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...
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 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 off to ireland tomorrow on a pilgrimage with a group of ten pioneers to visit some of the sites of the celtic saints such as kevin, brigid and brendan - can't wait! no doubt stories and photos to follow.
sadly it means i'll miss the next grace on the theme of slow but if you are around do come along although the flyer has the wrong month on it - it is definitely in april...
loving jen's blogs on equals. the last two have been so interesting...
the latest is on men and the church around which there is so much nonsense spoken (in my view!). i remember a talk by jen at greenbelt a few years back where in response to the suggestions that church is not such a great place for men she suggested it was also not such a great place for women who have also left the church in droves over the last decades! i totally hate the notion that we need more so called 'real men' in church... boxes boxes boxes. perhaps if church was a place for men and women to be friends, equals, to enjoy partnership together it would be possible to flourish differently?
i also really like the idea of catching the sayings and doings of gender. it's often quite tricky to know how to talk about but this attention to its performance seems to me to open up possibility for conversation that can be really constructive. it's developing a practice of seeing and noticing what is going on in oursleves and around us together as men and women. and then pointing them out and talking together - simple eh? by way of example i have noticed that when our family gets together we always say 'ooh you like nice' to a niece but say something completely different to a nephew not related to appearance. a small thing but it's the saying and doing of gender. having notcied it has helped me think about it, talk about it, affirm the appearance of both nephews and nieces and try and shift the conversation. anyway jen says more...
i have been blogging for a decade or more in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces