harry has 4 dates at soho theatre in march. jen and i are going on march 24. if you fancy going, book that night and see you there...
proost is still going strong i am pleased to say hosted as it is now by space to breathe. there are two recent books that are available as free downloads or you can buy as printed books
the first is a collection of liturgies collated by heather cracknell for fresh expression called opening the doors. mark berry, ruth wells, tim watson and dorothy woods are the contributors so i am sure it is good. i gave printed copies to a couple of people at christmas.
the second is the long promised return? by tim watson, a set of poems and prayers written in the latest lockdown. i have just downloaded it.
i also noticed future present is currently in the free downloads section so if you have never got yourself a copy of that it's definitely worth getting hold of.
You will find us on the periphery
In the land of the mapless unknown
You will find us at the edges
Where the wild things grow
You will find us in the liminal space
Where no one knows what to expect
You will find us where the sea meets the shore
And no one knows what will wash up next
You will find us among the hedgerows
Gathering what delights are growing there
You will find us with the bees and butterflies
Connecting over here with over with there
You will find us on ours knees
With the beetles and the ants
Living all together
Without a lot of thanks
For our humble jumbled life
And our muddy handed style
But we would invite you
To come a stay a while
In the land where the wild things are
And the place where the periphery reigns
You may learn things here that serve you
When you return to your pathed way.
Kate Fox Robinson
harry sent me a poem for father's day which is sourdough inspired and themed. to give a bit of context i have recently helped him get started making sourdough with a few tips and i have to say he is smashing it!
A Father’s Day Poem
To start you fed me every day,
checked in to see how I was growing. When done right you’re set for life
- you just need help to get things going. You taught me patience and precision, when it comes to hate and greed:
As with your 3-day recipe,
you showed there simply is no knead.
When things got sticky, you’d make sure I’d take it with a pinch of salt
That I would stretch myself,
before you’d always bring me to the fold. You’ve got me covered
on the days it takes to get into the groove, Just like that dough, you let me know when I’ve got nothing left to prove.
Your love is gluten -
in that I still cannot quite describe what it is, But I’m grateful you brought me up
to be tolerant of things.
Because potential is like yeast,
it’s been in the air this whole time - Sometimes it just needs activation
before we can see it rise.
So thanks for keeping me alive,
for building me to so much more.
You showed me kindness is fresh bread, and it is best
when it’s served warm.
the current situation is producing all sorts of creative things in lockdown. harry has started doing a live instagram poetry show with a guest which is on every wednesday evening and works amazingly well on a phone. he has now turned it into a weekly podcast something borrowed... which is the show edited and you can follow in the usual podcast places.
lent means spring so it was nice to see some crocuses and daffodils out and magnolia starting to appear as i walked this morning. it's a season of year i love both for spring and for lent...
lent in the season of the church's year is a preparation for easter. people interpret it in different ways and do different things. but broadly speaking my assessment of it is that for many it has become a time of year for a focused reflection on faith and what that means. grace, the community i am part of, always have some kind of focus which includes regular meals, conversation and prayer for example and that usually includes exploring a theme or a book together. this year following january's grace which explored themes of soil, soul and scociety we are all being encouraged to take up a practice or practices in one or more of those three areas. and there are a series of gatherings and meals related to those themes. here's the blurb that got sent round
Most things are helped by practise - music, sport, craft, skills. When it comes to faith it's the same - prayer say takes practise. Lent is a chance to try out a new practice (or more).You could pick a practice in each of the areas of soul, society, soil. Or just one (or indeed none - there is no pressure to - it’s not a guilt trip so it's fine to just be). But if you want to then we look forward to seeing what people might come up with and indeed finding what people do anyway. Here are a few suggestions if you are stuck for ideas:Pray - try a regular time of silence, or use the examen, or try active prayer (when you walk, run, swim…)Read - we suggest the story of Jesus in Mark's gospel - see below for a couple of chapters each week that if several people followed would mean it was a shared practice. You could try lectio divina or the Ignation way of reading (google them).Sign up for an email - we could share suggestions in whatsapp but by way of example Richard Rohr sends one out weekly or Enneagram Institute do a daily email for your personality type.Get outside in whatever way works - walking, cycling, running, gardening.Think of a small action you can do to help the planet and add that into your lifestyle.Grow something - spring is a great time for thatMark’s gospel suggestion for reading plan -W/c 25 Feb Mark 1+2W/c 2 March Mark 3 + 4W/c 9 March Mark 5 + 6W/c 16 March Mark 7 + 8W/c 23 March Mark 9 + 10W/c 30 March Mark 11 + 12 + 13W/c 6 April Mark 14 + 15 + 16
lent kicks off today with ash wednesday where you can attend a service of ashing where ashes are marked on your forehead and the words 'you are dust and to dust you shall return. turn away from sin and be faithful to christ' are spoken to you. i need to hear that call away from my shadow, my dark side, my own selfishness and to follow in the way of christ whose way is so inspiring and heed the call towards being the best version of me that can shine in the world. i will be attending a service this evening to hear and respond to that call.
