MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

IONA, The Nunnery: On Pilgrimage, on Women and Justice.


IONA: The Nunnery.

Passing through a doorway here
Is to pass from light to light,
grass to grass or stone to stone:
steps rise in the walls
to non existent landings
or dormitories
of no more substance
than the sublime, island air:
Windows look either out or in,
it makes no difference now
in this once loved home
of holy women.

Yet a mere few hundred steps
along the rise,
the same emptiness
has been restored,
re-vitalised
and made to ring again
with Alleluias, Hosannas
or "Joy and Peace to you"
according to the seasons;
just as the former place
once rang with women’s, love-laced
praise and  thanksgiving.

Why so different?
Why does one reverberate
and the other lie entombed
in a pleasant garden,
but otherwise
just a block of ancient walls?
Why this gross inequality
‘twixt sanctuaries?

Could it be, the influence of men
suppressed the significance
of  these stones
laid to house women of the Lord?

Could it possibly be
It seemed more proper to men
To restore a house of men?

"Why, Why?"
The stones might justifiably cry.
"Why, Why?
is our heritage the less?"
"Why, Why"
the porches might, for equity, cry,
"Was there something wanting in our holiness?"

Or was it simply
that men rebuilt with little thought
the auld domain of men:
Maybe they felt
their headship, Biblically taught,
entitled Abbey above Nunnery
to rise again.

"Why, Why?"
The angels might for justice cry
"Why, Why?"
Cry faithful women from amidst
the press of heaven's saints.
"Why,Why?"
The Wild Goose might well sigh,
"No gender hierarchy
is any part of our perspective
of holiness!"

There are several other poems about Iona on this blog which you will find in the A to Z Index in the right hand column OR you may care to go on to this poem; IONA: A Special Place in the Cosmos


Original introduction read Ten days ago we had the privilege of being hosts to Sister Veronica who is the first Melanesian woman to be ordained to the Anglican priesthood. Veronica is currently serving as a Curate in the parish of Ham near Richmond, UK.


This is not the place to try and tell Sister Veronica’s story – it is too complex and too harrowing: suffice it to say that when she returns to her home on Isabel, one of the Melanesian islands, she will not be able to exercise her ministry publicly, but only within her own Community, the Sisters of the Church. More of  Veronica’s story can be found here.

Veronica arrived as we were beginning to prepare for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The juxtaposition of these two things reminded me of earlier pilgrimages we had made to the Island of Iona. On that island is an Abbey, which has been wonderfully restored to its medieval splendour and a Nunnery which remains a ruin. The poem which follows, ponders on that difference (which is also highlighted throughout the summer months on the weekly, round-the-island pilgrimages organized by The Iona Community.) There is no doubt that the Anglican church might usefully ponder on this particular injustice as it reflects further on the role of women in various of its Provinces – and hopefully takes urgent remedial action.



Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'