June: Hope in Small Spaces

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“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” – Mary Oliver

 

Postcard from the June Garden

 

Herringbone clouds drift in infinite seas

A perfect half-moon in a cosmos blue sky

Elderflowers float to the earth at my feet

Cat slumbers, sun-baked, white among sage and thyme

Green-glorious symphony of breeze, birds and bees…

 

Around me, the lush upward surge of the June garden is full of magic and vibrant green possibility.

The few things I got around to planting from seed with my daughter this year – wildflowers, nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and broad beans – are growing, their tiny green arms thrust open to the sun. In the unrest of current events (we have a general election here in the UK tomorrow on which it feels like so much is resting) I am reminded of this simple truth by the seedlings:

Turn your face stubbornly to the light and keep it there.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m quickly running out of space for any more plants, but even our small, shady courtyard garden is enough to show my little girl that with the right conditions and a little care, seeds will grow; magic (or, science we can’t yet explain) exists; hope comes in odd places; and small things have great power.

A pair of great tits nested in the bird box for the first time this spring. I watched from my daughter’s window as they, beaks stuffed full of fat green caterpillars, flew tirelessly backwards and forwards to greet the raucous cheeping and chirping from inside the box.  I worried about their babies, what with our resident rat and cat – but they made it! Few things could have lifted my spirit more than the sight of the fledglings.

My small courtyard garden is sanctuary and medicine in a tumultuous world. There is so much in flux right now; so much swirling in the spaces between hope and despair. But when I go outside I can narrow my focus and find moments of peace, perspective and joy in the smallest of things: the tenacious little avocado tree which has sprouted unexpectedly from the compost heap; the jasmine flowers glowing like fairy lights in the moonlight; the soft scent of the herb garden in summer rain. The perfect, crystalline sphere of a raindrop glistening on a fern leaf. The yellow flash of a charm of goldfinches chattering in the elder tree. The joy of simple things and the promise of bright days ahead.

When you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” – Rebecca Solnit

I sometimes feel as though the world is poised in a moment of hope and possibility. I’m not saying everything is going to be fine; I’m saying I still believe there’s a fine chance things can get better if we believe it and make it happen. And while there are green things, sunrises and people hell bent on making a better future – in ways both loud and quiet – hope is not ours to surrender.

There is still a window of time.
Nature can win if we give her a chance.
You have an indomitable spirit.
You can do something every day to make change
and make this a better world. ” – Jane Goodall

A green bottle fly, orange-eyed, metallic and resplendent on the budding marguerite daisies, glints emerald in the sun’s reflection and buzzes away, over the wall, across the allotments and up into the sky beyond.

Wishing you midsummer blessings, vibrance and serenity this full moon x

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Imbolc: a poem

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“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems” – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Imbolc

I am the dream of awakening.

I am the returning of the light.

I am the tough green shoot pushing up through the pavestones, I am the first kiss of sunlight on the unfurling petals of the snowdrop. I am the wind which whispers the gentle pull of home to the migratory bird.

I am the drop of ice melting on the mountainside with its great dream of the ocean.

I am the sap rising in the blossom tree just before it reveals its sticky buds to the sky; I am the riotous celebration humming away beneath the earth’s mantle of frozen sleep.

I am the rousing of the bee from its winter slumber, and the soft pad of the mother-wolf’s paw on the snow as she prepares to birth her pups.

I am hope, potential, rebirth and promise. I am the kindling breath which transforms the flicker of inspiration in your creative core into a blazing torch.

Give me the silent crescent moon rising over the sea and I will build you a bridge of silver light so you can walk up and lie in it.

Give me the frost-hardened wilderness and I will breathe radiant green life over it.

Give me the healer, the writer, the craftsperson and the storyteller, and I will replenish her essence and make her new again.

I am Brigid, Bast, Inanna and Hestia. I am the fierce protectress of the sacred fire.

Tonight I bestow my gifts of power and courage at the hearth of your soul: power to step out of the shadows of self-doubt and negativity which have held you in darkness for too long, power to shed all that which no longer serves you, and courage to clear your heart and mind for the dawn that awaits you.

