the flint that yields a spark
Fragments from a sandstone cliff face in early winter light.1
1: I note the present impossibility of loving smoothly. The heart’s Archimedean screw, continually turning to bring up the flow. It must always be spiralling if you want there to be fresh water.
As though the heart’s turning is caused by some attachment to the gyring cosmos making it so.
Blessings never accrue enough to stop the need for them refilling.
I want the blackberries, so accept the thorns. They can be pulled out, replacing their amethyst juice with warm garnet blood. A fair exchange of liquid gems.
A faint anthelion lasted half an hour as I left the archipelago of Brigid2 in October. The promise of a wholeness that can only be glimpsed, not looked at directly. Pierced by a red kite so huge, I thought at first it was a heron.
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2: Here sits, once again, the fully biodegradable holy fool with two fingers for letters and a thumb for the space bar, securing myself into the fabric of shared life with syntax and explanatory notes. Writing a path back to central earth. I can sit upright at a desk in the uneasy chair and momentarily over-reach, but in the re-reading, any precarious lean can be corrected. I stack my pineal above my thymus above my adrenals, and thereby rest my thoughts upon the nestled seat of my heart, supported by the knowing in my guts. Where rests a joyful emptiness, sometimes filled by a ballast of wordless presence I can only hint at.
3: We, the uncivil savants, the fully-foibled heilig fools, the regularly humbled, ridiculous, occasionally charismatic baby crones, like flint, numerous, constantly washing up on shores forever, tumbled and wet. That is just the manner of our arrival, perfectly innocuous, unless flung by a winter storm. We are the tiredness of mountains, on our long journey to being sand. But while we are large enough to heft in your palm we will render hails of spark when struck just right with iron. We are hearth-gifts. Keep your tinder dry if you wish to receive our warmth. We are not here to be wise, we are far more foolish than we appear, but we somehow learn everything we need to thrive, and all the tricks to best pass the knowledge on.3
4: Resembling the lip of a waterfall, ideas, energy, thoughts, feelings, constantly tumbling over a leading edge. By attrition, the edge retreats upstream, towards the source. Thus, destiny is twofold: an eventual, impermeable, retaining wall for life-force, and, simultaneously, tiny grains of sand deposit on the far beach of thought.
5: ‘How different it is,’ he says, sweeping his arm sideways to gesture at the bay window over the desk. Meaning, how stark and changed the light, now that it comes in through the bare ribs of trees, un-greened and un-fleshed by chestnut and lime.
I like the brief white light that falls on this table today, just as much as I enjoyed the long golden miraculous beams of September. Winter is here, and the hot-and-cold-blowing hyperbole boys have gone, having retreated to their lairs, perhaps, to gather up the scattered bones of their belated becomings. I wish them well and harbour no ill feelings, neither vengeful nor rageful, just intermittently sad. I am on the beach at sunrise sifting flints, the stones that hide a spark inside them, the treasure and trade of my ancestors, the true vocation of silicon, before the Machine enslaved that spark with electron chains.4
I bring one home, and set it down upon the table, giving it no work to do, other than to continue to be the ancient and holy coldharbour of infinite possibility.
6: A Blessing
May we find the peace we do not have yet, and when we do, may we learn how to spread it.
When one day we say that we have waited forty years for sex like that, and that they are the best person we ever met, may those gaily painted caravans which we set up, all bowed and arched and canvassed and decorated with roses, be tethered to the draft-horse of love. Rather than abandoned, less than carefully in a layby, for someone to climb into and sit there alone wondering who is going to make the tea.
May we have reason to say those things one day. And may the love that comes from that last us all our years.
May we think twice before we jump in with both feet.
May we meet our match.
May our flames be bright.
May we learn to remember to always compare two flames on any feasting table and trim one wick accordingly, lest the other seem to flare too bright.
May chestnuts and hazels fall at our feet.
May oak galls and old iron form the ink of our telling.
May our words be true.
May they be written down.
May they be sung in song. But not the songs of enchantment, which capture and cajole. But the chant, the chanson, the true song beneath enchantment. Which is an invitation, not a compulsion. Which lets the hearer be free. Which gives the listener license to come and to go or to sing the song their own way, to harmonise with us in ways we may not recognise at first.
May we know that to go, sometimes, is as good as to come. That doors should always be left unlocked, like the porches of old churches. Somewhere to rest our heads safely for a night.
Every cup is not a baptismal font, nor even the piscina. But a cup is a cup. And because mine overflows today, may its blessings fall to all who read this, too.
This week’s good thing: In time for posting for Christmas, I took delivery of another box of my books recently. If you would like me to send a signed and dedicated copy of my book Found and Ground to someone anywhere in the world, drop me an email by replying to this Substack or messaging me here, and I will reply with the total cost including postage. Next week I start writing the follow up. Wish me luck!
Also, as a second good thing, enjoy the deep, meditative work of artist and retreat convener Anjet Van Linge and her partner at workingsilence.com Anjet and I have been in correspondence for a while, and she generously sent me beautiful foraged and found materials when I lost all my pigments some years ago. This week we exchanged uncannily similar flinty thoughts, and so this week’s post is dedicated to her.
Grit minds think alike.
Silex Scintillans, from the title of a collection of mystical poetry by Henry Vaughan, as quoted by Iain McGilchrist in The Matter With Things.
‘Doing is a hard school, but a fool will learn at no other.’ From Alan Garner, aptly told to me this week by dear godsibling
I do not think that silicon wishes to be forced, in endless server factory farms, to be the barren chip-shaped field in which only code grows. Surely silicon wants to be united with humus, to make thriving soils, to provide the grand avenues of worms, the loam in which joyful monochrome dogs called Otto can roll, or to be tickled by mycelium and to clad the tannic roots of massive trees? Reclaim tool use from machines! Think inside our own skulls, heart, hands, and in conversations with the wild… Allow silicon to be free and particulate in fields and on beaches!
And, in the event that any hyperbole boys are reading this, I hope it raised a smile. May I reassure you that I too have lobbed well-aimed ecstatic superlatives, glossy as conkers, wholly inappropriately. And I also really meant them at the time. The blessing above is meant for us all.
All photos from home this week, except the anthelion, caught through a bus window en route to Italy in October.