Monthly Archives: October 2017

Promises to Tomorrow #41 #silence

Last week was the first week in the five years I have been doing a blog that I didn’t post something. I intended too and then felt the silence was the right post. Silence isn’t emptiness – it is fullness.

To be silent

To silence

In silence


Each of these states evokes a range of feelings, thoughts … behaviours.

I have been journeying with one for whom silence was the language of God and his yearning to be in union with the silence led to deep monastic practices with all the discipline of a mystic. I revolved around his world like a moon around a sun. Meeting his every need, whim, fear, hope.

The banshees are riding on the wild winds this morning, late to the occasion, but in time for me. I have been holding on for so long, they are arriving to shake me about to let go and let down. Elementally speaking, I find myself in The Burren and can feel her beneath my feet. Stepping carefully to avoid the hidden holes, I am consistently unsuccessful, unsteady steps on my lunar landscape. To help I go fetch my John O’Donohue poetry book – Conamara Blues – and the page marked is A Burren Prayer. How is it the cellular memory and my earlier self has prepared a path for me today? All of creation conspiring to help me, so I can rest into silence.

What a gift and I am silenced and in awe. A key revelation is to put down what has been, to be soothed and to rest into this liminal space. To wait. To be still. To find the stillness beyond exhaustion. In the midst of all this life goes on. There is a wedding in a week, another family member having a job interview tomorrow … there is no perfect timing only time and no perfection is required. My promise to tomorrow is to rest and to wander in the Burren as required and called.

A Burren Prayer


Maria de Petra Fertilis:

May the praise of rain on stone

Recall the child lost in the heart’s catacomb.

May the light that turns the limestone white

Remind us that our solitude is bright.

May the arrival of gentians in their blue surprise

Bring glimpses of delight to our eyes.

May the wells that dream in the stone

Soothe the eternal that sleeps in our bone.

May the contemplative mind of the mountain

Assure us that nothing is lost or forgotten.

May the antiphon of ocean on stone

Guide the waves of loneliness home.

May the spirits who dwell in the ruin of Corcomroe

Lead our hearts to the one who is beautiful to know.

Go maire na mairbh agus a mbrionggloidi

I bhfoscadh chaion dilis ns Trinoide.

(May the departed and their dreams ever dwell

In the kind and faithful shelter of the Trinity.)

– John O’Donohue


Promises to tomorrow #40 #squeaky

‘Health system’ is an oxymoron these two words don’t sit well together – there is little health and it isn’t a system. Once again another week of poor customer service and multiple miscommunications and general lack of oversight in the glue that is meant to be holding things together. It always falls to family and I despair for those who have no one to advocate for them, or whose level of disadvantage through lack of English being a first language, or income or access to information, education …. you get my drift. Energy levels and fear you might not get what you need when you need it if you are disruptive play on your mind and capacity too. One of the family has the squeaky wheel principle – squeak long and loud until you are squealing like a pig is his motto.

So this week’s litany goes something like this:

oh sorry we haven’t called for a week – we had the wrong number in our system (what you couldn’t google or check another record?)

no we can’t provide that piece of equipment because our records say this is your prescription (really we haven’t been at that level for a month, and yes a doctor and nurse know that; perhaps no one checked the information?)

this piece of equipment isn’t designed for 24/7 use at that level (we know that, but no medico seemed to be concerned about that … we have raised that issue before …)

yes, we will hold, no they aren’t answering their phones, yes we have left messages on their mobile, yes we are still holding (persistence pays off finally after phones ring out, time and time again, messages of urgency get left, and tenacity rules)

wonderful – you have now given permission and have got the right prescription from the right person and the right piece of equipment will be delivered ( I wonder, will it be here on Monday?)

How many calls do I need to make before a review would be considered appropriate, I am up to two in four days, the tiniest of case management is required, as we have everything in spades – resources human and material to the max (even with a stretched system, reading records correctly, checking the logistics chain of information and elements are basics – just like taking obs – doing the basics right first time and every time is the best prevention. We have sorted it ourselves. but I am still expecting case management and have told you that – is it Ok to expect case management?)

When might the other equipment will be delivered – just a few things to help with showering, transfer … primitive assessment undertaken, no reference to resources (I remember when we used to show photos and draw little diagrams to explain to people what was on offer … why didn’t she have an iPad? No date or time on when they might be delivered – a pretty basic piece of customer service. Do they even have it in stock? I stopped helping when I wasn’t asked to corroborate evidence, some of the facts offered were inaccurate and most out of date; the presenting well client is a trap for young players, but she had been around the block a few times – she probably detected inaccuracies but I would have been reassured if I had been asked.)

