On Your Desk
Into the bluebell woods...

On Patience

Top of the hill

As Tilly and I climb the hill behind our house, the seasons re-wind with each step we take. We can feel Winter's touch in the cold, clear air; in the crunch of old bracken underfoot; in stillness and silence and skeletal trees motionless in the pale light of morning. But the seasons return to their rightful path as we turn and race downhill again, descending into the arms of Spring: a sun-dappled valley of scent and color...

Bottom of the hill

...of bird chatter and wildflowers....

Stitchwort in the early morning sun

...and of bluebells, marking where faery feet have trod these hills before us.

Bluebell path

The woodland behind my studio becomes Faerieland when the bluebells bloom. We'll go there tomorrow, Tilly and I. Right now we're walking the woodland's edge, its boundary wall of old tumbled stone. Magic must be approached slowly. Patiently. Or it disappears.

And once again, I find myself thinking of words written by John O'Donohue, whose books were so often my woodland companions during the long, dark winter months just past:

"What you encounter, recognize or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach," he points out. "Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation.

"When we approach with reverence," the poet continues, "great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace."

Approaching the bluebell wood.

Bluebells and stone

"Often we approach things with greed and urgency, we do not like to wait. As we wait at the vertical altar to go on-line, we become frustrated by the few extra seconds the machine needs to find its mind. Computer makers are constantly at work to cut the transition time; the flick from world to cyber-world must become seamless. We live under the imperative of the stand-alone digital instant; and it is uncanny how neatly that instant has become the measure not alone of time but of space."

At the edge of the bluebell woods

"Classically, the understanding of life, the unfolding of identity and creativity, the notion of growth and discovery were articulated through the metaphor of the journey. Virgil's Aeneid is the journey from fallen Troy to the glory of the new city of Rome. Homer's Odyssey is a great mystical journey home. Dante's Divine Comedy is an epic journey through hell and purgatory until the arrival in Paradise."

Bluebell wood boundary line

"Each human life is the journey from childhood to a realized adult life. Each day is a journey out of darkness into light. Each friendship and love is the intimate journey where the soul is born and grows. The journey is the drama of the heart's voyage into the tide of possibilities which open before it. Indeed, a book is a path of words which takes the heart in a new direction."

Tilly and the bluebells

Tilly sits at the threshold, waiting for me. Patience, I tell her. And tell myself. Tomorrow, or the next day, when the time is just right, we'll take that path, we'll enter the woods, we'll start that new story, begin that new painting, embark on that fresh new phase of life. No more racing downhill, pup. We move slowly now. Letting magic happen. Letting art happen. Letting life and health and stories unfold. And approaching all of these things with due reverence.

Patience, my little one, patience.


Irish poet, theologian, and philospher John O'Donohue (1956-2008)  is quoted from his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (HarperCollins, 2004).


The post following yours on my feed was about patience of a somewhat different kind: http://rushthatspeaks.livejournal.com/414569.html But is completely amazing to me. About T. H. White and how he taught himself falconry.

Superb! I have often practiced "rituals of approach," but didn't know what to call them. I'm putting this book on my reading list.

I'm also reminded of a practice from America's "old time religion": tarrying. When someone was wrestling with something spiritually, friends would gather to "tarry" with that person. They were there simply to give their presence and their alert patience, for as long as it took.

I think I don't tarry enough with the beginnings of things.

Amal, thank you for the wonderful link!

Grey, I love the notion of "tarrying" ... and though I'd heard the term, I never knew what it meant. Thank you.

Terri thank you for the wonderful John O'Donohue quotes! His words are a perennial favorite of mine to turn to when things need a deeper description. Such a beautiful spirit lost to this realm far too soon. continued health and healing to you this spring!!

oh terri your images and words are beautiful, you often make my day. sending warm wishes to you and your family.

I just finished reading a beautiful book where the author muses about "Patience..." They're more meditations, it's called; "The Power of Patience...." by M.J. Ryan. I think we can get caught in such information overload that we're now being impatient with trying to do it all..Thank you for the beautiful respite in morning which I savoured. Especially with Tilly and bluebells!

Doesn't it seem in the last picture that a young ent stands in the middle of the path right behind the knoll?

(Is "knoll" the right word for this? I just learned it from my translation website.. Funny word indeed :))

I do indeed see the ent!

Beautiful post, Terri - just might be inspired to take the baton and offer another course of a moveable feast on patience. The spring greens are intoxicating, thank you!

Thank you for these patient words and pictures, a perfect inspiration to start a new drawing here on the other side of the world with the long autumn light slowing the days.

wonderful photographs. the woodlands in spring offer up so much healing power..very potent after their winters slumber.

they whisper of patience, dont they?

If you would know strength and patience,
welcome the company of trees.
~ Hal Borland

this post would be a wonderful submission to 'festival of the trees'
if you're interested see...
http://festivalofthetrees.wordpress.com/ or

beautiful post, thankyou for sharing these wonderful images.

Hi Terri ...

Thank you for sharing Mister O'Donohue's words again. All his talk of the importance of approach, not to mention your pictures, brought to mind a place near where I live, just on the PA side of the Delaware Water Gap, called the Columcille Megalith Park. (www.columcille.org)

I've had the wonderful opportunity to do rituals there with a dear friend of mine, who knows that land very well, and we've spent a lot of time talking about that very idea, of opening ourselves to that sweet threshold energy at the border of the Otherworld.

Thank you for reminding of that, and for sharing your own threshold places with us all.

Be well ... Icarus!

Thank you for the beautiful post and for once again bringing O'Donohue's books to my attention. This post was just I needed to hear today.

Oh do Valerianna! Patience is something I'm trying to learn!

I'm speechless, it's not the first time I come to your blog with a puzzle and leave with hints of answers, with written words that echoes and ring bells into my spirit.. it's like an answer from a fairy god mother, a far off friend, stranger in face but not in spirit. Thank you Terri.

Thank you for your kind words, everyone.

We are generally taught that the best way to approach something is the 'direct' way. Don't waste time, get straight to the point, the quickest route (and therefore the best) between Point A and Point B is a straight line...and so on. But again I'm reminded of the boy in Robert Holdstock's book 'The Fetch' who drew strange circuitous maps for the very reason that following their meandering paths brought you out in a very different place than a straight path would. And also of the ancient labyrinths, designed to be followed in a way that put you into a different frame of mine, to prepare you for the arrival at the end. The journey is what matters, not the arriving. And the patience to embark on the journey in openness, knowing it will take longer than the direct route, but we will arrive so much richer for having taken time to see, to hear, to feel, to experience.

I love the "tarrying," too! Thank you, Grey.

Terri, love this post, much to digest, it resonates deeply. For too many years i found myself running to catch up & am only latterly beginnng to discover my own soothing rituals of approach. thank you. Loving your posts as always though i am lagging behind, i am now savouring each & every one. ruthie

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