Saturday, 31 January 2015

Blessing of Brigid

 St Brigid  - February 1st

 Brigid, the saint of hospitality, has many blessings already and the custom of clearing the winter vapours and renewing the spiritual air with a house blessing sealed with a handmade Brigid's Cross is one I have held to for years. 
Another blessing will never go amiss.

Brigid's Blessing

The hand of the Creator God bless this home
In its making and its keeping
In its holding and its welcoming 
In its stones and in its land
May the Father bring his strength
And the Mother bring her care.
May all be blessed and be a blessing to others

The hand of the Son of Man bless this home
May it be a place where the Child sleeps
And the Mother rests
May the Christ sit at its table 
And walk in its gardens 
May his words welcome the stranger
May all be blessed and be a blessing to others

The hand of the Spirit of God bless this home
May her breath renew within and without

In the heart and hearth of faith
In the fire of wisdom
May her whispers be words of peace
And the beat of her wings bring courage
May all be blessed and be a blessing to others

The hands of the Sacred Three bless this home
In the coming in and the going out
In the sitting and the resting
In the spoken word and the listening ear
In the welcome and the farewell
May the Three bind it in their dance of grace
May all be blessed and be a blessing to others

Blessed be


Friday, 19 September 2014

Sabbat of Mabon

As the seasons turn into this time of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the Autumn Equinox this weekend takes us into a time for celtic reflection.  

Watching the world move through the year is a mindful practice; seeing God's hand in the coming and going of skeins of geese and clouds of swallows; in the changing shades of oak, maple and beech; the graphic silhouettes of trees across the horizon;  stormcast skies and shortening days.

This is the time for the ancient Sabbat festival of Mabon; named for the Welsh Celtic God who, like Persephone, gives six months of his life to the underworld so that the earth may benefit from the promise of rebirth into the arms of the Great Mother.

At this time the Green Man also takes his rest; sinking into the loam of fallen leaves; nestling the acorns, seedpods and tubers into his body; protected and preserved until the sun comes again. But, before sleep, there is time for thanksgiving for the abundant fruits and crops of the earth.  Sometimes known as the Feast of Avalon, which means “Land of Apples” the harvest remembers both what is past and what is to come.

 The Celts honored this Sabbat by the harvest of apples;  this is particularly the last few days for the harvesting of fruits.  The fruits, wines and gatherings of the summer are shared in thankfulness for the life-giving harvest of this year; often shared with the mother trees themselves.

This is a time to pause and reflect with thanks on our own harvest of the year; to celebrate our families; friendships; personal achievements and dreams fulfilled.   

Also, to say goodbye with equal thanks to those times that have now passed and the loved ones who rest in the peace of earth and the joy of Heaven. 

Christianity has baptised this period with the practice of Harvest Festivals;  churches richly decorated with displays of flowers, fruit and corn. Many communities bring donations to church to be shared amongst the needy of the area - again a reminder of the early times when the sick and the widow would struggle to survive the winter without help. 

As we enter the time of The Crone; when Brigid the Mother gives up her busyiness and sits a while so as to share her wisdom stories and healing gifts; it is a good reminder to us all to spend a while with those we love in this world and those that now rest in their own misty lands of mellow fruitfulness. 

Mabon Blessing

Blessing of mother and son
warrior and crone
sun and moon 

Blessing of gift and giver
generosity of spirit
heartfelt gratitude

Blessing of light and shadow 
sun rising over violet lakes
setting over velvet hills

Blessing of harvest 
fallen apples; rising wheat
gourds and grape

Blessing of farewells
misty veils and far horizons
grace-ful memories 

Blessing of the Creator God
His blessed Son
and Spirit of Life

blessed be


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Feast of St Aidan - Flame of the North

Aidan - Flame of the North 

Genesis 1:3
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 

Today sees the feast day of St Aidan and a week of celebrating the the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne and her saints.

For a wonderful account of the life of Aidan see Canon Kate Tristam's article here

St Aidan's Bamburgh
from the Baptistry
When I have the time, my visits to Lindisfarne include paying my respects to Wilfrid at Hexham and then Aidan at St Aidan's in Bamburgh. By tradition, Aidan died in an earlier wooden church on this site and the beam he was leaning against has survived two major fires. Benedictines rebuilt the church in the 12th Century, honouring the memory of the Celtic 'apostle'. 

