Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saint Aidan

Tomorrow, 31st. of August, is the Feast Day of St.Aidan, born circa.590 and died at Bamburg on August 31st. 651 AD after 16 years as Archbishop of Lindisfarne.  He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is recognised as a Saint by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglian Community, Lutherian Church, etc..
He is the Patron Saint of Northumbria and also of Fire-fighters.

                                                   St.Aidan statue at Lindisfarne Priory.
                                                     Photograph by Andrew Curtis.

"Death came to Aidan when he had completed sixteen years of his episcopate, while he was staying at a royal residence near the capital.  Having a church and lodging there, Aidan often used to go and stay at the place, travelling about the surrounding countryside to preach.  This was his practice at all the king's country-seats, for he had no personal possessions except his church and a few fields around it.  When he fell ill, a tent was erected for him on the west side of the church, so that the tent was actually attached to the church wall.
And so it happened that, as he drew his last breath, he was leaning against a post that buttressed the wall on the outside.  He passed away on the last day of August, in the seventeenth year of his episcopate, and his body was soon taken across to Lindisfarne Island and buried in the monks' cemetery.  When a larger church, dedicated to the most blessed Prince of the Apostles, was built there some while later, his bones were transferred to it and buried at the right side of the alter in accordance with the honours due to so great a prelate.
Finan, who also came from the Scottish island and monastery of Iona, succeeded him as bishop and held the office for a considerable time.  Some years later, Penda, King of the Mercians, came into these parts with an invading army and destroyed everything that he found with fire and sword; and he burned down the village and the church where Aidan had died.  But, in a wonderful manner, the beam against which he was leaning at his death was the only object untouched by the flames which devoured everything around it.  This miracle was noticed and a church was soon rebuilt on the same site, with the beam supporting the structure from the outside as before.  Sometime later in another fire, caused this time by carelessness, the village and church were again destroyed; but even on this occasion the beam remained undamaged.  For, although in a most extraordinary way the flames licked through the very holes of the pins that secured it to the building, they were not permitted to destroy the beam.  When the church was rebuilt for the third time, the beam was not employed as an outside support again, but was set up inside the church as a memorial of this miracle, so that those who entered might kneel there and ask God's mercy.  Since that day many are known to have obtained the grace of healing at this spot, and many have cut chips of wood from the beam and put them in water, by which means many have been cured of their diseases."

Extract from 'A History of the English Church and People' by the Venerable Bede. [673-735 AD]

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Soul Burst

                                         'Soul Burst' - watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

We give them back to Thee
Who gavest them to us,
Yet, as Thou dost not lose them in the giving,
So we have not lost them by their return.
Not as the world, givest, givest
Thou, O lover of Souls,
What Thou givest,
Thou takest not away,
For what is Thine is ours always if we are Thine.

And life is eternal,
And life is immortal,
And death is only a horizon,
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight.

                                                  by Margaret Crowe, Troon.

Taken from an article in 'The Argus' magazine of Kilmarnock Spiritualist Church, July 1978.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Spiralling Soul

                                        'Spiralling Soul' watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

If we become indifferent to doing good, our capacity to do good will diminish.  It is difficult to do something well.  It is still more difficult to put right something we have done wrong.  But it is altogether easy to destroy something.  it takes great time and effort to grow a tree, but it is easy to cut it down.  When it is dry and dead, it is impossible to bring it back to life.
If we do not make use of the spiritual faculties we have been given, then we will lose them.  This has happened to certain fishes living in the waters of dark caves.  They have lived so long in the darkness that they have become completely blind.  The same thing has happened to certain hermits I have met in the caves of Tibet.  There fore, do not let your spiritual sight grow dull, but make full use of all your spiritual faculties and strengthen them so that you are able to sense God's presence.
The pipe that carries fresh water is itself clean by the clear water that flows through it.  in the same way, we are kept clean and pure if we allow God's spirit to constantly flow through us for the benefit of others.

Every day of our lives is like a precious diamond.  Let us at least awake now, see the value of the days that remain and use them to acquire spiritual wealth.

