’ll need to find your own, but it will be the opposite of the many gestures of power that people make all the time with or without knowing it…’
REFLECTION: ‘It’s easy to become cynical about humanity. To see the worst. And you don’t have to go far to find it. The apparent worst is all around us if we look for it. But that worst is not the whole picture. Our best refuses to let go. Often this best is quieter, less obvious, but it’s there waiting for us all the same. So the practice of Everything as Extraordinary is a commitment to wonder at the brilliance of human endeavour and ingenuity. It’s also a recognition that beauty can change us for good…’
PRACTICE: ‘Once you begin to see beauty somewhere, you begin to see that beauty really is just about everywhere… Wherever you go today take a camera or camera-phone with you. Take pictures whenever your attention is caught by beauty, particularly by earthy human interventions in the landscape – like pavements and grills, posters and signs, glass and walls. Enjoy the extraordinary beauty that you find. Allow yourself to be drawn into a landscape that is often ignored. Sense your own participation in a paradise hidden in plain view…’
One of the places we keep on returning to with camera and notebook in hand is the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden at the Trewyn Studio in St Ives Cornwall. The studio is pretty much as it was when Hepworth tragically died here in a fire in 1975. The garden is a wonderful setting for Hepworth’s work, the planting in a dynamic relationship with her bold sculptural pieces. For us it’s an inspiring place, drawing us into stillness and movement, reflection and creativity.
This series of Morning Bell combines some of my photos of the garden and studio with one of the poems that I’ve written in response to what I’ve encountered here: A hammer, chisel and file from Running Over Rocks. The first line of the poem (and the title of this series) – In a garden enclosed – picks up a theme from the ancient book Song of Songs from the Jewish scriptures – a hint that the twin tasks of reflection and creativity may be best understood as a journey into love. We hope that as you reflect on the poem and on the images you will find yourself drawn into stillness, movement, and yes – into love…
There are various additional ways to access Morning Bell each day:
hi everyone, we are just back from our 2 week tea-break / time out / sabbath. Look out for the return of the daily Morning Bell and the Beloved Life year of spiritual practice beginning this Monday 7 July. See below the introduction to next week’s spiritual practice Less as More…
Many thanks for sharing the journey with us 🙂 grace and peace to you, Ian & Gail.
REFLECTION: ‘The idea of perpetual economic growth is bad for our neighbour, bad for the earth, and bad for us. We need to find another way, another motif creed, another goal. We want to suggest that this needs to be the pursuit, not of perpetual growth, but of perpetual harmony, perpetual partnership, perpetual simplicity. As indicated by all the practices in Running Over Rocks, any change for good in the wider world needs to begin with us. So this stance of Less as More is about seeking harmony, partnership and simplification in our relationship with the earth and with each other. It’s about abandoning our false complexities and discovering a new simplicity…’
PRACTICE: ‘Wherever and whenever you have a choice to make today, consider the more simple solution as a possible option. Whether you are choosing clothes to wear for work, a sandwich to buy for lunch, or a colour to paint a wall, a choice towards harmony and simplicity is possible. You won’t always choose the simpler option – sometimes there will be other considerations that hold sway – but the act of making the simple option a genuine possibility may encourage us to keep locating ourselves on that more harmonious path – towards a more serene way of life that helps shape a truly happy planet…’