Advent conspiracy 6: Pax Romana…

Lord of Lords.

Saviour.

Prince of Peace.

It may be a suprise to some that these titles – which we know so well as religious descriptors of Jesus Christ that have been sung through generations – were borrowed from an earlier historical figure, known first as the Emperor Augustus.

In the year 34 BCE, Augustus defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium, and this Victory ushered in a period know as the Pax Romana, defined this way;

The Pax Romana (Latin for ‘Roman peace’) is a roughly 200-year-long timespan of Roman history which is identified as a period and as a golden age of increased as well as sustained Roman imperialism, relative peace and order, prosperous stability, hegemonial power, and regional expansion, despite several revolts and wars, and continuing competition with Parthia. It is traditionally dated as commencing from the accession of Augustus, founder of the Roman principate, in 27 BC and concluding in 180 AD with the death of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the “Five Good Emperors“.[1]

Wikipedia

In other words, the first advent of Jesus happened right in the middle of the Roman peace, wihch was really no peace at all. Not for those oppressed by an expansionist unequal empire.

It was in to this world that the Prince of Peace arrived as total contrast to the Prince of Peace.

I have been thinking about how my lifetime has been lived in peace. Sure, just as during Pax Romana, there have been wars and skirmishes happened all the time away somewhere else, but these cost me almost nothing. However, just as during the Pax Romana, a different kind of peacelessness has been gathering. It might be understood as the end of the Pax Britanica and the beginning of the Pax Americana.

In total conttast to the Pax Christi.

This Advent, we need the upside-down principles of the empire of the Prince of Peace to disturb us still.

Peace to the world

.

After war came peace

But after peace came profit

And after profit came wealth

And after wealth came inequality

And after inequality came accumulation

And after accumulation many were left with nothing

.

And with nothing there is no peace at all

After the war came peace

But after peace came empire

And after empire came corporation

And after corporation came globalisation

And after globalisation came exploitation

And after exploitation came exhaustion

And those who are exhausted feel no peace

.

After the war came peace

But after the peace came aspiration

And after aspiration came property

And after property came debt

And after debt came foreclosure

And after foreclosure came homelessness

And without a home, there is no peace

.

After the war came peace

But after the peace came consumption

And after consumption came more consumption

And consumption became the only thing that counted

And after consumption came obsolescence

And after obsolescence came more consumption

For without consumption, there is no peace.

.

After the war came peace

But after peace we lost our unity

And for unity we need an enemy

And because of the enemy we need a leader

And great leaders need a great army

And a great army needs a war

And with war there is no peace

Advent conspiracy 6: stories we find ourselves in…

Today’s advent conspiracy comes from Bob who takes inspiration from The Detectorists to imagine something just below the surface that we half percieve…

If you haven’t watched any of the excellent TV series ‘Detectorists’ then I can heartily recommend it. You can find it on BBC iPlayer here: BBC iPlayer – Detectorists

The series first aired on BBC Four in October 2014, and it’s written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who stars alongside Toby Jones. The two key players are Andy (Mackenzie Crook – The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean) who wrote and directed the series, and Lance (Toby Jones – character actor in many films like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Hunger Games, Captain America, Jurrassic World and numerous TV series).

The series is set in the fictional small town of Danebury in northern Essex, and the plot revolves around the lives and metal detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance. They both have an obsession to find buried treasure, but, more often than not, all that the metal detectors pick up is a ring pull off an aluminium can, a metal button or a few nails.

They are convinced that there is something to find and, despite the set-backs, they keep searching. There’s a wonderful drone shot of the field at the end of the first series when they head off to the pub after another fruitless day’s searching and the shot reveals the outline of a large structure below the surface. It reminded me of times when there has been a long spell with no rain and the outline of buried building remains are revealed as a different shade of colour to the surrounding ground. There’s something there, but they can’t yet see it from where they are looking.

I wonder then what grand obsessions existed in the story from two thousand years ago when humble shepherds left their sheep to follow a bright light in the sky, and richer noblemen made a long journey from their homeland far away. What drew them to a small village in the Middle East? How often on their respective journeys would they have doubted what they were doing? How often would they have considered turning back? Was it something they had long anticipated? Was it a story of a hope to come which had been passed down and re-told through many generations? Something must have drawn them onwards.

