The Group Monthly Letter – ‘Reading Poems, Living Poems’.

by Geoff Hall on August 30, 2011

Mentoring support of word, image and performance arts

Dear Arts Mentoring Group,

 

Eugene Peterson wrote in ‘Subversive Spirituality’:

 

I don’t read poems for quotable lines. I read them to feel the act of creation, to associate with those doing with words what the Spirit is doing with lives. (p171)

 

Similarly I’d say I don’t watch films or visit galleries to consume the moment, to escape from reality. I do those things to engage more deeply with what the Spirit is doing in these days of fractured human image and disintegrating visions of reality.

The National Zeitgeist has been very busy this month on the streets of Britain. My Dad used to tell me that he didn’t “fight in ‘The War’ for this kind of freedom” and felt that selfishness was the order of the day; when people use human rights as a way of legitimising their every appetite.

However we view it, this is a time of dissatisfaction. This is the age of disturbed well-being. If some chose to vent this out on the streets, destroying their own communities, how do we as Followers of the Way show it? Do we riot in our churches?

I am of course making the assumption that some of us are feeling dissatisfied, with life, with church, with the opportunities afforded us, or maybe even with God? (I’ll be writing more about this at the Upptacka Network this week (http://upptacka.net)

Peterson goes on to write these words,

 

Between the believed but unremembered beginning and the hoped-for but unimaginable ending there are disappointments, contradictions, not-to-be-explained absurdities, bewildering paradoxes – each of them a reversal of expectation. (p128)

 

And so when life feels full of disappointments, contradictions, absurdities and paradoxes, the best thing to do is not to listen to those who have never walked this way, never experienced the ‘sacrifice of a broken spirit’. (Song 51) Our sense of encroaching darkness simply means we are (paradoxically) walking in the right direction. Darkness cannot be overtaken by light if light refuses to enter a dark domain. You have to be present to make a difference, but most seem happier to pray from the outside, looking on from a safe distance. When life is full of such things, the best thing to do is to keep walking. Don’t sit down and be enveloped by the darkness, but as the saying goes, don’t curse the darkness, just turn on the light.

Our artistic gifts are meant as light for the darkness. Our aim is to develop a presence, not alone, but with one another, wherever we are called to be light. We never dwell in the darkness alone! Perhaps our dissatisfaction is to do with being unable to establish that presence, that God seems more likely to fund the creation of kitsch than good fashion, painting, music, poetry or fiction? This is one of life’s great absurdities and paradoxes. I look forward to hearing why this is, how we are called to make a difference, but are denied (currently!) an opportunity to do so!

 

No need for a date: I was, I am, and I will be,

Life is a wonder of wonders, and to wonder

I dedicate myself, on my knees, like an orphan,

Alone – among mirrors – fenced in by reflections:

Cities and seas, iridescent, intensified.

A mother in tears takes a child on her lap.

Arseny Tarkovsky ‘And this I dreamt, and this I dream’.

from ‘Life, Life. Selected Poems’. Published by Crescent Moon Publishing, 2007.

 

Peace and Love to you all,

Geoffx

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