Lent 37 : Quick Breaths

Everyone’s excited. The corrupt government will be overthrown. There’s a new leader in town. Yet everyone’s uneasy. Even this great leader shows unease. How will all this end? There’s a strange feeling that this Jesus is going to do something none of us want. A deep breath could help. But God’s breath seems to be present only in snatches. We’ll take what we can.

Lent 34 : Finding Foundations

Growth is surprising. You think you’ve based your existence on something and then as you grow something deeper is revealed. When this piece starts it is ambiguous as to where the first beat is. Only later in the piece do we have a definite beat one.

Life is quite like that. We keep saying that we want to get back to our roots, our foundations; but in reality our foundations keep changing. Not because of a lack of fidelity but because we can discover deeper structures under what we thought were our foundations.

My view of Jesus has changed incredibly over the last decade and a bit. This doesn’t mean I’ve discarded all my old beliefs. However some of my old beliefs needn’t be absolutely at the centre because they are no longer the foundation.

I’ve been led to dig deeper into the skies.

Lent 31 : The Dust Weaver

The desert is dry. Dust flys even at the merest breeze. On the other hand well watered soil sticks together. The Genesis story says that we were made from dust. There is no picture of a well watered garden sprouting forth with humans. There is a sense of play when the wind blows the dust. It is dynamic and the dust can take varied shapes as opposed to rich soil which will fall unmaginatively back to the ground.

We are woven says the Psalmist. (Ps 139) By placing the Psalm next to the Genesis 2 passage I would like to say we are woven from dust.

Lent 30 : I never knew

This piece is inspired by the Charles Ives piece for two pianos. One piano is tuned a quarter tone down. The effect is amazing. This is an entirely new palette for me. This is the beauty of the desert. That new things are possible. With old structures broken down we could do new things. Of course new things will never be received without opposition. But what is new gives hope for an old stricture has been broken.

Lent 29 : The Call

This piece explores the nature of a call. The call is a strange meeting point of circumstance, our own maturing and hearing something from beyond. I like to imagine it as a gentle insistent voice. I would like to think that in my better days this is how I get my 5 year old to tidy up!

I wonder how Jesus realised his call. It must have been so many different things through the first 30 years of his life. His mother’s stories, the oppression of his people, his experiences of the temple and his cousin John. Then he goes forward for baptism and it all comes together. The heavens open as the dimensions collide and the Spirit who brooded over creation comes upon Jesus and drives him to the desert.

Is it in the desert that he realises his true, chilling, calling?

Lent 27 : Moving to the Root

This piece is a Kyrie. It is a song asking God for mercy. Even though there is a sense where the root note of the piece is the melody doesn’t reach it right till the end. The harmonies surrounding it move without touching the root note till near the last cycle of the Kyrie. Then the harmony settles on that chord.

This is an illustration of our times of realisation. We go along in a particular mode, hearing dimly and when we reach the root the realisation is complete. The desert is an important place of the evolution of our realisation.

But why the Kyrie? The desert for all that it takes away and gives to you, is also a source of pride. The urge to make the desert ‘cool’ is strong. Being made a martyr is a strong drug. We all love to indulge in it. Such is one of the facets of pride.

Pride is a power struggle with God and others. I arrogantly assume I see better than my blind immature siblings. I long to take charge. I want thousands of people to listen to my music and be transformed and me be proclaimed a genius. Piously I wait for God to fulfil these ‘reasonable’ desires. Yet these fantastical delusions are steps to death.

So God moves us note by note to take us to the root so that we might realise; in this case my pride. Have mercy, Lord.

Lent 23 : I hear without understanding

Vast amounts of information rush around us. For the most part we don’t really understand it. This is true in church where we keep hearing the scriptures but it all just washes over us.

Jesus quotes the chilling comment from Isaiah ‘…ever hearing, but never understanding, … ever seeing, but never perceiving…’ (Is 6:9, Matt 13:13-14, Mark 4:12)

I think this is about the Spirit. It is the Spirit who allows us to understand, to perceive. It is the Spirit who allows us to have that resonance with a song, a sermon, a gig or a meal. So Jesus says without the Spirit we can’t understand or perceive him.

In the desert, away from the edifices and constructs of our morality and our religion the Spirit blows freely. We wish to take shelter from this dangerous, wild breath. But in order to hear God we have to face the wind. It might be a gentle breeze or a dusty gust but the wind brings close what was far away. We might hear something wonderful.

I don’t know what this piece is about. I hear but have no response to make. Could you? 🙂

Lent 20 : Companions

Halfway through! It’s been quite hard. So far I’ve used two old ideas and about 5 ideas that I had put down in the few weeks before Lent. The rest were conceived pretty much the day before. That’s been hard especially with work and two lovely but full on children. And everyday I feel like giving up. That is the desert.

It’s when giving up is imminent that companions make all the difference. Luiza has been the sympathetic and discerning listener allowing me to live with myself despite my rubbishness. And of course there have been those who have been listening to the songs and commenting. Thanks all of you.

This piece is about two other companions of a different kind. I’ve never seen them but they’ve helped me enormously through my spiritual desert. If faith has made any sense in the last few years then it has been due to the way these two people have articulated God.

The writings of John V. Taylor and Rowan Williams have held my despair at bay, given me a will to believe and an ability to see the world as an intricate fragile work of beauty replenished.

I hang on to the edge of these bishops cassocks (pretty much like I did with my grandfather) and can bear the ride.

The piece is written in the rhythm according to the morse codes of my name, then Rowan’s, then John V Taylor’s and finally underneath it all love.

or listen to it here.