In a symbol of resurrection the beam is now part of the roof work over the baptistry. 

There is a simple shrine over the ground where he lay and, touchingly, prayer tokens take the celtic shape of shells, pebbles and feathers tucked into a little stone recess at the side.  

Then it is often a case of racing the tide for the crossing - it seems to be another personal tradition to only just make it one way or the other. 

This year was the first year that I made the crossing on foot - in bare feet to be precise - following the sentinel posts that mark safe passage. The poem and post Pilgrim Sands celebrates the experience of walking in the footsteps of all those who wander for the love of Christ.  

There are probably a thousand ways of expressing Celtic spirituality -  Aidan is one who carries God's hospitality with him. Wherever he was, he was the doorkeeper to the Kingdom - and his lamp was always lit.

Blessing of Aidan 

May you  shine with Heaven's Light 
May your heart be Light
in Love's longing
May your words be Light 
in dark times
May your hands be Light
in life's struggles
May your feet be Light
in sharing journeys
and bringing all to the Feast
May you shine with Heaven's Light

Blessed be


Monday, 25 August 2014

Prayers for Seekers

Maybe there is something in the air of late summer. In the turning of the leaves, the over-blowing of the flowers and the ripening fruit that creates a restlessness. In the excited gatherings of starlings across the telephone lines and skeins of geese pointing the way to pastures and waters new.

Maybe the light evenings give everyone, even those who work, the opportunity to clear the mind and notice a lacking, a calling, a mission.

Maybe the Spirit is more easily seen in the wide skies, rustling leaves and sparkling splashes of rivers in full spate.

Maybe it is simply an instinct from our early lives. When the new school year forced us out of cotton sandals, leaving the crisscross pattern of suntanned feet as a melancholy reminder under crisp white socks. And it was no longer acceptable for your hair to look as though you had been dragged through the hedge backwards.

There is a long liminal season between Lammas and Mabon - the celebration of high summer and the autumn equinox - that nudges us out of our Dog Days attitude. The fine summer will not last forever.

How we are to traverse the darkening days is something we need to consider and act upon. Perhaps a pilgrimage of the spirit is called for; a journey to a new depth of being. A calling to ministry or commitment to prayer. The 'perhaps' needs time and consideration. A time of 'ressourcement' - a return to what is authentic, a stripping away of habit and convenience.

Jesus would take this need to the desert, that was his ''otherworld'.  Advent and Lent can still be desert experiences for many. 
But why not here, in what the church calls Ordinary Time? Why not invite the desert to show us what is extraordinary within us?

This series of prayer poems and reflections have a rough sense of desert journeying as a focus for meditative prayer. I usually prefer to set the scene. When I am fortunate enough to be on retreat there will be some wilderness patch, cliff or beach. Standing stones and circles and, of course, labyrinths create a world to withdraw into. Otherwise, a garden shrine or table and a big cupful of silence - quality is not always about quantity.

They are in an order of sorts but feel free to be drawn one way or another.


The Lord calls,

'Come to me.

Leave the plains of ordinary times
The well worn paths of everyday
Leave the dry river beds
And relentless horizons
The daydreams
And mirages
Of life.

And come to me'

Desert brothers and sisters
Perhaps it is easier to find a place for oneself in the desert; with all its physical trials but without the temptations of the world. I will admit to sometimes finding the idea of solitude and the 'apartness' so very appealing.

How difficult it is to focus only on God, only on our soul travelling towards God when we live in the busyness and distractions of the Everyday.

This then becomes our challenge - to sacrifice the 'who we are' within the walls of the mundane - in the ordinariness of life - and to create within ourselves some 'desert' space to follow the yearning that leads us into the experience of God's loving presence and so find ourselves, at the end of the day, praying on our knees and with blessed souls.

The desert

I stand with my back to the world.

Its distractions and temptations fading away
Ahead the desert, a journey into peace
A journey into solitude

A journey to find meaning and understanding
In a world of confusion.

There is no confusion here
Life is precious and to be lived
The journey a test of strength
A trial of commitment to the Way.

What is the way?

Who is the way?

