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.

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

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.

Autumn Equinox Small Ritual

Following on from our walk together, we decided to get together this evening for a meditation on the season (pics to follow, please). Here is the guiding text we used for this, and the music was from CDs by Alison Eve & Liturgia/ NChant.

Autumn Equinox Small Ritual

(part shamelessly pinched from Bruce Stanley at Forest Church)


WELCOME to this circle and to this meditation.

Begin by bringing your awareness to where you are … now.

Take a moment to become present and invite God’s Spirit to inspire us.

We’re all on different spiritual journeys … but

today we find ourselves together on this same

path for this meditation. May God’s Spirit be with you.

And also with you.


At Autumn Equinox we witness, and participate with, the convergence of four great stories …

The Sun’s Story

The great turning wheel of the heavens says that this is a very significant time of the year. It is one of the four solar festivals which are marked by the sun’s position and movement across the sky. At the equinox the sun will rise and set due east west and from now onwards the sun will rise to the north of east, eventually rising 23.5º north of east on the Winter solstice.

The Food story

In the food story, which is linked closely with the story of our lives and survival, it marks the end of the growing and harvesting season and the possibility of rest but also of the dark, lean half of the year. To mark this we will share together two different deserts, one more fitting from Summer, and the other decidedly Autumnal in flavour.

(cue time to tuck in to strawberries & cream and rhubarb, apple & blackberry crumbles, and also sup tea and chat more about our everyday lives and events)

God, who made a home among us,

knowing the comfort and the challenge

of routine and family. Inspire in us love

and peace, and light for this dark half,

by your Spirit’s dwelling with us.

Nature’s story

There is a lot changing around us in nature. What have you observed?

(We share our objects, photos & inspirtaions from our walk and experiences of the season)

The fourth story is our story

Food producing peoples especially mark this time as part of harvest. Druids call this time Alban Elfed which means Light of the Water or Light of Autumn, the time of fulfilment and achievement. On the circle of the year it is at the west, the place of the setting sun. Autumn can resonate with the onset of middle age in a person’s life.

Following this harvest theme we take time to meditate on the following questions:

What fruit can you give thanks for in your life?

What hasn’t grown as you wanted it to?

As you think about the next six months, what divine help do you need?

3000 years ago a Hebrew King wrote a line of a song,

‘Unless Adonai builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’

Great Spirit – Adonai, help us let go for a moment to recognise that we cannot make a masterpiece of our working lives without your blessing.

Some Christians celebrate Michaelmas near this time on the 29th. Saint Michael the Archangel is the most senior of angels and represents overcoming evil and chaos and protection from darkness and destruction. You may also be aware of other themes …

At the equinox the day and night, light and dark are balanced which suggests that for most of the year light and dark are normally unbalanced. Is being in balance, a rare thing? Perhaps it is a good idea to explore your balance; and an opportunity to let go of striving and enjoy the harvest and prepare for the dark half.

A Psalm which follows this theme of good overcoming despite much evil, and also this cycle of the heavens, is Psalm 74.

Forever holy men and women have heard the call and sought out wild, lonely and mountainous environments as unique places to be spiritually formed and to hear from the Divine – to be prepared to reenter the world carrying something new, rebalanced to bring light into darkness. God of the wild and untamed, the mountains and the valleys, keep us ever mindful of your call and ever open to your light.

Agnus Dei (music)

We take time now to remember Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice has won the ultimate harvest over sin, death and destruction.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.


We share the bread and the wine in honour of his sacrifice, and in anticipation of celebrating a great harvest festival with him in glory.

(sharing of a cup made from the juice excesses from the crumbles & some bread

The blood of Christ; The body of Christ)

The changing of the seasons makes friends of us all.

May the circle be unbroken.

Autumn Morning

The faerie spinners’ masterpiece,

Damply decorated with pure droplets,

Glimmering under autumn skies.

While coloured leaves dance with the spirits of the wind;

Whirling, twirling, skipping, to unmapped steps.

And crisp, sweet apples drop to a mossy cushion.


Thorny chestnuts, prized open, reveal the treasure,

A rich brown nut, nestled in creamy silk.

Purple hands, clambering over thorns, reach for another

Sweet drop of fruit; shiny, black, with gleaming segments.

A peaceful rose softly cups the rainbow dew,

As the sun rises higher into a clean blue sky. 


Copyright remains with author, 1998

Explanation of Blog Name

Out of a fired ship, which by no way
But drowning could be rescued from the flame,
Some men leap’d forth, and ever as they came
Near the foes’ ships, did by their shot decay;
So all were lost, which in the ship were found,
      They in the sea being burnt, they in the burnt ship drown’d.
By John Donne