Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday 11th December 2012

Life Continues Within

I find myself looking at the piece of art work on my wall done by my good friend Ed, and I smile knowing to an extent the amused consternation it causes and some people just say hmm… ‘Yes Rachael’ and move on quickly to something else or change the subject.

The picture as you will see from the link shows a woman lying in her coffin and above her spirit is at last free from material existence.  While I can acknowledge that death is a frightening and very painful subject for many of us, particularly when we experience bereavement, we naturally want to avoid the subject, but to me, this picture reminds me of the eternal dimension to life rather than just the few limited decades we have on earth where there is very often pain and frustration and things we don’t understand.
To me this picture serves as a reminder that ultimately all is well.

Turbulent Storm

Monday 10th December 2012

Today I ask myself what was the significance of a very vivid dream I had last night about an extremely turbulent storm.

I consult a book I have on dreams to see what light I can throw on the dream and as I write these words ‘throw light’, it actually brings back to mind the vividness of the dream because there was a strong flash of lightening in the dream, so consulting “The Book of Dreams” by Brian Innes, (Published by Random House, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland) I find for lightening it says:

“Lightening, a common symbol for sudden revelation.  It may be a sign of spiritual inspiration and enlightenment; or it may represent a good idea that has just struck the dreamer – and, hopefully, it will be remembered on awakening!”

Ah the positive aspect, and now we come to the negative interpretation starting with the word ‘but’. Yes I knew there had to be a ‘but’ somewhere.

“But lightening is also destructive, striking trees and buildings and setting them on fire, and killing unwary people.  Other circumstances in the dream will be an aid to it’s interpretation.”

I must confess I’m drawing blanks on this.  Interesting one.

The Gift of Music

Sunday 9th December 2012

Maybe it’s after being at Andre Rieu’s concert last night or maybe it’s because I am presently listening to Beethoven’s fifth symphony, the Emperor that I am brought back to my first significant memory of how music impacted on my own life.

  I can remember as a child being sent from the classroom to the school hall to audition for the choir which was called ‘The Young Dublin Singers’.  I was of course delighted to be deemed worthy and  considered to have a good enough voice to be admitted to the ranks where we were trained in rhythm, harmony and canon.

Years later as I was collecting one of my children from a music lesson at their music school,  I happened to notice an article on the school’s notice board about how teachers had found a huge change for the better in the behaviour of the children who were hitherto deemed unmanageable in a tough school in the east end of London.  This free, child centered and fun based musical training had totally transformed the lives of the children.

I also reflected on an inspirational nun by the name of Sr. Bernadette Sweeney who had a vision of how she could bring music to her own school and in her own words, “ To give to all what the rich can buy for money."

An Evening With Andre Rieu

Saturday 8th December 2012

This evening I attended a concert by Andre Rieu in the 02 Arena, Dublin.  This Dutch man from Maastricht knows how to put on a spectacular show.

We got off to a flying start with a rousing ’76 Trombones’ as he and his Strauss orchestra made a grand entrance marching onto the stage and taking up their places.  The ladies of the orchestra wear colourful ball gowns and the gents are clad in formal evening dress.

The thoughts I came away with were how uplifting and universal music is as well as being the language of harmony amongst people.


Friday 7th December 2012

Tonight I was at a special service for Advent, organized by the Taizè group I sing with.
Taizé is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé Saône-et-Loire, Burgandy, France.
It was founded by Frère Roger in 1940 and there are now many Taizè groups in various Christian  parishes  all over the world.  Brother Roger did a lot to promote Christian unity and was such an exemplary figure.  He was a Lutheran monk, a man of great holiness and prayer and deeply loved by many.

Like many holy people of love and peace he encountered its opposite in the manner in which his life was ended rather brutally when he was stabbed to death during the evening prayer service in Taizè on August 16th, 2005 by a young Romanian woman named Ruxandra Solcan who was later deemed mentally ill.
As I write this I also think of another exemplary figure and man of God, Mahatma Gandhi  who also died a violent death, and I reflect on the mystery of evil and why it is that the very gentle and very good are so often targeted for such a violent death.

The Taizè service consists of beautiful harmonious chants, almost like meditation to music you might say.  There are then periods of silent reflection, two readings from scripture and a reflection from Brother Alois the current head of the Taizè community.  There is a space where the cross is placed on the floor and candles are lit around the altar.  There is generally an atmosphere of profound peace at these services,  and it is a very welcome experience to see both Protestants from various denominations, and Catholics coming together to unite in prayer in this sacred space.  Taizè also traditionally appeals to young people and it is heartening to see many young people being drawn to these services.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More Cheerful Reminders of Impermanence

 Thursday 6th December 2012

I spent ages here fiddling around with a poem I wrote a while back and while it is not on the subject of impermanence, the concept of impermanence came into the last line and I thought this would be a nice follow on from my reflection for Wednesday 5th.

I did quite a bit of fiddling with the original poem I wrote, because I know these particular publishers are very fussy about unnecessary words, and clichés are a definite no.  I was pleased with my new version and ready to post it here until I realized that if by any chance they should find the poem on my blog, there would be no chance they would publish it, should they wish to do so.  Instead however, I offer this piece of wisdom on the subject of not just impermanence, but also, love, relationships, security, delusion and flow from Anne  Morrow Lindberg:

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility.  It is even a lie to pretend to.  And yet, this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.  We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb.  We are afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom.  The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even.  Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.  For relationships, too, must be like islands.  One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands surrounded and interrupted by the sea, continuously visited and abandoned by the tides.  One must accept the serenity of the winged life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency.”

Anne Morrow Lindberg

Clearing The Ashes

Wednesday 5th December 2012

Today I was clearing the ashes from the fireplace and thought to myself this will be me one day and so I wrote the following senryu:

winter morning
clearing yesterday’s ashes
i see my own

© Rachael Stanley

Not very cheerful you might say, but unavoidable and no harm to reflect on that reality now and again particularly if it helps us to prioritize and get the things done that are important.

“We have not here a lasting city” Hebrews 13:  14

“Everything flows and nothing abides,
everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”

Heraclitus (c 540 – 475 BC)