Melancholy Beauty

Maybe it’s the days spent in a caravan in YnysMon or the news of late, but I’ve had an appettite for Melancholy beauty this evening. This is my smorgsbord of findings.


Beautiful, Haunting Music

Some thoughtful writing by John Donne… Meditation 17

Empty Tomb

Empty Tomb - Unknown Artist

And a sonnet from John Donne:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Beltane Eve Meanderings

A posting from the Community of Aiden and Hilda got me thinking about this season, which so far for me is bringing many changes. I’ll copy and paste it here, to give a flavour:

Tonight (April 30th) is Beltane eve, drawing us through the night to the dawn of the season of Beltane, the season of the sun. For the next three moons the Celtic calendar was focused on the warmth and light of the sun, of the strength of light over darkness with the summer solstice in the middle. It was the season of celebrations and feasting, but also of war and reclaiming what may have been taken from you, and of battling the enemy.

For the Celtic Christians this celebration and season lost none of its potency. It was a celebration of the Sun of Righteousness (a prophetic term for the Messiah), who comes, according to the prophet Malachi, with healing. It is a celebration of the strength of the Light of the world over spiritual darkness, and of reclaiming through ‘the Sun of Righteousness’ all and any parts of your life which have been taken from you by spiritual darkness, or ‘the enemy’.

Happy Beltane!
May the Great Light overcome all your inner darkness
May the warmth and healing of the Sun of Righteousness be with you and within you
And may you know the overcoming of ‘the enemy’ and a reclaiming of any part of your life or inner self which has been lost.

This last part of the prayer in particular struck me. It particularly reminded me of a short “statement of faith” I clung on to a few years ago, love is never wasted. Recently I was reminded of this by this meme from Action for Happiness:

There’s something both strong and bittersweet about this reflection, and I think that links well to this post:

Of course after listening to that I had to find a version of the song in question to actually listen to…


Somehow this mix of the broken and the beautiful is so apt for humanity. I particularly therefore appreciated these two reflections on “unlikely characters” that God had good purposes for:

The hotch potch of real people in the bible gives me real hope at times!


To end, I had looked to the Carmina Gadaelica (online here: ) for a Beltane Blessing, but decided on just picking a few segments from the possibilities for today:

“…The strength of the Triune be our shield in distress,
The strength of Christ, His peace and His Pasch,
The strength of the Spirit, Physician of health,
And of the precious Father, the King of grace.

…Be the Cross of Christ to shield us downward,
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us upward,
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us roundward,
Accepting our Beltane blessing from us,
Accepting our Beltane blessing from us.”

“…Bless everything and every one,
Of this little household by my side

Place the cross of Christ on us with the power of love,
Till we see the land of joy,
Till we see the land of joy,…

Thou Being who didst create me at the beginning,
Listen and attend me as I bend the knee to Thee,
Morning and evening as is becoming in me,
In Thine own presence, O God of life,
In Thine own presence, O God of life.”

Not quite there yet, but looking forward to Calan Haf…


Solstice & Christmas Musical Meditation

A little bit of a youtube link frenzy follows…

So this started out with me thinking of something for the Winter Solstice and wondering what musical stuff we could listen to as a collective that would reflect this turn of the year. In the end the most fitting tribute to the end of the longest night seemed to be to get together for a walk, but I thought as we’re all scattered to the four winds for the rest of this holiday season, I might as well share some internet based joy for us all instead.

Midwinter’s always been one of my favourite festivals, even before I knew it existed, my subconscious mind had tuned in to the changes in light, and I have long looked forward to this tipping point in the year. From here onwards, however long and dark the nights, it’s still getting lighter. This year, having contained much sorrow, reflections in the shadows seem most apt. I think that’s probably what I appreciate most about this poem:

Winter Solstice Shadows

I thought that same mood infuses this song, aptly named Solstice Song by Finley & Pagdon:

Someone has also set some lovely winter landscapes to a piece of music by Enya entitled And Winter Came:

And then there is another video, this time with music from Fleet Foxes, but with a beautiful series of slides that take you right through the cycle of the year:


After listening to these reflecting the dark season, it seemed a matter of balance to then look to the opposite theme, the returning of the light. A random search for the words “not so dark” came up with this little gem:

And then (I almost feel like I should say, of course!) something from Hildegard of Bingen… Lux Vivens (Living Light):


Finally, I thought a focus on Christmas itself, the incarnation.

