Wednesday 28 December 2011

wide or deep?

"Perhaps we need to ask how we go about entering into a large life: Do we travel the world and pick up artifacts and souvenirs, bring them home and assemble a museum or workshop in which we can be in visual and sensory touch with as much as possible? Or is there another way to go about it? Does largeness come by aquisition of a lot of stuff from here or there, or by deepening into what is at hand? Dowe form a spirituality text on analogy with multinational companies who make their mark by means of buyouts and takeovers, taking control but ignoring local culture and family relationships in order to turn everything they touch into the ultimate depersonalized abstraction, money?

OR, do we take what is right before us in our own backyard and sink our lives into what is already given to us, enter into the intricacies, the endless organic relationships that make up this world and live in this world"

(Eugene Peterson, 'Eat this Book', p.43)

Tuesday 27 December 2011


"I am trying to teach my mind to bear the long, slow growth of the fields,
and to sing of its passing while it waits"

(from 'The Crest' by Wendell Berry)

Friday 23 December 2011

Christmas mishmash

Oof, I'm sitting on the sofa, bones breathing a sigh of relief. Why is it so hard to STOP?! All week I've known that's what I want, what I need to do and yet what with one Christmas celebration and another, on top of the usual work/life business PLUS getting ready for the weekend, it's just seemed impossible. No wonder people do (kind of) stop on Christmas Day - by that time we're all totally run out of batteries and do little more than vegetate on sofas.

Christmas. It seems harder and harder to relate the craziness of the festive season here in the UK, with what it's meant to be about. I know I'm not saying anything new here... I've just found this year even harder than others to focus on Jesus at all. The One in heaven gives up all his glory and beauty to become more than ordinary, unrecognised, born into a simple life. While our decorations/gifts/celebrations seem to become more and more excessive. Excess. That is the word. When I battle my way through the frantic shoppers filling the streets of Brighton or go online, or see any TV, all I can think is that advertising companies are having a field day. We're meant to be in 'crisis' but I'm not sure that the queues in shops are any shorter. Consumerism is God. And I am as guilty as the next. Not that giving gifts is bad... and, Yes, it's great to celebrate, and yes, Scrooge did need to learn a lesson - but that was about relationship at the end of the day anyways, wasn't it? And it is great to be with family and friends... but even that can feel a little too much, or a little fake, at times.

Christmas seems to highlight the stark differences in peoples' lives. I have to say i feel overwhelmed (and thankful) at the richness of my life - the amount of cards we've received, the invites we've had, the Christmas meals and parties we've attended. For some it's the loneliest time of the year. The other day, just before going to have one of the tastiest roasts in ages with some wonderful people, I walked through the train station. I passed two little children crying hysterically, caught between their father and their mother, who was very drunk. What will Christmas be like for them? What will Christmas be like for people in the Phillipines, in Syria, in all the places around the world where peace seems so far away?

argh can you tell my head is a bit befuzzled. I don't know what direction to come at this from, and what to take away with me. I don't know how to celebrate Christmas in a way that makes it more meaningful. I don't know how to do things differently when there is so much tradition and expectation tied in with it. I don't know what to give. to Him. O God Forgive me if I've become to busy to stop, to remember, and to give my heart.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Mid-winter Morris Dancers...

What I didn't mention in the post about the Beach Huts and the lost sheep, was the Morris Dancers that added to the evenings entertainment (probably a bit of a surprise for the evening joggers!). Well, what more could you want? Apart from the mulled wine and mini lamb burgers that were served to willing chilly observers!


The last month has been pretty full of poetry. After having not really written or performed (apart from at our wedding!) since May... I have been determined to 'get back into it', and take as many opportunities as possible to practise, get better, etc. I've performed/read/shared at quite a varied array of events/nights (never quite sure of the correct terms to use!) in the past few weeks. From an open mic in the tiny basement-bit of a pub in Kemp Town with just a few people and a very random selection of performers (including a maths lecture for about half an hour... don't ask me why!!), to my first experience of Poetry Unplugged at the Poetry Cafe (33 poets, with max 5 min each - pretty full on!!), to the beach hut thing I mentioned in the previous post, to two Poetry Slams (Hammer & Tongue Brighton Final and Farrago Poetry UK slam championships).

Now I have to be honest here. At some points during these events, I've wondered what on earth I was doing there. With the greatest respect to other poets, and people who take the risk to share their thoughts and words with others, I have to admit that I often found myself counting down the minutes to when they would get off the stage. I know that's an awful thing to say, but it's true. I don't want to be critical, at the same time I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed every minute of these poetry nights. Sometimes I don't understand about 70% of what is said - and forgive me if this is down to my literary ignorance. Sometimes (often) I just don't want to hear about people's deepest darkest sexual fantasies or how much they hate life. It's pretty draining when the majority of what is said is hopeless, depressing and often anti-God and other things I do believe in. Sometimes the words used are not clever, just crude.


