Monday, 29 August 2011

Greenbelt 2011 Notes

I went to the Greenbelt Festival again this year and, as usual, it was overflowing with things to see and hear. I was only there for the Friday evening and all day Saturday and so had to make the most of limited time to find things that I was inspired by as well as try and entertain the family. I booked a chat with a spiritual director who gave me one or two things to ponder over and the main thing that I valued was being in an environment with so many ideas and varying perspectives on the Christian faith. Quite a few speakers where very inspiring but there wasn't really time to try and engage with them after their talks other than a quickly grasped 'thank you'. For once I didn't feel isolated, but felt at home with similar nature aware souls.

I made a few notes and I've just type them up here with no effort to sort them out or untangle any knots so they may not make sense but will aid memory and initiate thoughts at a later date. Accuracy is not guaranteed!

John Bell: Faultlines and Phantases

Suffering and environmental disasters - why does God let it happen? Jesus does not equate sin with the cause of personal suffering. Our world has fault lines - the world was not created as perfect but 'Good'. There is rock and there is sand. Structures can collapse, but not because of sin. Even Jesus ends up in a boat in a storm. The world is not inherently evil. Faith is not an insurance policy. Environmental disasters are a necessary discord in the earth. Discord is part of a symphony. Nature is not the enemy - we have to deal with a world that has dangers. We are quite comfortable here in this country and yet we complain about the weather as if it we were a major disaster. We are not always tuned in to the song of the earth. Nature and God co-exist in a covenantal relationship. God promises not to destroy the earth (rainbow)- the rainbow is a symbol of war - that God will not destroy the earth with his own weapon. Nature's disasters can be caused by humans not living in harmony with the natural world. Nature is not at fault so don't blame it. God says humanity is 'Good' but not ' perfect'.

We have to be connected with those who are outside of us: disconnected or in pain. Sometimes we can puzzle about things that have no answer but the mystery will loose its fear when are touched by those things. Jesus does not cure everyone. He does not avoid pain. Saying sin causes pain is abhorrent to Jesus. Jesus has no time for that. If we say God is unfair we are distracting ourselves from that pain.

But what about intentional harm: drunk drivers, paedophiles, rioters... A consequence of being human? Good people get hurt and killed - insolvable mystery. God does not bail people. God does not side with presumed victors. People who persue [Christian] victory at all costs, God will not bail them out if things go wrong... (?).

 Rioting: not condone it, but society is ruled by the £ and consumerism. Rioters will end up in gaol but the financial institutions won't. bankers walk away with millions - no wonder people want their share too of the goods. Financial obesity - no cure sought. We are bound to consumerism.

God enlarges the hearts of those who do not know the answers but ask questions. God might enable pain to heal others. Jesus came into the world to enable us to live with all people - the well, sick. persecuted etc. Jesus enters our dilemma to live with hope in an imperfect world.

Alan Mann: Allotment Atonement

Community/social inclusion/justice for the good. About atonement - people:earth:God. Relationships - bringing something of our connection with God. Atonement: something done by God for us, and done by us for others [healing of God's relationship with humans after the fall in Garden of Eden when man disobeyed God]. Allotment: gateway to a wider connection to the earth. We are human from the ground up - Hebrew for 'human' similar to the word 'ground'. We cannot be 'at one' [at -one-ment] if we are not grounded in the land  need to be reconciled with the earth and with God. Fear of failing - nature might beat me if things don't grow - it wins. If reconnect with earth then reconnect with people as well. Soil is not against us - need to work with its goodness. it is 'good'. Genesis - tend the garden. Spirit of God gives life to the earth. God reconciles us to the earth - at one with creation. Interrelatedness.

What is our connection with the earth?: sense of belonging [me], foraging, practical, peace, gardening, wholeness, special, magical, form of witness - restoration of humanity, connects people, patience (can't grow carrot in a day).

How can the soil be a gateway to a different kind of life?

Keith Skeine: Tribalism and Diversity

Plants are tribal - all connected by mycorrhizae of fungi under soil. Humans most tribal of animals. But it is tribalism that is important: it can exclude the exchange of information when it thinks it knows best. Dangerous as it then excludes diversity and brings loss of personal accountability. Multiculturalism - are the tribes tribal? If the tribes don't intermix then there is no diversity. How tribal are components in a multicultural society?...... Doze  sooo tired..........!

