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Lessons Learned From Injury (3)

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:55 AM

(3) Gratitude

- By Ruth calder Murphy -


It felt so big,

when it was taken

- even temporarily taken -

so big,

that it must surely leave a trench

the size of Mariana,

to be filled with oceans of saline,

one tear at a time…


It felt so big

- so much a part of me,

that I would be diminished irreparably

by its absence...


Yet, all unexpectedly,

the trench is being

- daily -


with gratitude for what is left,

for what is in me still to do

- for all I have and am

and for the dawning knowledge

that even when I can’t,

I can,

in ways I didn’t realise before.


It felt so big and crashing-loud,

like the slamming of a door

before the bolts are shut,

but I think it was the stamping of my pride,

the recalcitrant part

of my ego-heart,

that shouted out,

held fast to think awhile alone,

while the rest of me

(I realised eventually)

was free to leave

and do, and be…



now I see,

through inconvenience and injury,

the blessings saturating me on every side -

and filling petulant,

vacated space

with unexpected grace.

 Image: Kate on the Rooftop by Ruth Calder Murphy


Lessons Learned From Injury (2)

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:50 AM

The second of my "Lessons Learned From Injury" is Patience...

(2) Patience

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

Learning to wait

 - learning to fill the space

between “then” and “there”

blossom, and bear

previously unimagined fruits;

to turn the injury

to opportunity -

not stare at dashed hope

and mourn for what might have been,

but grow a different seed in the tired ground

and harvest unexpected crops

and richer soil

from doing things differently

for a little while.

Patience, I’ve learned,

is not just sitting still

until the wait is done;

it’s seeing opportunity

where frustration

almost won.

Image: "Under the Trees" By Ruth Calder Murphy

Lessons Learned From Injury - 1

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 4:55 AM

Lessons learned from injury.

(1) Stillness

 - By Ruth Calder Murphy -


Forced to sit in stillness,

listening to the beating of my heart,

frustration flowing away

on the tide of reality,

I learn the lessons that stillness brings -

equal and opposite

to the freedom of wings

and flight -

the freedom of grounding

and growing,

of healing and second sight…

Sitting in stillness,

the brownian motion world

a space or two removed,

away from the rigours of the race -

and my breath slowed to sleeping pace -

I learn again the lesson of sitting still

- against the natural inclination of my restless will -

of how to breathe more deeply,

allowing space to stretch and grow,

in the places only visible

from the pause of Calm and Slow…


Image: "Be Still" By Ruth Calder Murphy (2012)


Posted on October 5, 2014 at 1:20 AM

Wow! Well, I did say that I was pretty bad at blogging regularly and here's the proof! My first blog post in what? Six months?

So, before I go on, I'll say that if you want regular updates, the BEST place to go is my Facebook page - Paradoxologies or even my other Facebook page - Ruth Calder Murphy - Arciemme .

Having got that out of the way, here's an actual, bona fide blog post. Champagne, anyone?

Anyone who knows me, or reads a lot of my poetry, knows that I'm a runner. Running is physical, of course, but it's far more than that to me. I run because I struggle with depression and running is by far the best medication I've ever found - better than other forms of exercise, even.


My depression is exacerbated by the lack of sunlight in the dark half of the year. Many of my poems that celebrate the Autumn and Winter are a form of catharsis for me - a way for me to overcome my natural antipathy to them.


The fact is, I DO love Autumn and Winter - I love all seasons. But my health suffers during the darker months and for many years, I just felt despair when I thought of the encroaching darkness.


Running helps.


On the Autumn Equinox, I ran a half marathon. An injury had been building for a while, but I felt I needed to do the race. (Partly for my psychological well being. It's a long story...)


I haven't been able to run since then, as my injury is peroneal tendonitis and will only heal if I rest from running completely, until it's better.


This is terrible timing - and I am NOT a good patient! I want to run... But I know that I need to rest (my body's tired from over-training) and I know that I have lessons to learn in this, too.


I'm learning them... I'll probably write poems about them, too, at some point...



- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


Just in time for the darker days


and the longer nights,


just in time for the Seasons to turn about


and brew in me


a restless longing for a quick way out


- a way to connect with Earth,


run with the breeze,


dance with the tumbling,


gold-edged leaves -


just as unease settles in my belly


and my mind turns to my body


for miracles of movement


to help it through


- to help it do the things it has to do


and be all it needs to be


to carry me safe through Winter’s night,


forward to the waiting arms of Spring -


Just now, as the Equinox opens out its scales


and hangs Everything in the balance


before folding again towards the dark,


my ligaments and tendons,


joints - and all - protest


and call me to a sudden break.


Don’t you know,


my bumbling, ill-timed body,


what’s at stake?


All through Summer, you gave your best


and now, I need you - more than then -


to give your best again...




a sigh,


a deep inhale...


Go; rest and heal.


My mind will have to wait


and that Way Out


will have to enter late.


I want to run,


but first I have to sit -


and learn the lessons


that will come of it.




Image: "Kate On the Rooftop" By Ruth Calder Murphy - illustration for The Everlasting Monday - a novel by Ruth Calder Murphy with Mathew Taylor. The novel is available on Amazon and through

The Easter Project

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM

The Easter Project

This is The Easter Project movie, created a couple of years ago now, for Holy Week services at a local church, here in Walthamstow, London... My friend, Matt Perry, suggested in the January of that year that we do "a project". At the beginning of February, we came up with the idea. I wrote the narrative, painted all the original artwork, composed, performed and recorded the soundtrack, recorded the narrative and Matt put it all together into this movie over the space of five or six weeks. It was incredibly good fun, if rather insane!

Now, Matt and I are working - MUCH more sedately! - on the sequel to this: The Ouroboros Project. The Easter Project formed the basis of our 2012 Art Trail exhibition and The Ouroboros Project will form the basis of this year's installation at the beginning of June.

Meanwhile, Happy Easter to those who celebrate, Happy Ostara to those who celebrate that, and Happy Spring to absolutely everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! A time of rebirth, new birth and regeneration.

Please feel free to share this movie and use it in any Holy Week celebrations you might be holding.

Click the link to see the movie:

The Easter Project

Lenten Pause - The Truth In Ash

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 12:10 AM

My second Lenten pause is quite an ongoing theme in my mind and heart: The Eternal Circle and how it's echoed in myths and legends, religions and seasons and in my own life, over and over again.

This past week, I wrote, amongst others, two poems that reflect that theme: "The Truth in Ash" and "Fascinated by Thistles".

I find it helpful to think of religious ritual and tradition in terms of metaphor. (Actually, I find it helpful, as evidenced in much of my poetry, to think of almost everything in terms of metaphor...) Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, are no exception. On Ash Wednesday I was wondering about Ash...


The Truth in Ash

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

All those Hosannas,

twisted into crosses

and burned…


rising in palm smoke on the breeze,

an eye-watering liberation

of leaves,

in memory of a man

who carried Divinity on the back of a donkey,

then died on a turning tide

where hosannas began to sound like


All those hosannas,

turned to ash

and returned to dust,

in memory of madness

and mortality,

pierced feet and side and head and hands

and a second set of swaddling bands…

By the light of a candle,

bitter herbs and a crown of thorns;

a rumour of resurrection

and angels

and dawn,

but first the gloom of dark despair

must pass -

to discover the hidden truths

in Ash.

Fascinated by thistles

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

My daughter's fascinated by thistles -

their thorns,

their purple

and their downy descent -

their dreams of death

on the cusp of falling to purple again.

She wants to touch them,

thorns and all,

and feel how thistles feel,

all bristles on the surface

and downy potential

in their purple soul,

growing where other things dare not grow,

in the hard places,

between rocks and stones...

My daughter is fascinated by thistles

and delighted by life -

arms full of flowers and thorns and featherdown dreams -

not minding the scratches or even the nightmares

as she presents them, proud,

declaring purple in awed tones

and bringing bright rainbows

from silent stones.

Image from:

"Measuring Up"... Again...

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 11:15 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem and shared it here, as a blog post. A couple of days ago, the same poem was published by The Elephant Journal. I thought I'd share it again here, too, with a few thoughts...

