I would contend that any journey worth making will contain elements of the spirit.
By this, I mean that it will often contain a certain depth of meaning – a kind of inherent significance that is often difficult to define and in hindsight is easily dismissed as romanticism or random seredipity.
These moments of encounter are precious, not because they imbue our ordinaryness with something that feeds our own ego; not because we can boast about them on social media or record them on our smart phones for later consumption. Rather because they draw us towards a truer form of ourselves that is not constrained by our bodies.
This is what the mystics have taught for thousands of years and whilst I can claim no great enlightenment, what I have seen and experienced fills me with something that I would describe as ordinary hope.
We are not only this.
There is not only now.
These transendent moments are fleeting. Even as I try to honour them by noting and naming them, even as I try to capture some of them in the things that I write, I must also acknowledge that I often fail to do justice to the light they bring to my life. I too easily fall back on old destructive patterns, old distractions. I too easily fall into the old dualistic patterns in which my profanity seems entire seperate from anything sacred.
Humanity is complex. It is broken and it is beautiful. It is chained and it is free. It is clever but lives in almost total ignorance. It wraps itself up in a cloak of thick cloth in a futile attempt to hide from the consequences of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Today I want to share an old poem with you, written whilst I was on a ten day silent retreat back in 2014. The poem tries to describe an envy of wild things, whose living seems somehow more complete, more connected, more sacred. It was written from the sudden realisation that the religion I was part of had so much baggage, so many barriers and restrictions, so many uncomfortable obligations and compropmises, so much humanity. I longed for a different kind of journey.
May a bird sing an ordinary song of worship and may we hear it, as if for the first time.
The feathered Eucharist
Happy are these birds above who
never go to mass.
Happy fragile feathered things with
light not stained by glass.
Blessed are they beak and claw; their air
Is ever sacred.
Blessed be their treetop temple, each twig
a flying arch.
And sacred is each song that choirs
from sparrows and from larks.
Happy are the crows and cranes
Whose Eucharist is endless.
And may the vaulted holy sky
Be full of wings as birds fly by
On their way to ruffled worship.