Spring: A poem by Thomas

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SPRING

by Thomas Keating-Jones

 

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Daffodils dancing.

Snowdrops swaying.                  snow bells

In the spring sunshine

the flaming winter fire branches

were erupting

from flowerbeds like a volcano. 

Spring was coming for us

as we wandered the winding paths. 

Thomas Keating-Jones

Age 7

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Photos by Elizabeth Keating-Jones

Thomas in Greece

 

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Thomas in Greece

The Acropolis

You can see the cracks in the marble 

from the battle for Greece. 

 Who would lead Athens?

There is power here.

I can feel the ancient power 

in every step.

 

Poseidon surely did strike his trident here!

When you sit your mind can hear 

echoes of the ancient battle.

You can picture the Gods inside the temple.

You can feel the shadow rising upon you 

as you walk in the footsteps of the Gods.

 By Thomas  Keating-Jones

March 2018   aged 7

 

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Disibodenberg: Poetic Journey

Disibodenburg
Disibodenberg

High in the forest
it sprawls in the clouds.
The last mile steeply uphill.
Secluded.

A white butterfly dips and lifts.  
Hildegard’s gaze follows it up
catches the glint of the sun 
on the first stone wall. 

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Stoic buildings unfold
cloistered around a cobbled garth. 
Their Benedictine monastery.

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A monk in cinctured black robe
walks from the signposted infirmary. 
From beneath his blinkered cowl
he extends a welcome.

They dismount.  
Jutta falls on her knees in gratitude.
Hildegard overjoyed, breathes
the space of leafless beech and elms
in the skinniness of winter.

White tipped branches 
disguise trees of apple and pear.
Grapevines cling bare along stone walls.      
Frosty breath hangs in the air.
Her new home,
a frisson of gold in the cool noon sun.

Hammer and anvil ring, 
chink of chisel, thwack of axe,
clank of well come to a hush 
as a bell rings.  Then the shuffle 
and hiss of sandals, 
forty robed monks file to chapel.
Hearing a deep, rich chant
Hildegard looks up, 
hearkened to the sound. 

 

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Michael on The Way to the ruins of Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived for 38 years.

We walked with our guide on our pilgrimage to Disibodenberg
and imagined  Hildegard arriving as a young girl with her mentor Jutta,
and Hildegard hearing the music of the monks for the first time.

Nautilus Award

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                      Great news

Fire on Water has won a Silver Nautilus Award

 

 

 

April 2018

Dear Colleen,

Congratulations! Your book has been selected as a 2017 Nautilus Award Winner.

Title:  Fire on Water

Author:  Colleen Keating

>  touchstoneten@gmail.com

Publisher:  Ginninderra Press

Award:     SILVER 

Category: Poetry

We are deeply glad to welcome you to the honored and respected group of Nautilus Book Award Winners. You can be justly proud of your book’s selection as an Award Winner in the 2017 Nautilus season, which brought a record number of entries and a magnificent diversity of high-quality books.

The full roster of 2017 Nautilus Award Winners will be posted on the Nautilus website by the end of April.  We will send notice to the entire Nautilus mailing list when the Winners are posted on the website, so you can alert friends and colleagues to this exciting news.

You have written &/or published a book that carries a potent message – whether in text or photos – and we are grateful for the chance to help promote and celebrate your book by making it visible as a Nautilus Award Winner. We hold the intention with you that your book will find much recognition and success with this significant award.

On behalf of all the Nautilus reviewers, judges, staff, and volunteers, thank you for sending your book as an entry to the 2017 Nautilus program. May your book’s message bring hope, wisdom, healing, and joy to many people. We are proud that your book’s journey as a Nautilus Winner will contribute to Better Books for a Better World.

With warm regards,

Mary Belknap

for the Nautilus Book Awards team

 

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Viriditas: Poetic Journey

 

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This is one of my reflective times in Hildegard’s Kapelle at the ruins of her
Disibodenberg Monastery in Germany where Hildegard
lived for the first 38 years of her Religious life. And the snowbells are a first of spring moment of viriditas taken by my daughter Elizabeth Keating-Jones in Sussex England.
Disibodenberg nurtured Hildegard. She listened to the vitality of the greeness and alivemenss of her world. She made the word “Viriditas” and heard the Spirit whisper to her but still young and fearful as a woman she clams shut. Even though this suppressing her thoughts and feelings made her sick many times, she still not know how to go forward.

Viriditas  A word coined and made famous by Hildegard. The word combines the essence of truth and green, meaning vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure and growth.  Hildegard  uses it metaphorically as vitality. She sees it in the moist fresh greens..In her writings viriditas means the ‘greening power of God’

Hildegard was one of the first to speak of nutrition being linked to wellbeing.
She saw food as medicine.  And as we will read as my story of Hildegard unfolds
she cares for her sisters well being.

 

Viriditas

After the rains
Hildegard tends the garden
knee deep
in wet grass,
up to her elbows in soil,
worms, snails
and ruff of leaf compost.

Marvels at the ramble
of a pumpkin vine,
a stray seed gone free.
Lingers in the fragrance
of chives and basil,
coriander, lavender and mint,
and the smell of parsley.