Along that theme this Santa vs Jesus spoken word thing seemed good entertainment, as well as food for thought:

In particular, it brought out for me, the focus on Jesus being Emmanuel, God with us; our brother, Jesus. Which of course links seamlessly to this piece of music:

And I think that theme ties in with another, most elegantly expressed through the medium of song:


Challenging doesn’t even begin to cover the title of that one! So here’s something else Christmassy and lighthearted to cheer us up… look out for the guinea pigs:


A Song Without Words

So yesterdays card, Joseph, reminded me of the beauty and goodness to be found in getting on and doing the job in front of you.

This morning’s meditation was so much more hopeful than I dare be most of the time, but it is one I could find an image of so I can at least share that: Matthew 1 Seek & Find

There’s so much to be said on those words, but to me today it just seemed overwhelmingly bold as a statement, in a way that terrified me as much as visions of angels seem to have done to people they visited.

Anyway, few important blogs, on music and the significance of words, which I noticed around the interwebs:


Which got me to thinking of three songs that matter to me, one without words in this most beautiful version:


In view of recent news, those last two seem even more poignant.

Music & Poetry & Art for the times

So, some dearly loved friends are going through the wringer at the moment, and all day my brains been in a bit of shock with it all.

Sat down to write some blog (cos sleep is a long distant land tonight) and I found all the stuff that I was going to put just disappeared out of proportion to the rest. So I’m collating these expressions of the journey of today instead.

The only song that resonated initially was this one by Michael Card – Death of a Son, based on Psalms 22/69.

Then this one by Rachel Taylor Beales – Please Don’t pass me by.

And this was the one card (of 54) I picked blindly for prayer meditation this morning…

John Resurrection CardNo really!

It kind of reminded me of this story from John chapter 11, about Lazarus.

Seeing the card with talk about trouble in life and yet resurrection, especially at a time when you’re desperate to hope, can give pretty different signals to different people. For me, I felt very much like Lazarus’ sisters, Martha & Mary, in this case.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?

I sympathise with their, “why didn’t you do something earlier?” type questions, and the implicit assumptions in Martha’s reply about the resurrection of the dead, “yes I know about that… but what about NOW…”

Somehow all this also got me to thinking about the writings of Julian of Norwich, in her revelations of divine love, which she experienced during a near death illness. And also this poem by John Donne:

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,

Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,

Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.

Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,

And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,

And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;

One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Then in the late evening tonight, it’s been all about the music again, and I’m beginning to tire so I may just let the links speak…

(with an alt version to be found at:

One thing that helps with that “whole world in his hands” stuff (apart from the better tune ) is that those hands, always and forever, bear the scars of the nails. Those are hands I trust.

A Miscellany of Encouragement

I’ve been meaning to blog for some time, but this is the first time in a while that I’ve given myself the time to do it. I’m glad I have, because, having some difficulties with returning to work after illness, additional encouragement is most welcomed; in the process of looking at a couple of pages for this scrapbook, I’ve followed the classic internet trend of one page leading to another, and another… all encouraging me in my journey.

I’ll start with one that inspired me to clear thinking on some reasons why I am not a strict materialist (believing only matter exists/ is important), particularly commendable in that it was an apparently popular BBC magazine article that celebrates a long forgotten author and a philosophical approach to life.

The next is a piece of music, I want Jesus to walk with me, sung by Eric Bibb, here on youtube.

I want Jesus to walk with me
All along my pilgrim journey
I want Jesus to walk with me
When I’m in trouble walk with me
When my heart is almost breaking
I want Jesus to come walking with me
In my trials, walk with me
When my head is bowed in sorrow
I want Jesus to come walking with me.

