Category Archives: Guides
On Thursday I had decided to venture to the far end of the island, and was advised to use some transport as the terrain was not the best for hiking. I was given the name of a donkey wrangler in Gilead whose animals were reliable and gentle.
I loaded up my backpack with food and water and made sure I had my walnut shell. I was unsure whether this would be of any use with a donkey. I didn’t want to teleport myself and leave a donkey off in the sticks. There might be a huge fine for that. I didn’t know if the teleporting would include the donkey or not, but it wouldn’t hurt to take the shell with me anyway. I also packed a couple of apples and carrots as a treat for the animal, and set off for Gilead.
The donkey-man’s name was Thomas, and he brought out a pretty, little, light-grey donkey named Maria. Seeing the look of consternation on my face, he assured me that she would carry me quite easily. I’m no lightweight! Did I detect a look of panic in the beast’s eye?? I apologised profusely to Maria, and Thomas helped me aboard. He threw a couple of panniers over her rump, containing feed and water; showed me how to steer, and I was on my way.
I must say that when I settled down and accepted that we were not going to travel at the speed of light, I quite enjoyed it. I kept up a running commentary on the sights, sounds and smells for Maria, and I think we appreciated each other’s company. She was very biddable and there was no power-struggle, making the journey very soothing.
We passed through several small settlements on our trip, and were greeted at each by groups of small children and an assortment of animals. I didn’t have anything in mind but being able to say I’d seen the lighthouse at the westernmost point of the island. Everything else – the people, the scenery, the sounds and the smells – was a bonus. I was soaking it all up. I sang a couple of songs about ‘Maria’, which made the donkey’s ears twitch and me giggle. I don’t know if it was her name or my singing that caused the twitch.
We stopped in the late morning for something to eat and drink and I gave my trusty steed one of the apples and carrots, which she seemed to relish. We rested for a while, so that the feeling could return to my nether regions, and then had to find a rock for me to climb onto to get back in the saddle.
We arrived at the lighthouse about an hour later and were welcomed by the keeper and his wife – Mr and Mrs Weatherspoon (Dave and Phyllis). They invited me in for tea and sandwiches, so I tied Maria up in the shade of a tree and gave her feed and water, and went inside.
The cottage was built on the leeward side of the lighthouse to shelter it from the worst of the winter storms, and was delightfully cozy. The furniture was of a simple design, but beautifully crafted from a light coloured, close-grained wood. There were small carvings of flowers in the backs of the chairs. ‘What beautiful furniture!’ I said.
‘My Dave made all this for me as a wedding gift. Almost thirty years ago, now.’
‘Aye, and’ Phyllis made all the cushions, too. And the rugs and the curtains.’ I could see that they were both immensely proud of each other, and with good cause. Phyllis served sourdough bread with goat’s cheese and chutney – all homemade, Dave informed me – and we had a large pot of tea between us. Dave gave me instructions on the finer points of lighthouse keeping, and Phyllis advised me on goat herding and cheese making. I told them of my adventures onboard the ship and we all spent a very pleasant couple of hours together. Not many people venture out to the lighthouse, so company is always welcome.
I had a good ride in front of me, to get back to Gilead, so I climbed aboard Maria once more and thanked my hosts for a pleasant visit, and for their hospitality, and set off on my return journey. The same groups of children clapped and cheered when we reappeared in their villages. We had another small stop with the basket weavers, so that Maria could have a drink, and arrived back in Gilead at dusk. I’m sure Maria was looking forward to a good rest – I know I was.
There was no way I was going to get back to the Abbey for the evening meal, so I went to the little café that Woody and I had visited on our first night on the island. I had poached eggs on toast and a cup of their delicious coffee.
I took a very sedate stroll home – I was sure I had saddle-sores, and intended to soak in the bath for some time before retiring for the night. I had been soaking for a few minutes before I remembered I could have saved myself the walk home by using my walnut shell. I’m not too bright some days!
Dancing Culture- By Gumbootspearlz
For more of this adventure head to Unity’s Cabin
My hair and clothes had been smoked, smoked by the lady with the smoking leaves. She called on her Elders in the story place to the listening time in the story circle under the trees. Under the trees was the moonlight. In that moonlight were the guardians, the guardians of the stories of the messengers, of the stories of the breakers of the new dawn.
Guardians of different forms of knowledge gathered in the story circle. They were summoned by the smoke which wove itself into intricate circles and spirals in the air. The Spirals formed into the shape of shells, and the shells sang memories and prophecies. The lady with the smoking leaves had long white hair and wore a finely carved bone necklace. The necklace was so intricate and showed the craft of her son who had made it for her. Her son was a master carver of some repute. His story was already well known to the guardians. He was destined to be one of the heroes, a hero who would die by the sword of the ancients. I knew this because I had met one of the ancients as a small child as she bathed by a river pool on my island. She had summoned me from sleep to the river pool with a song of the shell. She had said “Look for the Spiral staircase, dream of the spiral stair case and when it’s time it will appear.” But here I was with the lady with the smoking leaves, wondering how she had made her way into the abbey.
