I was wondering why I had heard nothing from Eddie Gilmore for a while. Well, he has been to Korea with Yim Soon, to mark their thirty years of marriage. Congratulations!
Eddie posted this account of his holiday, which got off to an inauspicious start in and around various European airports, but turned into a great treat for the soul. Let’s rejoice with Eddie and Yim Soon, and before the memories fade, be grateful for the blessings of the summer that has now brought us to autumn, a time of reflection and new beginnings. At L’Arche Kent we’ll be planting bulbs for a start!
Here’s an extract from Eddie’s story:
Having left home on the Friday I finally landed in Seoul on the Monday. It was hot and humid, the monsoon season had just begun, and I was exhausted: hungry too, since you don’t get fed on planes the way you used to. After a couple of nights with Yim Soon’s eldest sister Son Ja, whose apartment was mercifully close to a mini-mountain with wonderful views over the city, we were picked up by Son Ja’s daughter Son Young for the three-hour (if there’s no traffic, otherwise it’s seven hours!) drive East to the Sorak national park. It’s a place that holds special memories for me: good walking, beautiful waterfalls, also its close proximity to the East Sea, where we had some fun times on the beach, partly due to the mountains being closed to the public due to the heavy rain. Thankfully they were reopened for our day to Daechongbong and Yim Soon and I were on the trail at 8 a.m. having dropped our bags at the temple where we would be spending the night. We were on the top at just after 2 p.m., having almost given up a couple of times on what seemed impossibly steep sections. I’m glad we pressed on and we were rewarded with stunning views over the lower peaks and all the way to the sea. We made it back down to the temple just in time for the final check-in at 6.30 p.m. but having missed dinner! No matter, we were both too tired to eat but what a good fatigue it is that comes from extreme physical exertion. There was a ‘full Korean breakfast’ on offer at 6.30 a.m., the only condition being that we had to wear the ‘temple robes’ that had been assigned to us on arrival which were grey trousers and a yellow jacket. I’ll wear anything for a good meal!
And things kept on getting better!
Thank you Eddie, as always.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Summer
Tagged as clothing, community, delay, Eddie Gilmore, family, holiday, journey, Korea, meditation, mountain, prayer, rain, sea, shared table, walking
When Saint Francis had returned to Saint Mary of the Angels, he sent two of his companions to the said Orlando; who when they were come to him, were received of him with exceeding great joy and charity. And desiring to show them the mount of Alvernia, he sent with them full fifty men-at-arms to defend them from the wild beasts of. the wood, and thus accompanied these brothers climbed up the mountain and searched diligently and at last they came to a part of the mountain that was well fitted for devotion and contemplation; for in that part there was some level ground; and this place they chose out for them and for Saint Francis to dwell therein; and with the help of the men-at-arms that bore them company, they made a little cell of branches of trees: and so they accepted in the name of God, and took possession of the Mount of Alvernia and of the dwelling-place of the brothers on the mountain, and departed, and returned to Saint Francis.
And when they were come unto him, they told him how and in what maimer they had taken a place on the mount of Alvernia, most fitted for prayer and meditation. Hearing these tidings, Saint Francis was right glad, and praising and giving thanks to God, he spake to those brothers with joyful countenance, and said, “My sons, our forty days’ fast of Saint Michael the Archangel draweth near; I firmly believe that it is the will of God that we keep this fast on the mount of Alvernia, which by divine decree hath been made ready for us, to the end that to the honour and glory of God and of His Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, and of the holy Angels, we may, through penance, merit at the hands of Christ the consolation of consecrating this blessed mountain.”
Today is the Feast of Saint Michael.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces
Tagged as Angels, Christ, fasting, forest, Franciscans, hermit, home, Italy, Mary, mountain, prayer, reflection, Saint Francis, soldier, solitude, truth
This isn’t the first time I’ve shared an article by Father James Kurzynski, who writes on the Catholic Astronomer website. This time he is writing from the Rockies, where he tacked a holiday onto officiating at the wedding of friends.
Whether you contrived to get away this August or not, take a walk with Fr James through the Sanctuary of the Sorrowful Mother in Oregon. An armchair pilgrimage in the spirit of Laudato Si!. Follow the link!
Musings from the Sanctuary
Not one of Fr James’s pictures, but they convey a sense of place. Follow the link!
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Summer
Tagged as Catholic Astronomer, ecology, Fr James Kurzynski, Laudato si', mountain, Oregon, pilgrim, prayer, sanctuary, United States
I trust that readers who also visit the Will Turnstone blog will forgive my recycling this piece from there.It fits in well with Saint Francis this week, and with our theme of Laudato Si’!
One summer’s day Mrs Turnstone and I took Abel to the woods where we found this invitation to look at Betula, the Lady of the Woods. Isn’t she lovely? Find one of her sisters near you and enjoy the sight.
And now something I’ve been saving till the right picture turned up! This passage from Nan Shepherd’s ‘The Living Mountain’. A writer may reveal what the reader more than half knows, awakening joyful recognition in her audience. I was reading Shepherd to learn about the Scottish Highlands, but I discovered something all-but known about the birch I see as I open the curtains. Here is Shepherd on p53:
Birch … that grows on the lower mountain slopes, needs rain to release its odour. It is a scent with body to it, fruity like old brandy, and on a wet warm day, one can be as good as drunk with it. Acting through the sensory nerves, it confuses the higher centres; one is excited, with no cause that the wit can define.
It’s always good to return home even from a quick walk to the shops. There is magic in fingering the keys as I approach under the lime trees – trees that may not flourish on Cairngorm but here share their bee-sung, scented glory every summer. Birch is wind-pollinated, needing no nectar, but its fresh-air scent, which I barely register even in wet weather, is part of coming home. I never realised till Nan Shepherd told me! And the blackbirds sing louder in the rain.
We occasionally berate the birch for its scattered seedlings, which occupy any bare earth and even take root in garden walls. As Rome fell away from Britain no-one removed the young trees, and the towns crumbled.
Not far from here at the derelict mine, a birch forest has sprung up on the spoil. Silver birch, I called it as a child – but it is pure gold in Autumn.
Do seek out Nan Shepherd’s book and see, hear, smell, feel with her.
And Laudato Si’!
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Reviews
Tagged as Autumn, children, home, Kent, Laudato si', mountain, rain, reading, Saint Francis, Scotland, sense, Summer, trees, walk
It was my joke, when I was researching in Rome, that my constitutional walk was down the Via Aurelia, round the fountain and back to the HQ of the Missionaries of Africa, and the (thankfully dust-free) files in the archives. The fountain was a good goal to aim for: you could hardly miss it, unless you mistook it for the one on the opposite side of the piazza. And a thing of beauty it is with the water playing in the sunlight.
This summer it is not playing. When the old popes brought water from the hills to furnish these fountains and many others throughout Rome there were many fewer people drinking less water, using less for washing and all the many processes that need water. The spring rains have not come this year: the City of Rome may soon ration water, so the Vatican City has turned off the supply to many of its fountains in solidarity with the Roman people.
People come before ornamental fountains, though even in April I was glad of the drinking fountain in the wall of the Vatican. I hope that is still running in the heat: my friend Fr Dominique Arnauld told me that the water in the fountains of Rome is reliably fresh and drinkable; and cold. You could spend a small fortune buying bottled water!
Let us not take water for granted – nor the needs of our fellow human beings, brothers and sisters. Nor indeed all the creatures that depend on water from the hills and from springs and rivers and the clouds. I’m sure I could use a little less each day. And you?
Laudato Si’ !
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces
Tagged as fountain, Laudato si', Missionaries of Africa, mountain, Popes, Rome, solidarity, walk, water
I do not
wish to write
poems dipped in Grey
seems so wild about
today as if Grey
makes them weigh
more be more
have more truth
Light is true.
So let there BE
light. Let it pour and
let there be
more and more
lashings of it
boat-loads bath-tub loads
bus-loads of original light
slapping up the sides
waves of it
will not make me
but am I
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', poetry
Tagged as city, City of God, Creator God, Laudato si', light, mountain, poetry, truth, work
Sometimes the Bible seems to contradict itself. For example we read that God wants sacrifice, or else that he insists that he does not. Well, I rather enjoy one minor contradiction, setting:
‘Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain’ (Isaiah 40:3) against: ‘I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me. My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’ (Psalm 120:1-2)
Where would the world be without mountains? I don’t want them all bulldozed, though I am glad of the tunnels, cuttings, banks, bridges and viaducts that make a highway or a railway through them: a colossal feat of human ingenuity and hard work to conceive, construct and maintain them. But lest we get above ourselves by taking too much pride in our works, or give in to the self-improvement temptation and set about to construct a self-designed ‘real me’, let us look to the mountain top.
Unlike Moses, we do not need to go up there to see God. And even when we have our moments, like the Apostles with Jesus on the mountain of Transfiguration (Matthew 17), the daily round soon awaits us.
Those special moments are gifts, most of them not obviously religious in nature. Time spent with a loved one, a walk by the sea or in the hills; even the journey home from work: that acquaintance who greeted us, a smile and good news on their lips? Did you hear the thrush? Or notice the rainbow? As Paul tells us, there are diversities of gifts, including that of discernment! (1Corinthians 12).
Let us be thankful for the gifts we have received, and let us look up and pray, every day, for discernment.
Buttermere Chapel, English Lake District. Rain outside.
Filed under Daily Reflections
Tagged as 1 Corinthians, bridge, gift, Isaiah, journey, mountain, prayer, Psalms, sacrifice, Saint Matthew, sign, transfiguration, work