Friday, 17 April 2020

An Imagined Future

I've also been exploring a vision for 'An Imagined Future' and revisiting it every day to see how it might emerge and develop

Socially Distant

I should have updated my blog to say that I've got a new freely downloadable booklet of poems, prayers and postures available from Proost (CLICK HERE)

It's a set of tings to help in the mdist of these Covid times and was written over two days back in March.


In the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic I've been exploring design. Simple images that can be printed at home and have something to say. Something about recognising the darkness of these times and also holding to the truth the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Exhausted From Sorrow - A Maundy Thursday Reflection

Luke 22:45-46 (NIV)
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

The disciples are found sleeping. Jesus finds the disciples sleeping and I wonder what Jesus made of the situation. Was he disappointed or angry when he said, “Why are you sleeping?” Was he in disbelief, unable to comprehend how they could sleep in the midst of this horror? Was he aware of their frailty, their tendency to drift? Was that what prompted him to state, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation”? And again, was he angry when he said it?

Or was Jesus aware of just how much this small group had already given? After all, they’d left families and jobs to follow him, and now they are here. They’ve journeyed with Jesus into Jerusalem and they’ve witnessed so much. They’ve seen him teach and walk around the city. And this very evening they have eaten with Jesus as he has shared of himself, spoke again of a death to follow.

And now? Now they find themselves in a garden at night while their beloved friend and leader withdraws again to pray alone again. There role in the garden has been to watch, to hold back and to pray that they might not fall into temptation. And in this moment Jesus has found them, ‘exhausted from sorrow’.

These disciples, so utterly torn apart by sorrow that all they have left is sleep. For some, they have already seen their dreams die. The walk into Jerusalem and the days that have followed have shown to them that this Jesus that they serve is not the man who will overthrow the powers. There will be no worldly revolution.

For others, they have been tasked with keeping watch by their closest friend, a friend who has already informed them that he will die. Just what are they watching for? Why are they still here? What is the point of this show?

No wonder they are ‘exhausted from sorrow.’ What else could be expected? Here they are, making their last journey with a friend. If this was today, they might be preparing to see the life support machine turned off, to see the ventilator shut down, to watch the doctor’s scrubs be removed. They have been told to “keep watch” while the hospital bed is wheeled frantically into ICU, a scramble of doctors and nurses easing the passage of the bed into the crowded ward.

The unspoken pain of this scene is the journey of the days counted down to get to this point. To move from a cough and temperature, to the need to rest, to a call to the doctors, to a test, to a panic as it seems the disease is taking hold, to an ambulance journey perhaps, to a stay on a ward, to a movement to intensive care, to a point where it seems life is ebbing away.

To a realisation that the journey is coming to an end.

The disciples are, ‘exhausted from sorrow.’ Sorrow for what has been, sorrow for what is happening, and sorrow for what lies ahead.

The disciples’ lament is not verbalised, it is not a spoken prayer. Their lament is one which will lead to the drawing of swords, but one that ultimately finds its truest expression in a bodily collapse. In which the heart, soul, mind and strength have reached a uniformity of exhaustion and that all that remains is the quiet abyss of exhausted sleep.

As we journey through Holy Week each year, we journey with Jesus towards the cross. We witness the excitement of Palm Sunday, the fury of the temple and the terror of the cross. This year, in the heart of this pandemic, perhaps we are called to journey with those who accompany Jesus. To journey with and as the disciples as they walk from joy to terror and finally into exhaustion.

At my ordination as a priest the Bishop of Birkenhead gave all the assembled deacons a copy of some words from Richard Baxter. These words quietly sit in a black frame in my study: they are present as I try to live out my vocation.

They read,

“Keep me O Lord, while I tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after you, and in an affectionate walking with you, every day of my life; that when you come, I may be found not hiding my talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with my lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for you.”

Baxter writes of not wanting to be found asleep with his lamp unfurnished - clear references to the return of the bridegroom.  But while we are always waiting for the bridegroom to return, perhaps, in this moment, we should not worry too much about letting our talents be hidden if our well-being requires it of us. And perhaps at least a bit of, ‘serving the flesh’ might be okay in this moment?

While we may soon want to revisit Baxter’s words, perhaps in this moment, we too may lie down as the disciples did, ‘exhausted from sorrow.’