I am the time to honor your unique gifts for their true worth and to protect and nurture your creative self as you would a child. I am the deep longing of the spirit which refuses to be consumed by a narrative of fear and chooses instead to place itself vivaciously on the side of love.

I am the stirring in your belly which knows exactly what you are capable of — and that it’s time the world found out.

I am the fire within which will not be contained any longer.

I am the quickening, I am the serpent uncoiling, I am Imbolc.

I am the dream of awakening.

Originally published on Rebelle Society at http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/01/30/i-am-imbolc-the-dream-of-awakening/

Love Letter to Tea

Tea

“(Tea) is not a drink, it is meditation; it is prayer. Listen to the kettle creating a melody, and in that listening… become more silent, more alert.” ~ Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

The kettle splutters and rumbles to a halt. As water falls on to the teabag, ethereal tendrils of steam spiral upwards and the voyage, the ritual, the alchemy begins.

The liquid blushes honey and cherry amber, deepening then to golden brown.

I wait. Patience, time, slowness. Tea cannot be brewed in a hurry.

I pour in the milk. Pockets of creamy cloud billow outwards to create a miniature weather system, a tiny stormy sky in my china cup. A gentle stir clockwise and calm is restored.

I cradle the cup in both hands and bring it to my lips. I close my eyes and taste the hours of sunshine and the fat drops of rain which nurtured the tea garden; the dance of the elements and the seasons which brought us to this moment.

Wonderful tea: bright, comforting and refreshing. You remind me to be thankful. You freshen my perspective. You restore me to myself.

“Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.” ~T’ien Yi-heng

I first inhaled the soft smell of you on my mother’s breath as I lay as a baby in her arms.

As a child, guests in our home were no sooner through the door than a cup of tea would be offered. And so I grew to learn that you, dear tea, mean hospitality. As Ben Okri has said,

“Hospitality begins in the soul… it is a way of being. We are all guests in life.”

In a culture where the rites of womanhood are seldom afforded due prominence, drinking you with the grown-ups was a passage into adulthood. In times of celebration, upheaval, loss and great loss: on went the kettle.

I drank you green in the far east, red in South Africa, thick with sugar and mint in north Africa and spiced and tooth-achingly sweet in India.

You warmed my hands and my heart on the chill, misty Himalayan mountainside and I walked on green hills where you grew, watching in fascination as women in brightly coloured clothes picked your leaves. I will always cherish the wisdom of strangers and of long-lost, treasured friends made around the chai shop. And I will never forget the welcome call of the chai-wallah after a ropey night in second class sleeper: “Chai chai chai!”.

You were always there to welcome me home.

When the nurse brought me my first cup of you after I gave birth, my new life as a mother began. It may have been average, hospital grade tea in a not-particularly-generous cup – but it was relief, joy, immense gratitude and exhaustion all at once.

Gentle summer rain on the parched earth of my lips.

In the haze of early motherhood and the sleepless nights which followed, you were both balm and tonic, ally and trusted friend.

Like most grown-up relationships, ours is a complicated back story. You tell the tale of a journey from the east, used as medicine, currency and ceremony; ancient magic brewed for the gentry and the priesthood. It’s a story of trade and colonialism, shadowed with the darkness of slavery – even of war.

And yet to me, today, you speak of peace. You beseech calm and reverence in a frenetic world. You offer delicious moments of solitude amidst the noise and haste. You gently urge us to pause, turn inward for reflection, come together and wonder at the preciousness of everyday things. You are made with, and of love.

You are a thread in the tapestry of my life. Plants are healers and you, my dear, are a queen among them. The world needs you now, perhaps more than ever. Because, in the words of a fellow tea drinker:

“Where there’s tea there’s hope.” ~ Arthur Wing Pinero

This post originally appeared on Be You Media Group at http://beyoumediagroup.com/2014/10/27/a-love-letter-to-tea-caroline-mellor/

Have a look at the rest of the site beyoumediagroup.com – some gorgeous pieces to inspire and enlighten.