In the initial post of this Advent Conspiracy by Chris here:  he says,  ‘in moments and in places like this, I find myself sensing something beyond myself that draws me’.

For me too there is something about Advent which draws me and provokes reflection about a journey bigger than our journey; about a story bigger than the story we find ourselves in.

Advent conspiracy 5:

The further adventures of our joint Advent blog, this one coming from Steve Broadway. I love his counterpoint between struggle and persistence. The work of the spirit has both, but it also has moments of transcendent joy. It seems to me that transcendence always has to have the absence of transcendence, in the same way that light can only be seen through darkness…

We also get to see some of Steve’s incredible drawing skills more of this to come!

Reflecting on life’s uncertainties…
Depressing stuff affecting so many lives
Like wars, sanctuary-seekers and homelessness
Abuse, poverty and fear
Hopelessness and despair
The cost of living and heating homes
Some having to decide whether to eat or heat
The haves and the have nots
Caught up in a spiral of hardship.

Reflecting on my spiritual path…
Typically struggling through the wilderness
Often intolerant of biblical interpretations
Annoyed by what I think are lop-sided homilies
And put off by the exuberant faith of some
My own blinkered attitudes don’t help
But still I’m happy to keep searching for meaning
Still seeing goodness in the world
And heaven on earth right now.

Advent conspiracy 4: The god who always arrives in troubled times…

Following on from Steve’s honest description of travelling through unbelief, and Bob’s description of rumbles of war just over the horizon I find myself once again wondering about the enforced jollility some of us often feel as disturbing dissonance as this season unfolds. It has always seemed to me that if there is joy at all, it is as likely to be encountered accompanied by tears as much as laughter. Sometimes both come together. I have tried to write about this apparent contradiction many times in my poetry. Advent, it seems, is a paradox.

Perhaps you will call me miserable (or use the slightly kinder word ‘melancholic’) but this would miss something important. Advent is always hard for many and this one is harder than most. Yesterdays post from Bob about Ukraine offers a very present example, but there are many closer to home who are also struggling.

The individualisation which has defined our age has also condemned many in western societies to solitary confinement just when we needed each other the most.

In the midst of my own Advent ponderings I am reading this book, which Michaela bought for me as present. She knows me well. The author places her Advent in the context of the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people, but also in the context of the first Advent, which describes the arrival of Jesus into chaos… into an Israel overcome and broken by a succession of occupations, only the latest one being the Romans. The book starts like this;

What does joy look like from the perspective of broken troubled times? What is the peace that we hope for? What justice? These are never just individual questions, rather they move us away from self-religon back towards the collective, shared consciousness that rediscovers our connectedness to both each other and to the created world. To the ‘Christ who loved things by becoming them’.

As I read Steve’s words two days ago describing his thinking seat in the face of an ebb of faith, a poem was nagging at me. I offer it here in the hope that it wall say more with fewer words.

.

Light of the world

.

The low winter sun takes power from

Puddles of last night’s rain and I turn away

Resonating to signals sent from distant stars

.

Something glints at the top of bare branches –

A flash of wing or a white tooth or the

Coming together of choirs of angels

.

And in a wet manger of clogged earth, summer

Sleeps, waiting for light to burst out

Brand-new hallelujahs

.

For behold, the light is with us. The light is

In us. The light shines in the darkest places –

It even shines in me

Chris Goan, from ‘After the Apocalypse’ available here.

Advent conspiracy 3: the best is yet to come…

This is part of our daily collaborative advent project, which will be spread accross a few locations/blogs.

Today’s piece comes from singer/songwriter Bob Fraser, who has written some of the soundtrack to my (and perhaps your) earlier life.

We would love you to come with us on the journey. The simplest way to do this is to subscribe to one of the blogs, and then you should get a daily notification (you can always unsubscribe later!) Otherwise, you can interact with the posts via the usual social media platforms (although I am no longer doing twitter.) A few shares and likes will help us make connections too…

Our intention is to move forward with hope, savouring questions and having no fear of doubt. We live in darkness but look towards light.