The God who was here first,
Tested and tempted

The God who remains now
His footprints in the sand

The God who is always
My oasis, my hope, my guide


There are a variety of understandings about levels of consciousness. There is the activity of the ‘what we are doing now’; reactive and proactive. The thinking that knows it is thinking. If we consider this then it seems to take up most of our time, being in the now. But the process of ‘being in the now’ on a conscious level requires access to multiple layers of what has gone before; all the basic skills of life; acquired information that allows us to interpret and forecast events, memories that tell us who and what we are; our relationship to the world. We may believe that this is all in the sub-conscious; as if this is an ocean of deep water with the oily consciousness
 floating above. 

To only have these two levels would making fishing for what we need somewhat difficult. I imagine consciousness as layers of different materials sometimes with defined edges, sometimes more fluid, a tidal place where there is always movement; more active at the surface where it is at the elements of the world around it; denser and more concentrated as the layers settle into the self. Silence is not just one layer in this environment. 

There are many layers, some just gentle buffers between one and the other, others a place of transition; others a place to be absorbed into the heart of Now.

Based on Psalm 46

I rest in the Sanctuary of the Lord

Knowing that God alone is my refuge.
I am deafened by the world’s demands
Overwhelmed by its rages and torments

The seas swell and the mountains quake
The uproar of mans greed echoes through the night
Angry voices call out for revenge
Broken hearts for rescue.

But not here

Here is a Holy Place
This, my refuge
Deep as a mountain pool
Hopeful as the dawn sun
The home of the Most High

Heart’s ease is here
Soul’s friend is here
Spirit’s food is here

My Lord and my God

The Lord speaks and the world melts away
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know
Be still


We make the choice to turn again; to become unworldly; to escape the expectations. We choose to accept what life truly means. We choose to deny ourselves the distractions that keep us from living an authentic life. If we take this denial seriously we accept some suffering rather than questioning the need for it; somehow we understand the need. That there is solidarity in suffering...solidarity with a God who chose to suffer to set us free; who, in some Kairos moment, continues to suffer and who needs us, in our freedom, to choose to walk beside him

See a clay bowl

See a clay bowl set into desert sand

newly fired and filled to the brim with water,
with life

A stone, plucked from desert ashes
is dropped into the bowl,
gonging it’s entry into sacred space

A shower of sparkling light leaps up
then falls
leaving dark tears on the sand.

Another stone.
a filmy amoeba moves eerily across the surface.

No longer perfect.

Tears rain
forced to flee 
by the will of the unthinking stone.

The fragility of the clay
weighed down by granite.
to move would be to break

The bowl sits – bereft

In the dark of beneath
water seeks a resting place
finds a cocoon of memory
an inheritance abandoned and forgotten.

The remembering seed drinks and climbs
fresh green fingers push sand aside and reaches up in joy.

Roots entangle clay 

Imperfect brings forth life.

I always imagine all pilgrims to be on the road to Emmaus - never quite sure that they will encounter the Divine - until they do.

The Blessing of Emmaus

Blessed be the path of the shoreline
Of thrift and cordgrass
The betwixt path of sea and sand
The path of waxing and waning

Blessed be the path of the meadow
Of wheatgrass and poppies
The tiller's path seeking a harvest
The path of the gatherer and the gleaner

Blessed be the path of the mountain
Of gentians and gorse
The goatherd's path of vision 
The path of precipice and ascent

Blessed be the path of the desert
of mallow and milkweed
The solitary's path of denial
The path of encounter and sacrifice

There are no wrong paths
only the path 
where you do not invite God
to walk beside you.

Blessed be


You are very welcome to use the ideas and prayers - though I would ask that they are acknowledged as  mairie gelling 2014

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Praying in the Landscape

I thought I would share this reflective liturgy as an idea or inspiration for others. You could adapt the prayers to suit a group if needed.

There are some lovely churchyards, gardens and natural spaces that invite the opportunity to appreciate the natural world, to pray and to rest. This was a day of reflection written for the surroundings of an ancient church near where I live. I'll describe each station as we go.

In this case, people came into the church space during the day. They were given a map of the stations, which they could visit at their own pace. There were places where people could sit and reflect. Each station had  prayer cards with the prayer poem and an image for the visitor to sit with and take away. The visitors were invited to start and end their journey with the prayer to the Sacred Three and to light candles in the church before they left, some people brought leaves or feathers as well. You could create a temporary shrine within the surroundings for this.

