Monday, 19 December 2011

Occupy- Mass Sing Up!

Well I am now a member of the Occupy Choir! I will be singing on the steps of St Paul's on 21st December between 6.30pm and 7.30pm as part of a mass "sing-up". The rehearsal took place in an abandoned building owned by UBS which is known as the bank of ideas. It was quite an odd rehersal space. It was like visiting the set of a film in a dystopian future in which society is disintegrating. I can see why some of the protesters style themselves as the character from "V for Vendetta". Most of the songs we hope to sing are taken from oppressed people around the world including the African American spirituals "Children Don't Get Weary" and "Find The Cost Of Freedom". There are also the songs that were popular from the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s such as "Azikatale namojaya boshwa ze ze mitze linke loule ko" which means "we do not care if we go to prison, it is for freedom we are fighting now". Fortunately I do not have to think to hard about whether I can sing that with conviction living in a liberal democracy, but it is appropriate to evoke the spirit of people who are struggling across the world struggling against economic oppression. Some of the more secular leftists I sing with are a little jittery that we appear to be singing even "mildly Christian" songs but the choir facilitator told us the story of how she went on a trip to Bosnia to get a cross-community choir to sing a song uniting Christians, Muslims and Jews who had previously been in conflict. She described the act as "subverting religion to use as a force for good". I quite agree! :)

Well, when I am out singing on Wednesday evening I expect it will be cold so renewed respect for the people camping out every night in London and the other occupy locations. You think you know these old Christmas songs, but as time goes on I find that this one by Jona Lewie is not so much about warfare as the human state!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Take Rest

We all have ways of finding rest and recovery. Some people know exactly what to do to help their minds and bodies relax. For others it takes a while to work out how to settle and it's not always in the same way. 
   In an art class I attended where we were asked to express different words. One young man chose the word 'relaxation' and created a wreath of dried leaves, suggesting that kicking through autumn leaves was his way of relaxing. The tutor was surprised; he was expecting an artwork related to meditation, or perhaps a hot bath! Resting the mind may not require the same actions as resting the body. However, it is vital - if we are to maintain a balance in our lives - for us to have a chance to recharge the batteries of the soul. 
   I like this quotation by Ovid 'Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.' and I am sure we have all had times when we have been rushing from one thing to another without a chance to stand still. We know, in those snatched moments of clarity, that it won't be long before the lack, of sleep, of slowing down, will affect the way we do things. No-one can 'run on empty' forever.
   'Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.' May we be fertile fields, rested and ready to produce our bounty.
   I realise my own ways of resting and relaxing all include an element of conscious action; whether it is drawing buildings in London or walking in countryside, the act of noticing my surroundings and feeling fully connected to them allows my mind to rest and my soul to be at peace. 
   There is a Chinese Proverb which says 'Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.' 

   Spirit of Life and Love, help us to recharge the batteries of the soul this weekend, and to find those quiet moments of peace throughout the coming week.