Monday, 30 March 2020

breathe - an experimental poetic reflection on Covid 19

your breath - the act of breathing. of inhaling life-giving air. the air that keeps the blood flowing heart pumping life living. the air you need to be you to be filled and fulfilled. the act of breathing - breathing life - corrupted contorted - virus soaking - droplets - particles - corrupting breathing in. virus breathing out carbon dioxide. virus. breathe breathing out carbon dioxide virus climate carbon change dioxide covid breathing breathe in. breathe out. breathe in. breath in. breath out. oxygen in. carbon dioxide out. oxygen in. carbon dioxide out. covid in. covid out. the fresh air. life. breath - breathe virus in and virus out. escape to nature. clean air. oxygen breathe in. breathe out. breath in. breath out - but covid - breathing - corrupting. portion of self. life-giving breath in. life-taking breath out. silent breath. silent breathe. breathing turns to silence. silence covid - whispers. breathing non-breathe. non-life. death. breath. no breathe. more death. no death. more breath. covid arts of breathing. simple act.
all the time. nothing to do. be self. dream. find inspiration. if inspiration can be. found - maybe not. too much. much of too much. this pain. breaking. pausing. too much time - or - not enough time. social isolation /socially distant / key-worker / vital part - necessity. too tired. hardly sleeping. pressure. worry. at home hardly sleeping. socially distant. isolated. no money. rent due. no food. no money to pay for no food. how to pause. how to rest - even what is rest - even know rest - even find rest - even be rest - even embody rest - pause / sabbath / breath. to Sabbath rest - is that - pause. lay down - take up. stuff down. rest up. how to rest. is rest pause - is pause rest - is pause breathing - is pause living - no pause no rest - no pause no breathing - no pause no rest - no pause no life / breathing - rest. same. breathing - pause. same. breathing pause - rest -rest sabbath. what even is sabbath. pause is sabbath. pause is rest. rest is breath. take breath in. breathe in covid. breathe out rest of the rest. of the rest - all rest all breathe in covid. covid not rest. rest no covid. pause covid. covid cause pause.
a gap. space to do - not ever - never - not never - usual / reflection - reflect on / what resting - reflection. reflection as rest. rest in reflection - work reflection - reflection work / act of thought - and pause - time / reflection requires time. pause. patience. breathe in. breathe out. breath in. pause. breath out. pause. hold it / take and decipher. pause. reflect. instinctive - learned - earned - assimilated - reflection. growing / moving / reflection. too reflective. too reflexive. onwards. never back - always onwards. new ways. old ways gone. new ways from old. reflection leading forward. to new things. old things - new ways - new old things. changes - disciplines / disciplined / patterned - shaped - shape-able / from what was - to - what will be. new thing from old. new learning - from - old learning. new listening - to context / content / each other / the silent ones - voicing silence - making silence heard. renewing. renewal. renewed. from what was. breathe in. breathe out. reflect. pause. hold breath. hold the breath. hold this breath. fill the lungs. covid in. covid out. hold covid. be covid. reflect. reject covid.
hear of covid. fear covid. read of covid. fear of covid. breathe in - aware of covid. breathe out - aware of covid. covid in the morning. covid in the night. covid on the screens. and covid on the screens. covid when the button is pressed. covid on the button. covid in thoughts. covid in eyes. covid in ears. covid in mouth. covid in memory. covid in mind. covid on hands. covid on hands on hands. covid corrupting. covid completing. no rest with covid - no rest from covid / no rest for covid. must rest. from this - must rest. from that - this/that / they / them. rest. rest. rest. take a breath - breathe in covid - breathe out covid. each breath covid. each rest covid. each moment covid. covid on the screen. covid on the screen. covid in the speakers. covid in the ears. not rest from covid. covid no rest / rest. no. covid. rest. read. hear. write. watch. think. feel. reflect. pause. breathe. covid - covid covid. how to rest / how rest from / how rest with / why rest from / when rest how / how rest why / why rest why / covid. this. covid. that. covid. rest from covid. rest in houses. houses in covid. covid in houses.
breathe in. breathe out. pause. rest. stop. breath in / breath out/ rest now. covid. strikes - dawns - whispers - speaks - scares - touches nerves / covid nerves. covid dreams. covid nerve dreams. dream covid nerves - to dream / to sleep. to sleep / to breathe. to breathe / to pause. pause - to dream. rest - to pause. breathe - to rest / sleep reflect / sleep covid free. rest free. covid free. free dream. dream covid free. free covid dream. eyes closing dream. eyes closed dream. eyes closed / mind wakes - mind awakes - mind awake. fear in mind. mind in fear. dream afraid. afraid to dream. afraid of dream. dream of covid. dream of family. covid family - family covid. dream of reflection. reflection of pause. no rest. no dream. no covid. no reflection. family / dream covid / then covid / now covid / when covid. dream covid. awake covid. over stimulate covid. covid over stimulate / over covid / covid over/ covid covers / covid blankets / covid entombs - entombed covid - entombed by covid - entombed with covid - just a dream covid. just a covid dream. covid dream. dream without rest covid - without peace covid. dream become nightmare - become reality - become dream - become covid. covid.
