Saturday, September 28, 2013

Song of September

It's a song of snow, and floods; of new stories; of miracles and mundane things; birthdays and baking..Above all, it is a song of a God who is completely involved in our lives, who is beneath and above, interwoven in our daily fabric, so much part of us we forget He is there - close as breath, more precious. And in spring-time, the Creator God is so clearly visible: a shimmer of green, a riot of pink blossom, everywhere a great shout of praise and life.

Friday, September 6, 2013

When the bird sings

"There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens." (Seamus Heaney, "Song")

Clearly, today's "what happens" is Spring in all its golden warmth. A week ago, floods and snow; today, glorious sunshine. The birds are thrilling to its touch: every bush and tree is alive with twitter and song, as if some kind of liquid energy has been uncorked and cannot be contained. My whole morning has been framed and infused and delighted by robin-song. Drawn out by his ceaseless invitation, I was rewarded by a flash of orange wings, as he changed "stage" from one tree to another.

Spring has arrived; we are revived.

Seamus Heaney

This great and wonderful poet* died last week. The news caused me to return to some of my favourite poems of his. I was going to share some with my Saturday morning students, but they are mostly primary-school kids, and the level of language and the very Irish contexts seemed too difficult. Perhaps I should have read some anyway - poetry has a way of reaching the heart, bypassing word-for-word understanding!

In one of his most well-known poems, "Digging", Heaney is sitting writing while listening to his elderly father digging in the garden outside his window. His father worked at digging potatoes and cutting turf when Heaney was a boy. In the closing verses, he admires his father's skill, and affirms his own, very different one:

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Try some "digging" of your own: capture a childhood memory on paper, or reaffirm one of your skills...If you've no-one else to tell it to, tell me!

*I hate it when I'm confronted with a name whose pronounciation I'm unsure of: his name is "Shame-us Hee-nee".