Reflections On An Unusual Tour
what i've learned so far from the 'prose to poetry' tour.
Last month I embarked on a fairly strange pilgrimage. I booked and promoted a tour in which the people attending had no idea what they'd got themselves in for. Over the course of the North Island 'Prose To Poetry' evenings there were some people who came expecting nothing but poetry while others a full musical performance. Some came along without any particular spiritual attraction to the person of Jesus, others were ex-churched and on the fringes of Christian spirituality and to some, the artistic presentation and conversation was, and I quote, a little "arty farty" for their usual tastes.
Every night was totally different because each night ended with a korero around the ideas of my "presentation". Each community brought their own thoughts, questions and longings to the table so that every night was unique in itself. The result was and is that there is no way to predict what any of these nights would look like, and I love that.
So, what did I do? Well, I started with the poetry I began writing in my recent season of reflection and inspiration. I spoke to the need for respectful and loving conversation in a room full of people all seeking love and spirituality at different stages of their journeys. Then, I shared a four thousand year old philosophical story starting with the oldest poets through to the Greek founding philosophers Plato and Aristotle before moving onward to the then controversial Paul of Tarsus and his bold statements to the the Ephesian Metropolis of the first century.
Then, with more poetry weaved throughout, I told present day stories about the way in which I've seen God moving through and loving those that our rational post-modern minds struggle to reckon with. I gave no context for them, no explanation, no theological paradigm to fit nicely into. They're good Samaritan stories that leave us gripping somewhat uncomfortably to grace and love with more mystery than ever.
Finally, after our journey through the millenia we landed in beauty, mystery and revelation and a discussion around how we can better love one another and the world around us. Almost every night it was at this point that the sensitivity of the Spirit felt at it's most high. Often stories of relief would flow through tears as people shared their own stories of finding Father more beautiful and the life-altering ways of Jesus outworking in their own lives. Most nights we noticed that what I had to say wasn't anything new, but that it helped others to find a new language and way of perceiving the kingdom of God breaking into this world as the truly Good News. It helped give a language to what the Spirit has already been growing in us to almost full term these past years.
We left those evening's together with arms slightly wider toward the stranger and hearts just that little more warmed by the closeness of a Father some were worried had abandoned them.
Now, on the other side of all these evenings something feels so much clearer to me than before; that we are all ready for change and that change is already working it's way through our communities. We're tired of the lack of love and unity not just in the church but between our communities and the most marginalised. We're ready to love in new ways, and to walk out our doors each morning with a refreshed sense that this really is Good News. We are remembering what drew us in in the first place, the return to relationship with our Maker. Not a transaction - a functional relationship build on easily determined lines and laws - but a closeness with the Divine, with Father, and an ordinary but beautiful faith that opens it's doors and sets it's table for all people without concern for their background.
Father is inviting humanity to the table, the table of communion. This invitation is common to every human on earth and it's our unique honour to go out into every nook and cranny and make sure that there is not a soul who feels unwelcome.
We are the poetry of God, not functional nor informational but intestinal, invitational and deeply relational. We are both painfully ordinary yet caught up in the divine story of a God who is reconciling all things to himself with unrelenting love and joy.
And that really is Good News.
P.S, I'm currently booking a 'Prose to Poetry' tour in the United States this September. If you'd like to host an evening at your church, community or home get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.