25th SEPTEMBER 2020
Thoughts & Sketches
Article – ‘Reflections on the Gift that is The Sangha’ – The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter Summer 2020
My article ‘Reflections on the Gift that is the Sangha’ features in ‘The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter’ – Summer 2020.
Also featured is an image I drew whilst sitting on the step of Father Bede’s hut during my visit to Saccindananda Ashram – Shantivanam, India, in February this year.
Sitting on the gently rippling edge of the shore I see the sun resting upon the horizon.
Its white light rippling out across the sea, the waves, the blue-green swells to reach me.
Rippling deep into my heart, white-bright.
Reenergising, revitalising, illuminating, loving, warm, nurturing breath.
Filling my lungs, my body, my heart, my mind.
Expanding me beyond my borders.
I breathe out my love, towards the sun, across the rippling sea,
sending all of me with it;
a gift to the beloved light.
The movement of the inbreath and outbreath,
our essence in time,
held delicately upon the lapping silence of the shore.
One heart to another within the silence.
That place, that silent space, that pause in movement,
holding the motion of the cycling love,
the cycling breath,
is the cradling shore.
This place of unfurling acceptance,
lapped by the motion of the ocean,
holds us as this love-light breath swoops and eddies within and beyond the expanse of the forming and reforming waves.
The silent sand-nest holds us in our merging with the horizon.
It is upon that shore that we are illuminated, expand, connect, grow, and are held in the silence of love. It is a safe place to ‘be’. And that shore, that silent place of nurturing, alone or side by side, is the precious essence of the Sangha. Beyond definition and articulation. That space on the sand to come, go, and ‘be’ at One; together and alone. Without identification, or label, there is belonging in the non-belonging. A togetherness in the non-identification with the togetherness. Without articulation of what it is, you sense and immerse yourself in the loving presence of what it truly Is…
The Sangha, in its simplicity, is the sandy shore upon which we sit, which gently holds the space for the eternal presence. The sand to sit upon and rest a while, to be nourished by the flow, the inbreath and outbreath of being, over and through the ocean, from the sun.
It is the same gentle holding of space which I experienced earlier in the year during my precious visit to Shantivanam.
Shantivanam, a place that gently holds us in that same bright eternal presence, allowing the inbreath outbreath flow of Love to warm and nourish us.
A place to stop for a while.
Together and alone.
It is not about clinging to the space, owning, labelling, or holding on to it.
They both are shores we can swim out from and return to, whilst growing in our own ways from the warmth of the sun.
Neither try to own or dictate the swells of the sea, the movement of the winds in the sky, or the caressing of the sun. Both are places of stillness; for everyone.
The presence of love radiating at the centre of the Sangha, the centre of Shantivanam, the centre of our hearts, is the same.
It is the gentle radiating Love of what ‘Is’. Pure, naked, and divine…
The Sangha, Shantivanam and our hearts are the shores upon which we sit and smile into the sunshine. Through friendship and relationship, by belonging without belonging, within silent alone togetherness, we are unified in the Love-light presence within and beyond them all.
A shore needs only to be a shore.
