adventurous ii this saturday promises to be creative challenging and inspiring with a mix of discussion, art, poetry and performance. i'll be going along - maybe see you there? it's being put on by engegi arts and amos trust with a focus on peace in palestine and israel. and it's free...!
details of the programme are on facebook page
and i am exhibiting a photo in the exhibition
if you are in london before december 18 make sure you go and visit clay sinclair's brilliant exhibition utopia at the woolff gallery . there's actually what looks like a cracking evening on thurs 27 november that i am heading in for that is also free - it's a small gallery so not sure how everyone is going to fit in! best not advertise it - doh...
if you can't make it his catalogue is on the woolff site.
well it's a month to christmas which means the season of advent is almost here, that time of expectation and waiting. proost has a new resource we who still wait - this is put together by four artists. chris goan, ian adams, steve broadway and si smith have brought their collective creative wisdom together to shape a wonderful book. it's a book to follow the season with photos, a reflection and a poem each day. download it as a pdf - more info is here.
of course if you subscribe which is a bargain you can log in and download anything for a year!
don't forget there is a proost us site as well.
inevitably living in london i passed by the poppies at the tower of london. whilst it is impressive i am not a fan (sorry!) - i can't seem to deal with war and especially when it is tied to national interest. i hope now one hundred years are past we might move on as several others have expressed in various articles. anyway of course i took a couple of photos and preferred ones where i was messing around. this line from teardrop explodes seems as good a caption as any though i know i have used it on a photo before!
am planning to head over to see martin daws and gav mart on tour on oct 15 in kingston. join us...
singer songwriter and arts curator gavin mart, + young person's poet laureate for wales martin daws - are coming to Kingston with a creative acoustic set that explores what
'it' is at the heart of the artist.
through expressions in songwriting, music, poetry and spoken word gav and martin explore the following questions:
how does the artist express their yearning for an understanding of something bigger?
what does god mean through the eyes of the artist today?
what is 'it' that triggers our creativity?
how is god understood in contemporary culture?
how can we connect with and support local artists within our communities?
the presence of silence went well at greenbelt - it was actually my first ever solo photography exhibition in a rather cute shed. thanks to everyone who popped in to see it - the venue was full all the time - though it was a pretty smalll venue!
happy easter! christ is risen.
i also loved this take on rublev's icon from ric stott
and whilst it's not exactly an easter image this piece from banksy is rather good. i saw it online this morning. the story of the resurrection is one of presence (of the risen christ) and there are several occasions where when he appears to the disciples or mary (see john 20 - that's today's reading in many churches i am sure) and they don't seem to recognise him though he is staanding there in front of them. attention and awareness are foundational to seeing. this image shows up the challenge of being present to the presence in front of us or we might not see...
i was back at st beunos at the weekend for another dose of silence which was like drinking. i found it quite easy to settle back into it. it was a guided retreat which means you have a conversation with a guide once a day. i can't remember what we were talking about that led to it but my guide showed me a painting by sieger koder of the table with christ's hands breaking bread at the front and faces looking towards him. the people round the table are a motley crew - i think they are something like a jew, a prostitute, a beggar, a misfit/clown, a scholar, a rich woman, a migrant. it's a lovely picture of christ's table filled with outsiders. on the wall behind is an image of the prodigal son with the father and son's embrace while the older brother looks on aloof...
absolutley love this advent calendar - a word is made of jam jars containing water or irn bru to write a word backlit in a café window in glasgow which changes everyday. it's made by heidi gardner, peter gardner and elijah smith. thanks to doug gay for the tip off. so simple! am making it worship trick 49 series 4...
jason miller has produced a devotional for advent based on the antiphons - if you don't know what that is i didn't either! here's what he says about it...
