Friday, 22 December 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our third prayer for Peace on Earth


Mari Lwyd image by Flying Viper on DeviantArt


It’s immoral for adults to use children in war.” ~ Child Soldiers International


Here is the third of our December Novenas for the Fallen Through, which for this month are devoted to Mary and Mari Lwyd and to Peace on Earth. If you would like to read more about this month’s novena you can read our first prayer here.

In our first Novena we lifted a prayer for peace in many aspects; the end of arms trading, for an end to loneliness and poverty, to the Boxing Day hunt and to driven grouse shooting, and for peace on the West Bank. As this cycle of prayers continues we will explore these themes in greater depth. In our second prayer we turned to homelessness and the growing number of people both sleeping rough and in temporary accommodation, recognising that those among us who are rootless, unsafe, without ground or a roof, or just poor in a world that is so rich (in ‘stuff’, rather than spirit), can so easily become prey. With this in mind, today’s prayer will be a heartfelt cry against the recruitment of children into the armed services, children who disproportionately come from working class and poor families.

Midwinter festivals, including Winter Solstice, Yule, and Christmas are so much about the rebirth of the light, as we journey through the shortest day and longest night to see the sun’s light begin to grow a little more each day. For those of us who celebrate Christmas we turn our minds and hearts to the birth of a baby, for some the ‘Light of the World’. It is the tenderest of stories in so many ways, filled with hope and joy; Mary, ‘meek and mild’, giving birth to her baby in a stable and laying him in a manger. And yet Mary was neither meek nor mild.

(Ben Wildflower)

In our first prayer I mentioned that Mary’s ‘Magnificat’, the longest set of words spoken by any woman in the New Testament’, is considered by many to be deeply subversive. The Magnificat was Mary’s spontaneous response to being declared ‘blessed’ by Elizabeth, who at that time was pregnant with John the Baptist. One might suggest that it was subversive enough for two such strong women to take centre stage in such deeply patriarchal times! But Mary’s song is not one of simple joy. It is threaded through with fear; the fear of a young girl, unmarried and pregnant at a time when to be so risked social ostracism and humiliation. Indeed, under Jewish law, she was at risk of stoning for adultery. And, in that context, she sings for hope, defiant in the face of danger. It is this defiance which caused the Magnificat to become a “radical resource for those seeking to honour the holy amongst the conflicts and suffering of real life.” (Rev. Carolyn Sharp). It has often become a source of strength for those on the margins who have struggled for liberation.

During British rule of India the Magnificat was banned from being sung in church. Dietrich Bonheoffer, who was executed by the Nazis in 1945 having worked for the German resistance movement, was deeply devoted to Mary. In a sermon given at Advent in 1933 he said,

“The song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn. It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung.”

In Guatemala in the 1980s the Government banned its recitation considering it to be ‘too dangerous’. Mary sings of the ‘world turned upside down’, of a time when the “rulers will be brought down from their thrones”, “the humble will be lifted up”, and “filled with good things” as the “rich are sent away empty”. These are themes which often rise in our midwinter traditions. I have written before about the Mari Lwyd and our wassailing traditions allowing the sharing of resources from rich to poor, but we also have customs such as the ‘Lord of Misrule’, who was often a peasant chosen by lot to preside over Christmastide festivities ~ a reminder that the social hierarchy was maintained by consent, rather than by right. During Argentina’s ‘war’ against political dissidents, the ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’ placed Mary’s challenging words on posters all over the capital plaza and the display of her song was subsequently outlawed by the military junta. And, of course, Mary too understood the pain of the loss of a child.

And, even before the final scapegoating, she had to fight to keep him. The Sunday after Christmas is the ‘Feast of the Holy Innocents;, which commemorates the baby boys murdered in Herod’s desperation to rid himself of the threat to his Imperial power, causing the Holy family to gather up their newly born baby boy and take flight as refugees across the Sinai desert.

