Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our ninth prayer for our wild kin




Here is the ninth, and so the last, of our November Novenas for the Fallen Through, which for this month are devoted to Saint Cuthbert and to a call for protection for our wild kinfolk. If you would like to read more about this month’s novena you can read our first prayer here.

We have already lifted prayers for our badgers, our hedgehogs, and for the street trees of Sheffield, for otter, cormorant, and seal, and for sharks and orcas, for stag beetles, for starlings, and for water voles. Today, we must return to ourselves, perhaps having learned something of the lives and struggles of our wild family, both those close to us and those who live in ways that we can hardly imagine, such as our sea kin, the sharks, orcas, and seals. Perhaps we will feel more deeply woven into the web of things, or have found a new creature to speak up for, or cried tears of blessing for what has been lost.

Rumi said, There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love." I know that I have learned a lot, cried a lot, and that I have very much valued making this deep journey with St Cuthbert. I am so very fond of him. Anne, a a Facebook friend who has a long and devoted relationship with him, told me that she and her father refer to him as ‘Cuthbert Greenpeace’. I liked that. And I liked that, this very evening, he helped me to make a big decision when I was reminded of the dream I had about him and the breaking of the cross to reveal a Tree of Life. He is a fine soul friend.

We have shared many stories of Cuddy during this Novena but the other day I was reminded of one that speaks deeply of relationship, devotion, and how powerfully woven in we can become with what, and who, we love.

St Cuthbert had a dear friend for many years called Hereberht, later St Herbert of Derwentwater in Cumbria, who was also an anchorite (someone who has withdrawn from the world for spiritual contemplation) living on a small island. Each year it was Hereberht’s habit to visit his friend on the Holy Isle to seek spiritual instruction. In 686CE he heard that Cuthbert was visiting Carlisle and chose to go and see him there. On meeting, Cuthbert told him, “Brother Herebehrt, tell me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand.” Hearing this, Herebehrt fell to his knees and wept, begging Cuthbert to obtain grace from God for them both to enter heaven at the same time. Cuthbert prayed and then said, “Rise, my brother weep not but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire.” And so, Cuthbert returned to Lindisfarne and Herebehrt returned home but soon he became ill with a long sickness. Both men died on the same day; 20th March, 687CE. In 1374, Thomas Appleby, Bishop of Carlisle, granted an indulgence of forty days for anyone who, in honour of St Herbert, visited his island in Derwentwater and was present at the Mass of St Cuthbert, sung annually by the Vicar of Crosthwaite. Such deep love that one could not bear to live this life without the other.


This is the love that our culture has lost for our wild kin; the sense of interdependence, of devotion, of knowing that we could not live one without the other. The relationship of Cuthbert and Hereberht, and Cuthbert with his wild, and our’s with our own, reminds me of Glenn Albrecht’s phrase ‘soliphilia’, which he describes as 'love and responsibility for a place, bioregion, planet, and the unity of interrelated interests within it', 'soli' coming from 'solidarity'; fellowship of responsibilities and interests, from the French solidarité, from solidaire, interdependent, from Old French, in common, from Latin solidus, solid, whole.' I wrote more about this here; 'Soliphilia: On the Seeing of Stars'

I hope that we find many, many things to fall in love with in the days and months to come and that we are brave enough to cry sacred tears when we must.


Novena for the Fallen Through

Protection, justice, and shining health for our wild kin.

This is a prayer is for the warp and weft, for the weaving of the web.

Blessed Cuthbert,
Beloved Cuddy,
Saint of Salt and Fire,
Antlered ancestor,
Friend of otter, eider, cormorant, and crow,
Walker of the untamed edge of Land and Spirit,
Lover of wild places, wild creatures, and wild grace,
Threader of sea-stars into wild prayer.

We stand in solidarity with you at the roots of the Tree of Life.

The first is for the badger people.

We seek to weave a prayer of protection and bright and thriving life
for our companion of soil, sett, and ancient soul.
We honour badger as digger and unearther, old tunneler,
keeper of the songlines of burrow and root, wild forager,
quiet earth hunter, beloved of the Elder Mother,
lover of the soil, warrior spirit, wild gardener,
planter of primroses, carrier of earth scars, watcher of time,
guardian of land, mapper of memory,
snuffler of spirit paths, wisdom-keeper of home and hearth and clan,
story-holder of the ancient tales of land and tribe.
We seek to weave a wild spell of word and prayer to surround
our badgers, tonight and every night.
We weave a thread of good company and solidarity with the badger people,
our wild kin.

The second is for the hedgehog people.

Blessed, furzepigs, tip-toe urchins,
we come to you in sorrow for the ways in which
we have contributed to your suffering and your decline.
May we come to see the beauty and potential in seeming untidiness,
value the wild poetry of leaf and woodpile,
the silver trail of slug and snail,
knowing that they too are our neighbours and our relations.
Help us to be more mindful in our use of pesticides,
casting them aside forever as we truly weave ourselves
into the ecosystem that we too are part of,
listening to, rather than dominating, the earth,
finding natural ways to bring health to our ordinary Edens,
knowing that all creatures come to teach us balance,
how to care in wilder and better ways.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger and hedgehog people,
our wild kin.

