Ed talks about Martin Shaw’s new book ‘Smokehole – looking to the wild in the time of the spyglass’ and the line ‘The mess out there is because of a mess in here’
Dougald discusses the difference between privilege, entitlement and the ‘work that is mine to do’ and references Alastair McIntosh’s four questions:
“Does what I do feed the hungry?”
“Is it relevant to the poor or to the broken in nature?”
“Does it contribute to understanding and meaningfulness?”
“Does it give life?”
And there’s something else I’ve heard Alastair say, that our work starts from the place where our own needs meet the needs of the world. So maybe that’s a little clearer than the way I’ve spoken about these things before.
Dougald introduces this week’s instruction which is ‘Get On Your Knees!’ Because we’re going to be talking about prayer. Beginning with a story about a Sufi traditional blessing, it’s one of the names of God and it translates as ‘The door is open!’ and you say the name seven times and each time you put your hand on your heart and lift it outwards.
And asks the question “have there ever been humans who did so little blessing as they went about their lives, who had so little literacy of blessing?”
Ed shares a Shamanic healing with Suzy Crockford from lockdown one last year and the ritual offerings he was invited to make afterwards in gratitude.
Dougald talks about Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the emperor with no clothes – and coins the phrase ‘the empire has no prayers’ and maybe it’s also true to say ‘the empire hasn’t got a prayer’?
Dougald talks about Bible and Empire and and how something has died or gone rotten in the kind of prayer that can do that, referencing Dara Molloy’s The Globalisation of God how the institutionalised church extinguished the local hybrid traditions such as Celtic Christianity, creating the prototype for colonialism and globalisation
Prayer might not (always) be what we think it is – because it has been part of the ways in which humans have inhabited the world in almost all the times and places we know of, but that the idea of religion which we mostly have is formed (even if only in the negative) by certain versions of Abrahamic monotheism, primarily Christian versions
Ed returns us to our knees talking about how the act of kneeling is full of deep biological, behavioural, spiritual and political energy…it is also mythical as Martin Shaw writes in ‘Smokehole’ and perhaps where we really need to begin. Because…
When you forget what you kneel upon, you are far more easily influenced by energies that may not wish you well.
Dougald talks about an essay that Mat Osmond wrote for Dark Mountain: Issue 17, called ‘Black Light’ – it’s about the artist Meinrad Craighead and her depictions of the Black Madonna. Mat grew up within a certain version of Anglican Christianity, and there’s a bit in the essay where he writes:
Suppose the dying religion I was raised within were understood as a nurse log – a fallen ancestral giant slow-releasing its nutrients, from whose decaying body a tangle of adaptive cultures is even now emerging? Such new, regenerative shoots might turn out to have less to do with belief or exhausted argument than with recovered behaviours. Behaviours which allow us to entrust our lives to mystery – to the unearned gift of being here at all.
Ed connects the ‘nurse log’ idea with the memories of his late father and brother.
Dougald talks about prayer in grief and The Way of the Rose, ‘an interfaith rosary fellowship with a subversive mission: to come together in reclaiming this old grassroots mother-devotion from the various weaponised agendas she’s been enlisted to. A re-wilding of the rosary’ and Beloved Sara Zaltash’s The Call – https://www.belovedsarazaltash.com/the-call, plus a conversation between Jay Springett and Gordon White of Rune Soup, where Gordon makes the case that the prayers of the Christian tradition do not belong to the church, or not only – that they are part of your ancestral tradition, they have been prayed in fields and around campfires and over the sick and at times of joy, they have been woven into folk magic and the practices of everyday life for many centuries
Ed shares the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono: I’m sorry, forgive me, thank you, I love you…
Dougald returns to Martin Shaw’s A Counsel of Resistance and Delight
Ed shares a story about praying with the birds on the River Chet
Dougald closes with a few lines from a poem by John Paul Davis Epigenetics
Mentions Prentis Hemphill’s Finding Our Way podcast and finishes on Mat Osmond’s ‘Black Light’:
An English Buddhist priest once taught me that in learning to pray, we learn to get smaller. To get lower, closer to the ground that supports us. Of the many valuable things which I’ve received from the hands of Buddhist teachers, that priest’s idea of prayer is the one I hold closest: when we get down to it, all that we are and all that we value in this life comes to us as unearned gift, and what we cultivate, in prayer, is a grateful awareness of this condition. Which is one of abundance. Which is also one of permanent, radical dependency
Let’s get on our knees and pray together in our own way. Bless you for listening.