the internet has really made lent boom i think because it means so many people are sharing their ideas or resources which you can jump into. the challenge is that there is a lot around so you need to choose. it could easily end up being exhausting or unfocused or both - less is probably more.
it's probably a bit late now and you may already be sorted but a couple of things i noticed...
a poem a day podcast from martin wroe. i loved the lifelines book and we used it in our weekly tuesday group to explore themes chosen by different people. and it so happens that the first poet on there is none other than harry baker who is currently on tour round the uk!
cms have produced a resource on lament. it feels like the state of the world calls for plenty of lament, not least the state of the church which continues to feel so flawed. the news of jean vanier's abuse left me reeling this week.
proost as ever are producing creative things and they too are in the physical object mode sending lent letters to your door which i am sure will be delightful. sign up quick though.
i am sure you know of other things but if you choose to use lent as a season of reflection on life and faith go well. turn and be faithful!
harry baker has a solo poetry tour i am 10000 from feb to may. it may well be coming to a town near you. the rumour on twitter is that london has virtually sold out so not sure if another date will get added but i think other venues are fine. you can see here a list of dates. this is his show from edinburgh festival in the summer which was fab. i can't go to the london gig so am thinking i will make the oxford one if anyone else fancies joining me at that? i really enjoy harry and chris but if you've not seen the solo poetry it is really good too and quite different. go support your poets (and my family!).
jenny and i visited edinburgh festival for four days last weekend. it's such an incredible festival with so much going on. i genuinely don't know how they pack all the events into the city let alone where all the people find places to stay. it brims over with life, joy, poignancy, artfulness celebrating life.
we first visited i think in 2009 when harry took part in an open mic at a free fringe event. he was subsequently invited to a poetry event in london and that was the beginning of an adventure which included exploring poetry for a gap year and went ever upwards from there. so it was incredible to be back at the festival again and see harry with a solo show in underbelly and a harry and chris show in underbelly both selling out when we attended. it's harry's seventh festival i think with three solo shows and three harry and chris before now. i of course have a totally unbiased view but they were fantastic. it's not just me as you'll see from these 5 star reviews. i have added some photos to an album here.
we packed in about four shows a day of comedy, circus, theatre and also visited some of the art festival. it's hard to pick highlights but we loved in no particular order occam's razor, john robbins, jessica fostekew, matt winning, milton jones, bryony kimmings, tom crosby, lazerkiwis, nathan coley, alfredo jaar. it's surprising how much you can pack in to a few days (and how much you can spend!).
gift to rekindle the fire from heaven
Herbert and Cuthbert.
Inspiration for new adventures
on the One whose Spirit
calls us to dive in the
to share Christ’s love with those whom
the journey ahead
and may we become
* Written on the occasion of canoeing to St Herbert’s Island on Derwentwater to celebrate the launch of a Northern Centre for Pioneer Mission as a partnership between Church Mission Society and Carlisle Diocese. Herbert was a friend of St Cuthbert and would visit him on Lindisfarne for spiritual direction.
i don't often write poems but composed one this morning in my head on the drive back from cumbria following the canoeing adventure out to st herbert's island last night - you can see a few photos and read about it here. it's great to celebrate the development of a northern pioneer mission centre as a new collaboration between the diocese of carlisle and cms - more info here. when i say develop, they already have loads going on on the ground in mission and fresh expressions so we are simply joining in the fun to help resource and support it out of our experience with pioneers elsewhere.
i was struck by the soul friendship of herbert and cuthbert - herbert who lived as a hermit on the island would go and see cuthbert on lindisfarne each year for spiritual encouragement and direction. and i am sure cuthbert would have visited and prayed with herbert on the island on derwentwater. and how wonderful it is to find friendships like that where you get one another and can give encouragement to stay true to who you are. anyway that was the thinking and i hope cms and cumbria can develop deep friendship together. richard and i go back a long way so we've got a good start...
