Not my idea of course. Someday, some time, long ago, some folk gathered the 3 P’s together as landmarks of life, or at least what was life-giving to them. And so were established three pillars of Celtic spirituality. Poetry. Pilgrimage. Presence. I tie my flag to these.
I am pretty sure we find these all around us today. Poetry comes to us in lyrics to songs which we play over and over. Pilgrimage comes in the stories, books, TV documentaries, which inspire us to make our own journeys from here to over there. Even if we don’t know where this will actually take us and what companions we may come across on the way. Presence is something we didn’t take seriously. Then the pandemic took it away. Then gave it back again. So we know better now how to make ourselves actually available to each other.
I am and will always be jealous of those who can draw, or make music, or dance (I mean really dance). These ones have a short-cut to the Divine and to humanity as a whole for they can speak without words. Nevertheless, although it does rely on words and spaces in between words, poetry is a craft, an art form which is why for me it sits contentedly alongside spirituality. Like a portal to some kind of mystical space where truths are told and only what really matters stands up to inspection. Even if it is kind of daft, because it is also true that being funny and laughing raise our spirits and that humour can take the sting out of a great many things.
A poem can speak to something you didn’t know how to say. Sometimes even saying something you did not know needed saying but somehow it resonates and calls out a deep ‘yes’ in you. Finding poems like that are like gathering treasure, to take out and look at as time and need arises. Like some return to liturgy, I return to poems. A sacred gift to which I bow and humbly thank both the author and the hidden source from which they came.
As you walk you are changed, as you travel from here to there, there are other shifts that take place. Some small, some seismic. There are some paths we take and we will never be the same again.
There are times when you absolutely want to give up. This is where the act of walking is powerful in and of itself. Because shoes and souls both get worn down, because both our legs and our hearts sometimes ache. All of me goes into this journey, all of me feels it. And what is life if not some crooked magnificent pilgrimage in the end, to the end, where all things end, because in the end the only thing which is guaranteed is safe arrival.
Being present has something to do with first giving yourself permission to take up space. To be brave enough to inhabit our place in the world and in doing so being expansive enough to welcome room for others. Presence is some kind of emotional hospitality which says ‘all welcome’ – you don’t even have to wipe your feet. Presence – where people make a place sacred by being in it. Because there will be worse days and worser days . There will be roses and there will be thorns. Someone’s hands have to hold both of these. The only thing which makes this possible is that someone else is by their side.
So as you travel and make your pilgrimage may you find poems to tuck in your pocket to cheer you on and may you know the presence of others to smell your roses and bind up your wounds.