Photo by Matti Karstedt on Pexels.com

How must it feel to have your homeland occupied by the enemy, to be dispossessed of your land, to have your home bombarded and devastated, and reduced to a pile of rubble? How must it feel to lose relatives and friends, lose possessions, lose dignity, and be surrounded by devastation, chaos and uncertainty, knowing no security, and not knowing where the next meal may come from, or whether you even have a table to sit at? How would we cope with no electricity, no running water, living the life of a refugee in a climate of fear? What must it be like to be frightened by the callous actions of extremists, and equally fearful of your own emotions which may boil over in desperation demanding justice and revenge?

For an ordinary bloke wanting to live a peaceful, meaningful life, earn a living, care for a family, bring security and protection to those you love, and maintain a grip on beliefs and values, a life in that kind of environment would be severely restricted.

Even when a cease fire is declared, providing desperate civilians a much needed opportunity to assess the damage, look after the wounded  and somehow go on with their lives, it’s a fragile peace and experience suggests it will not last, that conflict will resume, and there will be yet more suffering.

Sometimes, our hearts can feel like that enemy occupied land – battle weary, battered and bruised after yet another enemy onslaught. Every now and then there is a temporary cease-fire, giving chance to re-group, offering new hope and encouragement to keep going. Yet, after only a brief respite, another bombardment comes, threatening to destroy much of what we had salvaged from previous wreckage. Enemies know how to target with precision any weakness in defences. Their aim is to steal, kill, destroy, immobilise, silence, and distract. They know how to create dis-unity, spread lies and confusion, cut off supplies, extinguish hope, break the battle line, prey on the vulnerable, sever communication, dampen spirits and create exhaustion.

Options are limited in a situation where most of what is happening is outside our control. The only choices available are probably equally daunting. Neither choice comes without risk. Neither is right nor wrong. We can remain victims, hunkering down until the next cease-fire, longing for peace, yet existing and surviving rather than really living, but at least being close to roots and family and all that is familiar.

Or, we can gather all those we love and anything we can salvage, and start out on a path that is unfamiliar, heading for a destination which is unknown, taking on a new adventure with hope of a better life.

Whichever option is chosen, we’ll need to cling to the hope that even though life at the moment is not how we imagined it would be, the best is yet to come.

Advent conspiracy 2…

This is the second part of daily collaborative advent project, which will be spread accross a few locations;

This one (obivously.) Steve Broadway, who has a prodigiously varied output of drawings and photographs here. Graham Peacock; pantomime dame, chaplain, former methodist minister, terrible cricketer, who has a wonderful eclectic, thoughtful blog here.

We will also be having some contibutions by the fantastic singer/songwriter Bob Fraser, who has written some of the soundtrack to my (and perhaps your) earlier life.

We would love you to come with us on the journey. The simplest way to do this is to subscribe to one of the blogs, and then you should get a daily notification (you can always unsubscribe later!) Otherwise, you can interact with the posts via the usual social media platforms (although I am no longer doing twitter.) A few shares and likes will help us make connections too…

Our intention is to move forward with hope, savouring questions and having no fear of doubt. We live in darkness but look towards light.

Today’s reflection comes from a typically honest Steve Broadway, pondering matters of faith…

Advent is particularly associated with waiting… but for me, this year, Advent will be a little different from the Advents of the past. My own ‘faith journey’ has stalled – so much so that I’ve decided to take an indefinite sabbatical from attending church services while I endeavour to wait for this period to pass.


In some ways, agreeing to be a part of a ‘multi-blog collaboration’ seems both inappropriate a little scary.

I am an early riser. I’m usually up by 5am.


At various times in my life, I might have used this time for prayer and/or reading daily reflections/Bible passages.


I no longer do such things.


I can no longer be bothered.


And yet, since moving house, I now frequently find myself in my ‘Thinking Seat’ staring out of the window at the dawn of a new day.


It’s something of a magical time.


Could it be the start of my journey to rediscover my faith?


“Caught by the light of some small heaven” (as my good friend Ian has described it) perhaps?

Advent conspiracy 1

Today marks the first day of another season of Advent. It also marks the beginning of a daily collaboration with some blogging friends, in which we will be sharing a post each day over our different platforms.

These will include

This one (obivously.)

