Winter Solstice: Darkness into Light

It is here between the darkness And the light, That we wait… Ruth Patterson

“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of, and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.” Margaret Atwood

More information nearer date.

A Celebration of Samhain: All Saint and All Souls

“The edge is a holy place, or as the Celts called it, “a thin place” and you have to be taught how to live there. To take your position on the spiritual edge of things is to learn how to move safely in and out, back and forth, across and return.” Richard Rohr

Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons.  The light at Bealtaine on May 1 and the dark on Samhain on November 1. Samhain is traditionally the beginning of the Celtic year.  The dark half of the year comes first giving way to the bright part; winter giving place to summer and death giving way to life. In later times, Samhain was changed to All Saints’ Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were offered for those who had died.

This is the thinnest time of the year, the season at which the Celts believe the veil between time and eternity can easily become transparent.

During our celebration we will recall some of the customs associated with Samhain as well as taking time to remember those who are no longer with us and the company of the saints who guide us on our journey.

We will remember in a special way all those who have died during the year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Autumn Equinox

September

Tuesday, September 22nd:  Autumn Equinox

“No spring nor summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnall face.”  Elegy IX: The Autumnal by John Donne

Septmber 22nd is the autumnal (or fall) equinox, the day when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the earth has the same amount of daylight as darkness.Equinox time is a time of equilibrium and balance, of harmony and stillness. For us in the Northern Hemisphere the autumn equinox marks the entry into the dark time of the year and the beginning of the winter preparations.

We hope you can virtually join with us as we give thanks for the fruits of the earth that sustain us when we cannot meet in person. We will also reflect on what we have harvested from the events of this year and how we can regain equilibrium and balance as we cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Wellness Weekend Kildare Town

Kildare town is hosting a World Wellness Weekend on 18-20th September. Solas Bhride is delighted to support and be part of this event.

In response to the enormous challenges that Covid 19 has brought, the event aims to provide a huge array of activities and therapies that offer people of all abilities and interest an opportunity to participate. The programme aims to address all four pillars of wellness, physical, mental, spiritual and environment.

The festival has invested a lot of energy into providing a huge range of events with a view to catering for as many people as possible in a covid friendly manner. There will be events that will suit every age.

The sessions that will take place at Solas Bhride include a Meditation Walk, Mindfulness Talk, Sound Bath Meditation, Conscious Parenting Seminar, Breath Work Meditation, 4 Pillars of Wellness and an Ayurvedic talk. There will be therapy sessions available in the CYMS such as massage, acupuncture, reiki and reflexology. Many more events will take place at the Market Square.

All events must be pre-booked at https://www.eventbrite.ie/o/kildare-town-projects-group-17985765180

Change is challenging and collectively we are all experiencing huge change at present, this weekend is an opportunity for people to try out and experience different methods to include more movement, fitness & sports into their lifestyle that we hope will help bring some positive changes for those that want to explore the means to enhance Wellness in our lives. Participation in any of the events will be strictly by pre-booking through Eventbrite as they will all have limited numbers of participants to be Covid compliant. All events will be advertised over the  next week on our FB page @kildareprojectsgroup.

Some of the significant points on the Meditative Walk at Solas Bhride.

Heritage Week: The Custom of Weaving a St. Brigid’s Cross

‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’.

The theme for Heritage Week 2020 is ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’. Engaging with our shared heritage presents a rich source for learning, and an opportunity to rediscover and reconnect with the knowledge, traditions and skills of our ancestors. This year, we encourage everybody to explore the close connection between education and heritage, and to consider what our heritage can teach us about our past, what it can tell us about our present and how it can provide fresh ideas for a sustainable future. www.heritageweek.ie

This year, because of Covid-19, events for Heritage Week will be through social media.  Solas Bhride will be posting a video on our website which will involve a demonstration on how to weave a  St. Brigid’s cross and a short input on the customs surrounding the weaving.

Watch this space!

 

Summer Solstice Reflection

Behold the One who stands before you comes with fire!
So keep his fires burning through this night,
Beacons and gateways for the Child of Light.
Mid-Summer Malcom Guite

At this solstice time we raise our hearts in gratitude for the mystery of the sun, the mystery of light and of fire. Let us be open to receive this mystery with an open heart:

Creator God
You brought fire forth from your burning heart.
You seeded it like yeast
in each atom, plant and animal,
each bird, fish, man and woman.
And you gave us a special star, our sun,
aflame with a life-evoking energy
To make our planet green and fertile,
sun-soaked in your love.
Pierre Teihard de Chardin.

