Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A sacred moment

It is twenty one years since Ann Wetherall died - friend, mentor and colleague - in helping her found the Prison Phoenix Trust that is twenty five this year. http://www.theppt.org.uk/

On the anniversary of her death, a small group of trustees and staff go to her grave in the beautiful Cotswold village of Bibury for a time of quiet meditation, followed by each person bringing a reading to share, followed by breakfast hosted by Anne's older sister, Tigger, who is herself a trustee, hale of mind and body at ninety two. It is always a poised and beautiful moment, even when it has been raining (as it has in the past). The churchyard all stillness in its pristine maintenance. May Ann travel onwards within the mystery of consciousness that was her exploring home in life.

My contributed reading was Mary Oliver's poem, 'The Swan'

Across the wide waters
     something comes
          floating—a slim
             and delicate


ship, filled
     with white flowers—
          and it moves
             on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn't exist,
     as though bringing such gifts
          to the dry shore
             was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.
     And now it turns its dark eyes,
          it rearranges
             the clouds of its wings,

it trails
     an elaborate webbed foot,
          the color of charcoal.
             Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do
     when that poppy-colored beak
          rests in my hand?
             Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:

I miss my husband's company—
     he is so often
          in paradise.
             Of course! the path to heaven

doesn't lie down in flat miles.
     It's in the imagination
          with which you perceive
             this world,

and the gestures
     with which you honor it.
          Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those
             white wings
           touch the shore?

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