Steve Broadway, who has a prodigiously varied output of drawings and photographs here.

Graham Peacock; pantomime dame, chaplain, former methodist minister, terrible cricketer, who has a wonderful eclectic, thoughtful blog here.

We would love you to come with us on the journey. The simplest way to do this is to subscribe to one of the blogs, and then you should get a daily notification (you can always unsubscribe later!) Otherwise, you can interact with the posts via the usual social media platforms (although I am no longer doing twitter.) A few shares and likes will help us make connections too…

Our intention is to move forward with hope, savouring questions and having no fear of doubt. We live in darkness but look towards light.

To get us started, this is a view from one of my favourite places, the site of St Blanes chapel, built in a bowl of Isle of Bute hills on the site of a monastery established by or after Catan, an Irish missionary saint, some time in the 500s.

Amongst and around the viking graves and medieval church walls, you can see marks and mounds in the earth from the earlier religious settlement. A boundary wall marking the division between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred ‘space, simple beehive cells made from piles of stones in which monks lived. A well still full of fresh sparkling water. Wild plants whose ancestors may have been planted as part of a monastic garden.

Leaning in are huge trees; oaks and sycamores – ancient, but more recent than the placing of the stones.

But the stones themselves – they are old on a different scale. Shaped by the igneous intrusion that formed much of these parts.

It is a place of reflection. A place when our hubris is measured against almost-infinity. Our place in things becomes so tiny so ephemeral.

Wierdly however, this place never erases my individuality, rather it contains it. Rather than reducing me to so much blown chaff, as relevant (and as irrelevant) as a fallen leaf, it connects me.

But what is this thing that I feel connected to?

The old answers never felt authentic, even when I pretended greater confidence. They used language and ideas given to me that were at best merely a mode of travel, they were never a destination. Perhaps there is no destination. But still, in moments and in places like this, I find myself sensing something beyond myself that draws me. I have no pressing need to define it, to categorise, but I feel hints of sometihng vitalising and alive beyond almost anything else in my experience.

Are these just the fanciful meanderings of a middle aged man? Perhaps, but if so, I am in good company at St Blanes chapel. People have been seeking the same answers there for one and a half thousand years, despite the intervention of Vikings and the Reformation (incidentally, apparently the minister there refused to play ball with the reformists, and he was so loved that they let him be.)

Advent is not about certainty, it is about a sense of something more ‘felt’ than known. In my experience it contains a longing that can not be easily described. It is perhaps best understood as a fleeting transcendent connection to something beyond

The most tantalising thing of all is that what I think I sense most strongly in these moments is goodness.

Almost as if at the centre of all things is…

Daily advent reflection- anyone want to contribute?

Photo by Luca Nardone on Pexels.com

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 contibute?

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.

Even you.

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.

What might climate activism look like in small rural communities?

Following on from the last post, in which I attempted to describe my feelings around a new attempt to form a climate action group for my local area, I have been continuing to consider the problem of how to respond creatively and with integrity to crisis of our time.

There is a need for all of us from time to time to take an inventory not just of our own personal place in the world, but how this relates to the great goodness the world contains. If we are to treasure the gace hidden in all things then we must also seek to be part of it and not just consume it, or be an unwitting part of its destruction. The great disatisfaction this sets up in many of us at present is the feeling that we are powerless to change the very destruction we are seeking to avoid. This itself is a place of personal and collective sickness of spirit.

As for myself, I have tried to make as many changes that I could towards sustainability – the growing of food, the recycling, the fixing and reusing, the buying second hand. However, I also feel guilty because of the destructive things that I do – the vehicles I drive, the leaky home heated with fossil fuel, the over consuming western culture within which I still participate. Like many of us, this sets up chains of cognitive dissonance that twist me up in ways that are profoundly self defeating.

I am privileged to live a comfortable life in a beautiful place between mountains and sea. This privilege places me on the outside, removed from cutting edge consequences more visible around greater concentrations of humanity, particularly in the poorer southern parts of the world. Discussions about climate change here are made from a position of climate privilege and collective blindness about the mess we have made (and continue to make) of our ecosystems. We look at mountains covered in spruce plantations and think they always looked like that. We dodge deer on the roads forgetting entirely that they are there because of a lack of natural predators. We celebrate iconic single species such as otters and sea eagles with no clear idea of their loneliness and the total unbalanced ecosystem that our patterns of farming and resource extraction have created.

