The Journey

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

Mary Oliver asks of us in her poem ‘The Summer Day’. In a little over a month I’ll be heading back to Embercombe to volunteer on their ‘Journey’ programme and this question will once again be forefront in my mind.

“One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began”, again Mary Oliver guides us in her poem ‘The Journey’

A new circle will be drawn and thirty or so inquisitive, nervous, bemused and perhaps bewildered individuals will begin their Journey into themselves, and as in the ancient story of Iron John, they will serve their time in the forest, the ashes and the kitchens before finally coming triumphantly home to their own truths.

“You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting”, Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese advises us. Of course, you can if you want to, we all seek redemption in our own ways but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The work has already started for me and for them, it started before I signed up, it continued as I made the space and time to participate in March and as I made the plans to leave my life here for a week, and it’s still happening now. A place and a time that had faded from my everyday thoughts was now back in them, the names, the places, the experiences. The breakdowns and breakthroughs I had taken part in, those I had witnessed and those that will take place in March.

The lake will be beckoning me, to sample its icy waters as it warms itself from its winter dreaming, the forest will call to me as it thrusts new green shoots into the coming spring, the stones will remember me, as they remember everybody. One day they may remember you as an old friend too.

And once again I will share a last goodbye before gathering up my experiences and memories of my week in the real world and taking them out there, out here, and finding my place in the world again.

“And when the sun rose

That, this morning

In your blue eyed sky

I knew my, our ending had come.

All that was left

Was to say goodbye.”

On Drawing Part 6

So, if Lesson 1 of Drawing was to activate the right-side of the brain and shut down the analytical, symbol wielding left-side of the brain, then Lesson 2 can be summarised as ‘drawing the spaces’. If the conclusion of the first lesson was that the left-brain doesn’t observe it just draws symbols of what it wants you to draw and that by copying upside drawings fools it into handing over control to the right-side, then how do we extend that when turning the real world upside isn’t an option? That’s where drawing chairs starts to become interesting.

Let me explain, pretty much everything has two sides or more specifically every line we draw could be the edge of one thing or another. If it’s the edge of one thing then the left-brain will jump in and say ‘chair!’ or ‘eye!’ or ‘nose!’ and simply draw the age old symbol for that thing. So what we do is to look at that edge and then draw what’s on the other side. And usually, what’s on the other side isn’t something we can label quite so easily and so this is where the right-brain is allowed to come forward to create an accurate representation of that space with no name. So we go from ‘eye’ to ‘bit above the eye with no name’ and ‘bit below the eye with no name’ and guess what? Once those two areas have been drawn, an eye appears between them!

Let’s try with the spaces between the parts of a chair, but before that, let’s remind ourselves of how left-brain draws chairs:

20160211 - 1 Chair

11th February 2016 – a wicker chair in a B&B in Penzance.

Now some examples where only the spaces between the chair were drawn:

20160215 - 1 Chair

Chair in Ledbury 15th February 2016 – 4 days later!

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A folding Ikea style chair just another day after.

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And another chair the same day

And another couple of drawings of the same chair on 28th February 2016 – that’s 17 days after the first example about.

Who’s nicked me pint? Something’s afoot!

 

 

Lift Your Voice

“So I don’t know why you came on this programme, maybe you came because, I don’t know, you just like these guys, or you heard a friend you liked, somebody else maybe, there’s someone you’re hoping to, you know, will become your deep and dear friend or lover and you knew they were coming on this programme, so you sneaked. All sorts of reasons. Maybe you came because you hadn’t been to Embercombe before and you thought that it’d be a nice thing to do. Whatever was your theory or hypothesis around coming, just imagine that life actually convened you here together because she wanted to bring you together in prayerful relationship, with the trees, with the wind, with the birds, with each other and then ask of you something. She just said ‘Please, if you love this earth put aside your defences, put aside your fears, because we’re all frightened 

                            and

                                              lift

                                                  your

                                                   voice!’

– Mac Macartney – 27th March 2016

The Last Goodbye

I climb into the shower
And begin to wash her, you
From my hair.

It was
Just three short hours ago
When I, you held me tight
In our final Embrace.

A short, snatched time
Before your, my life continues
Outside, away
Here, not there
With you.

Hot water runs in rivers
Down my face, chest
Washing smoke and ash and earth
To my feet
And they still remember
Standing on your paths
Through the night
As the rain washed in rivers
Down your face, breast.

And when the sun rose
That, this morning
In your blue eyed sky
I knew my, our ending had come.
All that was left
Was to say goodbye.

And I waited, delayed.
Etching every detail into memory
From the way your hair, trees
Moved in the wind,
The line of your warm winter coat,
Desperate to be shed,
Crying out ‘Spring! Spring!’
Down to your feet
Planted so firmly
In that, our land.

I washed the last of her, you
From my hair
The smoke from your fires
Joining the salt from my tears
A torrent of grief that can never
Wash her, you from my memory.

20160313 - Embercombe

Angels In My Orchard

Video of Angels In My Orchard recorded at Embercombe, Devon. This poem is dedicated to the memory of Steve Onyett and Bruce Laurie who both passed in 2015 and were the Catalyst to bring me to this place at this time in my Journey.

 

Angels In My Orchard

When the time came
They came
Not many at first
Barely troubling the fruit laden branches
Resting there
Witnessing.

Others came
And the boughs grew heavy with apples and pears
And those angels
Who rested there
Showed a silent respect
For he who had passed
And they waited
To carry him home