I understand (and am disappointed) there aren’t enough resources to go around – because that is the only thing that makes sense. Poor performance and poor customer service at just about every junction and no visible effort of case management is more than annoying. For some people it could be life threatening or at least as in our case comfort limiting– at a time when we are at our most vulnerable accompanying our loved one on the end of life journey there is no little energy for shit like this. If we fall over at home (literally and metaphorically), then there are cost implications for the health system – it is cheaper and easier to keep us going – so from a purely economic point of view, lets forget about dignity, good manners, well being – it is worth getting right. Time to get out of the comfort zone so we can get into ours. And I sincerely, almost generously wonder, is that too much to ask?

I am back to an everyday promise to tomorrow: to be glue when I am asked to be, to do the basics right over and over again as the shortest and most effective way to prevention and to take a leaf out of the Book of Squeaky Wheel and advocate, advocate, advocate without fear or favour. But right now I need a rest from being squeaky and am grateful I have others who can do it for me.

Wheels roll on each day

Fuelled by squeaks and squeals

Time for comfort zone.

Promises to tomorrow #39 #befriending self

I am getting lessons on how to be my own best friend by noticing what my friends are gifting me and accepting those gifts with the love and gratitude of a receiver. The love transaction in friendship is transformative.

My friends are creating a nest for me at this time, little pieces of straws and sticks broken and re-arranged for me to fit, shiny foil reflecting light to ward off evil, catching feathers to enable a soft landing for me to rest in, keeping enough space to hold the structure together with a light touch. My friends are familial, close by, far away. They are in real time and virtual. They are known and unknown to me. Being blessed with friends and knowing the sinews and muscles of friendship that have been exercised and strengthened over time tells me who I belong to and who belongs to me. There is recognition in love, even love unrequited is recognised. My inability to return right now perhaps is a falsehood, for it is in the receiving of the unconditional that the gift is given. My practice now is to receive.

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara.

John O’Donohue: Anam Cara

My anam cara – my soul friend – is making his way to soon be turning towards the light. It is a journey that refuses to be hurried and stubbornly almost defiantly won’t turn down the paths even though the signposts are calling. This is marathon vigil. Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta was made to alert readiness for battle and so there is some of me that thinks the final message while in the process of being sent, is not yet delivered. My anam cara still teaching me about friendship, forgiveness, integration, identity in the few hours of wakefulness he has each day. You might also think of anam cara as friend to your soul – and in doing that – you too could be your own anam cara. This is the love and friendship you have where there is no pretence and all the illusions have faded and fallen away.

My promise to tomorrow is to make more time to nurture the friendship with myself. How might I bring the knowledge and experience of anam cara to the mirror? There are magical healing powers in forgiving others and yourself and surely that is what takes friendship to a new stage each time, more transformational than transactional.

Anne Lamont says: In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Generosity is an ethic of abundance and is the fuel for friendship. So thank you to all those who are being generous with me and patient and kind and inviting me to be a better friend to myself.


anam cara

Promise to tomorrow #38 #breaking

Holding the space between flight and fight is a constant challenge. Running towards is also running away, standing up and doing one thing, is also to reject other options. There are actions and reactions. Broken hearted remains, shards thrown into the air, searching for some magic dust to bring them altogether again for a seamless fusion.

“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Staying the course to remain open to being broken seems to require a steadfastness of holding onto stillness that isn’t masquerading as paralysis. Blinded by the light when caught in the headlights invites confusion. This. Whirring of synapses trying to rewire themselves into some kind of order and then the unsteady, stop, start, inelegant dash to get out of harms way, stumbling, leaving a trail of fallen hurdles. Watching at close quarters when each step is broken down to its essence, in slow motion the body and brain vie for supremacy. The body I witness is a track for the race between drugs and disease. The soul intact still housed by the body. The mind making its way through the brambles to find a path yet to be worn.

The shards will get rearranged once they are no longer in the spotlight. Not the same shape as before and perhaps some may not fit quite neatly together any more, and they will re-arrange, but first they have to be unlocked to find their way out.

What promise to tomorrow? To have a big enough heart for the courage to stay open for breaking.