She came from the place of the first stories, the place of the first moonlight, and she was far more ancient than all the women I had met at that first meeting. We were all to meet with her – not just me. We were all to be smoked, to find our own inner flame and wisdom. As she smoked me the spiral staircase appeared and she said in an ancient tongue “shival”… climb. So I climbed not knowing to where I climbed.
As I left the story circle I wondered if I would reach the moon- and fearing heights I looked down to see the bottom of the stair case had disappeared. I was somewhere between earth and heaven, somewhere between smoke and pool of water. I called out “where is there to climb to… I can’t see the end…” “Shival, shival” I heard coming from somewhere above.
A large dragon flew by and on it was Angel of Water, “Here jump on” she called… “But I am supposed to climb,” I replied. “Yes, that’s true but wouldn’t it be easier to fly,” “No I must climb, I must,” “Wise Girl we are a temptation, so goodbye,” and that which I thought was Angel of Water turned into a monster and vanished.
So I climbed even though I could not see steps and I felt fine threads under my feet and in my fingers. This stair case was an invisible one. “shival, shival…” It was almost too much to step on such light steps that might shatter into thin air.
Then I saw white elephant he was so enormous. I was sure it was an auspicious sign. I wondered if I should leap from the ladder and go off on that elephant, surely that would be an adventure. But no I had to continue with my mountaineering into the sky. The elephant turned into the Buddhist Nun, she bowed and she too vanished. “Well done child, keep climbing, sorry to test you.” I kept climbing not worrying about what was behind me instead moving ever closer towards the beckoning moon. She seemed to have a face, a lady in the moon, that would be sight-a lady dancing on the moon, an ancient figure with a barking owl for a friend. I was becoming light headed the further and further I climbed into the sky – and then I saw a book, perched in the sky, being brought to me in the beak of the barking owl. It dropped the book into me so suddenly I thought I would fall from the staircase- and then as I touched the book the staircase became solid again. This was such a relief, I sighed.
My sighs turned into ruby red dragon flies. A swarm of them settled around the book and grasped the book. I heard little voices, “It’s the Hidden Words come down from heaven…” I wanted to open the book but I was so frightened I would fall. “Please help me dragon flies.” I whispered in a tiny voice. The dragon flies replied, “Of course child- we will take it to the abbey for you, but you must climb a little farther on the stairs. So I climbed, I was so tired, it felt truly like days I had been climbing into thin air, through mists, up to the moon.
And now the mist cleared, and in front of me was the tree, the tree from Owl Island, but no it was not, it was actually his brother. He had dark eyes deep in his trunk. He had a nightingale perched on his branches. “Here child, you can fly back to the abbey on the song of this nightingale, this is true not false, do you trust.” I was not sure whether to trust having seen a monster disguise itself as the Angel of Water. Could I trust?
The Dragonflies might have taken the book and given it to some wizard for all I knew. Yet, as the nightingale sang I knew to trust. It’s melody was just so sweet and the high pitched tones wove around me like a guardian of my soul, like a song both ancient and modern. I knew I could trust, and as if bursting asunder from some prison I soared and soared, until I was back in the circle, covered in the smoke of the lady with the leaves, her eyes bright and her song woven with the spirit of the nightingale. She sang..”arata, arata” motioning with her hands – dig dig…
© June Perkins all rights reserved
For more of this adventure head to Unity’s Cabin
St. Francis said,
“A man who uses his hands is a laborer.
One who uses his hands and mind is a craftsman.
He who uses his hands, and his mind, and his heart is an artist.”
Could not these thoughts extend to our work as Passionists as well?
If part of our calling to live the Charism of Christ and heed the thoughts of mystics like St. Paul of the Cross, is founded in action as well as words and contemplative prayer, then how does our ‘work’ rate?
Do we simply ‘labor’ at spirituality, performing routine tasks without modeling love and passion? Worse, do we lazily become ‘couch potatoes’ in life’s drama — casual observers of some ‘reality game’ in which ‘passion’ is vicarious and scripted by others? I do not judge here. At least being tuned into the right ‘channel’ of spirituality can bring peace and salvation.
We do better as ‘craftsman’ most certainly, applying our skills to planning, orchestrating and studying to enhance our understanding and commitment. Yet there was not a single covenant stated or heard in our hearts that did not sing of something more. We can bring hope and light to those lost from the fold through fine practice of skills and knowledge. As an ” Ecclectic ComPassionist”, I believe there must be more.
As an ‘artist’ in Passion we can, by faith and example, allow others to emerge from the sculptor’s stone. We need not form or shape a kindred spirit to a path or dream, we need only remove that which is not pure and simple. St. Francis’ example was one of living the Passion — of being visible and profound. Art is found in the eyes of the beholder and God’s grace of vision and mercy. Remember the potter’s wheel that did not always produce fine works of art. The imperfect cup can still pass life to another, and the clay reused in a divine cycle of birth and death.
By living we proclaim the Passion.
Being seen and heard in this calling is true artistry.
Guides will take seasoned travellers and new pilgrims to the Abbey which lies on a small island, across the lake upon which the City of Ladies is perched. All comers are welcome to join the Abbey and undertake the Soul Food Labours. Residents work on the A to Z of Alchemy and observe the transmutation that takes place within this divine sanctuary, far from the hustle and bustle of twenty first century life.