Beauty and creativity?

img_1305While on holiday over the summer in Derbyshire I came across David at an exhibition of local artists. I enjoyed chatting with David and left wishing I had enough money to purchase a painting I fell in love with.

A few months later I was able to contact David through his website as I had saved money for the painting I had loved …. only to be told that his cat had slept on it the night before and ruined it … so the painting was no more.

But … then … the email conversation got a little more exciting when David said he could paint one very similar for me. Of course I agreed and waited a few weeks patiently. I got an email to say she was finished … but that the weather was meaning the oils were taking an age to dry.

img_1307A few weeks ago I took delivery of this amazing painting loosely called ‘the Lady  in Oils’  …. my title as I could not come up with a definitive name for her. I find the painting stunningly beautiful. The calmness, dreaminess and serenity of this painting just draws me every time I look towards it …

And … I love ‘The Lady’ in her setting on this wall in my study with creations from my amazing friends Zara, Rikard and Andi.

I find this wall to be a gentle catalyst in my thinking, particularly when I am reflecting on what is happening around me. There is a saying …’beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ … to an extent that is true … but are there also universally understood ideas of beauty, for example? Lots of people have visited since I have received ‘The lady’ … and everyone, without exception, has remarked on the beauty of the painting. So … I think there must be.

Is there a point to this post?
I am unsure …. I am still tying to return to writing regularly sett a long break when stuff just crowded my head.
Part of this is just that I have not written anything … so writing rubbish and rambling is better than writing nothing!
I guess the point is that this … this space … here … immersed within and confronted by my wall of beauty created by others and kindly offered to me …. here is the space that I attempt to create.

Through reflection I am very aware that I can be creative, but for that creativity to thrive I need to be working in a  creative environment, preferably with others of a similar focus. So … I have the environment …. I simply need a few more people  ….

So … for now … back to look at my wall of beauty … back to reflect … and maybe create something better than the ramble I have just written ….

Come and see

Tonight at 18:01 Andrew led us through  guided meditation as a way of engaging with the ‘come and see’ words of Jesus in tonight’s gospel reading.

It worked well for the HTGP group of people and I appreciated the opportunity to be able to be involved in such an experience that I was not responsible for leading.It was a real privilege, and quite exciting, to be part of something profound and holy while the busyness of the peninsula revolved around us. I think opportunities like this help us to keep ourselves grounded.

I was also thankful that a couple of weeks ago that Michael gave me permission to use this really simple but beautiful video called ‘Epiphany’. We used it as a short reflection near the start of the service to get us to think about what Epiphany means to us … I liked the way Michael’s short film presented this to us. Thank’s Michael for your generosity – it worked perfectly.

Epiphany from Michael Martorella on Vimeo.

ideas matter …

Over the last few months there have been a few amazing experiences that I have had.
One wimg_1197as visiting  Sotheby’s for the first time ever to visit the Bowie Collection.

I have always been a big Bowie fan.
I remember being shocked on the 10th January 2016 as I kind of had a mindset that Bowie was immortal.
I wept at the loss of someone I never had the joy to meet but still believed to be a friend, connected in some way.

I visited The Bowie Collection and was emotionally moved again as we were greeted by the amazing picture of the man himself saluting us in the middle of was was truly an amazing and beautiful exhibition.

The diversity of the collection was stunning and i can often choose a favourite, but on this hirst-fishoccasion I struggled. The work that brought the biggest smile to my face came from a minnow in formaldehyde called ‘untitled fish for David’. All around the exhibition the labels told what Bowie paid for the work and where he bought it from. This one simply said ‘gift from Damien Hirst’ and was clearly some joke on the shark piece. I liked the thought of Bowie receiving this as a gift.

img_1201I particularly loved Odd Nerdrum’s ‘Dawn’ above. The juxtaposition of peace and calm and pain captivated me for ages … I could have sat in front of this for hours and hours. As a point of interest Sotheby’s estimated this would sell for between £60 000 – £80 000 …..it actually sold for £341 000 … amazing that an ‘owner’ of a piece of art can add so much value.

The collection guide had these words from Bono in the introduction:

In the end, his passion for art came from a deep conviction that ideas mattered and that the way we see the world has an enormous impact on the one we build, both personally and politically.

In the Richard Rohr meditations of this week we have been hearing a similar narrative. How we view the world, how we view people, how we view situations will determine how we react within them, and influences totally what we do and what we create next.

I believe ideas matter, but I believe people matter more … how we treat ideas and people is how we treat the world.

 

 

 

1st Agapai of 2017

img_1413This evening saw the first Agapai of 2017.
Agapai is the HTGP weekly meal together.
The format is simple.
We eat.
We chat about each others weeks looking to see what God has been doing.
We pray for each other.
We share bread and wine.
Tonight we also chatted about developing some bible study/discussion/video teaching  (possibly using Richard Rohr) to use particularly over the weeks of Lent.
Tonight seemed a bit like a new start, a new way forward … exciting!
If you are nearby … and you like the idea of eating with a fledgling contemplative community each week and sharing and hearing stories before praying together … then look us up or book yourself in here.