awake covid. awake from covid. cease from sleep ceasing sleep - sleep / ceasing sleep / sleep ceasing / all of everything / ceasing / all of everything / covid / breathe in. breathe out. hold breath. hold covid. covid holds breathe - in - out - covid. hold breath covid. covid holds breath. covid ceasing breath. covid ceasing rest. covid ceasing dreams. dreams of ceasing covid - covid ceasing - dreams of covid ceasing / ceased / to be ceased / to cease -covid unwinding. resting. spooling. breath - spooling. rest -spooling. breath - spooling. breathe in spooling / no rest / spooling / spooling no rest - ceasing rest - covid / breathe in / breathe out - breathed in - breathed out / flow in covid - flow out covid. covid in heart. covid in mind. covid in mouth. covid on hand. covid on mind. heart on covid. covid in dreams. dreams of covid rest. covid. rest from dreams covid. reflect on ceasing covid. ceased covid. no covid. cease covid - your - my - our covid. no ones covid / whose covid - their covid - cease covid. sleep covid. sleep. sleep - dream. sleep cease covid. sleep ceases. ceases sleep / covid. cease all things - covid. covid ceasing things. resting / things / dreaming / things - ceasing covid. covid cease. everything cease.
stay with me. breathe in. covid. breathe out. covid. collective breath / in covid / out covid. hold breath. hold breathe. no cease. stay breath. breath stay. stay to breathe covid. stay to rest. rest to stay. reflect to rest. stay to reflect. stay to breathe. breathe in / breathe out - breath in / breath out - covid no stay - rest from covid / covid no stay. we stay. free from covid. safe from covid. apart from covid. apart from others. covid with others. others with covid. covid from a distance. stay a distance. distance stayed. stay distant. distant stay / social stay / distant socially - socially distant / from covid / from others covid / from others. rest from covid. pause from covid. breathe in not covid. breathe out not covid. not - covid / not covid / no covid. free breath / from covid / free from covid. stay away covid. covid stay away - from people - covid / stay away from people. stay away from covid. stay away from covid people. stay away from you. you stay away from you. you and you - stay free from you and you - you and stay free from covid / and you stay / together - apart covid. stay away covid. stay away social. stay away. stay away / cease - away / away cease from others / away stay / away - stay.
alone covid. breathe in. breathe out. breath in. pause. rest. breath out rest. breathe in - rest. pause. reflect. breath out - pause - reflect. alone from covid. hope free of covid. hope of no covid. hope of breath free from covid. covid free from hopes. covid - covid hopes for breath / covid longs for breath / covid seeking breath covid - viral covid covid viral hopes. your viral hopes. your covid hopes. free of covid - hope / hope of free of covid. covid hopes - free of covid - hopeless covid hopes. no hopes with covid. covid has no hope - covid no hope. reflect on hope. rest in hope. sleep in hope. dream of hope. hope for dream. dream of hope breath. breathe in hope - dream. breathe out hope - dream. no covid no covid. dream of hope. dream of no covid. hope of no covid. covid no hope. hope knows no covid - covid has no hope. does covid hope. hopes of covid - what - why - virus - grow virus . hope virus - mutate virus. no covid hope. hope no covid - breathe in - no covid / breathe out no covid - breath in - hope - hold hope - breath out - hope. covid no hope / hope no covid. covid no rest. no hope in rest covid. no covid / dream of hope / pause rest / breathe in pause / rest hope / breathe out pause / rest / hope.
hope with covid. hope from covid. free from covid. free from covid. hope to be free from covid / hope and dream / free from covid / reflect on hope of free from covid - calm - breathe in - calm - breathe out - calm. calm. breathe in. breathe out. pause. rest. reflect. hope. dream. covid hope. free of covid dream. calm covid. calm breath. breathe in calm. breathe out calm. breathe in calm / breathe out calm. breathe in rest / breathe out rest. breathe in hope / breathe out hope. breathe out rest. rest from covid. rest from reflection/ reflection of rest. rest from ears / rest from eyes /rest from mind / rest from heart / calm mind - calm head - calm mind - calm mind calm mind calm heart calm heart - calm / calm / calm / calm. breathe in. pause. breathe out pause. pause / pause / pause - from pause - for rest / calm. calm. calm. be calm / be free. free of covid. be calm. be free. free of covid. free to dream. dream free. dream rest. dream pause. dream of. dream of /dream of - calm. calm rest pause. breathe in calm rest pause. dream out calm rest pause. breathe out - breathe in - breathe out - calm pause breathe in breathe out hope calm - calm peace hope for peace. calm from hope. calm. breathe in. calm. breathe out. calm.