Savours their bouquet.
Being jubilant
with the flirt of white moths,
and the canticle of bird song
from an oak branch above.
Dwells on her knees
as if in prayer.

Hildegard stands
her hands on her lower back
stretches and arches
skywards. wisping clouds
ruffle and the  Light whispers,

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with the joy of life. 

Fearful of her own mystery
she clams shut this light
into the tight knot of her gut.

 

Hildegard’s Highest rated foods
Spelt, chestnuts, fennel and chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

“Spelt creates healthy body, good blood and a happy outlook on life,” – Hildegard

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A website healthyhildegard.com is an excellent resource. Thank you to the creators of it . It is an inspiration.
Other resources that focus on Hildegard and health
Dr. Wighard Strenhlow, Hildegard of Bingen:Spiritual Remedies, Healing Art Press 2002
Dr. Wighard Strenhlow, & Dr. Gottfried Hertzka, Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, Bear & Co. 1988.
Jany Fournier-Rosset, From Saint Hildegard’s Kitchen Foods of Health, Foods of Joy, Liguori Publ. 2010.
Victoria Sweet, God’s Hotel, A Doctor, A Hospial, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. Riverhead Books 2012

Unearthing Heaven in Music: Poetic Journey

 

 

 

 

“Hildegard’s music is not easy. It is demanding with the breath…there are even a couple of songs that have two and a half octave ranges, which is extreme for music. In our day, we don’t even have most music like that.” ~ Linn Maxwell on Saint Hildegard’s music

This poem is set in Hildegard of Bingen’s new Abbey at Rupertsberg near the town of Bingen at the junction of the Nahr River and the Rhine in 1151. It is before her new Church is completed and before her sisters sing in flowing silk robes their Opera Ordo Virtutum  written by Hildegard (believed to be the first opera written by a woman in History. This poem is an extract from my up and coming writing on Hildegard of Bingen: A Poet Journey

 

 

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                                                          Unearthing Heaven in Music
Unearthing Heaven in Music

Seamless fold of seasons
Not so seamless, human endeavour.
Life is still comfortless,
harsh, rough.

Hildegard is invigorated
by harmonies of sound,
sees music in the dawn,
dance of light on the hills,
in the caress of the wind,
shape of the clouds
sound of the entwining rivers,
the patter of rain
chatter of verdant tendrils of vine.

Music sings in her mind
fills her writing
defines her day.

In giving voice to her poetry
Hildegard bursts into song.
Words of Divine Light,
sounds from the heavenly spheres,
O fleeting soul, be strong.
Clothe yourself in the armour of light.
You are surrounded
with the embrace of divine mysteries.

She sees creation, a symphony
of joy and jubilation,
a great chorus
of the cosmos itself.
She sings with her sisters.
Her sisters sing with her.
Singing softens their tired
discouraged hearts
like blossoms soften stone walls.
In the garden with her sisters around her
she draws lines with a stick on the earth
dots out the shift of sounds,
and with the stick as a baton and pointer
she teaches them her new music.
Their eyes shine.
Her antiphons and canticles
enrich the Divine Office.
Richardis leads, her voice ethereal,
the sister join, words and rhythms soar,
breathless notes, thin higher and higher.

The unfinished church
embraces their song,
a new heaven and new earth.

 

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A Healing Colour: Poetic Journey

 

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1.Hildegard of Bingen with her  tablet to write while listening to the Divine Light  

 

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Colleen Keating at Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived for 38 years. (1112 -1150)

 

A Healing Colour

The none bell fills the air
for afternoon prayer. 
Richardis runs ahead with the sisters.
Hildegard in the new garden
adjacent to the monks gardens,
lingers a moment, cherishing the freedom.
Her basket filled.

She gazes around her 
sighs with joy.
Her smile can hardly be contained.
How she relishes these moments
to be lost in the loving, living Light.

Dappled, the sun textures 
trees and grasses,
with crunch of heaping leaves underfoot, 
a riot of russet and gold.

Affirmation comes on the breeze,
God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms 
of the mystery of God.
Feast your eyes on the green
a thousands shades of green
a healing colour, let it heal you 
with its greening power rooted in the sun. 

This moment is my miracle
she murmurs,
as she hastens back to the convent.
Colleen Keating

 

 

VERIDITAS

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Photo of Veriditas  taken by Elizabeth Keating-Jones

I watched an aerial view of the destruction of forests and bush in Queensland recently, yes in 2018, we are still destroying forests here in Australia. I thought of the natural habitats, animals loosing their homes and the birds’ nests falling and the wildflowers and moss and tiny orchids now gone and the bare vulnerable earth left to be washed into erosion gullies and then the droughts, because the forest canopy has been destroyed and the earth no longer sustaining the people. And I thought how relevant are Hildegard of Bingen’s words from the 12th century across the ages to us today in this age of climate change and greed and with the loss of so much wilderness and natural habitats.

