Climbing 1500 feet out of the Glendalough Valley is demanding. But every pause is the opportunity to breathe in the panorama of creation's majesty. The kingdom of the sky lays down a light grey, then a purple, then swirls of cream, and dops of midnight blues with dashes of royals. The portrait of the sky feels permanent until the next time we turn to take another glorious breath. Under the comforting sky reside the vast interwoven mountains, vested in emerald regalia, revealing the rich hues of Mother Earth's resplendent tapestry of greens that only the soul can differentiate. On the hillside around us the ferns move in rhythm with the encouraging breeze. And today's footsteps are softened by a velvet hillside grass that reaches up to caress our feet. At the very peak of our three hour climb we lay down our packs for a well deserved rest.
This is the pilgrim's rest going in and out of the Glendalough Valley. The Mountain Rescue team has build a shelter that invites a day time relief from rain and a home to spend the night. Here we rest. Here the magic of the Way begins to settle into the bones.
John Wiles chooses the Shaker hymn, "Not One Sparrow," for Vox Peregrini to sing. After a few gentle comments, one of the singers offers that this song reminds him of his grandmother's favorite, the "Eye of the Sparrow." Indeed, John says, similar in tone, but different in theology. He offers Vox a line or two about Mother Ann Lee and points to a line in this hymn that makes reference to her. Shakerism, founded in Lee's dualism of the female and male nature of the Divine, created a community of equality. Her gentle teachings convinced her followers that she was the feminine incarnation of brother Jesus. Though the Shakers worship style was a response of spontaneity to the staid Church of England, Lee's hymns are gentle and comforting. "Not one sparrow will be forgotten, even the raven God will feed."
As Vox Peregrini began to sing the hymn again, a small sparrow like Chiffinch landed on the ground in front of me. His brilliant copper chest almost obscured his dark silver helmet. He was curious. He also sung in time with Vox. I imagined he wanted me to throw him a crumb. But he moved to quickly, seeming to be more interested in the singing. He circled the singers, sat in a tree, matched his tone to theirs and announced that he had joined this human choir. Then he returned to the ground in front me, assuring me music was more sustaining that food. For, this sparrow said that he too was the incarnation of the Divine.