Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Walking and talking

Dear Monty,

Believing is seeing.
The light flickered
The garden - oriental

Why trudge the same path six times a day ?
With each journey something new appears
I am surprised by plants that seem to creep forward
Reluctant to stay in the borders.

A new path - Manorbier to Bosherston.

We curved around the contours and felt the land through our boots

We gasped at the precipices
The jewelled ocean sparkling in between
Red and tea green marls.

We heard chough
And saw jackdaws pull wool from sheep for nests

Tolkien Pinnacle
The Cathedral
Names made up on the spot

The sun followed us
Lit up the path
Turned sand to gold

'Can two walk together unless they be agreed ?'

We agreed that the truth can be painful
Like a blistered toe on a tired foot

The rocks tell the truth
Age upon age
Uplifted, twisted, pressed upon
Turned over
Ancient beyond memory

Before we were
He is
Not dressed up
No falsehood
Mad with truth

Truth exposes me
Like these layers once hidden
Oh that we could be truthful without hurt.

Paul with thanks to Charles Hawes.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

After Vermeer, The Potteries, Thar she glows.

Dear Monty,

After Vermeer

All I do is paint
Butterflies bees and orchids.
I lived out the development of 20th Century art in 4 years
Wrote on walls
Made installations and films
Then 30 years in the wilderness
Doddering towards the curtains.

The Potteries

What an extraordinary looking man is A.N.Wilson
And what an exceptional pedigree
But even I can chase stars
I can see the pines
And the God of heaven
Whose stormy wind hits the house
Bending trees
Making the street lights flicker like distant galaxies.
Bombs no longer break me as they did in the 70's
The fear has gone
Replaced by a weariness towards our insaitable appetite for conflict.

'Thar she glows !'

The return of the light

The disciples didn't know at the time the significance of what they said and did
The colts foal
The hero of Jerusalem
The washing of feet with perfume, hair, tears
The rolling back of the stone
The life of Lazarus
The kiss of betrayal
The bread
Flesh Blood Bone
Boiled fish.

Their heads must have spun
The universe spun
Darkness fell

She supposed he was the gardener
Who do I suppose he is ?
Madman Fool Psychotic
Should I think such thoughts ?
The Jews did
And we are like the Jews
Or should be.
Son of God ?
How can that be ?

To question is to turn to dust
That which was dust
I am dust

Like the Emperor's new clothes
If we cannot ask questions
Struggle and dig
It all becomes a folk-tale
We fear becoming disloyal.

What if we are poor, naked, wretched, blind ?
Weakness is strength
A rock
We are established in the death of Christ
In his death - yes his death
The Spirit of God is like a pearl

He is
I am

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Essential nourishment

Dear Monty,

Like the weather, which I understand you have at the command of your fingertips, I have been feeling a little bleak recently.

It is the eruptions of anger which catch me out, they indicate all is not well within.

I am angry at my lack of self control. Looking at Rembrandt's self portraits on The High Art of the low Countries, Andrew G-Dixon posited that we don't really know ourselves at all. We can indeed be happy, cruel, sad, helpful, unhelpful, selfish, selfless - depending on our state of heart and mind.

To have a garden is a blessing.

Here is what Derek Jarman says about this strange thing called life :

"Fools sing life in an empty song
quickly lost in the wind,
How wrong.
Though the watch-spring breaks,
the batteries dry on the digits,
the sands of time never run dry:
they defy dread death.
I stand with my camera,
the film unwinding.
Is there nothing but mortality ?
The rushes are quickly over,
I'm there with a second chance.
Time leaks
as the twelve apostles dance."

'Is there nothing but mortality ?' - The great question. Unique to us this pondering of death.
No, there is more - and the earth bares witness to it; even here as life returns to the bare soil.

'Do not work for food that spoils,
but for food that endures to eternal life'


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Plastic and pyramids by the sea

Dear Monty,

I have just read the beautiful book about Derek Jarman's garden. I have never visited his now preserved cottage by the sea. We preserve things, capture them because they are like important messages to us from lives past.

Here is what Jarman said about giant sea kale : 'They look their best in sunlight after rain as the leaves are designed to catch the rain and feed it to the centre of the plant; the beads of water glittering on the plant are an ecstasy'.

This man was ready to live the colours and scents of the garden; to let them be 'a therapy and a pharmacopoeia' . Despite all else that was happening in his life, here in his shingle garden was raw and painful beauty.

We all need space to breathe.

I have been ranting on about litter again, I hate to see our lanes and roadsides and even rivers edged by litter, most of which is plastic.

We had a lovely walk around Three Cliffs Bay in Gower, following the serpentine river with Egret and Heron. The violets were just waking up - along with wood anemone and wild garlic. The cliffs reminded me of the pyramids, I collected a driftwood stick for planting in the garden. There was plastic, plastic, plastic forming the tide mark in the estuary. Plastic is the new seaweed.

The Egyptians believed in the weighing of the heart in the afterlife, weighed in the balance like the Babylonian king in the book of Daniel.

I want my heart to be weighed, because I want to appear as I am not attempting to gloss over the cracks. Not having a plastic sheen.

Jesus said of Nathanael : 'Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false.' This was the man when hearing about Jesus spoke his mind and said : 'can anything good come out of Nazareth?'

I like the way Derek Jarman confronts us with poetry and a garden, he would have been cynical about Christ too. Sadly asking questions about Christ is frowned upon, and this creates the danger of a kind of plastic Christianity.

Justin Welby the new Archbishop says that hope is not to be found in putting people or institutions on pedestals. I hope I can grasp hold of that lesson before I am weighed.