Hildegard has a word veriditas that was a touchstone of her spirituality. It is said to be coined from two words green and truth.
For Hildegard this was the greening power, the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality.
She talks of the “exquisite greening of grass and trees,   of earth’s lush greening.
She says all of creation and humanity is “showered with greening refreshment, the vitality to bear fruit”

Clearly for Hildegard creativity and greening power are intimately connected.
To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Hildegard saw the manifestation of the Creator in every flower, every stone. For her creation revealed the face of the creator.

Hildegard celebrates the sacred in nature.

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green,
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with joy of life

For all of us who know and love Hildegard of Bingen,
let us be aware, awake and alert to bring lush greenness to the shrivelled and dried and wilted, to our earth and all its people. It only needs one more to sway the scales to change the critical mass of people who say,  leave our trees, our rivers, our forests, our air alone. This tiny blue sphere we live on is our home . . protect and love it.

Hildegard says,  we are here to cultivate the earthly and thereby create the heavenly. We do this in all of our creating . . . music, art, poetry, sculpture, bush walking, hobbies and culture.
The tragedy of drying up and ignoring the greening power is that nothing is created.

Colleen and Michael at Disibodenberg at Hildegard’s Kapelle

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Thomas a poem :Canterbury Cathedral

 

 

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Thomas Keating-Jones  . . . Poet

 

POEMS FROM OUR JOURNEY TO CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

BY

THOMAS KEATING-JONES

 

 

 

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The Glimmering Windows

The windows are bright and colourful
You can make out the story
following the pictures that you find.

Details show the past is there.
The candles flicker
when you put in your prayer.

It is ready to keep it
and send it to God.

 

 

 

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The Prayer song

by

Thomas Keating-Jones

 

The people are singing,

the whole cathedral is filled
with beautiful music and prayers.

It stopped me .
My body could hear
the beautiful notes that they sing.

It caught my ear
and I started singing
without even knowing
that I was joining in

a prayer song.

 

 

 

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People have been coming on pilgrimages to Canterbury for centuries and today’ our adventure was a pilgrimage, well a drive and picnic to see Canterbury Cathedral with the family. It is of course famous for the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and referenced by Charles Dickens and then Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot to name a few.

It is one of the oldest and most famous  Christian structures in England. Foundered in 597 AD  and rebuilt and blessed in 1070 AD. It was originaly a Benedictine monastic community. Its architecture is breath-taking.

A pivotal moment in its history was the murder of Thomas Becket,  Archbishop to Henry 2nd He received 4 stabs to the back by 4 knights of  the King,  just after dawn at the first Mass  of the day 29th December 1170,

 

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To continue my pilgrimage with Hildegard of Bingen and my continuing research for my book . . . It was in 1170 that Hildegard received word in Bingen of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket . She heard of his holiness and courage and his murder via artisans travelling for work. It energised her to rise up for one last missionary journey and travel to Cologne to lecture once more against greed and corruption and power of the Church.

Sound familiar ?

What’s changed?

Hildegard has given her life to make us listen and see. She was in her 70 ‘s and  her body was tired but she set out one last time to warn people to listen to the Light .  For me the Canterbury cloisters being around 12th century caught my attention because the cloisters of Hildegard’s Church were destroyed in the Thirty Year War in the 14th century and over the centuries little is left to imagine.

 

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Now I kneel at the altar where the murder took place and reflect on this sculpture of suffering above. The black metal fluted cross and the swords hanging from the wounds and shadowed on the wall behind is very compelling.

Below the altar in the paved stones is the word Thomas.

Today it is appropriate to have my grandson Thomas sitting on the paved stone near me with his fingers curving through the printed words  Thomas.

 

 

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We together light a candle and Thomas closes his eyes and prays. I didn’t try to eavesdrop his whispered mumbling, except his last words came louder  and thank you for the world . Amen “ 

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An Adventure to Sheffield Park

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“I am so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers” Anne of Green Gables.

After a great Prague experience we are back in England with the Keating-Jones family in Sussex about 2 hours south of London. And today an autumnal walk and picnic to a stunning place that is not too far from Elizabeth’s home called Sheffield Park. It is beautifully cared for National Trust .

The garden is just coming into its own with dazzling displays of colour reflecting in the lake and shinning views around every bend.

Thomas at school so only Elizabeth and  and little Miss Eleanor was with Michael and me.  Our daring  little Miss Eleanor turning 2 on Sunday  (October 2017)

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SISSINGHURST CASTLE

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Sissinghurst Castle and garden created by Sir Harold Nicholson and the famous Vita Sackville-West, (famous as a poet and writer in her own right and intimate friend to Virginia Woolf, and inspiration for Orlando) .

It is one of the most idolised gardens in England, set out in a self- assured and inspirational manner. It is a joy to walk around. Even nearly a century later Vita Sackville-West ‘garden is featured regularly on twitter.

There is a delicacy to the plan and plantings, striking juxtapositions of colours, a gathering of shades of purples to the summer garden of reds and golds and of course the famous white flowered gardens .

This is a garden with a surprise around every corner .

Secret gardens everywhere and little miss Eleanor leads us curiously around.

Thanks to the National Trust for there love and care of this garden .

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