When I was in seminary, one of my favorite classroom assignments was having to research and report on a historical devotional practice commonly referred to as the “O Antiphons.” In short, they are a series of seven different devotions traditionally done during the seven days before Christmas Eve. The focal point of each Antiphon is a different Old Testament Messianic title for Jesus. I’ve always wanted to create artwork based on these Antiphons and this year - inspired by the street art that an artist named Banksy was doing in NY during October - I was able to complete that goal. As I was doing the research for the art, I realized that the project needed to be more than just artworks; it needed to be something people could use to experience the fullness of the O Antiphon devotional. So, the project became an attempt to create a complete modern day O Antiphon prayer manual.
i actually also really love the artowrk on a previous post of his as well exploring themes of darkness and light - this is one of the pieces...
and if you scroll down there are artworks for stations of the cross - definitely one to add to your feeds.
love this advent calendar in sound. it's an absolutley huge amount of time and effort that must have gone into creating it. the intro on the blog explains it all but essentially a speaker a day is added through advent to jacob's ladder. it's by artist sunil chandy and if you are anywhere near penge or beckenham in london go visit...
and of course this is a worship trick - 47 series 4.
love that loves us, merci!
these are the concluding words or prayer of 'to the wonder', a film by terrence malick that's out in cinemas at the moment. it's dividing audiences. the guardian and litle white lies both loved it giving rave reviews while others are giving one star.
it's a mystical exploration of love, life, god, wonder, and the meaning of existence. it's poetic, arty, and romantic. words come and go in french and english, half of which are mumbled. there's lot's of silence. lots of it is shot around twilight. if you go and see it there is really no point unless you can turn off your cynical or critcal self. for most of us that's pretty hard - i had to fight myself in the film to avoid flipping into that! in the end this paid dividends and i found it a curious, surprising film that has lingered with me ever since and is still making me think.
for most mystics the goal of life is union with god. the start point is usually that there's a restlessness and longing in all of us for that union. meanwhile as we search and look for meaning many many things distract us, and we find our own desire, love and relationships give moments of joy and wonder and delight, but they are also shot through with our own struggles and selfish desire and brokeness. we see in part but won't see fully until we are one with god. that is the theme of the film, plain and simple like hands on stained glass trying to touch the light beyond. there's a parallel story track between lovers looking for that union and finding glimpses of it that get lost on the way, and with a priest who similarly does the same. mean time the soil of the town is polluted and making people ill. the woman who is the central character is always aware of something that is beyond, that is transcendent, that is the love that loves us, in spite of how fractured her own relationships (and the very soil of the earth) become at times. it reminded me of the quote from douglas coupland in life after god
sometimes i think the people to feel saddest for are people who once knew what profoundness was but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder - people who closed the doors that lead us into the secret world - or who had the doors closed for them by time and neglect and decisions made in times of weakness
our culture in the uk is not really very open to this mystical view of the world. we have become numb, angry even at the notion of something beyond ourselves, that we might not be at the centre of the universe. some of the reviews show this anger - apparently the film was booed at the film festival in venice when it was shown. when we saw it five people walked out. i was amazed to find myself watching it in a big cinema. it's overtly spiritual, unasamedly presenting the viewer with their own restlessness or longing for the love that loves us. there's nowhere to hide. you can disagree with the mystical view and walk out but our existence is laced with the experience that this landscape of desire is right at the core of who we are. i certainly came out longing more for the love that loves us. i guess the photo above which i called longing at the time was me trying to say something similar to terrence malick!
in september i read a poem by michael mitton inspired by the celtic saint kevin. well it turned out that it really caught ric stott's attention as an approach to pioneering mission. he has blogged about kevin's hand - and this is a painting of his. what i think is interesting about it is that the stereotype of pioneering is often thought of as an activist or at least someone who is making things happen through doing stuff. st kevin offers a different model of pioneering through stillness and patience.
it reminded me of the book by elaine heath - the mystic way of evangelism which fuses insights from the contemplative life with mission. i meant to review it but never got round to it. but here's a quote i jotted down...
Christian mysticism is about the holy transformation of the mystic by God, so that the mystic becomes instrumental in the transformation of God’s people. This transformation always results in missional action in the world. The idea that mysticism is private and removed from the rugged world of ministry is simply false. All the Old Testament prophets were mystics. Their visions, dreams and other experiences of God were for the express purpose of calling God’s people back to their missional vocation.
there's an interview with elaine here
mark wallinger is going to be installing a wall mounted labyrinth at all 270 london underground stations - yes 270! now there's a photographic challenge for someone...
the writers of creative review clearly have no idea on the difference between a labyrinth and a maze but i assume the designs will all be labyrinths.
the first ten designs are up at baker st, bank, embankment, victoria, green park, kings cross st pancras, oxford circus, tottenham court rd, westminster, st james park with rest due in the summer.
