Aoradh @ Greenbelt, ’09…

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I finally managed to get our booking form into Greenbelt yesterday- with a day to spare! Last minute as always!

This year, Aoradh are going to do some worship in ‘New Forms Cafe’- a space that is used as an alternative worship space for various groups. It looks as though about 7 of us will be going, and setting up an installation based loosely around a theme of ‘time’.

We will also be setting up some kind of poetry graffiti, on boards around the site- based around the ‘Ecclesiastes 3′ theme. Some of this poetry I have used on the blog, and will be part of a new book called ‘Listing’, published by Proost, hopefully out before the festival.

Speaking of Proost, Jonny tells me that they will be setting up a couple of evenings where Proost contributors will be doing their thing. I will probably be contributing to these in some way.

If you are going to Greenbelt, and read this blog, it would be great to say hello!

It is a considerable undertaking to get down to Greenbelt from Scotland. The distance is quite something, and it does not fit the school holidays up here- we have to take the kids out of school. But for me, the journey is made worth it for these reasons-

  1. Our group is small and isolated, and needs connections with the wider movement of God in our time
  2. We also need ideas and inspiration, and to connect with the creativity of others
  3. It is a safe place to continue exploring faith- full of people who adventure outwards in their engagement with the Word and the world
  4. It is a way that our ‘small theologies’ (worked out in small community) connect with ‘big theologies’ (worked out in culture)

hope to see to see you there!

Listing- book project…

I have finally finished my collection of poetry and prose which forms a new book called ‘Listing’. I have very much enjoyed the creation of this thing, but there is so much other stuff I need to be getting on with, so it is great to have it completed.

Next- the wilderness book with Nick, and this novel that may yet find some kind of shape.

This (might) be the cover photo, taken in Benmore Gardens by yours truly-

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This book, which will be published through Proost and will hopefully be available in June/July. It is a collection of words-poems prose and meditation- based on some Biblical lists-

Ecclesiastes 3

Galatians 5

Matthew 5

1 Corinthians 13

Some of the poetry I have tried out first on this blog. Here is one more- if you like it, then please get hold of the book!

Now is the time to keep

There is a time for all things under heaven…

This Kingdom is always here
Always now
Held here in the hands of we
His failing followers

Standing on the shoulders
Of countless men and women of faith

Diggers of catacombs
Carvers of secret Kingdom symbols
Men making missionary journeys in hide skinned boats
And setting up carved crosses
Monks and nuns holding the world in prayer
Parchment gilders
Cathedral builders
Protestors
Reformers
Transformers
Renewers

So I take from you my fathers of faith
Grateful for the gifts you gave to me

For the canon of Scripture gathered and held precious
For those adventuring out with good news
For purifying zeal
For generous, graceful orthodoxy
For those planting a cross in the gutter
And those who consort with kings
For Bible teachers and interpreters
For a hundred synods
And a thousand million books
For people lit up in the fire of the Spirit
And others who seek the Lord in silence.

For Methodists and Catholics
Wesleyans and Quakers
House and Mega churchers
Baptists and Greek Orthodox
Each facet of a this precious thing
Called Church

And perhaps most of all
I stand in the sheltering shadow
Of people who stood between me
And a harsh prevailing wind
Who saw through the mess of me
Or chose to ignore it for a while
And shared with me the love that draws us
And meant it

All of these treasures
Handed down
To keep

A time to heal…

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There is a time for all things under heaven…

Battle done
Heart still pounding
Hurt
Wounded
Damage felt
And also dealt

Some of the layers that make up who I am
Have been scraped back
Revealing the subcutaneous flesh
Naked and raw
And I am unclothed like a baby
Dignity destroyed
Decaying into depression
Like a spreading bruise
Punching into my stomach
Rotting into my brain

Lord Jesus
Find for me a small place
And let it be to me
Your hospital

Find me a dark place
Because at least for now
I can bear no light
Not even yours

There will come a time to come out again
To stand once more in the gap
Between hope
And possibility
Fighting my own demons
And those of others

But now
Is the time
To heal.

