31 October 2011 a post by Bruce Stanley

Thin Places, Scarred Times

Here's a meditation for Samhain, the Celtic name for Halloween, which takes the reader on a journey through the darkness and back into the light.

Originally posted by Tony Bellows.

cairn

Thin Places, Scarred Times

The rain is heavy, and I walk through it, feeling the cold water upon my face. I am holding a stone, and I approach the top of the hill, and there are many people, of many ages, shadows in the night. There are all ages, from young children, to old people, bent with age, and I see their outlines, as the clouds break, and a patch of pale star light shines through.

It is an hour since midnight, and Mars is rising, and the cold wind chills me to the bone. And all around, I feel the presence of the others, all standing there, with hands clasped around stones, and I hear no voices, only the weeping for loss, the tears of sorrow for those departed.

And one by one, we come forward, and place a stone on the summit of the hill, until a mound of stones begins to take shape. Each stone is a memory, each tells a tale of the past, of loss, and of grief. The time of sorrows is upon us.

Now the mound is complete, rising high, a stone cairn raised to those who have died. The clouds have blown over. And there is silence, just the night, and the stars twinkling in the clear sky, and we are there, the sentinels, keeping our watch in the dark.

Then a lady steps forward and bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and she says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear


Then she stands and returns to our waiting crowd.

I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people moaning in their pain, and it grieves me, and as I look closer at the flame, I can see a monk sitting at a table, with a quill in his hand, and across parchment, he is writing; my vision takes me closer, and I can read what he is writing.

“The Black Death has come to our Island, and all is lost. Friends and neigbours take ill, and sicken, burning up with the fever, and death comes, the grim reaper, striking down Seigneur and peasant alike. No one is safe, death spares not even the priest.”

And the wind speaks like a whisper

Old boundaries, sacred stones
Imprints in time, echoes past
Live and dead, flesh and bones
Presence remains, there to last


Then I am back again, looking at the candle, flickering in the breeze, at one corner of the mound of stones. Almost at once, an old man, bent with age, wearing a long burgundy coat, shuffles forward and slowly bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and he says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear


Then he stands and returns to our waiting crowd.

I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people praying desperately to survive the night, and I see a soldier, crouching in a muddy trench, writing a letter with the stub of a pencil onto a scrap of paper, and in my vision, I am drawn closer, and can read what is written.

“The air is full of the sound of bombs falling, brilliant flashes light up the night sky, as I wander across the muddy land. Here are ditches full of water, barbed wire, the cries of those dying. When the gunfire dies down, I look up, and I see Mars, the bringer of war, rising in the night sky, casting a baleful light upon our troops.”

And the wind speaks like a whisper

Cold equations of deadly strife
Creatures of the mud and slime
Hatred, bloodshed, end of life
Dark places, and scarred time


Then I am back again, looking at two candles, flickering in the breeze, at one corner of the mound of stones. Suddenly, a young boy steps forward and bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and he says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear


I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people crying in fear, and I see a woman. She is sitting at a table, in a house, and outside the window, I can see the moon upon the waves, waves breaking on sharp rocks off the coast. She is writing a diary, and my vision takes me closer, and I can see what she is writing.

“The rocks were treacherous, and we heard the crash as the packet steamer hit a hidden reef. We saw those on deck, running, trying to get into lifeboats, or flinging themselves overboard into the waves. And few were saved, but many perished in the bitterly cold waters of the bay.”

And the wind speaks like a whisper

The borderlands of dark and light
Where sensitives can still feel
A knowing with an inner sight
Crossing from real to unreal


The three candles are burning brightly, and a man steps forward, holding a long staff of elder wood, and wearing a white robe that reaches to his feet, and a gold band around his waist. He pushes back his hood, and I see long snow white hair, and beard, and dark eyes that blaze like fire. And he speaks:

Come now, take your fear away
All the sorrows, past and today
And the regrets, of things unsaid
And all the grieving for our dead.


And beside the mound of stones, we see a great mound of wood, of branches collected, and placed to make a bonfire. He lights a taper from one of the candles, and touches it to the kindling wood, and very soon, the bonfire is blazing out with light, the wood crackling as it burns. And I smell the burning wood, and in swift glimpses, I see flash before me, the wonders of the world.

I see the vast rainforests, teaming with life
Herds of wildebeest crossing the vast rivers of Africa
Elephants crossing the great African plains
A snow leopard, a creature of grace and beauty
Running across the slopes of the Pamir Mountains
The great whales turning in the sea, singing a joyous song
Sleek otters swiftly swimming beside a river bank
And the rain falling softly on Glastonbury tor
Where a rainbow arches across the sky


And a voice cries

Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!
Let the mountains burst into song!


I see the foundations of the world,
The dance of life and death and rebirth,
And all my sorrows melt away.

Now the flame of the fire burns brightly, warming me, and sparks fly high in the air, and now I look into the bright core of flames.

I look into the heart of the fire, and the heart of myself
And I see those whom I have loved
And all who are now lost to me, beyond the veil of death
And all the regrets, all the times lost, all that was unsaid, leaves me
And rises in the ashes, caught in the breeze
And I see them, one by one, faces in the flames
And they are smiling, glad
And I know they are at peace
And I too feel calm, at rest.

And we gather round the fire, and dance, as the wood burns away, and watch the ashes, which are carried up in the currents of hot air, in the flames, ashes rising into the night sky, memories carried up to the starry night.

And a voice cries:

To give to those who mourn
Let there be joy and gladness instead of grief
A song of praise instead of sorrow


Dawn is breaking as we leave the glowing embers, heading down the hillside, the grass damp with dew, and the new day is starting, full of hope and promise. The sun rises over the hill, and the soft sunlight caresses us with warmth. Somewhere, in the distance, a blackbird begins to sing.

Please bookmark this post at Facebook or Twitter:   Facebook    Twitter

Your comments:











Recent Posts

Pleasley Forest Church

Encountering the Eternal One within the ancient boundaries of Sherwood Forest More ...

Essex Forest Church

We seek to find the presence of God in the open air and in nature, and to connect with the Divine Being who is present in creation. We seek to foster a love of creation, a love which will lead us to care for it. We look for reconciliation between nature and human beings, and within human relationships. More ...

Forest Church Tweets

MindfulWanderer:
Cheltenham #ForestChurch #Yule Gathering next Saturday. All welcome facebook.com/events/1248564… @forestchurch
11 Dec 16

greenparentmag:
Forest Church: Where Nature and Worship Meet - ift.tt/2hSI0pU #greenparentmag #celebration #solstice #forestchurch
21 Dec 16

alexmabbs:
I love #forestchurch @openskybrighton twitter.com/openskybrighto…
3 Jan