Friday, February 27, 2009

scratching the surface

And so we come into Lent. Here's one of my drain cover pics and a poem I wrote about the experience:


this season
drives me hard
into my disturbing desert
and keeps me here

confronting stones,
and wild possibilities

face in the dust
with only the
hope of a third day

Thursday, February 19, 2009

working on a dream

Just dug out the ticket stub and some pics from what was probably the best gig [though how can you measure] I've ever been to. Bruce Springsteen & the East Street Band. Wembley Arena Thursday 2 April 1981. It was all a Springsteen gig was fabled to be. And more. 3 and 3/4 magnificent hours of searing music, stories told, dreams made and possibilities born. In the pic: in the cakky coloured car long-time best buddies Dave from Leicester and Mike from Bradford. The other guy is a friend of Mike's from Ireland, can't remember his name. And in the back of the car Gail from Clevedon and me imagining we are in a Springsteen song. Reason for this: I'm really enjoying the new Springsteen album 'working on a dream'.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

the unhinged life

This week’s morning bell call to prayer will be inspired by some re-reading I am doing at the moment of the book ‘On Religion’ by the philosopher John D Caputo. Caputo’s definition of religion is ‘love of God’, but he breaks open that seemingly simple and even conventional statement with a powerful discourse on what true love of God might be, and what might flow from it. Caputo describes the religious life - and we might say the prayerful life - as ‘the unhinged life of hope and love and faith, salty and passionate.’ Now I want some of that.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

urgent and compassionate

The endings of many of the letters in the New Testament are inspiring. The last chapters are invariably crammed with a mix of urgent theology and compassionate personal greeting. This week’s morning bell will take as it’s starting point the last chapter of 1 Thessalonians. It's worth spending time with this letter from Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the church in Thessalonica - it's probably one of the earliest of Christian writings.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

standing in the long now

Greenbelt festival is always a high point in my year and always a creative time for mayBe. I love this year's theme just announced: standing in the long now. Here's some of Martin Wroe's take on the theme. The pic is from one of mayBe's 'way of the sun' events at Greenbelt 08.
'The Long Now'. The phrase was coined by the musician, producer and all-round interesting thinker Brian Eno. And a good way to capture what it alludes to is with a legend about the C14th founders of New College, Oxford. The story goes that the dining hall of New College was built with a series of huge oak beams. About half a millennium later, at the end of the C19th, the beams needed replacing. Being a wealthy institution the College owned some land and wondered if there were any oak trees on it. 'Ah...' said one of the tenants who farmed their land, 'We wondered when you'd be in touch.'

Turned out the farmers had a tradition that back in the C14th a new grove of oaks had been planted to make up for those cut down to provide the dining hall beams. The story was passed through the generations, one farmer to another: these oaks were protected, set aside for New College. Through the generations, the farmers were waiting, for century after century. For half a millennia.

In 1966, Eno, Stewart Brand, Danny Hillis and others set up The Long Now Foundation designed to 'foster long-term thinking'. At the Foundation they take a different perspective on time - they want to signal that life is not about speed but about presence, not about 'faster and cheaper' but slower and deeper. For example, they're developing 'The 10,000-year Clock' which only ticks once a year, has a century hand not an hour hand - and might even have a cuckoo, but only to emerge on a millennium.

In an age of 'do-it-now' and the instant decision, when waiting times are always coming down and the destination always trumps the journey, the idea of 'the long now' is deeply resonant for people of faith. In our traditions we keep alive the stories of iconic figures from past millennia because we know they will inspire us in bringing change to the present one.

So what does it mean to stand in this long now? To become long-sighted? To plan for a present we may never experience, to long for a world we may have left before it arrives. What would it be like if gratification was not instant and the waiting had not been taken out of the wanting.

Would a credit-crunch take on a different perspective?
Would a painting or a piece of music take on another kind of value?
And how about a career? Could that find itself in competition from something as old-fashioned as a 'vocation'?

We're all standing in The Long Now - and at Greenbelt 09, we're going to stop and notice it and wonder what it means.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

seeking a more simple way

It seems to me that most of us are familiar with the feeling of having to run just to keep up with all the stuff that needs doing. Life can often be complex, fast-changing and demanding. So I've decided that this week’s morning bell will take as it’s starting point the possibility that, without neglecting all that must be done, there can be a more simple way to live - and that this way can open up through contemplative prayer. The pic is of Gail and me in a simplicity-journey-moment last summer.