Long Days Journey into Light by John Joseph Mastandrea
Bible Text: Genesis 1:1-5 | Long Days Journey into Light by John Joseph Mastandrea
Long days journey into light
In this time of COVID-19, we become more aware of the land and the air we breathe. This is the season where we touch the earth, the wind, the sun and the water. This is the time of Summer Solstice, June 21 for the northern hemisphere. The longest day of the year when in the Irish legend the Oak King reigned supreme for six months in the wheel of the year.
It is the ancient Celts who embraced this kinship of the land, sea, light and air. For Celtic people and ourselves, we discover that the world is not apart from, but an integral part of our whole being. Many years ago, I was plunging into the pages of the writer’s John O’Donohue and John Phillips Newell. The late John O’Donohue wrote his first work Anam Cara or Soul Friend many years ago. He ignited the modern seeker to discover the wonder, magic and mystery of ancient Ireland. While John Philip Newell Scottish Celt continues the tradition of harmony with the land.
To the home of peace
to the field of love
to the land where forgiveness and right relationship meet
we look, O God,
with longing for earth’s children
with compassion for the creatures
with hearts breaking for the people and nations we love.
Open us to visions we have never known
strengthen us for self-givings we have never made
delight us with a oneness we could never have imagined
that we may truly be born of You
makers of peace.
John Philip Newell, Praying With the Earth (Eerdmans: Michigan) 33.
Many years ago, the Irish culture rekindled for me for the kinship of the land.
The spirit of the Celts ignites my core. My husband and I, had our first pilgrimage to Ireland as we celebrated our honeymoon in 2004. For two weeks we explored the Irish countryside, meeting the people in the land, the river and the air. The call of the land begins in the cities and spills out to counties’ sides. At first glance, you could see the colour green, verdant and filled with life. We somehow knew that there is more, and so much to discover. There are hundreds of shades of green that call the seer, to touch and breathe the land and the Irish air into the lungs. The further west we travelled the deeper we plunged into the heartbeat and pulse of the earth. We heard while visiting from family in Cork, Ireland that all the sacred wells had been fairy wells before the advent of Christianity in the First Century C.E. One of the highlights was the Cliffs of Mohr outside Galway, an additional keystone memory was the final day where we discovered the mystery of New Grange, one of many monuments to solar alignment, in the case of New Grange, December 21 there are countless hundreds of others that mark passing of fall and spring equinox and winter and summer solstice.
These cornerstones of the seasons give voice to the heart of our humanity that calls us into the rhythm of land, sea and sky. Ireland was a re-awakening to the primal song.
I heard the summons to return to Ireland
Long days journey into light
It was the spring and early summer of 2016 where I embarked on a three month sabbatical in Ireland. It was a return adventure for my husband and I. We arrived in the month of April, Ireland was months ahead of Toronto, the land was greening, the birds were nesting, all was alive.
We arrived, our first month in Dublin, to the Centenary the 100th anniversary of the Irish Rebellion that began on Good Friday of 1916. It was then that Ireland fought for more than nationality, for language, for culture and tradition.
They fought for the right to be fully human. For Irish people they speak of Fairies, leprechauns, the wood spirits in the same breath as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Or as I discovered earlier in 2004, the Celtic Trinity: the maiden, the midwife, and the Chrone.
Long days journey into light
The second and third month we landed in Carlingford as our home base, in the North East Corner of the Republic of Ireland on the border with Northern Ireland. Carlingford chose us, our good fortune was that a friend let use their home for May and June as a gift. Carlingford was a medieval centre in the 11th to 17th centuries until the arrival of Cromwell. Carlingford had become a forgotten hamlet until the advent of the small town renaissance throughout Ireland. The Mountains, the sea, the sunshine and the air called us to the vocation of land whispering.
The second pilgrimage to Ireland ignited my passion for earth, wind, fire and water even more as we walked the river valleys and climbed the great heights. I could see, hear and feel the life force of the trees. One particular highlight was the quiet corner of Dingle, in the South West corner of the Republic of Ireland, we met people who had come to visit over 25 years ago and stayed to live and become “Makers”. Makers sounds like a new term. It is quite ancient. One who fashions and forms with their hands the raw materials of life to listen to the music of the land. Upon arrival in Dingle I met Julie Malone who owned the Bell, the Book and the Candle. She is the resident Druid. We spoke as old souls and became familiar friends. She spoke of a place that celebrated our relationship with the land.
We learned the new language from the trees, the song of the wind, the testimony of the light the tribute of the sea
As we hear again for the first time the text of Pentecost:
And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting… And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each… And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?… God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men and women shall see visions, and your older men and women shall dream dreams. (NIV)
More recently we celebrate a Virtual Iftar Dinner with One Leaf Many Trees Sanctuary in the City, a green place for all.
United we proclaimed Ramadan Mubarek
United We shouted Salaam Aleichem
United we sing, the
Long days journey into light.
Rev. Dr. John Joseph Mastandrea is a life long learner with various degrees: BSc. in Chemistry, M.Div., M.R.E., M.A.M.S. all from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the Chicago Theological Seminary. In addition to these letters, John Joseph is a certified Labyrinth Facilitator and Spiritual Director following in the footsteps of Ignatius Loyola and Teresa of Avila and recently completed a course in First Nations Education. He has also been honoured to receive the Order of St. George and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
2019 was an exciting year for John Joseph as he bid farewell to Metropolitan United Church after 19 years and was called to Manor Road United. In June of that year, he also marked his 30th Anniversary of Ordination in the United Church of Canada having been ordained in 1998. In addition to his duties at Manor Road UC, John Joseph is the Interfaith Toronto Police Services Police Chaplain for 51 Division.
John Joseph has a history of active participation in the wider church from representing Canada as a delegate to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, in February 1990, through serving several congregations from the Maritimes, Saskatchewan, northern Ontario and rural Quebec areas and in urban and suburban GTA. Most recently, he Co-Chaired the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto in 2018.
Married in 2004 to his husband, Bill Calkins, John Joseph cut his teeth in the Etobicoke area of Toronto and now resides in Cabbagetown. He believes in nurturing body, mind and spirit, honouring those principles by attending the local gym several times a week and reading and meditating daily. Today, John Joseph seeks to meet people where they are and build the capacity for relationships between people in a diverse spectrum of society. Nurture self to nurture others.