                                                Extract from the teachings of Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Soul Unfolds

                                    The Soul Unfolds - watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

" Human beings are close to perfect, but only close.  The Unnameable created us in His image and likeness.  We are no more than an imitation of perfection.  To make us perfect, He would have had to rob us of our free spirit.  Only then would we be obedient.  But a human being without a free spirit is insignificant.  And so He took the risk of giving us free will.  It is that will that is going to destroy many of us"

                               Taken from 'In the Shadow of the Ark' by Anne Provost.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

On Strangers

He and His friends were in the grove of pines beyond my hedge, and He was talking to them.
I stood near the hedge and listened.  And I knew who He was, for His fame had reached these shores ere He Himself visited them.
When He ceased speaking I approached Him, and I said, 'Sir, come with these men and honour me and my roof.'
And He smiled upon me and said, 'Not this day, my friend.  Not this day.'
And there was a blessing in His words, and His voice enfolded me like a garment on a cold night.
Then He turned to His friends and said, 'Behold a man who deems us not strangers, and though he has not seen us ere this day, he bids us to his threshold.'
'Verily in my kingdom there are no strangers.  Our life is but the life of all other men, given us that we may know all men, and in that knowledge love them.'
'The deeds of all men are but our deeds, both the hidden and the revealed.'
I charge you not to be one self but rather many selves, the householder and the homeless, the ploughman and the sparrow that picks the grain ere it slumber in the earth, the giver who gives in gratitude, and the receiver who receives in pride and recognition.'
'The beauty of the day is not only in what you see, but in what other men see.'
'For this I have chosen you from among the many who have chosen me.'
Then He turned to me again and smiled and said, 'I say these things to you also, and you also shall remember them.'
Then I entreated Him and said,'Master, will you not visit my house?'
And He answered, 'I know your heart, and I have visited your larger house.'
And as He walked away with His disciples He said, 'Good night, and may your house be large enough to shelter all the wanderers of the land.'

                                                          From 'Jesus the Son of Man' by Kahlil Gibran

Please pray for the wanderers of all the lands.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Great Spirit

                                                      'Emanation of God' by  Limonc

Oh Great Spirit whose voice in the winds I hear and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
Before you I come, one of your many children, small and weak am I.
Your strength and wisdom I need.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my heart and hands respect all you have made, my ears clear to hear all you have taught my people and the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother, but to make me able to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Make me always ready to stand before you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when my life fades, as the fading sunset, my Spirit may stand before you without shame.

There are many variations of the above, this is from my scrapbook in which it is attributed to Apache Chief Little Horse. Another source merely says it is Native American. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Eternal God

Eternal God, before whose face we stand,
your earthly children, fashioned by your hand,
hear and behold us, for to you alone
all hearts are open, all our longings known:
so for our world and for ourselves we pray
the gift of peace, O Lord, in this our day.

We come with grief, with thankfulness and pride,
to hold in honour those who served and died;
we bring our hurt, our loneliness and loss,
to him who hung forsaken on the cross;
who, for our peace, our pains and sorrows bore,
and with the Father lives for evermore.

O Prince of Peace, who gave for us your life,
look down in pity on our sin and strife.
May this remembrance move our hearts to build
a peace enduring, and a hope fulfilled,
when every flag of tyranny is furled
and wars at last shall cease in all the world.

From earth's long tale of suffering here below
we pray the fragile flower of peace my grow,
till cloud and darkness vanish from our skies
to see the Sun of Righteousness arise.
When night is past and peace shall banish pain,
all shall be well, in God's eternal reign.

            by Timothy Dudley-Smith, (born 1926) former Bishop of Thetford, wrote ''Tell out my Soul''                              amongst his output of over 300 hymns.
                  This hymn was sung immediately after the poem ''The Cemetery'', see Blog
                   for 6th.August.

                                                 'Flower of Peace' photo by Kosebamse.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Commemoration of WW1

On Monday 4th. August we attended a Service of Commemoration of the 100th. anniversary of the first World War. It was a very moving service held at the Gateshead Metrocentre.
The following poem was read early on in the service.

The Cemetery

Behind that long and lonely trenched line
To which men come and go, where brave men die,
There is a yet unknown and unmarked shrine,
A broken plot, a soldiers cemetery.

There lie the flowers of youth, the men who scorned
To live (so died) when languished Liberty:
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned
Still scream the shells of each artillery.

When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot
And fame upon it through the years descend:
But many a heart upon each simple cross
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.

by John William Streets, better known as Will Streets, born in Whitwell, Derbyshire.  Although academically and artistically gifted he began work as a coal-miner at the age of 14.  In August 1914 he joined the Sheffield City Battalion  (Sheffield Pals), he served in Egypt from late 1915 to early 1916.  The Battalion was transferred to the Western Front, by this time Will was a sergeant.  He was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st.July 1916, and subsequently went missing, his body was recovered exactly ten months later on the 1st. May 1917 and is now buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps.
(ref. special memorial A.6 )

Saturday, 2 August 2014

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter-shop until he was thirty.  Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never had a family or owned a house.  He didn't go to college.  He never visited a big city.  He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.  He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.  He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.

All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.