There is something very touching about this time of year. Here on the north coast of Ireland I find this to be one of the most beautiful seasons, when the days remain surprisingly warm and the sun shines more often that you’d expect. In my garden the verbena waves its long stems with its unearthly purple buds, the hollyhocks climb higher and higher, and even the morning glories still peak shyly out to catch the last rays of sun before the darker, colder days of winter set in. Every time I walk to the back of my garden, where these flowers still grace us with their presence, I’m filled with a thankful awe at their late season blooms.
That concept captures where I am in other aspects of life, too, and maybe that’s why I find it touching. As I enter more firmly into the “middle” of my life, I look out at my remaining years and think: what will bloom in the coming decades? What beauty, color, vibrancy will emerge in this second half of my life? What late arrivals will surprise and delight? As I transition into this new midlife phase, it becomes clearer to me that we must treasure the gifts we have in our midst – while they are here, while we are here.
So I move into this new season feeling immensely grateful for my family, my home, my work, my collaborators, my various communities of support and friendship, while also being keenly aware of the fragility of life as we know it. The autumn winds are most certainly blowing their way through these days, reminding me that we are on the verge of transition.
And what this does, ultimately, is make me not want to waste another moment. No more holding back, waiting for a better time. Like that shy morning glory, I want to poke my head out and say hello to the world, even though it has taken a while to have the courage to do so. Like that hollyhock, I want to keep climbing, growing, reaching for the sky, regardless of the autumnal winds that threaten to topple. Like those verbena, I want to sway gloriously in the winds of change, without a care in the world. It may be late in the season, but it’s not too late. The time to bloom is now.
What blooms are you seeing at this stage in your life? Are you seeing surprising gifts unfold that you didn’t expect? Is there anything within you that needs a little encouragement to show itself to the world?
There are so many retreats coming up that I’d like to let you know about! Some are in person, and some are virtual. Either way, I really hope to connect with you in these upcoming retreat spaces.
Retreats @ Corrymeela
I will be leading weekend retreats in October 2022, February 2023, and April 2023, and we’ve set dates for October 2023 and February 2024 too. I’m also excited to announce that I’ll also be offering monthly half-day retreats at Corrymeela for anyone who would like to dip in to the retreat experience but aren’t able to come for longer periods of time. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or click on the link below.
Half-day Retreat Spaces @ Corrymeela
Retreats @ Home (Online)
Because I love the global community that the internet allows, and because I still enjoy the idea of gathering in the comfort of our own homes even if it’s on Zoom, this winter I am offering a series of Winter Retreats @ Home – retreats where we will join from across time zones from the comfort of our own homes to reflect, share, find stillness together as we mark the changing of seasons. The theme of the three retreats will be “Leaning into the Cycles of Darkness and Light,” and will reference Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “Learning to Walk in the Dark” as well as the podcast conversation we had back in 2021.
The dates for these online retreats will be Saturdays 5 November, 3 December, 7 January (check the event pages for your time zone). They are a series but are also standalone, if you can only make one or two of them. Each retreat will be £20 for nonmembers and *included* with paid subscriptions to Bless My Feet. If you’ve been wondering whether to become a member, maybe this is a good chance to do that.
Befriending the Darkness: Winter Retreats @ Home (online), 5 Nov 2022
Longing for Light: Winter Retreats @ Home (online), 3 Dec 2022
Welcoming the Dawn: Winter Retreats @ Home (online), 7 Jan 2023
Retreats @ Belfast
I would like to set up retreat spaces in Belfast – let me know if this appeals and I will keep you posted.
Upcoming Resilient Spirit Pilgrimage April 2024
If a pilgrimage or extended retreat is something you’re longing for, mark your calendars for mid April 2024. I will be announcing details on this soon, but it is sure to be an incredible, life-changing experience. Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in by responding to this email.
Upcoming Psalms for the Spirit Podcast Episodes
I’m delighted to say that there are new episodes of Psalms for the Spirit afoot. I’ve learned so much from these conversations and I hope you have too, if you’ve had a chance to dip in. If you’d like to listen to the 20 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2, check out the podcast page.
Celtic Psalms News
We had an absolutely brilliant tour of the Northeast US back in July – very hot, very summery, and fans (the kind that blow cool are on you!) were an important feature of nearly every concert. We had a marvelous time connecting with lovely people at our 12 concert opportunities. Check out a short clip of us practicing one of our songs, “Love and Mercy” (from our new album).
New Album and Upcoming Concerts
Speaking of our new Celtic Psalms album, it’s available for purchase through our website where you can also purchase our three previous albums.
Here in Northern Ireland, Celtic Psalms held a concert on 9 September at St. John’s Church on the Falls Road in West Belfast in aid of the Suicide Awareness and Support Group, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day. It was an occasion to allow space for lament and loss, and we were also pleasantly surprised at the joy that emerged through people coming together around an important cause, with soulful melodies, harmonies and words, and a cup of tea afterwards. We raised nearly £1300 for the support group.
Singing Engagements Coming Up:
- Friday 7 October at 7pm we will be supporting Ruth Patterson (a previous podcast guest), in her book launch at St Bride’s Parish Hall, South Belfast
- Sunday 6 November at 3pm we will be participating in a liturgy marking the threshold between one season and the next, held in North Belfast.
- Friday 18 November at 8pm we will be holding a concert at Cahans Church in Co. Monaghan
You can keep up with Celtic Psalms news and frequent posts on our Facebook page
That’s all the news for now… scroll down for this month’s blessing ~
Blessing for Our Journey
May the God of late season blooms
show us how to bloom in this season
when the light begins to fade
and the winds begin to change
and the world around us begins to die away.
May we let our colors shine
and our blossoms flourish
and our faces radiate
even as the light decreases
even as the darkness enfolds.
May we bloom
holding nothing back
releasing all care or concern
and simply being
our most flourishing selves
and treasure the gifts
while they are here
while we are here.