My attempt to respond to these issues has already proved problematic, for these sorts of reasons;

  1. There are some vested interests that might well get in the way- for example, how can a council funded organisation protest against the council and hold it to account?
  2. It seems that death by detail is likely. There are so many strands of potential action (allotments, recycling, plastics, beach cleaning, forestry, diversity, single species protection, ocean protection zones, conservation farming, rewilding, etc.) How do we prioritise?
  3. The detail is often reflected in individuals with passions and hobby horses. These are not necessarily ‘local’ or directly relevant to OUR location here and now. Again, how do collectivise around one particular issue or small set of issues?
  4. We all have egos in the game- we like to think that our passion projects are the most important. We can then be dismissive of others and fail to add collective value.
  5. What is the appropriate response to a climate emergency HERE in Argyll? My feeling is that small scale consumer/citizen focussed activities of the kind that are being promoted through the Dunoon Area Alliance (a funded community support organisation) (for example green mapping, recycling, plastics campaigns etc) are important in that they give people a feeling of getting involved, but they are not proportionate to the scale of the emergency. None of these actions are transformative or would make significant impact, apart from perhaps at the informational level.
  6. There seems to me to be a difference between an activist group and small-scale community activities. Both have important roles to play but require different approaches/structures/memberships.
  7. Activism most likely involves a degree of confrontation, which is not for everyone.
  8. There is a lot of complacency about climate change and loss of habitat diversity here in Argyll. We consider the landscape to be ‘wild’ and ‘natural’, because it is largely open country. It is in fact neither of these things.

What then might local climate activism look like in Argyll? What are the major issues impacting on our ways of living here? What industrial processes that have shaped our interactions with the natural world, for good or ill? Which problems should be our priority and where do we put our energy? In a previous post I asked these questions;

What are the industrial processes that are destroying the Cowal environment? This takes us straight towards the three F’s- Farming, Forestry and Fishing. They are all sacred cows with huge local power and social capital. Challenging established practices will upset people we know and love.

Where can we see examples of local counter-cultural political/social/economic alternatives that we can learn from? We have to think both big and small, in that we need to hold an idea of transformation that is also LOCAL.

For example, S mentioned a small Irish town that has become fully ‘sustainable’. Coll has its own independent power grid. Other towns have gone fully plastic free. Some places have used local politics to revive collective action. Other places have converted almost all shared spaces into collective food growing areas.

What can we learn from these examples and how can we hold our own political systems to account for their lack of ambition?

I think these are important questions here, and in my mind at least, they already start to suggest areas of engagement. I have been inspired in part by this;

(You can read more about this here.)

The thing about this piece is that despite its visual and political impact, it has created significant reaction. It was also largely the work (I think) of one or two people, who did not ask for permission, beyond talking to the owner of the land on which the structure was built.

It is also proportionate to the landscape and location. It is made of local timber and can be seen from distance, whilst doing no damage. Some people objected, but it has largely recieved local acceptance, even to the point or retrospective planning permission.

More than this, the power of the object comes from artistic, creative playful question making. It might be regarded as theopoetic. The shape and idea is deceptively simple, but the more you think about it, the more it starts to shift the way that people see things.

This structure offers a meeting point, a space to share ideas and make small revolutions. Power to those who made it, I say.

We can’t all build an ark – although then again perhaps we need one in every area – but we can learn a lot from this approach. Local, thinking big and small. Proportionate to the scale of lanscape. Using local skills. Slightly subversive, making a statement for others to respond to without preaching. Using art rather than persuasion.

There are also some clues there about the nature of the group that might support such activity. Clandestine, confronting work of this kind probably needs a supportive, safe community behind it, who are prepared to share the work and the potential adverse reactions.

I have some ideas already, but obviously can’t talk about them here yet… However, if you are local and interested to know more, get in in touch.