These are not tender stories filled with hope and joy. They are far too real for that and how they echo our own struggles to keep our lost baby boys alive. Some would challenge the historical accuracy of stories such as the ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ but I think that that is missing the point. We need only open a newspaper to see that this story is being relived in one form or another in our world everyday; in stairwells in South London, in refugee boats in the Mediterranean Sea, in our armed forces, innocents and innocence are dying over and over again. No wonder that the Star of Bethlehem broke into a thousand pieces.

('Child Soldier', Simon Rawles, https://simonrawles.photoshelter.com/image/I0000M120GOn9QtE)

In 1870, American poet and author, Julia Ward Howe, wrote ‘A Mother’s Day Proclamation’ calling for peace, and which includes the words..

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

In Britain, 16 year olds can’t vote, drive a car, or drink alcohol, but they are able to join the army. No other country in Europe recruits at such a young age. Only 17 other countries in the world allow it, including Zambia, El Salvador, and Iran. The army insists that under 16s are not recruited and yet they host a website called ‘The Camouflage’ which is directed at 14 to 16 year olds. It includes pages entitled, ‘You Can Run But You Can’t Hide’, which asks us to imagine the “might of a metal-mashing javelin missile mangling a tank from 2km away”. It doesn’t mention of course that anyone might be in it. Other pages, such as ‘Bring Out the Big Guns and ‘How to be a Sniper’ tell us that the AS90 gun has “awesome stats” and can “target an area 19 miles away, destroying a 100m2 area with highly explosive shells. No wonder that its nickname is ‘The Nasty’.” A sergeant tells us that, “When they give the order, I press the fire button.” What more telling description of the ways of war than that? The ‘how to be a sniper’ page explains that a successful sniper must be a ‘master of concealment’. They make it sound like a game. When I read these pages I had to stop writing to weep for what we have done. Oh, and then there is the talk of how much money a 16 year old might hope to make…

Between January and October 2017 more than 19,000 under 18 year olds applied to join the army following the controversial ‘This is Belonging’ campaign, which was run in partnership with recruitment agency Capita and designed to attract young people from working class backgrounds. A spokesperson from the charity Child Soldiers International suggested that the army wanted young people to sign up because they are “more psychologically malleable” and so can be, “manipulated into unquestioning loyalty” and to, “submit unquestioningly to what they are told to do.” She also explained that, because these young people haven’t developed a ‘civilian identity’ of their own to return to when they leave the army, they struggle to reintegrate into society. It was noted that this campaign particularly targeted poorer working class areas in northern England, as well as Birmingham, Belfast, and Cardiff.

In addition, thousands of schools across the UK invite in the military. This despite the UN committee on the rights of the child informing the UK Government in June to “reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces and ensure the recruitment practices do not actively target persons under the age of 18 and ensure that military recruiters’ access to schools be strictly limited.”

The army claim that they visit schools in order to ‘forge a relationship with the society which they represent’. However, ForcesWatch, which seeks to challenge military presence in education, is sceptical saying that these visits, “market and drip-feed a lifestyle of opportunity and thrills”, pointing out that they santise and glamourise conflict, whilst focusing on adventure.

Although children can’t be deployed on the front line before the age of 18 there is evidence that those who are recruited from 16 are twice as likely to be killed when they do fight because they have been channelled into the more dangerous roles; more ‘exciting’ I suppose. There is also evidence that the military targets in particular schools in deprived areas and from where children from low-income families so often struggle to progress in life through academic means. Recruits must spend two years in college if they join up at 16 but receive a ‘military exemption’, which means that there is no guarantee that they will receive a good academic or vocational experience. In 2007, the head of the army’s recruitment strategy said, “It starts with a seven year old boy seeing a parachutist at an sir show and thinking, ‘that looks great’. From then the army is trying to build interest by drip, drip, drip.” But then what are the children of the poor for if not to work until they drop or fight in wars not of their own making?

