Yesterday it was my eldest sons 13th birthday. We had a wonderful mother/son day in London. I took him to the Lichtenstein exhibition which was just great for him, right up his street! It was a retrospective of comic strip and American pop art, with iconic mass culture imagery, so much fun and quite dotty. We walked the Southbank, ate out, and then lavishly enjoyed the wonderful and humorous Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It was the first time I have been back into a theatre in Victoria, years ago I came here to the Apollo Theatre, to audition for Starlight Express. Theatre and dance have always been (and will always be) a very important part of my life. Before I came to the church, it was my working class way of reaching a level of transcendence unknown to the working classes of yesterday. We had a brilliant day, Billy Elliot is a brilliant show which captures the culture and the hardships of the working classes perfectly. It was inspirational. People’s aspirations whichever their social background must be exulted.
In between our excursions we went for some repose at Westminster Cathedral. It was my sons first ever visit, I gave him a ‘me tour’ filled with whispering stories. We tiptoed past all the people waiting to confess, seeing them turn the corner always fills me with a sisterly knowing delight, at their inner hidden, outer disguised, contradictory emotions, as they await reconciliation and restoration. We said hello to my favourite, St Thérese of the child Jesus, whose charcoal sculptured plaque I Love, and then we took short repose in the Mary chapel beneath the golden breath of the angels.
In the blessed sacrament chapel we prayed for St Benedict, whose last sundown as the pope was this evening. We went to St John’s chapel and prayed for my sons daddy, and we pretend hunted for invisible fallen pieces of golden mosaic treasure, from some of the most beautiful ceilings I have ever seen in the world, which I said might just land at our feet, if it were God’s Will. When my grand tour was over we sat in the Cathedral facing the high altar, whose beautiful huge altar stone is carved with Jesus. My fingers before now have caressed that altar stone, as if reading Him in braille. We spent time just watching and counting the arches, and the arches, and the arches, and the arches, like an echo of portals, transmitting holograms of prayer to somewhere beyond. . . . . . Then we got up and left.
I wonder what journey of the spiritual, my children will endeavour to take, and how their pilgrimages will pan out. Mine went via working class secularism to wild theatreism :O) then cast an eye mildly observingly over tarot readings to paganism and people of the earthism, to white wiccanism to new ageism, to chillaxing yoga to Buddhism . . . . . ism ism . . . . . to observing uninspiring forms of united Christianity. . . and then in a much more serious vein, to my beloved Catholicism :O) And there we have it; mysticism seems to have threaded throughout. Funny ole world.
At the same time as wandering on my pilgrimage and feeling at times chargedly charged and intimately inspired, at other times I have also felt broken circuited, dispirited and dis-inspired. At times I have felt embraced and included in a community that felt not dissimilar to the warmth of an inherited, else adopted family. And at other times I have felt exclusion that equalled a painful lonely cold isolated death. I have learnt to listen with an extra depth to God calling me and reaching out to me, evoking the spirit upon me, making the earth touch me, keeping me real.
As you would have seen if you read my last blog, I was recently touched and inspired by Anthony and the Johnsons, so I invested in his latest album Cut the World. I first discovered him and was inspired by his talent on the Jools Holland’s show. He is a most compelling performer. His existential hurting profoundly inhabits his songwriting, and his wounds are emptied of their pain and filled with hope. I was taken aback when I first listened to the album on my iPhone whilst on one of my walking with God walks; between the heart-melting tones and orchestrated harmonies, there was a polemic rant about the pope and his message of gay marriage, which clearly opposed Anthony’s transgendered Wiccan views. Dispite his rant, Anthony’s rejected Catholic upbringing has given his songwriting a contradictory complex, and I think, Christian spiritual edge.
But still his search for truth, through the beauty and order of the universe, and the spiritual contradiction of his search, ring with the poetic injustice of life. I think this makes his searching most valid and fragile, like being thrashed through a furnace, mailable, shaped, forged, and tempered, emerging stronger and harder. The transcendental experience of God for Anthony is incarnate in all created earthly matter. For him, we are not destined for a spiritual kingdom beyond this world, but spiritually and fundamentally reincarnate of the earth. For him the female birthing, menstruating earth ruled by the tides and the moon, are a fundamental characteristic of God, whose presence is evident in creation.
So I am leaving this post with a couple or so relevent songs. Having felt hung drawn and quartered, feeling forever free in dance, loving st Francis and the natural order of the world, and loving too the cosmic order of the universe. Being in Love with our beautiful humanity and with our beautiful God designed and brought to life bodies, whose chargedness searches for God, through Love, I leave you with a little contemporary food for thought- inspiration through Anthony and the Johnsons lense.
Wonderful, wonder full world.
And just a little overflowing with surreal artistic licence