Time to get back on the picket lines?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

I attended a meeting last night of people considering starting a climate change action group. First meetings of this kind are always difficult. People come at the meeting from all sorts of positions and we all feel the need to state our credentials. The outcome was fairly predictable in that (like much of the debate on climate change!) we got lost in detail. I ended up feeling frustrated and struggling to remain hopeful.

It is no easy thing to commit to another group-based activity. Not for a battle-scarred introvert such as myself.

It was all buzzing in my head, so that this morning I was up at the crack of dawn, wanting to write some thoughts down- pretty much my standard way to process things. (If I REALLY need to work things through I turn to poetry!) I wrote this as a starter;

We are killing ecosystems. Our industrial processes are eating the planet from under us. Our over-consumption is creating huge unfairness and inequality.
Here in Cowal we live amongst such natural beauty, but this obscures a terrible truth: our hillside is dying or already dead. The ancient forests are gone, replaced by ecological wastelands. Deer numbers are exploding. Everything is out of balance.
In the face of all this we feel powerless. Partly this is because ‘The problem’ is not on a human scale. It is too big. There are too many components, too many power dynamics, too many distractions, too many voices who seem to offer conflicting information.
Many of us have tried to change as individuals. There is a whole industry set up to make us all individual green consumers- to sell us green products and services. Mostly this is just ‘green-washing’. Individual consumer action cannot and will not reverse climate change.
Many of us have also been part of collective action at some level- attending protests, lobbying MPs, starting food-growing initiatives, demanding better from our supermarkets. This kind of action can unite us and bring hope that things CAN change but they are not sufficient. The climate is still warming. Diversity is still being stripped away from our already denuded landscapes.
Our problem is two-fold;

  1. Unsustainable industrial (including farming/forestry/fishing) processes at both global and local levels
  2. A lack of political/social/economic alternatives to the unsustainable consumer culture we have created at global, national and local levels

The question, once again, is what do we do about this. I am not interested in consumer choices. Whether I use plastic bags or drive a Tesla will not help one jot. Neither have I any patience for passive ego-preening discussions, even though I have been guilty of indulging in them too often myself. Here is my current thinking;

There is a lot of activity taking place in Dunoon already. It is good to know about it and to support it but there is no point in replicating it. Movements towards change often break down into factional competitive fiefdoms and we want no part of that.
What we do not have is a local place/mechanism to express our outrage and to collectively convert this outrage to action.
Whilst there are many ways that we might do this I believe we have to stay focussed first and foremost on how ‘The problem’ (as defined above) is encountered in Cowal. In other words;

  1. What are the industrial processes that are destroying the Cowal environment? This takes us straight towards the three F’s- Farming, Forestry and Fishing. They are all sacred cows with huge local power and social capital. Challenging established practices will upset people we know and love.
  2. Where can we see examples of local counter-cultural political/social/economic alternatives that we can learn from? We have to think both big and small, in that we need to hold an idea of transformation that is also LOCAL. For example, Siobhan mentioned a small Irish town that has become fully ‘sustainable’. Coll has its own independent power grid. Other towns have gone fully plastic free. Some places have used local politics to revive collective action. Other places have converted almost all shared spaces into collective food growing areas. What can we learn from these examples and how can we hold our own political systems to account for their lack of ambition?

And how might we express this outrage? My hope is that we can do something like this;

 The outcome of this work will hopefully be playful, creative activism

  • Art that reveals, challenges, informs (think of the Ark)
  • Subversive action (non-violent and not illegal!) to raise awareness over specific local issues
  • Informational activities such as conferences (as per the Mid Argyll group)
  • Community play- building things in the landscape, feasting together, singing and sitting round fires, telling hopeful stories.

I don’t know if the others in my embrionic group will share this vision with me, and if not, I will need to challenge myself along these lines;

Like all of us, I have my history, my past failures and even worse, my past successes. I have my own hobby horses and passions. I am a grumpy poet who does not do small talk and has a low tolerance for bullshit.

Having said that, I believe in the power of community. I see no greater hope. If we can find some collective momentum through this group, I will hang in there, despite my own inevitable limitations and frustrations.

As I further reflect on all of this, I realise that more than ever, I connect with things through my spirit rather than my intellect. Whether I stay involved with this group or not will be much to do with whether it sings in my soul. At present, the song is distant, but there are interesting echoes…