from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 13 January 2012

were we only white birds

In the Buddhist tradition, there is the idea of 'taking refuge'. At first I resisted this concept, but I have come to understand that it is about the ability to let go of the ego's needs to control and manage everything. When I manage this, even if only for a few minutes, the ocean rushes in to replace the petty daily concerns.

This week, I have been both enjoying and taking refuge in these words by the great mythologian Joseph Campbell: 'If the path ahead of you is clear, you're probably on someone else's'. Oh, well, then, that's good – because mine is thick in fog!

And I have been taking little moments of spaciousness out of the perpetual hurry to listen to the brook in the valley, the bark of the winter willows beside it blazing flame-coloured, the stream of thrush- and owl-call, and remembering to surf the swell of my breath.

And I took time out to go to a klezmer session with my lovely daughter. She and I too shared an inspiring and exciting hour pondering the range of the 'Music of the Spheres', and how the intervals in music, as in sacred geometry, the movements of the planets, the wheel of the zodiac, colours and 'soul-type', are not only reflections of each other but also enact fundamental cosmic principles, like the fibonacci sequence, the 'golden ratio'. Mmmm. Lots to say about that another time.

What all these moments offer are little islands of 'taking refuge', which paradoxically dissolve into oceanic consciousness where 'me and mine' stop being be-all and end-all.

And speaking of islands, all week these lines from W B Yeats have been going round my head, too:

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore, 
Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more; 
Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be, 
Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!  

('The White Birds')

And as the time for my annual writing retreat on the sacred Isle of Iona comes closer now we're into 2012, I can hardly contain my joy. More on Iona and islands, too, soon.

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