Category Archives: Jacamar Door

After Borough Market

It is one day after the killings in Borough Market, London, by ISIL extremists, and nine days into the holy month of Ramadan. Seven people are dead and 21 remain critically injured. Londoners will continue, as Londoners always do, about their daily tasks, with glancing echoes of half-remembered Churchillian rhetoric in mind. And rightly so.

We make a terrible mistake, and I see it in news media daily, of referring to the terrorists as Islamist or Muslimist extremists. Teresa May did it again today, when she decried the tolerant attitude of Britain towards Islamist extremism. Politicians have, of late, experimented with terms like Daesh and ISIL but we seem to have settled on “Islamist extremism,” for reasons unclear. This phrase only fuels intolerance towards our peace-loving Muslim neighbors, particularly from right-wing groups, ready like powder-kegs in a drought. The only justifiable case for it is as a way to pressure good Muslims to deal with their bad Muslims. We must, though, be disciplined in our word choices—truly, the devil is in the detail–because loose language causes our friends fear and pain, subjecting them to prejudice and injustice, day after day after day.

I’ve been trying hard to understand how extremist violence can fit at all with the beautifully interwoven spiritual and material realities of this sacred time of Ramadan. The solid, material fact is that it doesn’t, and we need to put distance between our ideas of ISIL terrorism and the fragrant, sacred beauty at the heart of Islam. “Ramadan Kareem” to all our peace-full and Spirit-full Muslim brothers and sisters at this holy time. Salaam aleikum all.

The Jacamar Door

I have had, for a long time, a fascination with St Anne, the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus.  She has many roles in Christian tradition: amongst them, she is patron saint and protectress of horses, horsemen, horsewomen, stablemen, and horse-breeding; of mothers, homemakers, pregnant women (especially those in labor), childless people; cabinetmakers, carpenters, and miners.  Her horse connection probably comes from her association with the Pan-Celtic Great Mother Goddess in various forms, especially those of Anu, Ana, and Anand.

It was only recently, though, that I found she is also the patron saint of doors.  I imagine this is due primarily to her association with childbirth, but as I looked more closely, each of her associations — childbirth, stablemen, horse-breeding, cabinetry, mining — has something to do with the movement from containment to a place of light, or new beginning.

I chose the title “Jacamar Door” for this because it is a image of new beginning that forms me on a daily basis.  The Great Jacamar is a bird that lays its eggs in what is ostensibly a hostile environment — inside termites’ nests.  The termites seal in the eggs and enter into a strange symbiotic relationship with them: one in which some eggs are lost — the unwitting guests are eaten by their host — and some are allowed to develop.  When the eggs remaining are ready to hatch, the Jacamar returns to the termite nest, breaking a doorway into it, whereupon the new young birds are released from the dark into a new world of light and freedom.

This seems to me a fitting symbol for our lives of spirit in this beautiful world, that can be at once so kind to us and yet so intolerably cruel.  There will be suffering; there will be unconscionable loss; but there will also be the nurture, love, freedom, and release of a life lived in Christ.

May Christ and St Anne bless you, and be with you, on your journeys into the light.