Nos Galan Gaeaf

Today I was trying to find something musical that seemed apt for the day. This seemed just about the best fit:

I also appreciated listening to these this morning, and think I might have them as waking up music tomorrow morning:

With that last Mumford and Sons one, I’ve known it a long time, but that’s the first time I’ve seen the video… really good visual story telling!

Then this eve I had some time thinking on the beginning of winter, and the beginnings of my own cultural heritage, so managed to find a few pieces of music that helped me reflect on all that. It actually started with finding out some of the translations of something that was originally a welsh folk tune…

Cold is the man who can’t love,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
The old mountains of dear Wales,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
To him and his warmest friend,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la,
A cheerful holiday next year,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Cold is the snow on Mount Snowdon,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Even though it has a flannel banket on it,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Cold are the people who don’t care,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la,
To meet together on New Year’s Eve,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Seemed rather fitting for the dark beginning of the year and the beginning of winter.

Which then led me on to a few other famous tunes that reflect some of my heritage:

Thought a little translation on that latter one might help…

English singable translation (René Micallef) :

Guard, Lord, forever, as you´ve done erst and ceasing never,

This land whose name we received, our motherly-named Mother.

Her you have draped with a light whose grace exceeds all other.

On those who govern, sovereign God, bestow understanding,

Grant wellness to those who work, largesse to those employing,

Make firm, make just all our bonds, the peace we are enjoying.
Simplified English translation (May Butcher) :

Guard her, O Lord, as ever Thou hast guarded!

This Motherland so dear whose name we bear!

Keep her in mind, whom Thou hast made so fair!

May he who rules, for wisdom be regarded!

In master mercy, strength in man increase!

Confirm us all, in unity and peace!

Which brings me back around to this one, relevant to my more recent past and present (& I hope future):

Which also reminds me… I saw this news article about a recent exciting archaeological find locally:

And also in the news, I spotted a modern day saint that I shall remember today:


Reflections on Goodbyes and Welcomings

I was trying to think of some way to sum up the recent funeral of a dear friend, combined with the welcoming of his children into the church family by baptism. Once again I am lost for words.

But some oft repeated words have taken on added depth:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Too many thoughts swirling…..

so this is a rambling, all over the place kind of post.

Decided to get out for a walk this afternoon. Glad I did. More glad I ended up at some artistic events, where I exchanged the following short story for a book. I think I got the bargain (though so far I’ve only read the first couple of pages of the book)!

Once upon a time there was a young man. When he was little he had been cursed by his evil stepmother. Whenever he looked in a mirror, an evil creature hiding in his shadow would twist the image, so he could only see his shadow self. He hated this shadow self, but could never escape the face staring at him from the mirror.

One day he met a beautiful fairy who showed him a way to defeat his shadow. She shattered the mirrors and banned them from the land. But one sad day, he walked past a murky pond, and the shadowy depths acted like a mirror in the bright sun. He leant over, fascinated by the grey image staring back.

They found him floating and bloated the next day.


Following on from the story session, I got to looking at some lovely ceramic art in a makeshift gallery.

At the far end was, essentially, a dressing up stall, with loads of edwardian regalia. They said it was all for a photographer to take arty pictures of people dressed in period costume… but I knew it for what it was… an excuse to dress up and be silly and have fun. So that’s what I did… except I ended up (after trying on a few costumes) in Mourning Dress. And realised when I was told to look sad that I didn’t have to pretend, just remember how I was feeling. It felt like such an effort to switch modes back at the end.

To help me process, on the way out of the park, I took some pictures of these beautiful plants with red leaves/flowers shaped like little paper lanterns. The were beautiful and eye catching, but some had already started to break down so you could just see little patches of the veins, and one or two, that was all that was left. Reminded me of Ecclesiastes, or bubbles.

And I continued walking, and the sky was beautiful and changeable, and then sun shone on the trees and the stream running next to the path helped to wash the sorrow away, for a while.

But I found myself this evening, parked up by a larger body of water, watching sleepy water birds and listening to sad songs on the radio. Had a good cry. But then a fox came. A beautiful, wary, lithe young fox, investigating cautiously. Somehow the fox and the moon were comforting enough to drive home with a sense of stillness again. But still just ate a tonne of icecream.


Like I said rambling. Not really an efficient straight path, but it got me where I am today.

Changing the Tense

This Poem is not mine. It was written by Emma Craig, and published on “a Tribute to Burnie,” a group initially letting us know funeral arrangements and then sharing memories of a lovely friend who passed away, May 2007. But chatting through a recent bereavement with a friend this evening I was reminded of it, especially of these last two lines.