tomorrow night i am going to see harry's new poetry show i am 10000 (which he will be performing at edinburgh along with harry and chris new show). come along if you are in london and you get to see chris' solo show as well - weird i know. harry and chris but not harry n chris or something...
super proud of harry - just saw today that he has 2 million hits on his exteter tedX talk - wow. i am generally delirious if i get over 50 likes on an instagram photo! i need to up my game clearly though inspired by harry i worked out i will be 20000 days this year on the same day as joel's birthday.
i should also add that the rejected eurovision song contest entry of harry and chris - sorry! - is out today...
harry and chris are on tour soon - see here for dates. oxford which is early on has sold out and i have booked in for leicester square even though it is december as that seemed to be selling fast. so check out their dates and go see them if you can. they played greenbelt mainstage this year off the back of a sold out run at edinburgh festival and it was an incredible show to be at. they always seem to have so much fun but what was striking at greenbelt was how many people knew them and knew the words to songs and poems. it was a proud parent moment for sure! i am happy to have contributed some photography for harry and chris publicity and this year's tour poster photo is one of mine again (though the making it snazzy through photoshop is someone else's work).
it was so great at greenbelt to see proost in action. a while back aad, jon and i who dreamed up and ran proost, a small publishing company for grassroots alt worship resources, felt it was time to let it go and pass it on to someone or some people who could bring fresh vision and energy to it. it took a while to find but that person turned out to be andy freeman. it has proved a really cracking decision as he has done exactly that.
this year at greenbelt proost were running several events, a stand, and have a revamped web site. they also have published future present which i am involved in and which you can now order through the web site. and on top of that there is a new poetry colletion reaching for mercy. as with the first, learning to love, there are loads of poets.
the book is organised into themes and there is quite a community of proost poets growing now. i picked up the book at greenbelt and t looks great. i also have a poem in the book - it's possibly the only poem i have written (though i have written loads of songs over the years). and it amuses me to be able to say to harry now that he is not the only published poet in the family!
we didn't shout about the change in proost when it happened - it seemed better to just let it happen but it's great now to see it gaining momentum and being carried forward - way to go andy and the team involved in reaching for mercy.
the name proost came about because when we set it up we were in a pub drinking beer and aad (who is dutch) said 'proost' which means cheers and we decided that was a good name. so andy 'proost'!
one of our pioneer students this year found her voice not only as a brilliant feminist theologian and pioneer but also as a poet. her MA dissertation incorporated a few poems including one on formation. formation is a word i confess i did not use before i got involved in training people getting ordained. it's whispered in magical tones in grand corridors because that's what it is all about apparently. from day one that i got involved i sought to find out what people were getting at and realised pretty quickly there are formations plural i.e. a range of ways of training and forming students and maybe not all aspects are desirable. it's something contested in other words and i hope at cms we have developed our own take on what formation might be. but all that to say ruth wells has a poem formation on her blog that i hope she won't mind me posting here and linking to. she has some others on her new web site playing with poetry - go follow along.
Confirmation of conformity
Me squeezed into a too tight, uptight, cassock shaped mould,
Hold on – who am I?
Without wanting to wander into the hazy dazed realms of nostalgia,
I remember, I was someone else once.
Formation – anaesthetising the self out of me.
If I keep doing these things, your rituals,
If I stick to the prescription – ‘take twice a day before meals’
I’ll be formed.
Forged in the fire of the machine.
The machine fed on the same fuel as centuries ago;
Now I’m not saying there are no edges to be knocked off of me,
On the contrary,
I am a multi-faceted collection of rough edges.
I am too much
Too limited in knowledge
Too quick to judge
Too cruel to be kind
But maybe just one of these edges might cut through the shit
The same old that holds up the barriers
That stops people in their tracks
That acts like it holds all the answers
That controls power with white knuckles clenched
I don’t fit in
I can’t fit in
I won’t fit in.
if you are looking for ideas and resources for lent then have a look at proost - an update with links to old and new material is here . lent seems to have become a season for many groups to explore faith creatively. in grace this year we will be reading and discussing about henri nouwen's book life of the beloved to reflect on discipleship and what it means to follow christ in today's world.
one of my favourite ever resources on proost is the collection of poetry learning to love and i'm really pleased to say that chris goan who curated that is now pulling together a second collection - go and read his blog post about it to find out how to contribute.