(Child Soldier International)

Novena for the Fallen Through

Peace on Earth

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

Mary, singer of wild songs, mother of the Light,
Mari, drummer of the wild hills, companion of Stars,
we ask for your help in the protection of our children,
called to war from a life of lack; of opportunity, of wealth, of meaning.
Kept poor to become prey.
We ask for power to come to the peaceful,
for love to come to the lost,
for hope to come to the hopeless,
for the military machine to be seen for what it is,
so often the vehicle of Colonial and Capitalist might
masquerading as good.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

Mary, singer of wild songs, mother of the Light,
Mari, drummer of the wild hills, companion of Stars,
We ask for other paths to be illuminated for our children,
for lanterns to lead their way to brighter futures
filled with possibility,
and for the marsh light, the will-o’-the-wisp, the ‘foolish fire’
of a military career not to tempt young travellers from safe trackways
in a life so often hard to negotiate for those without resources.

Let the false flame of the military dim,
the glamour of war tarnish,
be seen for what it is.
Let adventure come from lives lived wildly and well
in a world of peace.

And if this is truly the path that they wish to walk
let them choose older when they know who they are
and will not become someone else’s loaded gun.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

Mary, singer of wild songs, mother of the Light,
Mari, drummer of the wild hills, companion of Stars,
We pray for the day when the Feast of the Innocents
becomes truly that; a celebration of the child,
of the innocence of the young and the innocence in us all.

We pray for a time when our innocence is not taken
by the things we have seen and what we know.
When we need not stand guard to protect our babies
from the machine of war and greed
but can lean back and be supported by the sweet waters of life
knowing that they are safe to explore the world in freedom.

We pray for all those who have died in wars not of their making,
who have hoped to do good and been broken by what they have found,
who have seen through the lies and spoken out,
or who remain, silent or unseeing.

Let power come to the peaceful
and love to the lost.
No more children called to war.

We listen for the hoofbeat of the Mari Lwyd,
we listen for the revolutionary Magnificat of Mary,
we look to the Star fallen to earth, sing the Spirit in,
gather up the pieces of broken hope,
weave starshine in our hair,
stand with the saints with starlight at their brow,
knowing that we also shine.

Like all that is born, Sun and Son,
vulnerable and new in the midst of this deepest dark,
May we be undefended and undefeated,
bright with possibility and hope reborn.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We lift the third shard of a shattered star.
We hold the vision of a shining light
of protection around our children,
allow innocence to be reborn.
We allow the possibility of belonging,
of home, to sink into our bones.
We allow the wild hope of Peace on Earth to shine.
The lights are going on.

For this we pray.

Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.



References:











The recruitment of children into the armed forces ~

Army recruitment at 16 should stop ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22259982

Why do the British Armed Forces still allow 16-year-olds to enlist? ~ https://www.theguardian.com/uk/shortcuts/2013/apr/23/british-armed-forces-16-year-olds

Charity criticises British Army campaign to recruit under 18 year olds ~ https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/29/charity-criticises-british-army-campaign-to-recruit-under-18s






‘A Mother’s Day Proclamation’ by Julia Ward Howe (1870) ~ http://themoderatevoice.com/a-mothers-day-proclamation/




Child Soldiers International ~ https://www.child-soldiers.org/

ForcesWatch: challenging military presence in education ~ https://www.forceswatch.net/






Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our second prayer for Peace on Earth

Mari Lwyd image by Flying Viper on DeviantArt


Here is the second of our December Novenas for the Fallen Through, which for this month are devoted to Mary and Mari Lwyd and to Peace on Earth. If you would like to read more about this month’s novena you can read our first prayer here.

In our first Novena we lifted a prayer for peace in many aspects; the end of arms trading, of the disproportionate recruitment of the children of the poor into the armed forces, for an end to loneliness and poverty, to the Boxing Day hunt and to driven grouse shooting, and for peace on the West Bank. As this cycle of prayers continues we will connect to these themes in greater depth. Today, as our Prime Minister Theresa May attempts to justify figures which tell us that 9,000 people are sleeping rough on the streets of England at any one time, an increase of 134% since 2011, and that over 79,000 households, which include 120, 000 children, are without homes and living in temporary accommodation, a rise of 65% since 2010, we turn our attention to homelessness.

