It’s January 1st and with Bella our cat snoring at the end of my bed I felt to use this otherwise quiet moment to write the last and first post of mine for 2020/21.
This Winter has felt intense in many ways, sometimes beyond a usual state of life unfolding – more something unseen and within, a kind of slow readjusting at the roots of what it means to be human living in a changed world that was unimaginable for most 12 months ago.
While much has changed, it seems to me other things, maybe questioned more now but remain; our inequalities, our social injustices and our greed and other I would say normalised mental health issues that maintain them, causing some, materially, to hold, and in cases vastly improve upon, their resources while others are becoming more lacking.
I reflect at this time of the year what role my interests as an artist have in these questions, how can song have influence?
In a story told by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh there is a storm, and we are on a boat, the waves and wind unpredictable. If we let fear move us we may run from side to side with panic and confusion, it we stay both emotionally and physically centred, the stability of the boat is our stability, as we weigh the centre.
I have recorded this relaxation on this theme, maybe you find it useful. I’ll be recording more through the year that will be on my rest/relaxation page and on Insight Timer too.
Life in my projects has been both hard and momentarily wonderful, my work in school has been ceased since Spring and so I have turned my attention to The Day Centre For Asylum Seekers (guitar sometimes involved – mostly helping with food bags and cleaning and organising a protest action which features below) The Quakers and Plum Village (Guitar very much involved – running our Quaker children’s groups on zoom and Plum Village days of mindfulness with Wake Up and more recently a festival project (see below ‘Winter Warmer Festival‘). A few reasons to be busy I’ve been glad I felt draw to.
Winter Warmer Festival – Thanks to my partner in festival making Rachel Butt – we put on a festival to raise funds for Plum Village this Winter. It grew from a small idea into something much bigger, more colourful and diverse – come have a look
NRPF Protest – I’d like to tell you about something called No Recourse To Public funds that affects many people in the UK despite many politicians, jounalists and social activists questioning it – this video is from a protest I helped to organise in late Autumn, there will be more let me know if you’re interested.
Save The Oaks – wanted to give tribute here to the group of friends who gathered at Cox’s Walk toward the end of last year to question my local council about the removal of 2 Oak trees, estimated to be about 100 years old each. In conversation with the protestors it was interesting to me to understand that the group, protecting the trees from planned removal to enable an adjacent bridge development, had organised another plan that avoided the need to take them down. Having been overlooked, the protestors told me it was almost certain that the council and the developers who got the contract had a relationship playing into the decision. After playing a few songs (at a distance) I left that day wondering how many contracts are awarded this way, over looking environmental concerns, what is it in us that seemingly doesn’t take a climate emergency in serious terms. Many of our eyes I know will be on this unfolding story this year.
There’s so many reflections at this time of year and I love to read them, prayers and intentions for ourselves and others in the year ahead. I have some of my own and I felt I like sharing some here to close:
From my journal
What is my role at this time? It seems evident the year ahead will bring its fears and anxieties, how do we be there for each other and ourselves in effective, practical and spiritual ways and learn how these two inter-are.
What is my relationship to purpose – (I’m down for next years Chaplaincy training retreats with the Quakers and hope this path to be fruitful)
I’d also like to learn how to prune trees. Something I wish to do this Winter in our communities garden. In the case of the apple, also fruitful I hope !