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!
this is a sign we drove by in chicago en route from the airport to ctu - no idea what it is a sgn for! i'm here speaking at a conference on mission, culture and vocation which gets started later today and i'm looking forward to. ctu is the home base for steve bevans, roger schroeder, and robert shreiter among others - they have produced amazing thinking and writing on mission over the last 30 years that has influenced me profoundly. so it's a real privilege to come and do something sharing from our own experience with pioneers at cms. it's always wonderful to meet flesh and blood heroes.
on monday and tuesday we had induction for new students starting on a certificate, diploma or m.a. so it's been quite a week so far... it was fantastic to meet people doing such interesting things and am looking forward to getting to know them. it's our biggest intake so far which is encouraging though very few pioneer ordinands in the mix (as everywhere i think). i suspect that will swing back over time.
join us at grace this saturday sept 13 for the first grace of a new season. we are privileged to have memory, a photographic exhibition from the ealing london independent photography group in st marys on its last day and will be surrounded by and using those images suspended in the air as a focus for the evening. we have a new pattern we're trying out where we cycle through some different types of evenings through a term. this is the first where we have a specific art focus.
yesterday we hung the memory exhibition in st marys ealing. it was quite an ambitious way of hanging the photos suspended in mid air off the balcony but we got them up and lined up and it looks great. if you are in london or anywhere ealing do visit - it's open 9-5 mon-sat and until 9pm thurs evenings for the next two weeks. the private view is this wednesday evening - give me a shout if you want an invite to that. and the next grace will be themed on memory and use the photos on the last day of the exhibition.
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!
just back from a wonderful holiday in wales - yes we stayed in the uk this year and struck lucky with some pretty decent weather. pembrokeshire has the most amazing beaches - they are as good as cornwall and north devon but without the hordes of people. i have added a set of photos to flickr that to be honest are nearly all of beaches!
i am really looking forward to memory, a photographic exhibition put on by the ealing london independent photography group. i am part of the team pulling it together and will have one or two photos in it. it is in st mary's church ealing which will be a fabulous space for it. the private view is wednesday september 3 and i would love to pack the venue for that (which is quite big). consider yourself invited to that - email or message me if you would like an invite. otherwise opening times are on the flyer.
if you are coming to greenbelt festival at the end of august i have a photography exhibition in the allotment gallery (a glorified shed i think!). it is only up for 2 hours (during which time i will be there) - think of it as private view. come along between 11am and 1pm on the saturday. it's called the Presence of silence.
some of you may remember a series of blog posts on the theme of silence which is the backdrop to this exhibition - see on silence  - fragile poet | on silence  - in the Presence of Silence | on silence  - ineffable and inephotographable | on silence  - individually guided retreats | on silence  - soul work | on silence  - words to ponder
hope to see you there! i'll post about other stuff i'm up to at greenbelt another time...
reflections is a magazine that is produced by yale divinity school reflecting on a theme in relation to theology and/or spirituality. the current issue (spring 2014) is on the challenge of faith in a changing culture and how that is impacting on a younger generation of adults. each issue has a guest photographer and i am the photographer for the current issue. i have a dozen of so magazines - if you are in the uk and want one let me know. if you are in the us you can sign up and receive it for free. all the articles are also online.
this statue of a pilgrim is at clonmacnoise in ireland. the site was at the crossroads of the east/west road and the shannon river i.e. bang in the middle of the trade routes. it was founded by st ciaron who only lived there for a year or so but a community was there for hundreds of years (and was ransacked over 40 times by various groups but somehow kept starting over again). this statue reminded me of the one i had seen on lindisfarne a couple of years ago - so powerful and evocative.
i have not done much pilgrimage. i have done plenty of retreats. but they are very different things. a retreat is space and silence and reflection and prayer. a pilgrimage (at least in a group) is conversation, journey, stories, exploration, laughter, prayer, community, place (and guiness!).
at the heart of this pilgrimage was a quest to try and connect with the wild spirit of irish christianity, and to be inspired by the stories and lives of some of the saints. we'd travel to the place, touch, taste, see, experience, imagine it, and hear the stories of the place. we'd have some of our own space at each place, and in several of the places would pray together and reflect on how the stories connected with our own stories. depending on how people like to process things conversations, journalling, group times, reading and some spiritual direction were all part of the mix.
i first came up with the idea for this trip when i read about michael mitton and russ parker's trip to wales a couple of years back. michael's poems caught my imagination and i felt there was something in the stories of the saints that resonated with me, and perhaps with pioneers today. michael and russ agreed to lead a trip for a group of us and so we benfitted so much from their experience and wisdom.
michael wrote a couple of new poems on this trip which he has added to his pages - i can't seem to link directly - so go to his site and click on books and select poems from the drop down menu. here's one of his new ones about sennach whose island we sailed round in a surging sea where we were graced with the site of the fins of a school of dolphins which was amazing
Sennach founded a monastery on the island of Illauntannig, just north of Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Visitors to the island can still see the remains of the monastic community, including some beehive cells, a cross, church and burial ground. Access to the island is not easy!
Your hand that clutches the rim of your coracle
is the same that gently lifts its blessing
on your isle.
Such swells and currents don’t disturb you
for you dream them in your salty sleep.
You feel the surges of God in these waters
divine heaves and sighs
signs of the yearnings of God;
glimpses of the grace of God
in the fin of a passing dophin.
Is that why you set sail to this island
and built your tent from its rough earth?
I see you there, your blistered hand lifting dark stones
one upon the other
transforming these cold rocks into a vibrant home.
This your dysart, beckoning the surf of God
to break over the dry, dry land.
Oh Lord, when I settle too much on my mainland
take me back to these waters.
Let me feel again the movements of the great sea
the surgings of your restless heart.
Let me see the glittering surf
your life breaking through the waters my soul at last in tune with yours.
the feeling captured in the last verse is what i experienced on the pilgrimage - a longing and stirring for the same kind of wild spirit to be at work in me and indeed in cms pioneers and the church. we're tentatively planning another trip for pioneers next year. give me a shout if you are interested.
just back from a wonderful eight days pilgrimage in ireland with a group of pioneers visiting some of the sites of early irish christianity and its saints, trying to imagine and be inspired by the stories. it was a fantastic time. i hope to add a few thoughts about it. first up i have added a set of photos to my flickr pages - ireland pilgrimage.
i'm on a week off but taking time to sort out and decorate in the house... i thought i'd have time to catch up on some other things such as the blog but not so! but here's a snap on my phone whilst at heal's in london. my favourite thing in the whole shop was this stairwell! i didn't have my camera with me so had to resort to the phone...
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