It is hard to imagine how we can ever find peace when so many people are without roots. It is this lack of grounding that no doubt leads to a disproportionate number of children from working class families being recruited into the armed forces, and it is telling in that regard that Britain is the only country within the European Union to allow the recruitment of 16 year olds. When we feel that we don’t belong we become prey, but more of that on another day.

This Novena and this time of Midwinter and Christmas are so deeply woven with the search for ‘home’ and for a safe place in which to birth what is vulnerable and good. Just as Mary and Joseph did in the Christmas story, the Mari Lwyd travels from house to house at Midwinter asking to come in. She always gains entry because those who live with the hoofbeats of the Mari in heart and ear know that the magic is in allowing her entry, that that is somehow how the world is put to rights. It would be unthinkable to deny her and yet we live in a culture now where so many are afraid to offer room, whether metaphorically or literally.

In Kent we have a tradition very similar to the Mari Lwyd, but here it is called ‘Hoodening’, ‘Hodening’, or ‘Oodening’. This folk-custom involved a wooden hobby horse, the ‘hooden horse’, being mounted on a pole and carried by someone concealed under a sackcloth. This was once specifically enacted in East Kent but it spread into the west of the county in the Twentieth Century.

ontanomagico.altervista.org


The Hooden Horse was a tradition performed at Christmas time by groups of farm labourers who would form into teams and accompany the horse around the local area visiting houses and being offered payment. There would have been little work for labourers on the land in the winter and so this was a way for wealth to be shared in sparse times in a way that offered some dignity; payment for a performance is not the same as charitable giving. In this way hoodening echoes the tradition of wassailing, where again agricultural labourers would travel from house to house singing, or would bless orchards and other crops, in return for food and money. House visiting, which is recorded from at least the 1600s, and orchard blessing, first recorded in St Albans in 1486, were part of a well defined and stable social structure. By the late eighteenth century, wassailing was thriving almost everywhere. Hoodening was also flourishing in Kent and yet by the time of the First World War it had become extinct.

The change in these ways of being seems to have come with the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, which brought with them Enclosure, the removal of common rights to establish individual ownership of the land, and the replacement of community responsibility through Elizabethan Poor Relief with the Victorian Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, which led to the opening of workhouses. At each turn we become more distant from one another, reciprocal exchange breaks down, and the better off amongst us want to cling on to what we have lest we too should fall through. Indeed it was the Victorians who discouraged wassailing, which allowed the less well off amongst us to take charge of their own wellbeing, and replaced it with the more sedate caroling and charitable giving, where the giver decides who deserves care and in what form that care should come. I know that many now discourage the giving of money to the homeless, in case it is used in ways that aren’t good for them, as though somehow in not having a roof a person also loses the right to make the decisions, good or bad, that those of us who have homes are daily at liberty to make.

Hoodening suffered a similar fate to that of wassailing. In W.D Parish and W.F Shaw’s ‘Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect’ of 1888, they claim that ‘Hodening’ is a Kentish term for carol singing, although they did acknowledge that it had once been attached to a custom involving a ‘mumming or masquerade’ and a hooden horse. At that time, Hoodening itself was still taking place in some parts of the county but, in 1889, a letter appeared in ‘The Bromley Record’ stating that the custom had been abandoned around fifty years previously after a woman in Broadstairs had taken fright and died at the sight of the hooden horse!

This fear of folk-customs allowing exchange of wealth seems to have been ubiquitous. By the mid nineteenth century grave concerns were being expressed that pre-Christmas street celebrations were too rowdy and drunken and the authority’s began a campaign to establish Christmas as a home event, rather than a communal one. Indeed, Colin and Karen Cater in their wonderful and thought-provoking book, ‘Wassailing: Reawakening an Ancient Folk Custom’, describe Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ as a ‘propagandist novel’ which “edits out street based celebrations in favour of ‘the family’, and so Christmas was tamed and with it the people of the land. But, of course, neither is so easily subdued and hoodening is slowly being revived. There are a number of ‘revivalist hoodeners’ in Kent, including, I am proud to say, just down the hill from our house in Sandgate.

In matters of the land though Kent has always been uppity. In ‘The Canterbury Index’ of November 2016, historian, Professor Mark Stoyle, refers to Kent as “the most rebellious county after Cornwall”. Although this is acknowledged to have complex reasons much intertwined with a strong sense of regional identity, it is also thought to have much to do with an ancient and highly unusual system of land tenure chiefly associated with Kent known as ‘gavelkind’. This meant that land was not held in ‘servile tenure’ but could be inherited by the children of a tenant who died and could also be sold as freehold. It was allowed to become home.

Today, a committee of MPs declared homelessness in England to be a ‘national crisis’. Chair of the committee, Labour MP Meg Hillier, described the Government’s strategy to combat homelessness as an “abject failure”, citing the huge increase in people sleeping rough and in temporary accommodation.

thirdforcenews.com

In October 2017, it was reported that the number of homeless people admitted to hospital for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction rose by a quarter between 2014 and 2016. In November, a study found that as many as one in twenty five people can be classed as homeless in the worst affected areas of the UK. This is partly due to people losing their private tenancies since cuts to housing benefits began in 2011, whilst private sector rents have tripled over the same period. Auditor General, Sir Amyas Morse, said that the Department for Work and Pensions had failed to evaluate the impact of benefit changes on homelessness. A 72 year old woman named Victoria was made homeless when her landlord decided to sell her flat and she was unable to find alternative accomodation. Again in November, having been banned from begging and sleeping in shop doorways in Middlesborough, autistic man, Bradley Grimes, who became homeless after leaving the care system at 17 and now suffers from a brain tumour and epilepsy, begged a judge to send him to prison rather than leave him on the streets.

Liverpool Council, ever rebellious, have vowed to continue to “break the law” to stop people dying on the city streets. The City Mayor, Joe Anderson, insists that Government guidelines which refuse support to those who have ‘no recourse to public funds’ will lead to vulnerable people dying. At the opening of a new rough sleeper shelter he said, “Central Government think that the best thing to do is to allow them to die on the streets or force them out, but I won’t allow that in this city.”

Many of those ‘without recourse to public funds’ are failed asylum seekers who have travelled to Liverpool as one of the only places in the country where they are able to lodge an appeal. In other places, homeless EU migrants are being detained without charge, often targeted due to information received from homeless charities such as St Mungo’s and Thames Reach. Britain is the only country in the EU which allows indefinite immigration detention. This policy was found unlawful in the High Court on December 14th. The Government insist that they target those who come to the UK with the ‘intention of sleeping rough’ but this has been rejected by the European Commission and Crisis, who say that most of the European nationals they support have lived in Britain for many years, some having British children, but have fallen on hard times. Activist, David Jones, says that anecdotal evidence suggests that some of those deported for sleeping rough have later died on the streets in their country of origin, reminding us that, “being homeless is not a crime, and freedom of movement is not just for the rich.”

In the meantime, Local Authorities in London, which has been particularly badly affected by private rental increases, has been found to be buying properties outside the city in order to house people. This might seem sensible in pragmatic terms but it constitutes a further erosion of community and connection to place. This is why so many of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire remain in temporary accommodation. They refuse to be displaced by a ‘land grab’ that has been taking place since the Enclosure Acts, dating back as far as the 1500s and before.

The Mari Lwyd continues to pound on the earth, bangs on doors demanding to enter, to be allowed to come home. She is followed by many lost souls who deserve the same, who cry to be let in.

thelatest.com

Novena for the Fallen Through

Peace on Earth

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

You knew the meaning of home.
You knew the pain of its loss,
of having no safe place to rest your head.

