I hate travelogues, so I won’t bore you with the fact that I’m on a train from Manchester to London. Or with photos from idyllic english locations.
I have drunk tea with… an installation at the Eden Project
This next blog post was going to be an exploration of what we’re doing next year, but i realise that my last post could easily have given the impression that i had some great truth to unfold, and that this might now simply be a massive disappointment. Alas, we will live with that.
There have been a number of lines from conversations over the last few weeks that have been rolling around my head: Nadia Bolz Weber’s line, ‘the stranger will always make things messy’; Padraig O’Tuoma’s line [and i paraphrase and destroy it here], ‘be the miracle you do not yet believe in’… and a throwaway line from Alistair Duncan in Brighton: it was the same search for the more that led him into Christianity, which is what now leads him out…
I’ve probably already said that what i loved about the Garden wasn’t that it was trying to redefine or reconstruct christianity; that their search for the more doesn’t come from angst or despair or disillusionment with the church. I liked that because, truthfully, the church was bloody good to and for me for a very long time. And it still is. Its beliefs may no longer be where I am at, but it represents a search and a longing that I respect, remember and still resonate with. And while my search has taken a different turn, I couldn’t be here without having been there. I am still profoundly grateful for the transformation that I was offered through that story. It saved me, literally, even though it’s no longer me. [I know that sounds like I think I’m somewhere better; I don’t. I just can’t find a different way of saying it.]
Oddly, this helps me make sense of why I can write liturgy using words and imagery that are formed from a belief that’s no longer my own. After all, when it comes down to it, Christianity has all the best words. I don’t think it created them, though – it just appropriated them. I’m loathe to give them up. And while I use the same language to mean something different, perhaps that doesn’t matter [read: I need to let it not matter!]. Perhaps words, in themselves, whatever they mean, can be transformative. They’re kind of like a parable in that sense. They carry a transformative power in their saying that is much more than their meaning. [Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I love Sigur Ros. They didn’t have the words to make sense of stuff, so they made up their own language.]
So that’s been floating around my head as I’ve walked through Manchester over the last couple of days, thinking about next year’s trip… And the question that keeps coming to mind as I’m trying to work out how the trip will work is where are the places in the city [/the corner of the world i inhabit] where people can be human… and how can we manufacture them, if they aren’t there? I said in the previous post that the invitation to human-ness is at the heart of everything i do at the moment – and if I think about it, it was always the part of Christianity that I found most compelling and transformative. And what I’m really coming to love is that the longing and prayer for that is what I still hold in common with those who still hold the faith…
More to come, when I’ve worked it out.
You’ll never walk alone, the Fab Collective exhibition inside the St Luke’s bombed out church, Liverpool.