We, and God, will do the rest…
26th JUNE 2020
This is an article I wrote with regard to the importance of creativity within faith, for the SHIFT Arts and Well-being Festival held at St Laurence Church, Stroud. shiftmovement.art
I gave a talk as part of this about creativity, the soul and my book ‘Is-Being’. I also spent all week working with the amazing Robin-Watkins-Davies and 100’s of children, sharing trans-formative arts and mindfulness practices; creating movement and stillness within the heart to help create movement and transformation within oneself. It was a deeply profound experience, with so much calmness and oneness created within the heart and with each other. A truly incredible and beautiful week…
‘For us to begin to build an experiential relationship with God, or grow a deeper relationship with God, we need to create moments for the still silent voice of the divine to be noticed, and heard, deep within the centre of our being. To do this we need to create a still space of ‘presence’ and ‘being’. This still space of presence and being does not necessarily mean within the silence and stillness of meditation. The presence and being space of connection to the divine can be deeply entered whilst engaging with the creative arts of all disciplines. For it is within the creative ‘flow’ that we enter into the creative flow of, and with, the divine. It is the flowing place of silence, presence and being. When we engage in the creative flow, whether with the body, words, visual arts and music we move into that place of connection and flow of being. Through the movement and flow of the body, the paintbrush, the instrument or the word we move beyond the constrictions of the mind and enter the expansive connecting space of no-thing within the heart. The space where we sense the still, silent voice of God. When we remove the constrictions of mind-based fact we enter the heart-centred flow of knowing, the space beyond information, the place of silent sitting with and within the divine. This space of creation, and of the creative process, flows with possibilities of new understanding, new connection, and new experience, and assists in the dissolving of stagnation within oneself which often blocks or muddies the path to this place of divine connection. The creative process brings a sense of connection and of being ‘alive’ in a way that is so undervalued and misunderstood in a world which is based on the mind and the physical. The creative flow moves the mind to the side to allow creation, through a medium of any sort, to come into being. It is the flow that is important. The flow of creativity and creation is of the moment. It is connecting to the divine presence by ‘being’ through the ‘doing’. It has nothing to do with the end product, the manifested physical object or output, but has everything to do with entering into the divine silent space of the flow of creation, through the creative act, which allows us to connect to God in a deeply profound and moving way. In today’s world, where we focus so much on the acquisition of facts, the filling of the mind and the collecting of materialistic objects that we close down to our divine connection. We need to become more creative in order to pull the things we know into dynamic and new understanding in order to evolve humanity towards love, compassion and togetherness. We need to provide experiences for this creative flow to be engaged with so that dynamic growth and change can take place. We need to provide both adults and children with opportunities to understand and experience the importance of engaging with the dance of the divine, through the creative space of flow. We need to provide opportunities for them to enter an experiential relationship with God. For them to awaken to the potential of themselves, through the love and light of Christ’s presence via the movement of the Holy Spirit through participation in acts of creativity.’
4th NOVEMBER 2019
My poem ‘Salute’ has been selected to feature in a book by Sampad.org.uk in which people from around the world have written about being inspired by museums. My poem came about from a visit to the ‘Flesh and Bone’ exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum – Oxford, featuring Francis Bacon; a great inspiration. This is where I came across a painting I recognised from long, long ago….
The beat of my heart, the squeezing of my lungs; synapses ceased.
Within the anechoic, charcoal-black room,
Not a flicker of recognition, but a fireball.
Sinews ignite; lightening; burning.
I had known him for 20 years;
But I never really KNEW him.
Back then he reached somewhere deep inside me;
Deep inside the shadowy chamber where DNA dances, tangling with passion and soul.
He spoke to me in delicious tongues that he,
And no-one else I knew,
I took a copy.
I was no longer alone,
Suffocating in the dank-stench of isolation.
We sat in the darkness together;
He showed me the beauty within it.
‘Being an artist is a waste of time’, Concurred the cloned.
The mythical gavel of ignorance fell.
I folded up my friend and identity and filed them away under -‘Sneering’
He was all I kept of ME.
I limped away.
Wandering in the wilderness, the mask of acceptable normality slid around and buckled on my face.
But here I stand,
20 years later;
I no longer ignore the screaming of my soul,
I put my friend back on the wall.
He sings again.
I am not afraid;
I dance inside.
The beat of my heart, the squeezing of my lungs; synapses ceased.
I slid into the anechoic, charcoal-black room,
Where only he,
I hadn’t known who he was,
I hadn’t known who had painted him,
But there HE was;
‘Flesh and Bone.’
Study For Portrait III (After the life mask of William Blake’) 1955.
A name for my taper.
Slicing through the stillness, tears of gratitude salute.
My song roars freely.
Side by side,
On the wall of my studio,
Hang my tattered photocopied friend and my pristine postcard from The Ashmolean;
One and the same.
The Full Circle.
I paint until it hurts.
19th MAY 2014