A few hours after I wrote this poem, my mother told me that here in the UK, it's being suggested, by the powers that be, that cancer drugs should be issued not on the basis of need, but on the "economic value" of the patient. Of course, in many countries, including the USA, this policy is already in place, in the form of expensive health insurance packages.

Many people draw themselves up in righteous indignation and say that yes, that's right. People's worth should be measured in this way: If you can't pay your way, you should be left behind...

Me? No. Certainly not. For lots of reasons, but this stands out: People's worth is not dependent on how they measure up economically, physically, intellectually... That person who's never worked because she's emotionally sick, or that person who's worked so hard that he's driven himself to breakdown and will now never work again... The person who's intelligent, bright, witty, but physically incapable of lifting her hand to her mouth... Or the person who struggles so much, intellectually, that he'll never speak in recognisable words... Not one of those people is worth less than I am, or less than top scientists, or less than politicians who make these judgements.

Moreover, economic contribution is not a measure of anything, other than, well, economic contribution. Are we really so materially-minded and so shallow that this is the single most important thing? Are my children, who've taught me more and given me more joy in their short lives than anyone else, except perhaps my own parents, REALLY less worthy, until they start earning or "contributing economically"? Of course not. The mistake we make in our so-called civilised societies, is to think that people's worth can be measured in these simplistic ways.

Perhaps we need to stop measuring altogether and concentrate on connecting, loving, BEING. Perhaps, if we do that, our need for expensive cancer drugs will, over time, become so much reduced that there's no need to make "difficult choices" about who gets them, because the stress and aggressiveness and the ignoring of the health of the planet - and therefore of our own species - that's so prevalent at the moment, will be laid aside, in favour of gentleness and respect and we will all be more healthy - in mind, body and spirit.

To read the poem in The Elephant Journal, click on this link and feel free to share it onwards!

Alternatively, continue scrolling...

Measuring Up

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

Don’t measure me with scales and tapes.

I’m not a prize pumpkin that should be reckoned so.

Don’t measure me by height or weight,

discard or accept me, judge me or pity me,

love me or despise me

based on the bodily size of me...

I’d ask you to measure the pleasure my words bring,

or the perspective of my paintings

or the depth of my thought…

but I ought not, for in the dark of night,

when words flee and sight’s irrelevant

and my brain is incapable of anything more than staying afloat

- of staying alive

(And I’m not talking of physical night,

that falls softly and at dawn, slips away,

but the darkness that thunders ‘round my soul,

in plain sight of day...)

What then?

Will I be found wanting when all sense and sanity

have gone away?

Put them away,

your plumb lines and your calipers,

your guages and thermometers,

scales and tintometers…

Close your eyes, if you must

- what they see is only dust,

though stardust, true, and beautiful…

Now, in the silence and the dark,

feel the beating of your heart

and Spirit, running through.

These things alone are true and they should be

the only measurement of you, or me.


Image found here:


Measuring Up

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 1:40 AM

Measuring Up

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

Don’t measure me with scales and tapes.

I’m not a prize pumpkin that should be reckoned so.

Don’t measure me by height or weight,

discard or accept me, judge me or pity me,

love me or despise me

based on the bodily size of me...

I’d ask you to measure the pleasure my words bring,

or the perspective of my paintings

or the depth of my thought…

but I ought not, for in the dark of night,

when words flee and sight’s irrelevant

and my brain is incapable of anything more than staying afloat

- of staying alive

(And I’m not talking of physical night,

that falls softly and at dawn, slips away,

but the darkness that thunders ‘round my soul,

in plain sight of day...)

What then?

Will I be found wanting when all sense and sanity

have gone away?

Put them away,

your plumb lines and your calipers,

your guages and thermometers,

scales and tintometers…

Close your eyes, if you must

- what they see is only dust,

though stardust, true, and beautiful…

Now, in the silence and the dark,

feel the beating of your heart

and Spirit, running through.

These things alone are true and they should be

the only measurement of you, or me.





Image found here:

Do you feel the Quickening?

Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:50 AM

Imbolc is celebrated on 1st-2nd February, in the Northern hemisphere,  and marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's the celebration of the end of Winter and the beginning of the “Light Half” of the year. Imbolc is a Pagan festival in honour of the Goddess, Brighid, but, as with many Pagan festivals, it was also celebrated by Celtic Christians and later by the Roman church, who called it “Saint Brighid’s Day” or “Candlemas”. All these celebrations - and similar festivals in other traditions at this season - are a joyful acknowledgement of Light, physical and spiritual, coming into the world.

I have suffered with a sunlight deficiency condition since I was a child and our dark British winters, though possessed of a certain beauty, are particularly difficult.  Imbolc is, for me, the Stirring time - the Quickening time - when I begin, like the spring flowers, to push my way through the dark and cold and feel the tingling of green leaves and bright blossom again. It’s a time when I start to re-awaken all over again,  to life and love and the joy of being.

Here are some of my Imbolc poems, with love.


Electricity splinters

naked through the world.

Sharp and sparking

dangerous through the

veins and nerves of the

multi-seasoned earth.

Frosted light and bright and

hard as diamonds –

stung by spring’s quicksilver –

shaken from its deep sepulchral sleep.


Today’s the day,

the birdsong day,

the day of mischievous Mercury

silvering rain

and rushing through all our veins,

the day of the Dance beginning again.

This is the day Ouroboros smiles

and almost spits its tail

to the stars,

the day Janus turns both heads towards me

and winks.

This is the day when,

even through rain -

or snow

or frost,

warm fronts or cold fronts

no matter -

the Sun begins to shine.



is Quickening time.

Brighid’s Day

The world is a stage

and every day,

a new scene in the play...

And now,

Brighid comes out from the room where the Green man sleeps,

steps through the curtain

and takes centre stage.

Her smile is no longer shy-behind-snowflakes,

or sneaking at Solstice,

ghost-like guest at the fireside.

Now, she smiles wide

and takes a bow,

laughing aloud

and throwing flowers to the crowd,

the orchestra begins to play.



Winter speaks a last soliloquy,

a final flurry of frost,

and bows out.

Waterfalls roar

and the forests cry out,

“It’s almost time!

Time to thaw,

time to melt,

time to feel the tingling of leaves,

the warm breath of another Summer on the breeze.”

The Green Man stirs

and birds sing...

Brighid smiles,

her belly full of promise,

feeling the Quickening of the season

and the approaching birth

of Spring.

Half Way

In the still-dark days,

where Frost feels welcome

and snowflakes make love

to the cold ground,

In the silent pause,

the bated breath,

in the steel of Winter pretending death,

a swell,

a stirring sigh,

naked branches stretch stark fingers

to a steely sky -

an upbeat

for a coming downbeat,

and the overture begins to play.

Brighid steps upon the softening Earth,

Swans fly above the sunrise flame,

and the world is given birth


Welcoming Brighid

Welcome Goddess,


and full of promise,

life quickening in your belly

and the sting of Spring

mercurial in your veins.

Welcome Brighid,



your joy-filled laughter

barely restrained.

Welcome Love,

Welcome Grace,

Welcome the Seasons,

turning apace.

Welcome Life,

Welcome Light,

Welcome days

banishing night.

Welcome Goddess,


and full of promise,

life quickening in your belly

and the sting of Spring

mercurial in your veins.

Welcome Brighid,



your joy-filled laughter

barely restrained.

Ouroboros’ Kiss


step into the Ouroboros circle,

the place where life and death

smile into each other’s eyes,

where dross

is turned to gold.

Strip naked,



strip again.

Flay skin from flesh

and flesh from bone,

throw all into the cauldron

and keep on dancing.

Stars bright above,

the moon another Ouroboros,

smiling strong.


Dance the dance of dawn,

of the ancient ever-young,

of the re-born.

Look to the East,

where the new day

pours liquid gold over the horizon

and dance!

Dance to the rhythm

of the season,

to the song of the stars.

Dance to the dying

and rising,

the cessation and creation,

the continuation.


Here, in the time between times,

in the dark-light,

not-quite night,

in the dance before dawn,

I am re-born

and I rise on the bliss

of Ouroboros’ kiss

to dance again.

