Dear friends of Temenos.
Greetings from our autumn garden. What a beautiful time of year this is in McGregor. In spite of all the challenges so many of us face, the dawn and sunsets are still spectacular, the daylight soft and gentle, and the night air crisp enough to invite the prospect of a warm and cosy fire.
Words seem inadequate to thank you to all of you for your continued prayers, good wishes, suggestions and donations to Temenos. Each day I am inspired that this loving support, on so many levels, will see us through these days of unknowing. We are still managing to feed our staff and their families and help them in any way we can. They have as yet not received anything from UIF or the Covid 19 Relief fund although we have been assured by the department that they are working on a huge backlog and that their system has been giving trouble. Our little lockdown team has been allowed to offer a food delivery service which we have initiated and which is supported by our friends in the village. There are conflicting reports as to when and how establishments such as ours will be allowed to reopen but in the meanwhile we will keep up our hope, our prayers and our sense of humour while doing little ordinary things with a big heart.
While busy in the autumn garden cutting back dead wood, mulching the soil and preparing for the spring, I kept pondering how life for many of us during the lockdown has been reduced to mundane, ordinary, daily tasks. I guess this is quite a transition for some, to say nothing of the underlying worry and uncertainty many are experiencing. In the course of raking leaves I paused to ask myself, “When in the past do you remember feeling like this?”
To my surprise a memory came back of one of the happiest times in my life, my time in a monastery in the midlands of Natal. There were of course stimulating scholastic mornings but for the most part our days were taken up with ordinary simple tasks and chores like cleaning the ablution block, or polishing the chapel floor or weeding the soccer field. Looking back over the years these were some of the most joy-filled days of my life, a time that lingers in the memory and the heart. There was something pure and uncomplicated to that time, something of childhood about them. They were innocent and happy. I guess one was aware of a presence which a child instinctively recognises, as if the very ordinary opened up to a certain sense of spaciousness and wonder, which then led to a sense of play. The thought lingers with me. Could these extraordinary days we are living through be inviting us once again to something similar, enabling the inner child to awaken to fresh wonder?
One is reminded of what Rainer Maria Rilke writes in his Letters to a Young Poet ‘of being solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and very important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing. And when you realise that their activities are shabby, their vocations petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child’s wise not-understanding….since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone….’
So while going about doing ordinary things set aside a moment to allow the inner child to awaken and to observe the mundane opening out to spaciousness, mystery, wonder and play.
Two loving residents of Mcgregor, Briar and Michael Grimley of KalloSophia, have come forward to offer an online Zoom story and art fundraiser in support of Temenos. If you would enjoy a heart-warming experience of listening to the uplifting story of The Little Lantern, and working artistically with it, please consider joining them. You will shortly be receiving a newsflash from Temenos regarding their generous initiative. For more information contact Briar on 072 345 2720
Another loving and very supportive friend of Temenos, Sue Cooper, recently shared this poem which I am passing on to you. It is by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Over the Weather
We forget about the spaciousness above the clouds
it’s up there.
The sun is up there too.
When words we hear don’t fit the day
When we worry
What we did or didn’t do
What if we close our eyes,
Say any word we love
that makes us feel calm,
Slip into the atmosphere
Creamy miles of quiet
Giant sweep of blue.
Bless you all
With love from the gardens of Temenos,