The third is for Sheffield’s street trees, the standing people

We ask for strength and protection for all
in Sheffield who stand for tree and home,
all who speak truth to power,
knowing that attacks on people, badgers, trees,
and all wild kin, come from the same place of
fear for what is truly alive in a world of ghosts.

Let there be justice in Sheffield for trees and people,
rooted in wild grace and the sweet soil of community.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, and standing people,
our wild kin.

Blessed Cuthbert,
Beloved Cuddy,
Saint of Salt and Fire,
Antlered ancestor,
Friend of otter, eider, cormorant, and crow,
Walker of the untamed edge of Land and Spirit,
Lover of wild places, wild creatures, and wild grace,
Threader of sea-stars into wild prayer.

We stand in solidarity with you at the roots of the Tree of Life.

The fourth is for the seal, otter, and cormorant people.

We ask for the return of health to our waters,
wild children of the Silver Salmon Mother seeking Source,
salt and sweet, fish brimming,
overflowing with diversity of life,
not valued for what we can take,
the money we can make,
but for itself as the womb from which we all were born.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, standing, otter, cormorant, and seal people,
our wild kin.

The fifth is for the shark and the orca people.

May all beings of the sea that you so loved,
where you sang Pslam songs to time and tide,
be bountifully blessed and wild with mothering,
hallowed with fathering,
and may we, in the name of salt and sea,
walk in grace with grief and gratitude
until justice comes for all beings of land, sea, and sky.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, standing, otter,
cormorant, seal, shark, and orca people,
our wild kin.

The sixth is for the stag beetle people.

May the stag beetle kin thrive,
may they teach us gentleness in seeming fierceness,
to not judge by appearances, to love the unfamiliar.
In following the tracks of the little deer people,
may we weave a web of noticing,
shimmering threads of right relationship,
woven with the family of all beings.
And in that weaving let there be
a mending between human and wild,
a knowing that we can take communion with life,
that we can be forgiven, make amends.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, standing, otter,
cormorant, seal, shark, orca, and stag beetle people,
our wild kin.

Blessed Cuthbert,
Beloved Cuddy,
Saint of Salt and Fire,
Antlered ancestor,
Friend of otter, eider, cormorant, and crow,
Walker of the untamed edge of Land and Spirit,
Lover of wild places, wild creatures, and wild grace,
Threader of sea-stars into wild prayer.

We stand in solidarity with you at the roots of the Tree of Life.

The seventh is for the starling people.

May the starling kin thrive.
In a human world where so many walk with loneliness,
let them teach us the value of good company
the protection of community,
the joy of dancing in constellation,
and may humankind and starlingkind
become celestial family,
a twinkling stellar society,
find that our futures are entangled,
that it’s written in our stars.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, standing, otter,
cormorant, seal, shark, orca, stag beetle, and starling people,
our wild kin.

The eighth is for the water vole people.

May the water vole people thrive,
once more become the tiny engineers,
the cornerstone of the cathedral of our wild,
find safety and peace in our waters,
help us to regain balance,
allow us again to sink into stories
without the taste of bittersweet,
become the awe-filled, open-hearted earth-children
that we were born to be.

We weave a thread of good company and solidarity
with the badger. hedgehog, standing, otter,
cormorant, seal, shark, orca, stag beetle, starling people,
water vole and mink people,
our wild kin.

The ninth is for the web.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
over and over, announcing your place
in the family of things.

Blessed Cuthbert,
Beloved Cuddy,
Saint of Salt and Fire,
Antlered ancestor,
Friend of otter, eider, cormorant, and crow,
Walker of the untamed edge of Land and Spirit,
Lover of wild places, wild creatures, and wild grace,
Threader of sea-stars into wild prayer.

We stand in solidarity with you at the roots of the Tree of Life.

May our string of prayer beads,
formed in the starry sea where all things are one,
gathered on the shore of meeting,
be filled with life, love, and wild justice
for all beings on this earth we share.

For this we pray.

Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.

For Earth to survive, she needs your heart. The songbirds and the salmon need your heart too, no matter how weary, because even a broken heart is still made of love. They need your heart because they are disappearing, slipping into that longest night of extinction, and the resistance is nowhere in sight. We will have to build that resistance from whatever comes to hand: whispers and prayers, history and dreams, from our bravest words and braver actions. It will be hard, there will be a cost, and in too many implacable dawns it will seem impossible. But we will have to do it anyway. So gather your heart and join with every living being.” (Deep Green Resistance)


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3 comments:

  1. a beautiful meditation on the web that sustains us all, on our kinship, on what I hope---so very much---will lead to our redemption.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. I hope for that too xx

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  2. Great post! I never really thought about it but the best posts are always "Do" posts.
    Honey
    Thanks for the ideas!:)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I genuinely do appreciate and value what people have to say.