Changing the tense

Changing the tense
From present to past:
‘lives’ to ‘lived’
‘does’ to ‘did’
‘love’ to ‘loved’

A smiling photo in a frame
A raw ache whenever I hear your name
I miss your chat,
and stories, and wacky dress sense, and strong opinions, and badly delivered jokes, and articulate emails and travel blog,
and even your annoying traits,
like chomping on apples.. and how you blew your nose, a clicked your fingers as you walk around the house
And wrinkled up your whole brow…

Tributes online,
letters, cards, chats
Unsuspecting memories lurking round random corners
A table laid for one less,
A hole that can never be filled,
If only you knew how much we all love you,
Love, not loved

Visions of Goodness

This morning there have been a number of themes of hope and goodness brought to my attention. So I’m going to remember them and mark them, and be mindful of the good.

First, it’s a beautiful frosty crispy clear autumn morning.

This morning’s common prayer contained many gems:

Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582)

In sixteenth-century Spain, where women had little voice, Teresa of Avila stood out as a spiritual giant, reforming her Carmelite order, founding seventeen new communities, writing four books, and challenging countless men and women to grow in the life of prayer. As attested to by her writings and by her friends and disciples (including John of the Cross), Teresa’s own prayer life was perhaps her most important gift to the church. “Prayer,” she wrote, “is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with Him who we know loves us.”

The Song was Mary don’t you weep. Usually I listen to this Bruce Springstein version, which I still appreciate. But for some reason this morning I decided to listen to this version sung by Aretha Franklin. It seemed much more apt for my times at the moment.

Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay : All things are possible. God does not change.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.


Then the news had this beautiful story about a nun:


And finally, looking for a friend’s article in a magazine, I came across this ministry to despairing people, which I thought was absolutely beautiful. I hope that many of those who come to them, who would not have otherwise sought help, will then do so.

Music for this Morning and other tales

This morning’s morning prayer had this old hymn as it’s song and I’ve always like this video someone made to go with it being sung by Sufjan Stevens.

Which led me to a few other Sufjan Stevens songs on youtube:
Sister Winter
For the Widows in Paradise
God’ll ne’er let you down

Then there was this BBC news article about a great hearted minister in Scotland called Aftab Gohar.
“A Church of Scotland minister who lost his mother and other close relatives in a suicide attack on a church in Pakistan has said he forgives their killers…  We pray that they may one day develop the wisdom to understand that it is not right to kill children and other innocent people. There were 125 children in Sunday school that day. My sister was teaching there. Forgiving is what we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I forgive.”

There’s a few stories I’ve had as open tabs on the computer for some time, waiting to comment, but there hasn’t seemed a right time. I still don’t think there is, but I’m not sure there’s going to be one, not for a long time, and they are things I still want to say.
There was this on the BBC children’s news service, about the excruciating wait for people with serious mental health problems. I’m pretty sure this one made the news because it involved children and Anorexia, but there are plenty of heart rending tales to be told in adult psychiatry too, for less “cool” illnesses like OCD (the proper debilitating disorder, not the slight quirks some people have) and major depression… These waits can kill, this lack of priority for mental health DOES kill and debilitate lives. Not sure what to do to get this across sometimes,  though chatting to a friend we did wonder if we could rebrand mental health as “brain cancer” to at least get some research funding…

On a similar theme there was this news article, reporting findings that people with mental health problems are treated differently when reporting crimes. And yet there are so many articles in the news that fail to get across that not only does mentally ill NOT mean violent, but that this is in fact an area of health that makes you more likely to experience violent crime!

Another thing which caught my eye in the news was this about a rise in 15 minute care visits. I found it interesting to think about how and why this situation is occurring. Essentially the bottom line seems to be that those organising care and home support have had to try to make the same/less amount of money provide more care for more people. It is a zero sum game, and some people are bound to lose out. Not that every 15 minute care visit is inappropriate, but there are times when it is blatantly unrealistic!

Then there was this video to begin a series on the BBC following 100 Women. I think it can speak for itself, as can this fabulous one about Malala Yousafzai. Sometimes the deck being stacked against you seems to provoke a fierce response of determination that is inspiring.


There has been this article in the Church Times about Forest Church… If you kneel down in the woods today…

It’s something that’s been a growing interest for the last couple of years and seems to sit very well with the Celtic wheel of the year celebrations, so I was pleased to see it receiving a welcome from others.

And a couple of interesting things from the natural world:
Elephants showing an innate understanding of human gesture
and this project Abundance which reminded me of Orchard Cardiff.

There was this rather interesting artistic venture, called the Minimum Bible Project. Minimalism is not a style that gels with me that naturally, although I appreciate the clean lines and orderliness, I rebel against the simplification of complexity. However, that said I did find that even for me, some of these images were extraordinarily communicative.

There’s this which I came across today from Suli Breaks Some great insight and spoken word work.

Lots of snippets from a wider world, wider than my own personal grieving, and yet intersecting with it at the moment. So I’ll finish with a link to a post I wrote last night, when it seemed that someone in the pub had somehow decided to play a number of very poignant songs (in a lift music style/ pub background music way). Community and Communion.