Wednesday 7 June 2017

I Was Raised (An attempt to sum up my spiritual journey in a less-than-5-minute poem)

As the blog title says... this is an attempt - to put some of the last 30 years into words --

I wrote this for a performance at a Poets & MCs Battle event for Brighton Fringe, at Komedia, so needed it to make some sense to people who weren't familiar with a Christian upbringing. And I was on the 'Spirit' team (battling the 'Sceptics') so it forced me to dig deep to find the hope often buried under cynicism. I definitely didn't find it easy to write!

5 minutes and words alone in general will never be enough, this is only a slice and simplification of the story. But it's a start. An offering. It's cliche but I think faith is most certainly a journey and things change day to day. For most of us. I don't think it's healthy to stick in exactly the same place, even if that makes it all a lot more uncertain. Performers on both the Spirit and Sceptic teams agreed that an open mind was really important and there were elements of doubt and hope and questionning in all perspectives.

Anyways, here goes!

I was raised 

I was raised in the holy city of Basingstoke
On a diet of memory verses -
I could recite a Psalm, or three, or four for you
List the books of the Bible
Sing you a hundred modern day hymns
I was raised on communion and creationism
On revivals, prayer meetings and baptisms
Notebooks filled with prayers and prophecies
My childhood heroes were missionaries

I was raised
In a community committed to each other
Loving past brokenness
Demonstrating forgiveness
Sacrifice, passion and kindness
I was raised on guitars and choruses,
bring and share meals (mainly quiche),
miracles and dancing
And a perspective beyond the 9-5, big TV and nice car
With compassion for the broken and forgotten and hungry
A call somewhere deep in my bones to live a good story
And brothers and sisters all around the world
A connection with our Creator Father Brother God
Our storm-calming, food-providing, death-defeating, love-song singing God

I was raised in a black and white, in and out, world
Where the answer was always Jesus
Where the road was narrow, and easy to fall off of
Where fear cast shadows
And guilt lurked behind closed eyes and clapping hands
Where all the said and unsaid rules rang in our ears
Louder than the hope and joy we were meant to have found

I was raised in a black and white, in and out, world
Where the answer was always Jesus
Where we knew all the moves, all the right things to say
But didn’t know how to say if things were actually not OK
If we were actually not OK
Not sure, of the answer anymore
Or, if there needed to be one at all
We made sure we always had an answer
And in so doing, made God smaller

God - a word - a breath - a light... who took on flesh and “moved into the neighbourhood”
Who broke the rules
And healed the sick
And partied with all the people he “shouldn’t” have
And angered the hypocrites

It didn’t take long, to see
That between the black and white there’s a whole lot more grey
That the rules we navigated by
Were rocks more than they were lighting the way
And I wondered if I was lost
As my faith leaked through seams of the pocket I once thought could contain it
And I wondered, where is my God
And is he, was he, ever mine?

But if He’s God then he won’t be defined by me
He/she will be what he/she will be
And for whatever reason I can’t stop seeking them
Or is it them that seek me?

In the warm breeze kissing my cheeks
In scudding clouds, streaked mauve in the fading day
In the whirling of galaxies
And the magic of bees
In the spiral of autumn leaves
In laughter lines and eye crinkles and secret smiles
In longing that keeps us awake at night
In the rhythm of the tides
In the promise of sunrise
In fire sparks and red wine, at just the right time
In poetry and mystery
In stars and skin
And water, holding me
And, in gentleness and generosity
In the words we do not dare to speak
In new dawns, new days, new dreams
And in that ancient song called
In that ancient song called
In that ancient song called

And, in the dancing
Oh yes, in the dancing

The Light says
I am in you and you are in me -- and I, I hold onto this
Even when it seems the floor of my childhood faith is dissolving
God says
My body is a temple
And that he makes his home in me
In my brain, my emotions, my gut, my feet
So I move, we move, to this beat
That echoes in a place deeper than words
And I fly across dancefloors, shake and swirl and bend and weave
This is where I find my free-dom
This light that flickers a path
Guiding me
The inner whisper that keeps me breathing

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