Lighting Solstice Candle (or fire if outdoors)
As we light the solstice candle/fire may our prayers join with all the prayers of our ancestors. They too gathered like us  at this summer solstice time to give praise to the One who holds the mystery of the sun, the mystery of light and the mystery of fire.

So let our prayers join with those of our ancestors as we pray:

Response: Your glory shines through all creation

We give thanks Creator God, for the magnificence and beauty of the earth, for its herbs and plants, for the diversity of its insect life, for the song of the birds.
Response: Your glory shines through all creation

We give thanks Creator God, for the multiplicity of earth’s creatures, for the colour of the hedgerows, for the laughter of our children, for the exuberance of our young people and for the wisdom of our older people.
Response:  Your glory shines through all creation

God of Creation bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey toward your infinite light.

Response:  Your glory shines through all creation

Reflection on Light

Light is a universal symbol which represents the divine radiance as it pours into the interior place of the heart.  Jesus speaks of this light when he says: “I am the Light of the World”. Elsewhere he says “Let your light shine.”
In his poem Mid-Summer Guite writes:

Sacred is the seed of fire in all that is,
a Fire that reflects the eternal light.
Each heart aflame with a flame of fire.
Each eye reflecting your burning love.

Let us pause to reflect on the light that shines within us and within everything.

Quiet time 

Visualise the light shining in your heart. Imagine the light speading all over your body.
Visualise you whole body aglow with this light.

I now invite you to reflect on who would you like to share the light with.  It may be someone in your family, someone who is sick or some place in our world that is in need of light.

Take time to send light to that person or place.


Blessing

May the fire of blessing glow in our hearts and hearths.
May the fire of creativity ignite our imaginations.
May the fire of this solstice celebration bring protection to our gardens and our fields and their inhabitants.
May the fire of love drive out darkness.
May the fire of passion enkindle in all a great enthusiasm for life.
May the fire of healing soothe and comfort all.
May the fire of God’s passionate, eternal light encircle all.

Music:  Benedictus by Karl Jenkins

Benedictus is from The Armed Man, a Mass by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, subtitled “A Mass for Peace”. The piece was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum for the Millennium celebrations, to mark the museum’s move from London to Leeds, and it was dedicated to victims of the Kosovo crisis

Benedictus music is set to cosmic video. As we listen to the music and focus on the pictures we are reminded of the words of Einstein “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibwxzxER_pY

The Sun:  Mary Oliver    

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life more wonderful

than the way the sun, every evening
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,

and is gone…
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,

every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance –
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love –
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out
as it warms you

as you stand there
empty-handed –
or have you too

turned from this world-

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

You might like to conclude your celebration of the summer solstice with some strawberries and cream.

 

 

 

Feast of Pentacost

Pentecost, is observed on the seventh Sunday after Easter and 10 days after Ascension. The name comes from the Greek word “pentekoste” which means fiftieth as Pentecost Sunday takes place on the 50th day of Easter.

It marks the end of the Easter cycle, that began 90 days ago with Ash Wednesday at the start of Lent.

This Christian feastday day commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament in Acts 2:1–3 , the fifth book of the New Testament of the Bible.

“Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2: 1-3

Fire is a universal sacred symbol. Fire burns and purifies but it also gives light and illuminates. The Hebrew work shekinah stands for the fiery Presence of God – the Spirit.  It is this glory which is understood to set whatever it
touches ablaze.

Reflection                                         

Step 1.

Make yourself comfortable. Become aware of your breath, gently breathing in and out. This brings you into the present moment.

Step 2.

Play the Taize Chant:  Veni Sancte Spiritus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1fR4SV55qg.

Imagine the fire of the Spirit inside your very being. As you breathe in and out,

that living spirit of God flows through you.

You are the fire that burns inside us,

the living water from within,

You are the voice that gently whispers,

You are the rushing mighty wind.

 

Step 3.

We invite the Spirit into our lives as we listen to the Litany of the Holy Spirit composed by Dan Schutte.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhFlfm8cy9w&feature=youtu.be

Concluding Prayer

May the fire of the Spirit burn brightly within you.

May the fire of the Spirit open your minds and hearts to a new vision.

May the fire of the Spirit inspire within you actions for justice and peace.

May the fire of the Spirit fill you with courage to embrace new possibilities.

May the fire of the Spirit enlighten the eyes of your mind so you can see what hope God’s call holds for you and how infitely great is the power working within you.

