Sunday, 20 October 2013

Quakers and Surfing

Today I went to a Quaker Meeting for the first time.  I've often thought about going to one and never quite got round to it.  I was saying to hubby last night how I wanted to go to something quiet and reflective on a Sunday, and he reminded me to see if there was a Quaker meeting close by.  Turns out there is - in Marazion and Penzance.  I went to Penzance, mainly because I know where to park.

It was pretty much as you might expect if you've heard anything about Quakerism - people sat in a circle in silence for an hour with occasional interjections/reflections shared by some there.  Apart from worrying I'd fall asleep and fall off my chair (which apparently has happened!), I appreciated the time of stillness.  After that there was more talking and sharing and coffee and general welcoming.

I don't know much about Quakers, but I know they are big into Peace and serving others.  So that makes them worth checking out in my book.  I like the fact that they strip everything back and keep it simple.  This is a section from their 'Advices and Queries' book:

Worship is our response to an awareness of God.  We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God's presence.  We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God's love drawing us together and leading us. (point 8)

I'm not great at sitting still and my mind wonders like a crazy thing, but I would like to learn to be better at silence, at meditating and at focusing.  My main thoughts that had any sense of direction happened to be about surfing - which I spent 3 hours attempting to do yesterday.  It was a lot of fun and a beautiful day, but I was quite frustrated as I kept seeming to nose dive.  I was wondering today if perhaps that was because I was always looking down rather than ahead.  So my body followed my eyes.  I thought if I had held my head up instead and focused on where I wanted to get to, that I might have balanced better...

...which made me think about life, and how I often end up looking down at my feet, and then I sink.  Like Peter walking on water - when he took his eyes of Jesus and looked at the waves around him, he lost faith and sank.  Yes maybe this is all a bit cliche but it's where I'm at.  I've been looking at the negatives, stopped being thankful for things, felt myself sinking, wanted to give up.  I want to look up, look ahead.  It's scarier, it feels safer to look down to be honest.  But perhaps I need to trust myself a little more and trust God a lot more.  Perhaps then, I'll surf to the shore.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Guantanamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes - a response

Today I watched an animation produced by the Guardian based on testimonies of hunger strikers at Guantanamo.  This afternoon I went to a writing group and learned about a Malaysian poem structure called The Pantoum.  There is a particular pattern of repetition.  We were asked to write about something that had impacted us in the last couple of days.  So this is what I wrote:

Photo credit: http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/wp-content/uploads/Freedom-Guantanamo-Bay.jpg
source: muftah.org
H Strikes G

Razor wire coils endlessly
A black mark upon the Caribbean sea
Orange mocks the theft of dignity
Ahmed chokes

A black mark upon the Caribbean sea
Rubber snake forced down tender tubes
Ahmed chokes
Fuel injected into resisting guts

Rubber snake forced down tender tubes
Razor teeth drip with canine slobber
Fuel injected into resisting guts
Strain at chains; strain at collar

Razor teeth drip with canine slobber
The dogs are treated better
Strain at chains; strain at collar
Samir only wants to see his family again

The dogs are treated better
Last shred of memory ripped from the wall
Samir only wants to see his family again
Cleared for release; they remain detained

Last shreds of memory ripped from the wall
Orange mocks the theft of dignity
Cleared for release; they remain detained
Razor wire coils endlessly

Sunday, 13 October 2013

God and beauty

I've just bought a new book... "Transparencies of Eternity" which is a collection of reflections by the Brazilian author/philosopher/poet/professor Rubem Alves.  I've read some of his stuff before and really enjoyed it so I'm pretty excited about this book.  I think it'll be one to consume in small bite-size pieces to chew on and mull over.

Here's some tasty morsels from the chapter, "Does God exist?"

Beauty is a volatile entity - it touches the skin and quickly vanishes.
What we refer to with the name of God is like that: a great, huge Emptiness that encompasses the whole beauty of the universe.  If the glass were not empty, we wouldn't drink water from it.  If the mouth were not empty, we wouldn't eat fruit with it.  If the womb were not empty, life wouldn't grow in it. If the sky were not empty, birds, clouds and kites wouldn't fly in it.

...There is too much beauty in the universe, and beauty cannot be lost.  God is a bottomless Emptiness, an infinite wooden trough, who wonders through the universe picking and gathering up all the beauties and guaranteeing that none will be lost, and saying that all that was loved and lost will return, and be repeated.  (p.24)

I don't feel like I've got much to add to that, just that he's beautifully put into words what my heart attempts to articulate.

Some beauty from my weekend, Gwythian Bay, Cornwall

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Enjoying Cornwall: poetry, music and dancing of late

So since my post on finding things pretty hard down here, we've been getting out and about a bit more and trying to make the most of what we do have and who we know.  And it's been good, and made a difference.

On my birthday after attempting some surfing and enjoying fish and chips with friends in Sennen, we went down to the Studio Bar in Penzance for their weekly open mic night.  My brother-in-law who is currently living with us loves to sing and hubby plays guitar so we practiced a couple of songs and gave our debut performance.  I was backing singer...oooo yehhhhh... (Just watched Dreamgirls this week and even more would love to be a soul backing singer with a glittery dress!) and then did a couple of poems which was cool as I haven't been performing much recently.  It was a bit nerve-racking - and then fun once I relaxed - to be on stage together doing something new.  Hopefully we'll be back with more songs soon!


The cool thing about doing the poems was that a lady then invited me to a mini music and words festival in Marazion this week, which I would never have heard about otherwise.  It was a lovely evening and I got to perform more poems, met creative people and was generally inspired to keep on getting out and about more.  You can listen to a couple of my recent poems here.

Other good things have been getting out dancing twice last weekend; on Friday at an opening night of an art exhibition at The Exchange Gallery in Penzance (sadly the exhibition was already closed as we went down after work but the DJ played awesome tunes!) and on Saturday at the main night club in Penzance (a secondary birthday celebration!).  I've really missed going out dancing, so it was good to get a little groove on.  

We've also had quite a few people round for food and hanging out in our home, which we love, and it makes life feel more 'normal' and more friend-filled.  Hooray hooray.

So there we go, a fair few moments to be thankful for! :-)