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A year after the pandemic, and a year after we launched Words of Connection we can still see the beauty around us, despite the pain of lockdown. Spring is returning, leaving the cold, dark and wet of the winter months behind. Even if we can’t be together, there is an element of sharing, knowing that others we know, but may not be able to see for the moment, can enjoy some of the season’s glories – the flowers, the blue sky and the occasional blast of seasonal sunshine. And so, this week we are looking at beauty – particularly that related to the season, in words and images.
John O’Donohue wrote a study entitled Divine Beauty and it seemed right to open with a few words from this. We follow this extract with a poem by Rumi entitled Spring, following a short prayer for knowledge, truth and beauty. Two very different poems follow – Daisy Time by the Canadian poet Marjorie Pickthall, and another spring poem – Today – by Billy Collins. We close with a request… for the Celtic Blessing… timeless, powerful and beautiful.
Our visual adventure is an astonishing time lapse film of spring flowers that reveals beauty in four minutes on a spectacular scale. If you’re interested in flowers and gardening you can’t miss this one.
Once more, I have to thank you for your enthusiasm, suggestions and contributions. Words of Connection would not exist without your help.
Please enjoy the best of the weather, and all the beauty that spring brings us.
FROM DIVINE BEAUTY
Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm, it calls us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world: to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful. A life without delight is only half a life. Lest this be construed as a plea for decadence or a self-indulgence that is blind to the horrors of the world, we should remember that beauty does not restrict its visitations only to those whom fortune or circumstances favour. Indeed, it is often the whispers and glimpses of beauty which enable people to endure on desperate frontiers. Even, and perhaps especially, in the bleakest times, we can still discover and awaken beauty; these are precisely the times when we need it most. Nowhere else can we find the joy that beauty brings.
Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
Translation by Coleman Barks
Again, the violet bows to the lily.
Again, the rose is tearing off her gown!
The green ones have come from the other world,
tipsy like the breeze up to some new foolishness.
Again, near the top of the mountain
the anemone’s sweet features appear.
The hyacinth speaks formally to the jasmine,
“Peace be with you.” “And peace to you, lad!
Come walk with me in this meadow.”
Again, there are sufis everywhere!
The bud is shy, but the wind removes
her veil suddenly, “My friend!”
The Friend is here like water in the stream,
like a lotus on the water.
The narcissus winks at the wisteria,
“Whenever you say.”
And the clove to the willow, “You are the one
I hope for.” The willow replies, “Consider
these chambers of mine yours. Welcome!”
The apple, “Orange, why the frown?”
“So that those who mean harm
will not see my beauty.”
The ringdove comes asking, “Where,
where is the Friend?”
With one note the nightingale
indicates the rose.
Again, the season of Spring has come
and a spring-source rises under everything,
a moon sliding from the shadows.
Many things must be left unsaid, because it’s late,
but whatever conversation we haven’t had
tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.
PRAYER FOR KNOWLEDGE
Kathleen A. Goodacre
May we explore together the territory of knowledge;
May we learn together the mysteries of truth;
May we share together experience of beauty;
May we release in each other the spark of creativity;
May we always remember that you,
the author of all knowledge,
yourself Goodness, Truth and Beauty,
delight to share all experience with us.
Marjorie Pickthall (18183 – 1922)
See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.
Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies’ dance
All the meadow over.
Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer’s praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
THE CELTIC BLESSING
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall softly upon your fields
Until we meet again…
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand