and more…

A mountain climbing analogy

Imagine the spiritual journey is like setting off to climb a high mountain. The skills and disciplines you need as you walk in on the approach march are not exactly the same as the ones you need as you climb through the foothills, which are not the same as the ones you need as you encounter barren rocky highlands, which are not the same as the ones you need as you negotiate the glacier, and then the high snowy slopes, and then the final climb at oxygen depleted high altitudes…


Song of arid celebration

The path was dry and arid
no sweetness
no consolations.

Then I remembered guidance
from one who had been before
and so I stood up and spoke out
in praise of the path of dryness.

I sang the song of arid celebration.

And after I sat down
everything changed again
for the miracle of dew
brought fluidity to the way
and later on still the night sky tilted a little
and the glistening surface of the dark
containing the many stars within
flowed down towards me as a river.


Wandering with the Swale

North of Muker the Swale wanders
in the summer sunshine through rocks and hills.
We the people wander also, enjoying the day.
We carry our babies in backpacks.
Our young girls sweetly hold gates open for us.
Our mothers automatically tell our little boys to be careful
and our little boys reply ‘yes’ while they run recklessly on.
In the deep pool by the bridge
our beautiful young women
swim in the cool brown water.
On the path, our old ladies help one another
to get their stiff bodies over difficult stiles
and reminisce about when they were young.

We may not all know it
but we are on the Corpse Way
along which in medieval times the bodies of the dead
were carried down Swaledale
to be buried in the sanctified ground at Grinton.

We may not know it
but we are all still on the corpse way
which is not to say that the path
cannot be flooded with joy, and love, and gratitude,
but only that the end is common to us all.


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