May and June

“Only when you start questioning injustice, you start being human. Only when you start questioning inequality, you start being human. Only when you start questioning prejudice, you start being human. Only when you start questioning discrimination, you start being human.” 
― Abhijit Naskar, Aşkanjali: The Sufi Sermon

Serenity Prayer meditation/ Grenfell/ St Sigfrids Way/The heart Movement/

Summer 2021; arriving into the summer months that move toward an opening. Like many I’m connecting to friends and family again, have regular tests and have after months of waiting and considering arrived at a peace in myself that can hold the idea of vaccines. Not that I’m against it at all though I had some concerns, more what I felt was missing from the pandemic story. recently wrote a piece for a Quaker Journal that shared my thoughts on that, as the title of the piece, that there is ‘No vaccinate a spiritual crisis’ -speaking to friends; including Doctors, hospital staff and hospital Chaplains, and reading articles about vaccines and pandemics brought me to where I am at present. Here is the piece, please share your thoughts if you wish.

With the uncertainty that’s been so present in myself and around me I turned to the serenity prayer – something that the 12 step programme is famous for. I made this meditation for Insight Timer in late April: maybe you find it helpful too:

https://insighttimer.com/joeholtaway/guided-meditations/serenity-prayer

It’s been 4 years since 72 passed in the Grenfell fire; the tower block at the centre of an inquiry around building regulations and responsibility. I knew, sitting under the Grenfell Tower this week, I wanted to write the experience into the journal here. The Grenfell Community are, it seems, stronger than ever, motivated by the mounting evidence that avoidance of certain of safety procedures were a reality at the tower. The memorial display contained prayers, memories, names and questions. I was an outsider on Monday (14th) hearing about the evening from a friend, wishing to maintain the communal marking of the event, organisers chose not to widely advertise the gathering for reasons of the pandemic.

It reminded me how insightfully those affected by something like this can organise ceremony, events, and vigils. Grief held in a collective heart. I sat after a few talks for 2 hours watching people pass in and out of the space.

I wonder if there are those who would take responsibility and whether they will. Is it ever personal? I don’t think so, I believe there’s systemic negligence and a culture of inequality that means some will always suffer until those in positions of responsibility see enough with the eyes of love that decisions come from a place of care. I often wonder what business and politics might look like that held care for others as a principal.

I wrote this song – work in progress – in reverent memory of the fire.

In my last post I spoke about my friend Beth’s pilgrimage St Sigfrid’s Way, a 2 month walk starting in the north of England. We’ve known each other since Beth’s early pilgrimage projects with St Ethelberger’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation. We both have a love for being in nature as a way to understanding life’s rhythms; footstep after footstep a long walk connects us to it we both felt. This latest project from York to Ramsgate, had me join Beth from Barnsley to Sheffield where we hosted a folk club mid way in Stokesbridge. Songs from people of the area, influenced as we were by this love of nature and also community. Stokebridge became known for family poverty and is rebuilding from the closure of Liberty Steel, a long time industry there. On Greave House Farm, a community project run by couple Barbara and Chris, we gathered for prayer and protest song and all felt possible!

Beth and I spoke the next day about pilgrimage, inter-faith, song, environmentalism, feminism, spirituality, prayer, protest and how Beth was doing on this pilgrimage. I asked last week if I might repeat some of the questions again and share some B’s insights… they will follow in the next week or so…

Lastly these months I’ve been on tour with The Heart Movement and will be again in Leeds with this. A project to bring mindfulness, heart math (a realtime feedback on how you are doing inside!), conversation, listening spaces art and song to a public space near you (if you’re in the UK) Ill be with 2 friends Leah and Kareem (pictured below).

I find the project touching for the conversations. In what has seemed 18 months of existential reflection/ anxiety/ coping/ getting by – the sharings so far have been heart opening. I don’t know your names to thanks you but you’ve inspired me to keep speaking from here (hand on heart)

As part of the project I was asked to write a song. I’ve got this demo to share called Beyond The Borders

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