Mind-ful(l)?

meditationToday was a pretty exciting day.

A little while back I met with some of the great people from NOW gallery on the peninsula.
Today we met briefly again and made some definite plans.
The image above is the resulting flyer … the photo I took from the balcony outside my kitchen with the sun setting behind Greenwich.

For a little while I have been looking for a special space to hold a meditation session for people coming home from work. In a few weeks we will be piloting a short John Main style meditation from the gallery …. how exciting is that!

This is part of HTGP‘s testing out of a hypothesis that mindfulness and wellbeing are ways that we can both support and relevantly engage with people on the peninsula.

The publicity from Now will say something similar to this:

Mindfulness Meditation is simple, being simple means being ourselves.
It means passing beyond self consciousness, self analysis and self rejection.

Meditation is a universal spiritual practice which guides us into this state of prayer which brings us to silence, stillness and simplicity.
The meditation itself will last for 20 mins and involves the repetition of  single word faithfully throughout the meditation.

This is a very ancient Christian method of meditation, originating from the 4th Century and rediscovered by John Main (1926-1981), a Benedictine monk, in the 1940’s.

Recent research into the effects of mindfulness meditation found that after just four sessions participants with no prior meditation experience had improved mood and reduced fatigue and anxiety.
Join us at NOW Gallery on a Tuesday from 6:15pm until 7.00pm for Mind-ful(l)

We will be praying that this will be a real and relevant support for people who live here
Sound interesting to you? …. watch this space for the February launch date

new notes …

img_1179One of the challenges I set myself a few months was to learn a new skill.

I was finding all I was doing was working or thinking about work and, in my experience, when that is all you do you soon start to become dry and find it difficult to vision or be creative.

I have always wanted to learn to play the sax. I was told by my mum years ago that I was not musical (after singing quite well in a  choir at school) and so for years, simply years, I have believed I could not do anything musical.

At the cathedral I used to panic about having to sing the sarsum corda but had wonderful patient people around me who helped and told me I could sing it ok.

For an ‘unmusical person’ I have always loved music … so a few month ago I borrowed a sax from a  friend and started to have lessons. I found I progressed ok (much better than I expected) so I now have my own sax and I am learning … slowly … but still learning to play some tunes. I have a great and patient teacher that I see every other week or thereabouts and I am having a lot of fun.

The result of learning a new skill, something totally out of my comfort zone, is that it has reminded me, or maybe it has re-taught me, that learning something fresh can be incredibly alien. For someone that doesn’t read music too well coordinating breathing, reading and finger movements to get tunes that sounds like tunes can be awkward. I look at Jason (cool sax teacher) and marvel at how he can play anything he chooses with seemingly little effort. And …. when it all works together for me, on those odd ocassions, and the sax just purrs a tune the feeling of understanding, resonace, achievement and excitement are pretty powerful.

My learning of the when and how to breathe while playing, what notes to play, how loud or soft to play them seems to be an apt illustration for me of how we support people who are seeking to connect with their God. It can be awkward, alien, uncomfortable and hard work …. the encouragements for me while learning to play have been those moments of resonance between myself and Betty (everyone has to make their saxophone …. don’t they?!), those moments when the sound has been great and I have felt ‘connected’.

In a time and culture when people feel ‘connected’ through technology yet in reality are possibly the most disconnected and reclusive we have been for centuries the question to ask, in my mind, is how to we aid this connection?
How do we support people as they walk the journey to that point of resonance?
What can we do, if anything, to either encourage or discourage that resonance of one-ness?

So … some questions … never said I had answers … but questions are always more fun to deal with than answers ….

the journey

journeyHTGP met tonight for the first time in 2017.
It was good to see people and while we could see our small number as a sign of our fragility and vulnerability (which it is!) we are excited by the opportunity for growth in a faithful realisation that vulnerability is a necessary state for growth to occur.

Tonight we ‘did’ The Journey in our evening contemplative eucharistic service.
I like using The Journey is our worship because it reminds us that everything is ok. It shows us in a clearway that we are all in different places and yet all those places are correct. It reminds us that the Christian Life is one of seasons which are all natural and ok.

The podcast, which is essentially brief instructions to our activity, may be found here

This year, I introduced The Journey with challenging provocative words from Nick Vesey from Developing Consciousness:

You are always in exactly the right place to be able to take the next step. It is an amazing realisation, that you are, right now, in exactly the right place to begin this journey.

Your whole life has brought you to this point. Everything you have ever done has brought you to the point of hearing these words now. And everything has conspired for you to be in exactly the right place. You could not be in a better place.

And that is true for every single moment of your life.

You are never in the wrong place. All you can do is to not recognise you are in the right place, and then automatically you miss the point and opportunity of that moment.

To be in the right place at the right time you simply have to acknowledge  the rightness of the moment, and thus the moment become yours.

Whatever our circumstances, wherever you are. Trust this moment as being one that is right. One that has meaning. One that is setting you on a journey outside the box, and it will be so.

And what is the next step? Well … ask yourself that …. what is the next step? What do you do now as the next step in your journey with God?

Maybe consider the journey for yourself this week ….
and if you wish to journey with others …
maybe look us up.