Prayer to the Sacred Three 

Sacred Three, whose love spirals the Universe
I ask you to guide my footsteps 
To open my eyes, to reveal your presence
in the world that is your gift to me.

May the blessing of the Father be in 
the depth of earth, the stability of rock, 
the turning of the seasons
to hold and protect me.

May the blessing of the Christ be in
the life that springs forth from the earth
creatures, trees and plant life
companions in my journey

May the blessing of the Spirit be in 
the eddying waters, the zephyrs of air
the breath of God's love 
to ward me and guide me.

Station - The Briar Path 

A overgrown part of the churchyard where the path needs to be negotiated with care

No-one said it would be easy 
But sometimes I wish
It would not be so hard.

Life sends me on many paths
The Way is not always clear
Light shines, but casts
Long shadows.
Darkness catches me 
Thoughts and words
Like briar thorns 
Bite into my heart.
Am I lost?

Be in my mind's eye
My heart's guide
My soul's friend
Lead me home. 

Station - Water

In a quiet corner a clay bowl of clear water, a jug filled to the brim and a scattering of smooth palm size stones.

Water of Life
Liquid light contained
In earth's cool hands.

Stars sparkling in mirrored sky
Reflection of what is 
What is not.

Love is deep
Life water, life-giving
Slipping through fingers

Feeding dry places 
Finding the way

Station - Forked Path 

A place where the path offers a choice 

With hindsight,
I would know
Which is right

This is the way
Or, not...
Who can tell?

Only this moment
Foot poised 
to step into mystery

Station - Boundary

A wall, hedge or fence - a place that defines an edge

There is no reason 
for being on the edge
Except that there seems
Nowhere else to go 
the 'somewhere else'
Seems too far.

Station - Groves

A group or circle of trees 

To be entwined
In earth and rock 
Deep in the One who gives me life

To stand tall 
encircled by life and time
With the One who gives me life

To reach up 
in joy and spirit
To the One who gives me life

Station - The Hearth

This could be a place of gathering, a fire pit, or altar

This place
A leaving
With love and courage
A returning
Longing and thanksgiving.

A place of 
Where love's fire
Burns through the brightest
and darkest of days
Feed my spirit
Guide the wanderer
Bring me home 
The prodigal
And the pilgrim
to the heart of God

You are welcome to use the ideas and prayers though I would ask that they are acknowledged as  mairie gelling 2014

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Blessing of the Moon

Lorica of the Moon

The blessing of the Moon 
Sister of Shadows
Lantern of Pathways
Gatherer of Tides

The blessing of the Moon
Watcher of the wakeful
Seeker of the Lost
Soother of the Mourning

The blessing of the Moon
Guardian of dreams
Mirror of souls
Wellspring of tears

The blessing of the Moon 
Sharpness of birth
Crescent of hope
Roundness of fulfillment

The blessing of the Moon
Angel of the desert
Witness in the garden
Mourner at the tomb

The blessing of the Moon
This night and every night
From the solace of sunset
'til the promise of dawn

Blessed Be


A Lorica is a breastplate prayer
-a prayer of protection 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Feast of St Chiara of Assisi

Saint and Virgin

Chiara’s reply

They praise me as a Virgin, Lord
I am sorry to disappoint
But I am no virgin.
May I ask these holy men
By what do they set their mark?

I rejected earthly comfort.
That place was a shadowland to me
and I hung on the landscape like a
dangling marionette, uselessly beautiful.
There was no comfort there.

I never earned a love song.
Then they never heard the Poverello.
His words were fire and ice in my belly
ardently proclaiming Your Love,
That song drew me away.

Away from desire.
Rather like a maiden awaiting her first suitor
My heart paced in prayer for your presence.
Like a bride in the marriage bed
My soul ached for You to enfold me.

Never known a man.
Francis was my heart’s true friend.
Love given and received without guile or charge
the fulfilment of Your benevolent Love.
What physical act could compare?

But I have not borne a child.
Are they blind?
My daughters are with them still
Loving and faithful
I have raised them all.

So, they have given me a Church
and they have made me a Saint
For being a Virgin.
You had better tell these men, Lord
There are very few virgins in Heaven.