And all this leaves me feeling torn... between never wanting to attend a poetry events again, and being even more determined to share my words, which often carry a different message, one more full of hope, of love, of seeing things from a different perspective. And I don't wish to blow my own trumpet - the words I use are simple, my vocabulary is limited, I don't have a lot of knowledge on poets of the past or politics of today. I am nothing special. But I believe in someone who is the Original Word, and for that reason there are I believe I must speak. And if it's only for the reason that the 'ordinary person' in the audience will understand this poem, even if everything else has gone over their head, then perhaps it's worth it. I might be wrong, I might be boring the pants of everyone, I might come across as pretentious (PLEASE tell me if so!!!), but I feel I must at least give this thing a go.

Having said all that, there are other times when I'm totally blown away by the skill and the message and the passion of poets I see and hear. These are the ones who inspire me to write more and write better and put my heart and soul into it. These are the ones I'm so thankful are 'on the mic', the ones whose words are changing and challenging people and situations. These are the prophets the world needs to hear. The ones that make us laugh and cry and stop for a moment to ponder, to reconsider.

So I guess that's what I'm doing this for. But if it becomes about my own fame, or claiming a soapbox just to talk about me, or just another voice saying what everyone else is saying... then please stop me!

If it were me...

Yesterday I read this out in a beach hut on Brighton seafront, accompanied by lightning flashing over the sea and cold cold wind. The hut was decorated with knitted sheep. Obviously. Ha ha! It was part of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar that's been happening for the last few years. And the theme for my friends' hut was 'The Lost Sheep', a story from the Bible about a farmer who leaves his 99 sheep to look for sheep number 100 who'd gone missing. So this... is about that:

If it were me

If it were me, I’m not sure I’d even notice that one was missing.

If it were me, would I see the one slipping out the back door, or would I be too caught up in pleasing the faces on the front row?

If it were me, would I risk leaving the gathering even if I was the reason behind it?

If it were me, would I step out of the warm light and into the cold darkness to search for a single soul?

If it were me, would I deem finding ‘that one’ worth the possibility of losing the respect of others?

And when I finally found the one that was lost, would I throw a party to beat all other parties?!

Thankfully – that story is not about me. (Unless, perhaps, I am the sheep?)

Thankfully that farmer does not comply with earthly measures of worth, nor the supposed wisdom of man.

His eye is drawn to the empty space at the table and His heart will not rest ‘til all are present.

He will wonder after the one that wanders and He will risk everything to find the one whose name everyone else forgot.

Sunday 4 December 2011


Just when you think you're getting the hang of this 'being yourself' thing, this 'loving yourself' thing, this 'accepting and even kinda enjoying your own weird ways' thing, this 'being a bit more mature and able to handle yourself in social situations thing'...

It could have been the rarely-worn too-high-heels in an attempt to add some glamour to my shabby Brighton 'look'

It could have been the leaving-the-house-in-a-rush-thing that I cannot seem to avoid (made even worse by the heels)

It could have been the nasty voice that whispers in my ear encouraging me to compare myself with those around me - and come up short

It could have been the end of a full-on-non-stop week colliding with those mystical hormones

...Out of the blue you revert to awkward-full-of-insecurity-teenage self for no good reason (like someone asking me 'what i DO' - I HATE THAT QUESTION!, and someone confusing me with my twin sister...NO ONE'S DONE THAT SINCE WE WERE ABOUT 12!) and suddenly I'm 11, left out of the popular group at school, wishing I were somebody else, digging nails into hands wanting the ground to swallow me whole, becoming all 'prickly', displaying this whole range of emotion on my face for all to see... fully knowing I am being ridiculous, and embarrassing myself and my friends.

And I'm fully aware even my description is over-dramatic, and after having cried most of the looong train journey home, AND most of this morning(!) I reckon my fourth explanation of tiredness and hormones are most probably to blame. But, the whole thing still took me by surprise, because I've not felt like that in a while, and I'm kinda gutted because I thought maybe by now I'd be over the awkwardness of pre/during/post adolescent years. But can't dwell on it, this I know. Again and again am being reminded how very human we are, and that we're all learning, all the time, no matter how 'sorted' we may believe ourselves to be.

And Thank God I have a God who loves me despite all this. (And a husband who married me because I'm weird, and doesn't run away when I cry all over him!!)

unlock truth