 

If you wish you might like to listen to the Native American chant O Great Spirit  (see link below)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbnJyKj0ihM

 

Celebrating Bealtaine

The cuckoo comes in April,
She sings her song in May,
In leafy June, she changes her tune,
And in July she flies away.

Most of us are familiar with this nursery rhyme. This year, with the silence that surrounds us, we may hear the cuckoo again.

Each year here at Solas Bhride Centre we gather to mark the feast of Bealtaine, the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  This year, because of the Coronavirus Covid-19 we are unable to gather together.   But we can be united in celebrating Bealtaine, each in our own home.

There are many customs associated with the celebration of Bealtaine. We share with you a few of them.  Bealtaine is also the Irish word for the month of May, a month dedicated to Mary the Mother of Jesus.

You may like to set up a May altar in your home.  You will need a candle, water, flowers and a blue cloth (or a cloth of your choice).

When you are ready begin by taking some time to listen to a recording of the Dawn Chorus.

Dawn Chorus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbFNQo07Jqs

Play for 5-10 minutes

If you wish continue to play as you read the opening prayer and introduction to Beltaine.

Opening Prayer

For the time of blossoming
For the display of colour in our fields and gardens
For wild flowers and garden flowers
For the blossom that hangs from our trees. We give thanks.

For strawberries and gooseberries
For fresh lettuce and onions
For the smell of new mown lawn
For the magic of bird song. We give thanks.

For the time of delight and refreshment
For the long hazy days
For the time with family and friends
For the stirrings in our hearts. We give thanks

For our joys and delights  .
For the stirrings in our hearts
For the blossom that awakens in our hearts
For all the possibilities of summer. We give thanks.

Bealtaine

Bealtaine marks the mid-way point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.  It is now exactly six months to the beginning of the new Celtic year at Samhain. Bealtaine is associated with the Celtic god, Belanos or Bel meaning ‘bright one’ or ‘shinning one’.

For our Celtic ancestors Bealtaine marked the beginning of the pastoral season when the livestock were driven out to the summer pastures.  Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, the crops and the people, and to encourage growth. Special bonefires were kindled, usually from oak and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The whole community would gather around the special bonfire which was known as a need-fire, that is, a fire that is kindled by rubbing two sticks together.  But before the bonfire was lit all other fires and candles in the community were extinguished. Then the ceremonial lighting of the fire, which was a symbol of the sun, took place. The people and their cattle would walk around the fire or sometimes between two fires and sometimes leap over the fires.  They usually circled the fire walking sun-wise three times.  Glowing embers were then taken from the fire to every household to rekindle the fire in the hearths.

Ashes from the fire were spread on the crops which not only nourished the plants but also offered protection of themselves, their homes, their animals and their crops. In ancient times the main Bealtaine fire was lit on the Hill of Uisneach in Co. Westmeath, which was regarded as mythological centre of Ireland.

Candle

We invite you to light a candle and recite the ancient Irish fire kindling prayer which some of our ancestors would have prayed:

I  will kindle my fire this evening
In presence of the holy angels of heaven,
God, kindle Thou in my heart within
A flame of love to my neighbour,
To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,
To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall,
O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth,
To the Name that is highest of all.
O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth,
To the Name that is highest of all.

Bealtaine was also a time of great fun, singing and dancing. An oat drink was made over the fire and some was poured out onto the earth as a gift to the earth before it was distributed among the people. Oatcakes were made and were shared out among all present. Oat-bread was given to their cattle and left out on the land for all the creatures that would potentially damage their animals and crops – e.g. the fox and the eagle.

There are many other customs associated with the festival. One custom was to collect flowers, primroses, hawthorn, gorse, hazel and marsh- marigold, to decorate doorways, windows and cattle sheds. The people themselves wore flowers and put flowers on animals and even farm equipment.

Our ancestors decorated  and some people still today decorate the May bush with flowers and ribbons.  The May Bush was a branch of some tree or shrub with the whitethorn being the most popular, which was cut down, brought home and placed outside in front of the house.

Reflection

May is:

A time of blossoming

A time of colour

A time when the earth comes to life in all its glory

A time when we too are called to blossom, to bring colour, fun and new energy where ever we go

A time when we too are called to give glory.

Quiet Time

Take a few moments to reflect on how you can bring joy, new energy and colour into your life, and into the lives of all you meet.

Blessing with water

At Bealtaine people visited holy wells to pray for health while walking sun-wise around the well. Bringing home some well water, they sprinkled it as they walked the circuit of their property. That practice became absorbed into the practice of walking and blessing the land and the animals with Easter water during the rogation days.