first worship trick of the year - no idea what number i have got to. i must tidy them up... anyway lou davis, venture fx pioneer in edinburgh, is doodling in response to a short section of the bible. it sounds like a great way to reflect but i doubt i will find the time or artistry so i will check her doodling instead.
this is a space to think, pray, relax, meditate
the photo above is of my feet when i was sat in the space (clearly being distracted). the last three years have been the busiest of my life. i realised at the start of this year that i can't do another at the same rate. i like the start of the year because it is a space to reflect and rethink some patterns. but i know i need to rebalance my life in some way for the year ahead. here's a few things i am thinking about that hopefully will help
rhythm of life. jen and i have found developing a rhythm of life really helpful in the last couple of years. what i mean by this is that we have plotted on one side of paper what our yearly, monthly and weekly pattern looks like. we try and make it a natural rhythm with the seasons of the year. and have then added some things that we want to try and do that are energising - for example inviting people round for meals at least once a month, a termly day of silence, not working more than two weekends in a month, having a weekly meal where we linger at the table for the evening and share bread and wine... we then talk about this every month or so. it's not a heavy thing - it's light touch. and in some ways it doesn't matter what's on there - it just helps create a conversation about it.
retreat. since starting the cms pioneer training, we have asked students to take a retreat each year. well you can't do that without doing it yourself. this is now essential for me. this year i am booked in to an 8 day silent retreat which i am nervously looking forward to.
holiday/rest. the last couple of years i have not managed to take my quota of holiday from work. this is entirely my own doing. i intend to change that this year and have sat down with jen and already diaried things we will do which already feels good.
art. imagine a world without gigs, music, film, photography, festivals, poetry, books, exhibitions? whenever i look back over the year and thngs that have energised me art is always a big factor - both the enjoying and the creating. and yet it's easy to forget or not prioritise it.
stop doing some things. i have already shifted one thing in my life this yar and i have a list of others. i realised in converation with a friend that i am my own worst enemy here. i do things out of habit and because i can - some of those i smply need to let go of or let others do. so i will be working on those habits. part of the reason for stopping is that i want to carve out time for thinking and possibly studying a day a week if possible.
prayer. i need and want to pray but find it difficult like everyone else in the world! i am someone who likes change so need to keep it fresh. this year i am starting off by using a book that cost me one pence second hand finding god in all things exploring ignatian prayer along with prayer exercises from sadhana by anthony de mello (which you can also get for one pence), a book i have had for years. i intend to read them both slowly and linger with them trying out the exercises and prayer.
someone to reflect with. i am fortunate to have a great community grace that i journey and explore faith with. if you are not part of a community why not join one or start one? - if you are near ealing come and join us! i also have someone who i meet with 3/4 times a year for some intentional conversation about my life in relation to faith. this is a wonerful thing to have found.
so there's a few of my thoughts on what i am hoping will help me find space to think for the year ahead. i had originally started this post with the intention of reviewing two books. these are two very recent books on finding space to think and pray. i'll recommend them by way of an end to the post because if you are looking for a book to help you these might be ones to explore.
the first is less is more: spirituality for busy lives by brian draper. when this book arrived we had two people living with us and before i had had a chance to look at the book they had both picked it up and read it and loved it. it's a book that explores exactly what it says in the title. it's contemporary, practical and easy to read. the irony is that i was too busy to read it at the time!
the second is return to our senses by christine sine. she is a prolific blogger and creates lovely prayers and liturgies. spirituality is her thing. this is another very easy to read book with very practical ideas and suggestings for prayer using things like gardening or breathing.
both are the kind of books that would work best if read an practised slowly - even though they are both easy to read. they would also be good books to explore and try the various ideas with others - maybe a book for lent? and they are both cheap to buy which is always a plus.
thanks for visiting my blog. i realise it's a bit old school to expect you to actually come to my world, but subscribe to the feed or select the relevant presences from the middle column and hopefully i'll come to your world and tweet or whatever to save you the hassle of coming back :-)
there are five broad areas of content - click on the buttons below to delve deeper. or below is a list of all the categories i have posted under.
hope it all makes sense. do say hi either here or where our digital presences collide, send me an e-mail, leave a comment...
where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.