Posts from the “Writing” Category

What Now

Now doesn’t last long. It becomes a memory, a story, too soon. The actual is short lived. Our reality is that of an ever-shifting potentiality not a stability.

Ideas move forward and jump from one moment to the other. Christianity has been doing this. Christianity has a backpack full of ideas: love, forgiveness, perfection, altruism, sacrifice…

One gets the feeling that at present, today’s potentiality has a completely different structure and that the ideas Christianity brings with it are no longer ideas people can relate to – except maybe love but that no longer belongs to religion, it is now a social idea. In fact we can keep all the ideas that originally came with Christianity, without religion. This means that Christianity is left with just its own unique story: Humanity’s innate sinfulness redeemed by Jesus who offers himself as a sacrifice and dies on the cross to save us.

So, what now?

If we are to live in a religion-less future, as some predict, how will we guarantee social cohesion? How will individuals be guided and kept from falling into chaos? In a meaningless world, nothing is good or bad, everything is indifference. In a religion-less world, we are alone. If we survive as a species or die-out makes no difference to anything but ourselves. Of course, if that is our reality then inventing a God or religion and maintaining the illusion won’t change anything.

Christianity may have lost its power but I don’t think the idea of the existence of a God is dead. In fact, understanding the nature of reality as being innately meaningful is not a stupid or naive idea. In my mind, believing in God is not grasping at straws. It is bridging the gap between our experience of the world and the ultimate nihilistic idea that we are not really alive, that we are not really here – like a flower that blooms in an empty garden where no gardener has ever existed and no spectator will ever exist to see the bloom.

Seeing reality as meaningful, in a non-religious way, is not unreasonable. It is hopeful.

Creative Writing PhD

Can you feel the night? I watch stars as a small herd of sheep quietly graze on evening grass. The hills are monochrome against a dark sky. A small flicker of light hugs a corner near the dry riverbed. This is Bethlehem in Galilee. You know the light. It comes from a stable cut into the rock of our imagination. It is real, if anything is real. It has changed lives. It is an ever-changing artefact that demands our attention and devotion. It is no random event, it is a creature that has crawled through history living and breathing with us. It is where our story begins.

Can you feel the sunrise? I watch as a herd of cows make their way towards the milking-shed, their udders full. If I can get myself out of bed I will walk down and watch them being milked by Jock, the milkman. I’ll watch the machines suck the long, thin teats as the warm-white liquid flows along the transparent pipes. If I remember to take the small churn, I will bring back milk with me. Mum will be pleased.

Story is like wine. Built from parcels of life full of encounter and sunshine, stored and fermented. Forgive me then if, sometimes, I ride my paper bike, intoxicated. As children, we live a life of tall grass and long days.  We don’t notice the wide gaps that exists in between the rare moments we are touched by the sacred hand that strokes the air around us. As adults we grow easily bored, as the world begins to belittle itself and we lose faith in the day. Story and wine replaces the magic we once knew when we didn’t know what we imagine we know.

Can you smell the hops? They came at the time we’d be sent to celebrate harvest-festival in church. Dragged by unbelieving teachers and an indifferent curriculum, we’d stand stone-cold and get to know hymns that would after, accompany us through the years and become familiar friends. It all made sense: The stable, the three kings, the child, the words and deeds, the body and blood. It all made sense until it didn’t. Story is a poor substitute for the real thing, but it is all we have. And its real all the same. A different sort of real.

I’d walk to the hop kiln and watch the men work into the night. The fires would glow, and the hops would dry to a crisp grey-green. Dad worked hard. I didn’t realise then, how close those days were to ending. At school we’d be told how machine would soon do our labour for us and that we’d have so much leisure time we’d not know what to do with it. We have. We spend our time looking back for the meaning we once had. Even the recent-born realise there is something missing.

The Scruff

I began my writing journey by composing poetry. For years I scribbled my ideas and experiences into verse. I was not a committed poet. I’d go months without writing, sometimes years. I never really developed as a poet. Having said that, my poetry does represent a lot of labour and although it may not be the most skilful work written – far from it – I like my poetry. So I put together the best of my work and published it.

Sometime you write a poem and you are happy with it. Sometimes the words you write just seem to fall into place in the way you want them to. Here is a poem that does just that. It says easily, what I could never have said…

The Scruff

you led me, the scruff, untidied mind,
by the bone, into the wilderness
where stone is a soft bed, and told me
to love my thoughts and wait
for the small bird: she’ll sing as the sun rises

the path was never there, you say
the apple was in fact
a pomegranate; a whisper of cloud
stuck to a sticky sky

voice is no vehicle, it is the soul
you say, noise is a pebble, God is underneath
the moment, lift it, you’ll see
you say
days collect rainwater

tall grass sways like the echoes of a bell
calling mass. think big, you say
mountains are small seeds, enough
to plant, love is never where you thought it was
for the small bird: she’ll sing when the sun rises

you’ll see

This poem is included in a collection of my poetry you can purchase on Amazon – The Collection is called: The Road From Albiez

What To Expect…

I wrote this poem in Finland. I was staying there for three months on a university exchange program (I was training to be a nurse). I spent a lot of the time in Finland just wandering around the magnificent countryside and one day stumbled upon a little graveyard surrounded by trees, spring flowers and the sound of birdsong. The poem below is the result.

What to expect when you visit a graveyard.

When you visit a graveyard
you expect stillness, but
you get crowds, horizontal layers
of rowdy life stories,
jostling and bumping.

You expect honesty but you get
thieves, feathered voices
stealing your attention.

You except a certain
decorum, but you get sensuality,
a brutal harmony of light
and sweetness wrapped
in the intimate touch of a breeze.

You expect melancholy,
but you get joy,
like a bright colour

When you visit a graveyard
do not expect
a quiet word with the dead.

This poem is included in a collection of my poetry you can purchase on Amazon – The Collection is called: The Road From Albiez