Imbolc’s Cauldron

Beneath the frost-hard earth a stirring sigh -

a pulse, though faint, beats unashamedly -

and whispers into cloud-wrapped, wintry sky,

and echoes in the pounding of the sea:

“Awake! Awake, for Quickening Time is here

and Mercury runs warm through every vein,

The snow-kissed Earth feels Springtime drawing near

and Imbolc’s Cauldron bubbles once again.”

The belly of the Goddess swells and blooms

and feels, with every dream-drenched, pre-dawn breath,

new life a-stir in Winter’s Catacombs

and Resurrection rides the back of Death.

“The Spring is near!” birds call from leafless bough;

“The Quickening Time is here; the Time is Now.”

Image: "Brighid Smiles" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)




Here There Be Dragons!

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Image: "Dragon's Breath" By Ruth Calder Murphy

Well, I warned you... Here there be dragons!

My eight year old daughter, Keziah, was reading to me yesterday morning before school. She's reading The Hobbit for the second time. I'm delighted; it's one of my old favourites from when I was a child - and I remember reading it aloud to my own mother when I was off school with the chickenpox, also age 8... Happy days...

This time round, she's still quite near the beginning. Bilbo has just had the "Took in him" roused and is determined to go on this adventure. (Whatever it is.) There are going to be times when he wonders how and why he ever plucked up the courage to leave his comfortable Hobbit hole to go off into the unknown with a band of daredevil dwarves, where there might be bandits and goblins... and where there are most certainly dragons, because that's the whole point of the journey. Bilbo's life is about to be changed for ever, in one small step - his; out over his own doorstep, over the horizon of what he thought was possible: the horizon of his own fear.

Keziah - usually nose-in-book, often books with dragons...

Bilbo reminds me of myself. I'm always proud, when I do these slightly daft online "which Tolkien personality are you" type tests, to be told quite assuredly that I'm an elf. Or possibly, sometimes, a wizard. But I know, deep down, that I have quite a healthy inner hobbit who likes nothing better than to stay in my comfort zone, blowing smoke rings and eating multiple breakfasts. The beginning of The Hobbit challenges me to look at my own life and to see where I've allowed the metaphorical dust to settle, where my comfort zones have become more cage than castle and to think, once again, about putting on my back pack, picking up my sturdy walking stick and stepping out: Over the Horizon, beyond fear.

The following introduction and poem are taken from my book, Spirit Song, which is available to buy via my "shop" links, and is available as a Kindle download here:

Over the Horizon


As with so many poems, this one is the reflection of a flash of realisation. Not a realisation that fear holds me back, but the realisation that I can choose to step beyond fear. It’s a simple realisation, really - the old truth that we only live fully when we leave our comfort zones... And yet, it presented itself in this new way: “Everything worth having lies on the other side of fear”. It’s not that there’s no more fear, but that fear is, in many ways, like a horizon - a line that can be crossed.


As with all horizons, when it is crossed, a new one forms.This is a good thing - to keep on travelling, pushing forward. Not to stop because we’ve crossed a line, but to feel the achievement, recover and replenish... Then, aim for the next.


Every so often, the horizon disappears because, in our running for it, we suddenly realise that we’re flying and the world spreads out beneath us, limitless... And that is when we glimpse the potential of life beyond fear. Mostly, though, we run - or walk, or crawl - but the exhilaration is the same when we are able to look back and see how far we’ve come.


Over the Horizon

 - By Ruth Calder Murphy -


It calls me -

Something Wonderful,

Something Divine...

The Everything

that pulls at my heart and


ripe and golden in the spaces

between thoughts...

It calls

from across the line,

over the horizon,

beyond Fear.

Bold and free,

a new Me,

I step,

strong -

the bars breaking

that were holding,

restraining -

and so I fly.

Way up high,

the horizon expands -

no more lines,

no more limits -

becoming oceans

and verdant lands,

mountains and valleys,

green forests

and golden sands.

Everything that calls my name

is here -

across the line,

over the horizon,

beyond fear.


The Last of the Old...

