13 Jul

Dappled Light & Shared Conversations

I have always loved the way that light and shade dance so beautifully together as a tree responds to the caresses of the wind.  The earth is teased as the leaves let sunshine through first here then there, in fleeting freckles and persistent patches  of light.

As I left breakfast this morning in York University where Synod had become a shared conversation,  I was struck by the beautiful shadow cast on the paving by the tree outside the Vanbrugh building. The rest of the weekend had been overcast, I hadn’t seen the beautiful dance of the grey spectrum on the concrete until that moment.  I felt honoured to be an audience to such unique choreography – only today will the leaves be their current size and shape, never again will the wind sweep and swirl in quite the same way.

I wanted to capture the moment, just one tap on my mobile and the image that fleetingly brought me wonder and joy could be recorded and shared. But there were a number of people inadvertently participating in the dance – those people were entitled to their privacy.  And a single perspective, one view, would not capture anything like the fullness of the dance – there was no angle from which the simple camera on my phone could hold all that space, no position from which I could frame the tree, the sky, the sun, the shadow, the back drop of the lake – too rich, too wide, too expansive, too fluid, too dynamic beyond the scope of my photography.

Deep gratitude has stayed with me through today for that brief moment with God and a microcosm of His creation.  The dancing dappled light was an astoundingly apposite image to take on the journey through our shared conversations.  The sense of it being beyond the scope of one observer to frame, describe, record or capture a helpful reminder that my experience of the shared conversations will not offer an insight into the whole. The huge variance of shade and light, the nuanced shades of grey as the wind changed the pattern of the leaves helpfully reflecting the range of views expressed in our various groups, not simply black and white contesting the space but a seemingly infinite range of shades highlighting one another.

The tree, well established, deeply rooted and yet responsive and dancing in the wind; the newest growth the most agile performers delivering the most astounding choreography. The wind, unseen and yet guiding, energising, inspiring every movement. And the light, none of it possible without the light, too bright to look on directly at its source but beautifully accessible as it finds it’s way to dance on the receptive ground.

Rooted, inspired and reflecting God’s light. The shared conversations were full of hope for me.  Moving, dynamic and accompanied by shadows.  The shared conversations came at some cost and not without pain.

I feel greatly privileged to have been part of this process and pray the next steps in this dappled light will be beautifully choreographed too.

21 May

Frustrated passions

yellow tulip

There’s supposed to be a fine line between passion and madness.  Many great artists have had their sanity questioned at some time in their life. Many of those that from a distance in history seem like ground breaking incredible achievers, inventors, explorers were in their own time considered quite loopy.

These are people that have developed a passion for something out of the ordinary, a hunger to portray beauty, a desire to break the bounds of what is considered possible, a yearning to tread virgin soil, to do something unique and extraordinary. In order to fulfill such ambitions a certain determination is needed, a capacity to focus on one goal at the expense of other aspects of life.

People develop passions for anything from the mundane to the spectacular.  I once spent a long weekend in Brussels translating for a specialist surveyor… her passion was soil and the effects of industrial land usage on the soil in immediate contact with and surrounding industrial developments. Her passion so deeply cherished, studied and communicated that she travels to check the earth all over the planet. Her passion has formed her career, literally opened the earth up to her. Her passion is born out of a love for the world that we live in and her passion creatively challenges others to interact with the earth in a way that cherishes it.

Creative expression of passion is as old as creation and is, in my opinion, the source of creation.  God, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit, love one another so passionately that we, humanity, the world, everything, become the creative expression of that passion. The love between the three persons of the Trinity so immense, so fierce, so tender, so beautiful, so passionate that they create something, everything, from that love. Their delight and pleasure in their love means they passionately create us to participate in that love. Just as the impassioned sportsperson becomes a coach, the artist exhibits their work, the dancer takes to the stage – loving passion draws others in.

Our desire to procreate, to create life out of our passion and love for another, is an entirely human and yet utterly Holy desire. It is an exquisitely beautiful way of opening our love out, inviting someone else to participate in it and allowing our love a life beyond our reach. There are of course many ways in which a passionate pair can open their love to allow others in, all forms of hospitality mirror the passion of creation by risking the invasion of others and inviting them to participate in the love being offered.

However the desire for the unique creation of a child is an out working of love that cannot be replicated in any other form. A child that is formed from the passionate act of making love, a child that is formed by the egg welcoming the invasive sperm, a child that is formed by the hospitality of the womb despite the often high physical cost of that hospitality, a child that is formed by the intertwining of lovers’ DNA.

It is a tragedy when any persons passion becomes unobtainable to them: The injured athlete that can no longer run.  The arthritic pianist who can no longer play.  The artist with cataracts who can no longer see to paint. The couple that cannot procreate. The God who faces rejection from those His passion created.

If those in history pursuing their unique passions seemed to live on the edge of sanity, how great the strain on mental well being for those with frustrated passions. A passion in love that procreates is as old as the earth and as common as grains of sand, yet for some of us it is unobtainable, our grief maybe understandably close to madness.