Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mr William Stafford. Poet.

I found this poem while randomly blog surfing and it struck a chord as I travel home from my sojourn in Nashville, TN. Communication is something that none of us are expert at (even a post grad in it doesnt always help) and all of us send out signals whether we acknowledge it or no .... So for your poetic pleasure can I present Mr William Stafford. Heres to being awake;

A Ritual To Read To Each Other
If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Thanks Nashville. You've been great. See you next time. A little song because parting is such sweet sorrow. m

Friday, March 21, 2008

Maundy Thursday with Martin Luther King

In a church in the middle of Nashville( a town not renowned for its civil rights) , twenty of us gathered to watch a film on the life of Martin Luther King. It was mostly documentary footage of the struggle for civil rights, interspersed with speeches from Dr King. The sheer brutality of the police and the reactions of the crowds to the non violence of the marchers were shocking to watch and realise that this happened not long ago.
In one of his early speeches he quoted a John Donne poem which speaks of our connectedness to each other as humans. And suddenly it seemed appropriate for Easter Weekend when we celebrate the ultimate humanity of God becoming man and dying a very human death.
We are all connected this weekend wherever we are and however we are. Life is messy but for those feeling alone or lonely this weekend where death becomes hope and darkness light – here is John Donne.

No Man is an Island

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were.
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dark Woods

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi retrovai per una selva oscura,
che la diritta via era smarrita.

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.

You can always tell its been a good day when I find myself reading Dante. But sometimes that’s where it’s at. I have spent most of the last year travelling. Consuming culture in Paris, eating at the sacred table of the Riddells in New Zealand (think Aslans table with better wine) , living in a beach hut in Vietnam, taking a boat trip up the Mekong Delta, faced the best and the worst of the human condition in Cambodia, trekked through the hills of Northern Thailand, elephant riding , white water rafting, come home to the embrace of a loving community and now for almost the last 2 months I have been in my second home in Nashville TN, writing, wrestling with God in the mountains, dealing with the realities and the messiness of life and relationships, good, bad , painful and wonderful at the same time.

And right now I find myself in a dark wood where the straight way is lost. Face to face with a painful truth that problems don’t change by travelling – you still carry them with you. Answers aren’t always easier to find sitting on a beach or in a log cabin in the mountains. I’ve learned much, experienced the divine in new ways, am happier with who I am as a person and yet still haven’t found the answer. I seem to be involved in a search for a new way of living, a new way of being – a structure to direct and illuminate the next part of my life and in truth I am a little afraid. I head home very soon and am still not sure what I will do next.

I don’t want to leave this totally bleak because although Dante spent most of his time in hell looking down, he did eventually emerge and walk under the sky again and when he looked up he saw the stars.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Wild Horses

So I’m back in the lowlands with many things to tell of my time in the mountain cabin but a few will suffice tonight. I wrestled with my demons, first hating the solitude then coming to love it. There was much thinking, praying and writing. And a good flick through some tunes on the Ipod from a long time ago. Listening to Achtung Baby and even now all these years later sometimes songs seem somehow relevant to life.… ‘Who’s gonna ride your Wild Horses’ jumped out at me and knocked me over…. Heres a few lyrics – take from them what you will. That’s your right and the beauty of all art in the eye of the interpreter, and who’s to say if you are right or wrong.

You're dangerous 'cause you're honest
You're dangerous, you don't know what you want
Well you left my heart empty as a vacant lot
For any spirit to haunt

You're an accident waiting to happen
You're a piece of glass left on a beach
Well you tell me things I know you're not supposed to
Then you leave me just out of reach

Hey hey sha la la
Hey hey sha la la

Who's gonna ride your wild horses
Who's gonna drown in your blue sea
Who's gonna ride your wild horses
Who's gonna fall at the foot of thee

In other news, I have come back down from the mountains to the first stirrings of spring. It had snowed on the mountains and I sat out on the porch, coffee in hand, wrapped in a quilt and watched the red Cardinals playing in the snow. Now back down in the valley the whole earth is quivering with the promise of new life and growth. The sun is shining and the first flowers are pushing tentatively through the darkness of the soil and into the light. May we all do the same.