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Yesterday, I re-posted the first of two exerpts from my WordPress blog. This one will be the second - and the last. The last of my old posts. From hereon in, we're on new territory. Here there be dragons... ;-)

Image: "Dragon's Breath" by Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

Image: "Breath of Life" By Ruth Calder Murphy

I’m About Breathing

My then three-year-old daughter and I were sitting together at home when she looked at me and said, “Mummy, what are you about?”

I was slightly startled by the question, and before launching into a reply,I asked her what she meant by it. She just repeated the question. I asked her how she would answer the same question for herself and she said she didn’t know.

I try never to leave a question unconsidered, nor to fob off my childrenwith platitudes, so I went away and considered. This is my answer. At least, it’s part of my answer—an answer that will flow and change…

I’m About Breathing

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


I’m about breathing

and knowing the breath is mine -

even when it’s knocked out of me

by the fury of the dance.

I’m about feeling

and owning how the feeling feels.

I’m about knowing

and not knowing

and unknowing;

I’m about flowing

under burnt bridges

from mountains

to valleys,

to the wide ocean

to begin again -

flowing through years…

I’m about smiles

and tears,


and fears.

I’m about believing,


never knowing,

always being…

I’m about life

and living,

which is death

and dying.

I’m about breathing

and knowing the breath is mine.


NB: This is the second in a series of intorductions and poems, taken from my book Spirit Song, which is available to buy via my shared website “Shop” link, here:




Bringing Things Together

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 8:40 AM

I'm going to re-post a couple of blog entries that I originally posted, recently, on my WordPress blog, because it feels good to keep things together in one place.

This post was originally entitled "Cards on the Table".


Image: "Falling Star" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)


Here I am, back again with a second post, and I thought I’d start by laying my cards – some of them, at any rate – on the virtual table. I think the best way for me to do this is to share some of my poems and introductions from my book, Spirit Song, which can be purchased here:

… So, with no ambiguity in the titles at least,  “I Can Not” and “I Can”.  Enjoy…



I Can Not

I can only be me. This was one of the simplest and yet most profound epiphanies of my life. The dawning upon me that the pressure is off. Not because I won’t be, believe, speak, think as other people suggest, require, demand or preach, but because I cannot be anything but myself – and myself is the best thing, the best person, I can be. There was and is something Divine inthis realisation – that I was made to be me and am fully loved, as Me! In letting go of other people’s hopes, dreams and expectations of and for me, and thereby letting go of worrying about pleasing them all, all the time, I am free to be fully myself and to realise the Divinity within me…

Funnily and wonderfully enough, I please just as many people in simply being me as I ever did by trying to please everyone… And I’ve also discovered how wonderful it is to be accepted and loved for who I really am.


 I Can Not

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


I cannot be


- or anyone -

but me.

I cannot do



I’m expected to.

I cannot believe

because you believe

or because

I used to believe

or because it would

bring ease

or make the bullies leave

me alone.

I cannot speak

just to please;

I cannot speak lies

though the truth

may cause unease

and surprise.

I cannot live

your chosen life

or prepare for your

preferred death,

I cannot dance your dance

- though it be beautiful -

or sing your song

- though it be wonderful -

I cannot walk your path -

even when it takes you

away from me,

even when we disagree,

even if I lose you completely…

I cannot dream your dreams;

my dreams are enough for me.

I can only be

the best me I can be

and true…

and you be the best you

and, if we do,

our different dances

will make choreography,

our paths


our cannots

will become “Will Be”

and then,


we shall be free.



I Can

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


I can be me.

I am alive

and free,

I am not caged -

I can fly;

I have the whole sky.

I can do

all that I can do -

and though one little life,

one uncaged flight,

is not enough to do all I will,

yet what I can do

I will do

truly and well.

I can believe

in bigger things -

in Love,

in Spirit things,

in the smile on a mother’s face,

in peace in the secret place,

in Grace.

I can speak

my mind,

my heart,

I can live -

and I

will not die

though my body depart.

I can dance,

I can sing,

I can see beauty

in everything,

I can walk,

I can dream,

I can be.

I am alive;

I am free.