A time to hate…

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There is a time for all things under heaven…

One summer evening I lay on my back as the light leached from the passing day
And watched the stars slowly flicker into the frame of the darkening sky
At first one here, another there
Then all of a sudden the sky was infinite
Full of fragile tender points of ancient light
Some of which started its journey towards us before there was an ‘us’
And I wonder
Is there someone up there
Raising his tentacles to the night sky
And using one of his brains
To wonder about me?

And should this unseen and oddly shaped brother across the huge expanses
Seek contact
What would he make of us?

I heard an astronomer speak once about the possibility of life elsewhere
In this beautiful ever expanding universe
He had come to believe that intelligent life will always
Find ever more ingenious ways
To destroy itself

And I fear the truth of this
That somewhere in the messy beauty of humanity
We nurture an evil seed -
Grow it in an industrial compost of scientific creativity
Water it with greed and avarice
And hot house it in a mad competition for the first fruits
Lest our neighbours get to market first
And once we work up production
There is no going back
No squeezing back the genie into the oil can
There is only the need for bigger, better

And the defending and defeating
And the ranging of rockets
Exploit whoever
Denude wherever
And if anyone should get in the way
Dehumanise
Overcome
Or destroy
Set up barb wire borders
Teach one another
To hate

So for the sake of green men
And Scottish men
May we yet stand before the eternal night
And decide that truth and beauty and grace will be our legacy
In this fragile passing place that God gave us

May we decide that now is not
The time
To hate

Almost silent…

The blog has been quiet recently as I have been working on finishing a collection of stuff for Proost called ‘Listing’- hopefully available soon via a computer near you, as a book or a download.

This will be a collection of poems and meditations based on some of the great lists in the Bible- the Beatitudes, Fruit of the Spirit, Seasons. Some of these things are already on this blog.

By way of a taster- and to show you that I have not been lazy- here is another…

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A time to be silent

There is a time for all things under heaven

A time for marram grass to move
In gentle air
And for the dying sun
To turn all green things gold
To alchemise the evening
Into a luminal place
On the twilit edge
Between here
And there

A time when the last call of the curlew
Will echo away over the dimming mountains
And the stillness is itself

Whispering

A time for this day

To silence

The soul

Conversation as dance…

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A little more from my Ecclesiastes 3 ‘seasons’ project…

Now is the time to dance

There is a time for all things under heaven…
And today we met

You raised a friendly eyebrow-
Quizzical, but not unfriendly
I smile
And make some comment about weather
Or the price of bread
You laugh, and in the music of your voice
I hear the Spirit
And the dance begins

It is not King David dancing naked
Nor the dance of St Vitus
I have no grace, no artistry
But still
We were beautiful

You settled down in a seat close by
And looked out the window
Finding something to examine in the middle distance
And we were quiet
Aware of each other
But without acknowledgment
Between us however, almost visible in the air we share
Are questions
Identity
History
Activity
Humanity

I do not jive to feel alive
Nor dance like an Egyptian
I am the ungainly morris man
Or like an old bloke at a wedding
Who should know better
But still this waltz we begin
Is under our very own
Mirror ball

Outside the sun warmed the winter day
And kids played
You found a hook to hang a sentence on
And dangled it in my direction
So we moved closer to one another
And music swelled
We spoke of the purpose of the day
And a little of the life lived around it
The shape of you showed a little

I can dance a Gay Gordon
Like a church warden
But should I try the disco
I am a herd of elephants
With ants in their pants
But you and me
We are starting to tangle
In tango

We found the rhythm
And something in the music made it possible
To speak of things usually buried deep
And with a surprising cadence
We found ourselves in a minor key
Dealing in brokenness
Pain and hurt
Trust betrayed
Damage done that left deep scars

Some people dance like Salome
To beguile and manipulate
But if you should fall under my spell
Your head will never be upon a plate

The conversation turned to Jesus
And his failing followers
And I held my breath, lest I tread your toes into the carpet
Until in a moment I was Neuryev
My blood flowed like silk
And we were alive
Salsaing with the Spirit of God

