Advent begins on Sunday. I love to allow seasons like this to shape some contemplation, and so intend to put together a daily reflection thing via my blog. Does anyone want to contribute?
Advent is about anticipating something better. Hoping for light that is still to come, even in present darkness. Do whatever you like with this this. Could be a poem, an image, a video clip, a song, or a painting, or anything else that provides a space for others to be still for a moment and reflect.
How is it that still, you love things by becoming them?
How was it that this brown-skinned man with the heart of a woman
Took upon herself another name for everything, so we could
Encounter her in all these beautiful things and bleed with her when she
Lies broken? And just when all seems lost, she whispers still –
See, I am making all things new.
It can be hard at first to step aside from both secular and religious cliches about the approach of Christmas, at least until you allow yourself a bit of space to think again about the nature of this season.
the time when winter is still deepening, the coldness increasing, the days shortening
the creak of increasing Christmas pressure coming at us from our screens
fears of scarcity despite our abundance
the end of last year and the approach of the next
the certain knowledge that there will be a new spring
the simple, all surpassing idea of immanuel, the god who loves things by becoming them
If you would like to join us for the journey, reply here or drop me a message. You need espouse no particular position of faith. Just help our hearts open a little when we need it most.
After all the hard work by lots of people to get the book into some kind of shape – the editing, the design work, the proof reading… and of course Si’s magnificent images – I think it time to take make grateful pause.
It is not perfect. A few errors slipped through. The print quality on the images has not totally passed the Smith test. Despite this, I am feel a sense of satisfaction that I have not always felt after a book has been completed. I think it is because this book, despite its limitations, is as honest as I can be. Its limitations are my limitations. If it carries any hope, any beauty- these are ones that I have lived through or am reaching towards. Also, despite the commercial nature of any project like this, the book was not written to sell anything. It started in frustration, anger and dissatisfaction with the world we have made, and ends in a great sigh of connection with the spirit that sings within us all.
I hope people will read it, but if you don’t that is OK. I needed to say these things anyway. More than this though, I feel a sense of responsibility towards the ideas that the book contains.
I stand by the anger. There is lots to be angry about. But we can not exist on anger alone.
I appreciate the pause that poetry gave me, the chance to ponder and reframe the way we look. But pausing is only the beginning of change.
And even if the book offers no blueprint for betterment (because I know my limitations) I think it carries some clues. It feels to me as if these are not my own insights, but ones I have discovered, almost by accident, in the margins of the scribbles I was making as poetry was forming. This is the gift of poetry – it takes is both inside ourselves and then, if we are lucky, it draws us towards new places.
Or perhaps it is nothing to do with luck. My contention is that if a solution is anything at all, it begins in the ‘theatre of the spirit’ (as Havel put it), or to put it another way, we first have to re-encounter the meaning of our lives as individuals, but even more so collectively. We have to remember that the human world we live in has been made by humans, so it is quite possible to re-make it.
In the next season of the life of this book, I hope to be bring together some actual ‘theatres of the spirit’, by putting together some gatherings where we read together and dream together. If you are interesting in hosting/attending then get in touch.
It is hard to choose poems from the book now. They are all fragments of a five year journey. But this one will do.
I want to live
I want to live in a world in which refugees are welcomed
As if coming home. As if the food they are given
Was cooked by their own mothers.
I want to live in a world in which people share what they have
With those who have nothing. Where fear of scarcity is foolish
Because we finally recognised abundance.
I want to live in a world in which love for neighbours
Made hedges and fences inconvenient. As if real estate
Is not real after all.
I want to live in a world in which guns are things for museums
Behind glass with suits of armour. Where tanks are
Used only to store liquid.
I want to live in a world in which nothing is expendable, as if landfills
were already full. As if bags of bolts and empty cans
Can be used again tomorrow.
I want to live in a world in which children are thrilled by birdsong
and gloriously appalled by black beetles. Where great adventure is made