Bruce Stanley: Nature as Spiritual Director

How to read the second book of God - understanding God in Nature - God's revelation in the natural world. You can understand so much of God by reading nature:

AWE: Isn't it/God amazing. Just BE in the moment

STUDY: mindfulness, find your passion

MEDITATION: what does it mean?

Coaching or facilitation of communication with God and developing authenticity (?). Nature calls for us to give it attention when we are in it. Causes you to worship, pray and engage. Pilgrimage, ritual etc. Jesus' formation in the wilderness. In Nature - going in intentionally as part of a process - not just a visit. Best when we are alone. We are made to engage with it, to have a dialogue with it. Awakens senses, not just sight - find a deep authenticity of yourself. Patience, humility, health and well-being, less pain and stress; thinking, focus, improved concentration, calms mind. Jesus was experiential in what he did. What changes when we are in nature - time emotions etc. Go into nature and ask specific questions. Soul places, thin places.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Stonechat Land

Sketchy notes made whilst on the Gower in South Wales

Along the darkening cliffs towards the Worm's Head at Rohossili. Blue-grey sea to the left with clear, almost cloudless sky above; and to the right the windswept purple heather and gorse of the cliffs and cloud covered distant downs. The developing edge of grey clouds clouds above reflect edge of the cliffs below. And along this edge in front of me the bright orange sun reveals itself on the horizon. Its dazzling light a brilliant intrusion upon the grey landscape.

In the shelter of a rock high above the rocks and waves I watch the sun slowly slip behind a band of horizon cloud. The white quarter moon hangs out to sea: a celestial companion to the sun whose developing redness paints the cloud base. I am reminded of the ending to the original Wicker Man film. Now it has gone and I feel more alone now - just an occasional gull floats by and the grasses waving in the wind. Alone, to walk back through the bracken and restless stonechats.

I feel as if I have been here before. Possibly, many years ago and my memory can't recall details.

In an Edgeland

Sketchy notes made whilst on the Gower in South Wales

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
where the cliffs give way
and the purple heather and yellow gorse
reveal the black rock
and churning foam

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
where life meets death
where light meets dark
where the land reveals
its ancient rocks
and the restless sea
guided by the moon

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
where all behind me is left
and I can go no longer
and further forward.
This place tests my awareness
of life and possible death
and as the light fades
beneath the grey sky
the brighter horizon take with it
the memories of the day

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
where the cliffs are ragged
and the tumbling rocks
reveal unsteady ground.
I'm on my own
I must take care
before the night comes again

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
where I want my pain
to be like wave pounded rocks:
edges removed, roughness eroded
and soul massaged by the waves.
In isolation I sit
upon the close knit earth and herbs
I want to sing my song
to the music of the waves

I'm in an edgeland
I'm in my edgeland
sheltered by the cliffs
yet open to wildest elements
I'm open to their being.
The deep rocks reveal their history
the water of life is unwelcoming
and yet here I sit
listening to the landscape
and asking for its healing.
This place reveals creation
the edge is a place to be.
The edge is Divine Glory
The edge is the creation story.

Thank you


Sketchy notes made whilst on the Gower in South Wales

Waves, crashing against the time-worn rocks; rolling pebbles and an on-shore breeze. White spray over ice-green water beneath a solid grey sky. Here rocks form the grassy cliffs meet the infinite horizon of distant hope. Tumbling down; weather-worn over the years to meet the white foam. the sound is rhythmic and relentless. Beyond this point I cannot go, for here safety meets danger - a landscape that is foreign to me, and one that could easily bring death. I can go no further, these rocks are a symbol of my fate: erosion, pain brokenness, darkness; cold and wet. I am on the edge and a light drizzle now begins to fall - almost imperceptible. Colour grips to the eroded rocks in the form of many flowers: yellows, lilacs, purples, pinks and white.

The eroded cliff gullies reveal deep layers of conglomerate rock beneath the soil level, perhaps 20ft down. Embedded in the rounded stones are abundant white 'snail' shells. This place is a symbol of age, landscape changes and the passing of timescales beyond our comprehension.