Monday, October 20, 2008

20th October.

This is the first poem I performed in St. Mary's Place:

Now what we need to understand is this:
All we see is mostly lies.
This world conceals, confuses and confounds
And what we see is not the thing that it appears.
Hear me, if you have eyes.
See me, if you have ears.

This is a secret place
You’ll find it on no maps.
It has a talent to conceal itself
As we do our selves.
The first time I was brought here
I was guided by an angel in disguise.
Appearing like an ordinary punkish kind of being
With spiky hair, her piercings, and her jeans.
But I knew her to be an angelic force
With fiery hair and glowing eyes
And the most gorgeous celestial robes
Striding through the city streets
With boots and flaming sword
Proclaiming the the majestic power of the word.

And yet this angelic power, guiding me to this spot,
Got lost.
This little square had thrown up a mist
To test our faith and courage.
I see you begin the understand
The uncanny powers of this sacred place.
Enter it
With reverence and caution.

And here where we stand
Within the inmost grove of sacred trees
Don’t tell me you can’t see the trees
Or hear the singing of the nightingales!
I don’t want yet again
To hear how the stairway toheaven
Looks like a fire escape
Or how the temple kitchens, where the acolytes
Cooked and served such fragrant banquets, such celestial feasts
Appear to belong to a noodle franchise.
Don’t tell me
No-one goes through the doorway to the other world
And the inner sanctuary, the place of sacred power,
Is just a sub sub station for electricity.

What’s happened to us
What’s so degraded our sight
So debased our minds
That all we can use this precinct for
Is to park our cars in it?
Don’t lets be fooled
Or be deceived by the mundane.
It’s from the queen of earth and heaven
This square takes its name.

One day, like us maybe, she’ll find herself again
She’ll throw off all disguise
These concrete squares which mark the trees
Will crack and splinter as the forest grows again
As the whole city is reclaimed by mother earth
And this drab nightmare returns to dream.

Jo Clifford 12 September 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

10 October 2008

I saw an extraordinary sight on the television news today.

An equity fund manager, one of the apostle of unequity, grotesque greed and injustice who has been making our lives a misery, saying that the only future for the world economy was for banks to be nationalised. More than that: internationalised.

This coming from one of the men who have been preaching for us for years about the need for ‘light touch’ government regulations of markets, because the market always knows best.

It’s a bit like hearing a vindication of evrything I have been saying since the early nineties about the long term unviability of the world economic system; of the bankruptcy of our culture’s values; of the need of the artist to abandon futile cries of despair and help dream a new world order into being.

The consequences are likely to be so violent, and the suffering so intense.. I’m not sure I like being right.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

5 October 2008

Today I did the strangest thing. Strange for me, at least. I joined a church.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Edinburgh has two new members, and I’m one.

I was thinking afterwards: “But I’ve never belonged to anything before”
And then I thought of the lovely Buddhists. Of all the amazing people I’ve met in and through Biodanza. Of the theatres I’ve worked in. Of the Drama School I’ve worked in. Of the church we went to when we lived in Roslin.

And yes, I have belonged. But on another level I’ve always run away from organisations, because I’ve always felt, or always known that they would never allow me to become myself. And what’s different about this one is that I’ve joined it formally to become me. In the fullest sense as a spiritual being.

A little voice says: this may well be very foolish.

But I’ve known for so long that the spiritual side of us as human beings is so important. And I’ve tried to write all my plays in the awareness of this. And I know that although we have to develop our spiritual sense alone, up to a point, this is something that also needs to happen collectively. And I know that much as I love the teachings of the Buddha, there is something missing for me in them.

And I know... and as I sit here thinking of this, so much floods up.
So much, it will take a lifetime to explore it.

And all the reasons that I could think of not to take this step were all negative. To do with feeling I hadn’t served my time. I hadn’t shown enough commitment. I wasn’t good enough. I wouldn’t be accepted. I was scared...

Something happens to us, I think, those of us who grew up feeling we didn’t belong. Didn’t belong to the men, didn’t belong to the women. Didn’t belong anywhere.
Our whole beings can shrivel under the weight of that.
And it so matters to get out there and contradict all that as best we can.
Whatever happens.

And if I really think about it, maybe what clinched the whole thing was the fact that the Rev. came to my house and drank my tea. And listened to me, and allowed me to listen to him. And laughed. He has a good laugh. My heart warms to it.

I think maybe in the end that is why.
And maybe that’s a bit frivolous.

But more probably not.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

4 October 2008

I was at a 60th birthday party last night.

These events used to be abstractions. Certainly something that happened to somebody else.

Somebody else I would feel vaguely sorry for, feeling that for all intents and purposes their live was mostly over.

But all that has changed now I know that in two years time the sixtieth birthday I will be celebrating will be mine.

(and suddenly, with a pang, I remember that another sixtieth we would have been celebrating this year would have been Susie’s)

I’m present at these celebrations now with a certain heightened awareness, a kind of anxiety. I wonder: will I want to celebrate mine this way? Or that way?

I’m not sure, but I suppose part of our reluctance to think about these events has to do with our reluctance to think about death. Someone had asked me politely what I was doing just now, and I was talking about my new play. “Every One”, I told them, “is about death”.

And I told them a bit of the story, and I told them that I have been exposed to a lot of death the last few years, one way or another, and that although it was painful it wasn’t altogether a bad thing. That I have been left with a reverence and appreciation for life. That our culture’s utter reluctance to accept the fact of death is very unhealthy and actually causes great unhappiness.

Another conversation: someone talking about watching a TV news item about a new set of wind generators in the countryside and the difficulty they seemed to be having to find someone cross about it.


And maybe the relentless negativity of our culture is death’s revenge, somehow, for being so ignored. To be sure, we seem obsessed with, and hell bent on, our own destruction.

I was thinking of all this, and my heart started to beat uncomfortably loud. As it does at least once or twice every day. The Middle Ages used to value these moments when you became aware of death. “Memento Mori”.

Because one reason it is unpleasant to be aware of the beating of your heart is that it also makes you aware of the fact that one day, some time, perhaps now, it will stop.

And I don’t need to carry around a skull to remind me. It’s built in to me.

But then that’s not the whole story. Because one thing I am continually reminded of is how amazing and wonderful it is to live. And how life simply offers us all these infinite possibilities.

In that sense, this is not a Memento Mori. Neither the party nor the uncomfortable beating of my heart. It is a Memento Vivere.

Remember to live.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

2nd October
The vicar came to tea today.
He wasn't quite your usual vicar, since he's in the metropolitan community church, which I'm thinking of joining.
he's very lovely and he laughs a lot and when I was talking a bit about the whole process of transitioning from John to Jo he said he could do a ceremony of re-naming. A baptism, if I wanted.
I was so moved at the thought of this I started crying...
There is something so profound and poignant in all this that I simply don't understand.
Maybe don't need to understand. Maybe it passes all understanding.
But my weird sense that spirituality is at the heart of us isn't so weird after all...


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]