Current Issue

MAGAZINE NO. 159 [April 2024]

 

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Cover image: Photograph of Cradle Mountain by Neil Millar

Funding of the colour cover for the printed issue has been generously donated by an Eremos member.

Eremos-159

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

EDITORIAL 3
THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF NATURE:
‘WHEN THE TREES SAY NOTHING’ by Linda Chapman 5
MY VELVETEEN GOD by Rita Glennon 14
REQUIEM FOR THE NO. 60 by Jane Foulcher 15
A DIFFERENT WAY TO BE by Kim Sami 21
RECOGNITION: THE MOMENT THE MASK
FALLS OFF – A REFLECTION ON THE NATURE OF LENT
by Nikolai Blaskow 22
EVENING PRAYER by Kim Sami 26
PREACHING HOLY WEEK: REFLECTIONS ON THE PREACHER’S TOUGHEST WEEK OF THE YEAR
by Elaine Farmer 27
PEACE! by Kim Sami 35
JON M SWEENEY & MARK S BURROWS’S ‘MEISTER ECKHART’S BOOK OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT’
reviewed by Judith Keller 36
GRACE ABOUNDING: A REVIEW OF JULIA BAIRD’S ‘BRIGHT SHINING: HOW GRACE CHANGES
EVERYTHING by Kate Scholl 39
EREMOS INFORMATION AND MEMBERSHIP 43

EDITORIAL

In his 2023 Booker prize-winning novel, Prophet Song, Paul Lynch speculates about the rise of a totalitarian regime from the point of view of one woman trying to protect her family. As the regime takes hold, her husband, a union official, disappears. When she tries to find where he is and what is happening to him, she’s met with a wall of silence. 

Soon her life falls apart; she and her children’s stable and comfortable lives are shattered by the brutal strategies of the country’s new leaders. Then there’s armed resistance to the regime and a civil war starts. Our protagonist and her family are caught right in the middle of it; ultimately, they have to leave the life they know and head into uncertainty, placing their lives in the hands of unscrupulous people who want to fleece them for all they’re worth. Their lives, it seems, are at the mercy of forces they couldn’t have imagined just a few short months previously. 

Surely this novel must be set somewhere like Gaza or Ukraine. Or Somalia, or some other war-torn African country.

No. Lynch, an Irish writer, has set the novel in a near-future Ireland, a country just like our own. He shows how easily it could happen, how refugees and asylum seekers are ordinary people, just like us. Eilish, the novel’s protagonist, is overwhelmed by happening to her, just as we would be. ‘You want to know why people get on leaky boats and take unimaginable risks?’ Lynch seems to be asking. ‘You think it couldn’t be you? Think again.’

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This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . .
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation . . . 

How many of us remember these naïve but exhilarating lyrics from ‘Aquarius’, which opened the 1969 musical Hair? I was seventeen, and – like many people – saw in the hippie era the first step in a new, hope-filled age. After the horrors of the first half of the twentieth century, humanity was finally growing up. Half a century later, a similar sentiment was echoed by young poet Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of American President Joe Biden in 2021:

We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.

But here we are, just a few years later, watching the horrors of Ukraine and Gaza unfold, on the very edge of a climate crisis, race and class conflicts all over the world, hostility and division swamping our society as we stand in the shadow of a second Trump presidency in the USA and autocrats growing in confidence throughout the world. 

And yet we are called to be people of hope, proclaiming a God who suffers with us and who offers the world love, redemption, wholeness. Perhaps, though, we need to take our inner journeys more seriously before we attempt to change the world, perhaps we need to understand ourselves better before we start lecturing others about the need to do to make a more just and loving society.  

§

In this issue of EREMOS, our various contributors examine this intersection between the world as it is and the world as we’d like it be. Linda Chapman explores our relationship with the natural world, how the simple act of listening opens us to the possibility of connection. Jane Foulcher finds hope in a landscape of poverty and social inequality, while Nikolai Blaskow sees strength in the recognition of our human frailty through the period of Lent. And Elaine Farmer examines the process a priest undergoes in attempting to present Christ to a suffering world through the Easter journey.

As well, Judith Keller reviews a book about one of the pioneers of processing the inner journey in Western contemplative tradition, and Kate Scholl looks at another asserting the need for grace in contemporary society.

Grace is the key concept for this issue of EREMOS. A frail and broken world it may be, but there is also grace, and all of our contributors – including the poets – draws from the deep well of that grace. May their gentle, insightful reflections help you, also, to see and know grace. 

§

Finally, on a sad note, Glenda Blakefield, who has been Chairperson of Eremos from the end of 2022 and throughout 2023, is standing down from the position due to a change in her personal circumstances. Glenda’s leadership has been inspirational during her relatively brief tenure, and we will sorely miss her energy, insight and vision. I’m sure all Eremos members join us on the Council in wishing her the best in this new stage of her life and thank her for her efforts in this stage of Eremos’s evolution. You are in our prayers, Glenda.

John Foulcher
Editor