With you beside us on this Midwinter night
we call for an end to the violence of homelessness,
we seek the end of displacement,
for the people and the land to again become one,
for support and care to be offered in community,
from heart to heart and hand to hand,
for those who suffer, whether looked down upon or unseen,
to be witnessed, to be seen, and to be heard,
for the opening of doors that are so often slammed shut.

We ask for those of us who have enough to feel safe enough to share,
to see through and cast aside the fear-mongering of the media
and those who would subdue love,
those who benefit from the vulnerable remaining vulnerable,
from us all feeling that we are on unstable and precarious ground,
to see that our neighbours are everywhere, whether with homes or without,
for no one who is vulnerable, homeless, and alone
to become prey to greed and the machine of Capitalism and war.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

Mari and Mary, you whose stories are so often misunderstood,
obscured by fear, prejudice, and greed.

With you beside us on this Midwinter night
we ask for the reasons for homelessness to be revealed
for those who are homeless amongst us not to be judged
but for all to see that their plight is a reflection of the inequality
that we all live under, even though some are blessed to not feel it,
to see that those who are homeless walk a bitter edge
that we all might come upon.

We call for an end to blame,
to the comfortable feeling that those who have fallen,
or are falling, through
have brought it on themselves or are somehow weak, or less,
for the growing light of this new moon and the Midwinter sun
to expose and illuminate with increasing clarity
the greed of private landlords, the gaps in our welfare system,
the benefit to some of separating us,
of keeping us low and afraid.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We ask for nothing less than Peace on Earth.
We cling to the stubborn hope of light in the darkness.
We allow our waiting to become a prayer.

You whose stories and spirits are so woven into your own lands,
the fertile hills of Palestine, the wild hills of Wales.

With you beside us on this Midwinter night
we ask to again come into right relationship
with the land and with each other,
knowing that equality must be a constant work
and a constant prayer,
a righting of what becomes unbalanced,
valuing that as an endless call to mindfulness and attention,
to listening to one another and the earth beneath our feet.

In a world where the human spirit
is constrained in smaller and smaller boxes,
let all seek the liberation of belonging,
of knowing our ground,
of digging in, claiming our roots.

May all who are without a safe roof above their heads
find a home that is warm and good.
Let none knock at the door of justice and not be let in.
Let none find that there is no room.

And let all those who are of good heart,
whether homed or unhomed,
stand together against homelessness in all its forms.

We listen for the hoofbeat of the Mari Lwyd,
we listen for the revolutionary Magnificat of Mary,
we look to the Star fallen to earth, sing the Spirit in,
gather up the pieces of broken hope,
weave starshine in our hair,
stand with the saints with starlight at their brow,
knowing that we also shine.

Like all that is born, Sun and Son,
vulnerable and new in the midst of this deepest dark,
May we be undefended and undefeated,
bright with possibility and hope reborn.

Blessed Mari, Hallowed Mary,
Holy Mothers of Peace,
Sisters of Reconciliation,
Singers of the Mending Song.
We stand in solidarity with you at the gates of Birth
seeking Light in the luminous beauty of Darkness,
in the depths of winter cold.

With you, we follow the silver thread of starlit Hope,
in the midst of anguish and despair.
We seek a Revolution of Love.
We expect Justice. We speak for Peace.
We will not be shut out. We will be heard.
Room will be made.

We lift the second shard of a shattered star.
We allow the possibility of belonging,
of home, to sink into our bones,
allow the wild hope of Peace on Earth to shine.
The lights are going on.

For this we pray.

Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.

'Singing the Pwnco' Credit: John Isaac (found on https://grumpyoldwitchcraft.com/2014/11/10/all-hallows-gathering/)


References and further information:






Homelessness increased by Government welfare reforms ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41241021


Liverpool Council breaks the law in order to stop homeless deaths on the streets ~ http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-council-continue-break-law-14037185









Homeless Link ~ working to end homelessness ~ https://www.homeless.org.uk/