I came across this song as one accompanying this version of common prayer. As I often find it easier to find accompanying music to listen to via youtube, I searched and came across a version where Eric Bibb explains his love of this song, and then via that to the song itself. There are many things I appreciate about this song, including its long history as a negro spiritual from people in much more concrete hardship than I have ever faced. I love the simplicity, the rhythm, the cadences, but mostly I love that straightforward call for Jesus to be Emmanuel, God with us.

It echoes back for me to the May Bank Holiday weekend. I really wanted to have the opportunity to celebrate Calan Mai, especially with the beautiful weather, so I (ironically?) ended up spending the weekend in England with family. We spent plenty of time outside, and went for some lovely walks. Me and my Mum managed to come across a church doing ‘Al Fresco Church’ in a beautiful place. Entirely random in some ways, and yet it felt made to measure in others. The theme was the tapestry God weaves (for Good) through all events in our lives, good and ill. We sang the (beautiful, but impossibly high for most female voices) song composed by Matt Redman, Blessed be your Name. And I weaved a piece of dried up prickly blackberry thorn into a group ‘tapestry’, chuckled at the beautiful ‘singing’ of the many accompanying dogs, and marveled at the divine providence that brought me to that very beautiful sunny place for that time. Emmanuel, in the times good and bad.

On the Monday evening, I managed to share with my Mum and sis a delightful fire and food (with more accompanying dogs in hope of sausages or sticks) that felt like my own May Day celebration. (Fortunately our BBQ didn’t lead to the same chaos as this Beaker Folk One). I had really appreciated this thought and prayer from the community of Aiden and Hilda for the first of May, and that day with my family felt like a way to celebrate it fully in action:

Happy Beltane! The Celtic celebration of the start of summer and the time the light is the strongest. May the Sun of Righteousness rise upon you this Beltane with healing in his wings!
A Beltane prayer:
May the Light rise to guide you,
May the sacred fire cleanse you,
May the wealth of heaven be poured out upon you
And may you know peace

Which also leads neatly on to this poem, by Sally at Eternal Echoes, that I think catches the spirit of Calan Mai for me this year (and also Pentecost!)…

” Set your fire within my soul…”

I came across it after looking at another post or two from the Beaker Folk. Firstly this one on thoughts on days of clear blue skies (for people not from the UK, I’ve no idea how you came across this blog, but hiya, thought I’d just clarify that in the UK, days of blue skies and sun are such a rarity that they are considered a very precious commodity). There’s one part that particularly clarifies my kind of optimistic pessimism:

“I’m going to believe there’s a deeper Magic below the prosaic surface. I’m going to assume that, random and scary though this life is, the point is buried in there somewhere… I’m going to assume that our hope and futility meet at a cross made of wood on a hillside under a darkling sky. And I will be amazed, and awed, and apprehensive. But I will not be afraid. At least, not all the time.”

I found that this poem/ prayer from Sally at Eternal Echoes, like many of the psalms, just the right one for me in the days following on from the Blue Skies, and a good way to pray through tougher days,

“so I am knocking,

no I am railing against heaven’s door,

will you answer…”

And I will end this rather lengthy extended scrapbook session, with this answer from the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley, about Ascension Day.

But there’s one thing we now know. Pierced by thorns, slashed by a whip, holed by nails, cut open by a spear, dirtied by three decades of wear and tear on this abrasive planet – there’s a human being on a throne in heaven. As we fight and fall ill, abuse each other and die, those wounds we suffer and inflict are already made glorious in heaven. It makes our present sufferings not an ounce lighter – and it doesn’t reduce the damage we do one little bit – but it gives it meaning, an end, a resolution, a redemption. Your hurts, my hurts – they’re all wrapped up into the world-ending, eternal, freely-carried hurts in the place where hurt shouldn’t be able to go – tied into the sufferings of the God who can’t suffer, raised from the death of the God who can’t die. It may not stop the pain, but somehow it makes it feel like it’s shared.