We  invite you to bless the land and the creatures of the earth with water. We remember that the call to each of us today is to:

Touch the earth with gentleness,
Touch the earth with love
Touch her with a future by the way we live today.
God has given us the power to create the world anew
If we touch the earth together, me and you.

Mary, Queen of the May

May is Mary’s month.  Mary is called Queen of the May.  The custom of consecrating the month of May to Mary began in the 17th century in Italy.  In Ireland some of you will clearly remember decorating the May altar in your homes.  People still engage in this devotion to Our Lady.

Wild flowers such as primroses and bluebells were gathered and brought to Mary’s altar.

Brigid, legend tells us, was mid-wife to Mary on the birth of Jesus. In fact to the Irish Brigid is known as Muire na nGael – Mary of the Irish

We invite you to sing or listen to the beautiful and well known hymn Queen of the May

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFCg2zEToVU

End of Ritual

 

 A treat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4LtHaAoimI

You might like to listen to this ancient Irish song which was sung to welcome the summer.  This song first appeared in written form in 1745 but records hold that it was sung to welcome the Duke of Ormonde in 1662.  The 19th century music collector, Edward Bunting said that “this song is probably ancient.”  The song is called “Thugamar fein and Samhradh linn.” – “We brought the summer to us.”

Summer, summer milk of the heifers
We have brought the summer in.
Yellow summer of clear bright daisies
We have brought the summer in.
We brought it in from the branches of the forest
We have brought the summer in.
Yellow summer from the bed of the sun
We have brought the summer in
Mayday doll, maiden of summer
Up every hill and down every glen
Beautiful girls, radiant and shining
We brought the summer in.
Holly, and hazel, elder and rowan
We brought the summer in
And bright shining ash from the ford
We have brought the summer in.
Summer, summer who will take it from us?
Who will take it from us?
We have brought the summer in.

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Earth Day 2020

Millions of people around the world rallied together behind the idea to create the first Earth Day in 1970.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable

On its official website the Earth Day organisers invite all on April 22, “to join us for 24 hours of action in a global digital mobilization that drives actions big and small, gives diverse voices a platform and demands bold action for people and the planet.”
https://www.earthday.org/

“We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all”.  Laudatio Si – on care for our common home.  Encyclical letter of Pope Francis

Pope Francis also reminds all that the Earth Charter asked humankind to leave behind a period of self-destruction and make a new start.  He goes on to say: “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions.” P 107 Laudatio Si.

No matter where you are, you can make a difference. And you’re not alone, because together, we can save the Earth.

The earth is our common home.  We need a  new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.  We require a new and universal solidarity.  Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed.  All of us  can co-operate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience and talents. (Laudato Si page 14.14)

You might like to listen to the song Touch the Earth – see link below.

https://hail.to/tui-motu-interislands-magazine/publication/9VmzdeP/article/VOX865c

 

Touch the earth with gentleness
Touch the earth with love
Touch her with a future
By the way you live today
God has given us the power
To create the world anew
If we touch the earth
Together, me and you.
The time is here
The time is now
We can change things
Give the earth your dream of harmony
She is waiting
Waiting for love,
Waiting for you, waiting for me

 

A Reflection for Easter 2020

 

This Easter we are marking the celebrations of the Tridium, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus in a way never before experienced because of the Coronavirus Covid-19.

The key message of Jesus during his life was one of letting go. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.” This is about transformation. It does not mean we deny the pain, isolation and abandonment that we are experiencing at this time, but we are invited to embrace and transcend it.

The poem “Easter Blessing”  by David Whyte captures the story of resurrection, a journey through the shadow and darkness to the light.

 

Easter Blessing

The blessing of the morning light to you,
may it find you even in your invisible

appearances, may you be seen to have risen
from some other place you know and have known
in the darkness and that carries all you need.
May you see what is hidden in you
as a place of hospitality and shadowed shelter,

may that hidden darkness be your gift to give,

may you hold that shadow to the light
and the silence of that shelter to the word of the light,
may you join all of your previous disappearances
with this new appearance, this new morning,
this being seen again, new now, and newly alive.
David Whyte

The story of Easter gently reminds us that the God of Love walks with us through the good days but more significantly that God is with us through the tough days too. When life is difficult and when we really need strength and help, the resurrected Christ is by our side.

May we find in the Risen Christ hope, peace and joy.

The Prayer (w/Lyrics) – Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDsyvKJZz7gaster