Because now
Is the time
To dance

dance

Now is the time to scatter…

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Now is the time to scatter

There is a time for all things under heaven

A time for the sent ones of God
To follow the rough roads
Into the barren broken places
To look for the marks left by Jesus
On the soft tissue
And brittle bones
Of the Imago Dei
The stinking
Wretched
Image bearers of the Living God

Time for the insurgency of God
To follow the mission
Into the hostile places
To seek out the secret stains left by the love
That was woven
Into the very core
Of the Imago Christi
The failing
Faithless
Manifest images of the Christ

Time for the dancers of the new Kingdom dance
To look for the music of Jesus
Amid the static and street noise
Tuning to the high fluting fragile sound
Vibrant and resonant
To the gracenotes
Made there by Spiritus Sanctus
By we discordant
Cursing and gossiping
Vessels of the Spirit of the Living God

Time for the revolutionaries of God
To follow the long hard march
Unyoked and with easy burdens
Looking for the soft places where people are
Where freedom flickers
And our hearts soar
And seek out the Participatio Christi
The weak but willing hands
And sore feet
Of those who would work where Jesus is

For now is the time for holy huddles to scatter
On the winds of the Spirit

Time to be born…

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We are just back from a lovely picnic and walk around Benmore Gardens, where the early rhododendrons are already flowering. Thought I would post a few pictures.dscf3609

So following on from my last post’s burst of optimism- heres another poem from the Ecclesiastes 3 project…

A time to be born

There is a time for all things under heaven

A time when the last bones of winter snow
Are digested by the old dogs of the mountain
And all things are possible
All things are made new

A time when hills are full of the hope of life
From creaking peak to fecund valley
Sky above trees above gorse above grass
The spring has sprung
And shaken out at last
Once tucked in rolled tight buds
Now made leaf and flower
By the prodigal sun

So here it is
Hearts bleating
Pulses buzzing
Weaving us new nests
And swaddling us bright green

For now is the time to be born

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Now is the time to laugh…

I think the somber tone of this blog needs a little poke with a stick.

As a continuation of my Ecclesiastes 3 project, here is a rather lighter subject!

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A time to laugh

There is a time for all things under heaven

There is a time for friends to linger with one another
And tell tales of the absurdity of life
A time to watch the night in with wine
And hot curries
And the odd well timed
Noxious gaseous emission

For, in good company
A pan-gag
A trip on a crease in the carpet
Or even a terrible pun-
These things can be holy

So in the warm hollow of the hands of fellowship
We sat and soaked in the goodness that comes only
When old friends come together
And exchanged gentle familiar insults-
The sort that are like badges of belonging
We avoid some things because it might darken our gathering
And others because some things are better
Left unsaid

And should the conversation turn too serious
Someone will find a crack in the buttock of pomposity
And insert a cold spoon of humour

For now is the time
To laugh

A time for war…

I started a new poetry thing the other day as part of a collection called ‘lists’. A result of chewing on passages in the Bible- the beatitudes, the fruit of the Spirit etc. The list I am working on at the moment is Ecclesiastes chapter 3-

There is a time for everything- and a season for all things under heaven…

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A time for war

There is a time for all things under heaven

A time to dig trenches and put up barbed wire
Then run to our deaths into withering fire
A time for mass graves, for mothers to wear black
Time to kill and to maim, a time to attack

A time to dehumanise, a time to breed hate
A time to decide the whole nations fate
A time when all truth is wrapped up in lies
For secret policemen and neighbourhood spies

A time to manipulate the news and the media
A time of unassailable powerful leaders
A time of expedient centralised power
Cometh the man in this our dark hour

A time for Guantanamo, a time for Auschwitz
A time of gas chambers and motherless kids
A time to throw rocks and let loose the rockets
A time for dead eyes fixed in dead sockets

A time for insurgents, a time to suppress
To disappear dissidents, and people oppress
Of brave freedom fighters and terrorist cells
A time for Robin Hoods and William Tells

In some foreign field or in our back yard
In red sucking mud or ground frozen hard
Lie the bones of our children who answered the call
Now glorious dead with their names on a wall

A time to break up and time to destroy
A time to make men of every small boy
Over by Christmas or just a bit more
Now is the time for us to make war