Friday, March 6, 2015

"Seasons forever changing"

Skenfrith, Wales

Since last Friday I did not share a Welsh tune in anticipation of the Feast of St David of Wales, I am doing it this week. So, our traditio is "Tir Aur" (i.e., "The Golden Land"- sung by Ceredwen, pronounced ker-ED-wen), a Celtic folk duet.

This morning I read a quote from St Teresa of Avila, which bids us, "Be gentle to all, and stern with yourself." I admit to being deficient in my reading of the Carmelite mystics (i.e., St Teresa and St John of the Cross) and so I do not know the context for this piece of advice. Far be it from me to correct a Doctor of the Church, but I think "all" must include myself. Hence: "Be gentle to all, including yourself." All advice, especially spiritual advice, is not for everyone all the time.

In my experience it is of the utmost importance to learn to gaze on myself with the same tenderness with which Jesus gazes upon me. At least for me, that is the bigger challenge than being stern with myself, which I find far too easy. Being stern with myself usually leads to me being stern with and judgmental towards others.

We are full of longing-

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of
That disturbs you when you have settled for some-
thing safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into
your own unease... John O'Donohue

In his last sermon St David told his monks to "do the little things, the small things you've seen me doing." Commenting on this very practical exhortation, Dr Rowan Williams observed, " reminds us that the primary things for us are the relationships around us, the need to work at what's under our hands, what's within our reach. We can transform our domestic, our family relationships, our national life to some extent, if we do that with focus and concentration in the presence of God."

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