What is real and what is not?
What are reflections and shadows?
How do you tell the difference?
I packed my dreams away,
Deep in a faded chocolate box
Filled with precious memories,
Theatre programmes and broken beads.
I layered them with lavender
To keep away the cosmic moth
And I forgot I’d ever dreamed.
One night I rose from sleep,
Left my body warm in bed,
And crept up the hidden stair
To find the forgotten place
Where cobwebbed windows
Filtered moonlight onto dusty boards.
Amid the cracked records,
The rags of triumphal dresses
And other detritus of my life,
I heard the strangest sound,
Like stars singing in a frozen sky.
The box lay where I had left it,
And when I could bear to look inside,
Instead of shreds and tatters
I found treasures bright with starlight,
Memories gilded by the sun of years,
And my dreams as I had left them,
Untarnished and unworn by time
the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic
Crows and ravens inspire very mixed feelings among people. Their black colour alone seems to mark them out for dislike. Yet both these members of the corvid family are exceptionally intelligent and adaptable birds. Spiritual traditions tend to lump them together, but their habits and their attributes do diverge. For example crows are birds that are intensely social, and live often in large flocks, while ravens live in small family groups and often pair for life.
Ravens are a threatened species in Britain and are now protected by law. It’s quite rare to see them unless you live in remote areas.
On Saturday I accompanied a group of students to the Tower of London. As I am sure most people probably know, the Tower of London has a resident group of ravens, in the capable hands(and sometimes broom or mop) of the Raven Master. Legend says that England will fall if the ravens desert the Tower; as a pragmatic step to prevent this, their wing feathers are clipped while they live there. The ravens are part of a breeding programme based in Windsor, and they do a stint at the Tower before returning to their base, to make more ravens.
Of course, I knew I’d see ravens at the Tower. But I was not prepared for quite how much of an impact they would make on me. I’d forgotten how big they are, a good third bigger than a big crow. Or how deeply black. Or how noisy.
Or how spookily compelling.
I was utterly mesmerised. I watched and listened and was caught in their spell. Ravens are birds of mystery and magic and their black feathers are luminously iridescent, filled with colours and dark light. Their eyes look back at you fiercely and with a challenge; they seem more intelligent than many people, in all honesty.
They are also mischievious
But back home I’ve begun to wonder what Merlin and her fellows was telling me. Yes, I know full well that I was inevitably going to see ravens that day, but that encounter went deeper than the tourist moment. I’ve been going through some deep stuff, emotional and spiritual and I’ve had encounters with beasts of varying sort that all seem to point to massive change and upheaval. My snake dream indicates transmutation. And now this meeting with Raven.
This is what Animal Spirit says about Raven:
Rebirth without fear
It seems that a new element is being added to the mix. Reading more about Raven in many traditions, it seems that Raven is a totem or guide for people who go deep into the darkness, who seek healing for self and for others, and whose personal wings are filled with all the colours inherent in the light and yet who appear dark.
I’ve been considering a journey into the darkness of my own shadow; perhaps my guide for this has alighted now nearby and is about to steal my notes. Because the journey into the dark has no map, no tour notes, no travel book.
All you have is the iridescent wings of a Raven.
the wind rages
share the shore
a few brave souls
dogs or inner demons.
nod, curtly and pass,
the sun shines,
waves are mild
I share (with bad grace)
strand with strangers,
by heat from streets,
themselves on the sand.
feel more alone now
when the gales and storms
the hordes at home.
Today I have been kindly offered a guest spot at Suze Grogan’s lovely blog http://nowrigglingoutofwriting.wordpress.com/ so do please go and read there. Comments very welcome too.
Mine is the house of ticking clocks
Discordantly measuring the drip of time,
Dust dancing in the slow sunlight
Of the eternal Sunday afternoon.
Time crawls by on rheumatic knees;
The sun rise, the sun sets.
A week of empty fullness passes
Between each morning and each night.
The seasons turn sluggishly round,
The surfaces gather dust to plough
Furrows in and sow the seeds
Of future lives and grime,
Awaiting the apocalypse of dusters.
Tiny kingdoms rise and fall,
Eternity in a pinch of dirt,
And I wait, patient as a stone,
For ripples of change to grow,
Circles widening endlessly in water
Altering without alteration
Until the world shall change or end.
Another guest post from my husband…
Acts 2:14a,36-41: 14 ¶ But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd,…………….. 22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
John 20.19-end: 19 ¶ When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 ¶ A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
While I was seeking inspiration for this sermon the news was full of only one thing; the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The wedding was on every channel and dominated every newspaper.
It was like the world cup in reverse. All the women were glued to the tv. Admiring the dress, the finery and soaking up the romance. And the men were wondering around looking lost and aimless.
There were men fishing on the beach, with a few cans, that didn’t look as though they had gone fishing for quite some time. It can’t have been the weather – the sea breeze was cold despite the sun.
But the humour aside. I may not get excited about a wedding dress but I do wish the royal couple a long and happy marriage. What is important, isn’t so much the beautiful day but the days and months and years that follow.
I have prepared so many couples for marriage and sadly, for some it is all about the big day. And I mean ALL about the BIG DAY!
I have had one couple that split up at the reception and another on their honeymoon! Thankfully, those are extremes.
And I know of plenty of others that are strong to this day. It is wonderful when you marry a couple then baptise their children. Then, later, see those children at the local school. I have not had the privilege of preparing any of these children for marriage but I hope and pray that these couples will remain a stable foundation for their families to the end of their lives – just as they promised on their wedding day.
This is what I prayed for on Friday. That the joy of the day will be distilled into a lifelong commitment, through good and bad. Then I went to see if I could find my fishing rod! Well, in my case my bike keys!
A lifelong commitment through good and bad is what we are called to in Christ. Those first disciples had gone through so much and they would have to endure more in the years to come. They were faithful to Jesus, their friend and king.
But that doesn’t mean that it was easy for them. Thomas doubted from the beginning. Peter had already denied Jesus and the others had run away.
So when I doubt, when you doubt, that doesn’t mean that all is lost. It just means that we are human. It also means that the faith we have may be real and not a fantasy. Real faith is questioned and tested.
Now for us the dust of Easter has settled and we now learn again to live the Easter life. We continue our life as part of Christ’s bride the Church. Amid all the finery and pageant of Easter we made or reaffirmed our baptism promises. Our marriage vows to Christ.
You will be different from the time when you first made your baptism vows. You and I change and grow every day of our lives. Life’s experiences change us and we grow.
Christ continues to love us as we change, no matter what that change is.
Our task is to trust that love and try and learn to love Christ back whatever the world does to us. Whatever our doubts and failings. Christ does not turn away, even if you or I abandon him.
I may fail to keep my promises to Christ, so might you. We may be unfaithful but Christ is not. Christ, through the Spirit living in us, faithfully seeks to work in us – to make us good, and holy, and content: To make us whole and complete in Him.
Jesus says to you, “Peace be with you”. Jesus breathes on you saying “Receive the Holy spirit”.
Like the royal wedding, the pageant of Easter is over and now the hard work and the real joy begins.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.