Meanwhile, most people live as well as they can, where they can…

A few days ago I wrote a piece about home ownership in the UK- suggesting that it has become a national obsession, and that it might be distorting our sense of community and collective identity.

Today Michaela showed me this- I loved the way people made personal spaces out of whatever they can. Life flourishes where we love.

Aoradh worship event materials…

A few folk asked about the use we put to images and other materials from our GB worship event.

I have uploaded them to Google docs and so they should be available here-

I have included a script and seperate versions of a couple of the poems used. The powerpoint doc was too big, but if anyone is interested, drop me a line and we will find a way!

Below are some of the slides of houses, which we displayed with the house beatitudes added.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Part of our worship event @ Greenbelt festival-


There was a concern in the land

In every town the roads were lined with beggars

There were homeless orphans and widows cast out onto the streets

The lunatics were stoned by children

And melancholics drowned their sorrows with gin

The mess of it all was in the middle of us

The Jesus in the least of these

Was weeping

He had no home amongst us


So the good people gathered

“What is needed” they said “Is asylum.”

A safe home where broken people can live out their lives in care-

Protected from all of the mess of life

Fed and warm and watered.

So money was gathered

Stones were shaped and raised

Staff were retained and clothed in crisp starched clothing

And the heavy doors were opened wide in welcome


And so they came- the halt, the sick, the lame

The motherless and the pregnant child

All those broken by worry and grief

The shakers and the mutterers

All the awkward squad

The outsiders now came inside

They were home at last


It went well for a while

All was orderly and planned

Starved frames filled out

Songs were sung again in the entertainment hall

Gardens were laid and tended

Sheets danced in the evening sunlight

And a bell rang out to warn of the dowsing of night candles


But time passed, and shadows fell

Budgets were tight, and the paint peeled on windows

The good folk who had once been so generous had other calls on their coin

A few still visited on feast days but for the most part

Out of sight became out of mind.


And there was trouble

The awkward squad was still awkward

The asylum split into‘us’ and ‘them’


‘We’ had roles- uniforms and clipboards, rotas and registers

Big bunches of keys danced at our belts

We had dreams- of advancement, romance and families

We had homes away from this home


‘They’ stood the other side of our desks

Dirty and lacking in motivation

Ungrateful and manipulative

Un co-operative with our assessments

Lacking insight into the nature of their dysfunction.

They had ceased to be like us

Rather, they lived out regulated half-lives

They ceased to be flesh

And became instead a collection of paper

In manila folders


Despite all the material provision- something was missing

Despite all the person centred plans, the person was not at the centre

Despite the close press of humanity, there was no family

Despite all the risk assessments, there was no adventure

Despite all the planned activity, there is no purpose

Despite the safety of the high walls, I am still destroyed


So it was that care became captivity

Individuals became invisible

And home became hollow

And toxic

And Jesus in the least of these

Was weeping






M and I are off work this week- we are experiencing the strange luxury of a holiday at home.

A strange kind of holiday- as we are working really hard. The list of tasks is long- gardening, painting the outside of the house, and if it rains, there is some plumbing and decorating inside.

An old house like ours always demands time money and energy- which always begs the question as to whether we might do something better with all three. Whether we really should be spending so much time creating a space to live in, rather than just getting on with living.

There is slightly more to this though- we are trying to create spaces for hospitality and retreat, both as a means of making our living, and as a means of living with simple integrity. Whether this might ever be a means to fully sustain our family is unclear, but it is a path we are set on. (See here for more information on what we are about.)

It is an interesting point to be asking these questions- as I am also in the middle of trying to create some poetry for a Greenbelt Festival installation- on the theme of ‘Dreams of Home’. So far I have written a few poems and rejected most of them for the project- which involves the broadcasting of poetry at different points around the festival site.

Here is one of the rejected ones- which I suppose is kind of apt-

Home is where the flowers grow

In neatly ordered style

Well betide the weed or slug

Who seeks to there defile


Home is castellated

All English men agree

From high suburban battlements

Old Empires can be seen


Home is lit by cathode rays

As the sofa eats the day

Home is when the door shuts tight

To keep the world away


Home is where we worship

The gods of DIY

With flat pack chipboard altars

Pastel paints to soothe the eye


Home is where the mortgage bill

Lands hard upon the soul

The shadow of satanic mills

Pulls us like a black holes


Home is where the children

Are heard but seldom seen

They play the X box all night long

Blasting aliens from the screen


Home is where the heart breaks

Where lies the empty bed

Home is where these memories

Are made but now lie dead


Home seems somewhere far away

We can’t get here from there

This pilgrim Diaspora

Are searching unaware


For home is like a twitch

In a phantom missing limb

Like a prophecy of silence

Before the birds begin to sing


Home is hidden low

By folding falling ground

It pulls me like a magnet

It’s a well I’m tumbling down

A place called wandering…

I have been thinking about our Greenbelt worship event- which will be entitled ‘Homesick’. One of the key themes emerges from a discussion about the nature of we humans- made a little lower than the angels, neither fully flesh nor completely spirit. An amalgam of both- or perhaps one on a journey to becoming the other.

It set me thinking about what it might mean for we Christians- how we live in the presence of the immanence- how our present is always lived in the belief that there is another reality- which Jesus described confusingly as ‘The Kingdom of God’.

I wonder if there is something in this life that will always be unfulfilled- always be tinged with nuance and compromise. This is no bad thing- it is the way of the pilgrim- how we learn through surprise encounters and hopeful longing as much as by certainty and knowing.

I came across this passage from the book of Genesis that says it as well as anything-

10 (C)Then the Lord said,
Why have you done this terrible thing? Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground, like a voice calling for revenge.11 You are placed under a curse and can no longer farm the soil. It has soaked up your brother’s blood as if it had opened its mouth to receive it when you killed him.12 If you try to grow crops, the soil will not produce anything; you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.

13 And Cain said to the Lord,
This punishment is too hard for me to bear.14 You are driving me off the land and away from your presence. I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.

15 But the Lord answered,
No. If anyone kills you, seven lives will be taken in revenge. So the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who met him not to kill him.16 And Cain went away from the Lord’s presence and lived in a land called
Wandering, which is east of Eden.

Wanted- your front door!

I have just enjoyed a lovely evening with some of the Aoradh gang planning some activities we have up and coming- including a worship installation for Greenbelt Festival.

As part of this, we intend making a photo montage of images of people standing next to their front doors.

We live in a culture that has come to worship the housebrick. Lawrence Lewellyn-Bowen as the high priest! The idea we have is to turn upside down the house-worship idolatry thing- and re-imagine  homes as places of hospitality, where we might seek to love and serve those outside.

So- we would love to be able to use a photo of YOU- stood next to your front door! We will use these images, along with ones that Andy and I will take up here, to be part of some projections, and also to make an image of a cross in which the different photos form pixels (like the famous Myra Hindley picture made out of childrens hand prints.)

You might like to see this as a kind of prayer/act of commitment.

If you would like to take part- send a photo of yourself (and your family if you like) stood next to your front door to me here-

Here is the first one!