ASCENSION! (a Breakfast Eucharist at St David’s little church on the North Gower Marsh)

•May 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

ascension dali    AFTER THE atomic bombs of 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the artist, Salvador Dali was deeply disturbed by the possibilities for evil and destruction that science afforded. “Since that time,” said Dali, “the atom has become my favourite subject of reflection. Many of the landscapes painted over this period express the great fear I felt at the news of that explosion. I was applying my paranoiac-critical method to the exploration of that world. I want to see and understand the power and hidden laws of things so as to gain control over them. In order to penetrate into the marrow of reality I have the genial intuition of having an extraordinary weapon available to me — mysticism, the deep intuition of what is, an immediate communion with the whole, absolute vision through the grace of truth, by divine grace.” I guess only an artist could use language like that!

Anyway, Dali painted the Ascension in 1958 but it is part of series of Christ paintings that he said were a response to a cosmic dream he’d had in 1950, a dream which he said was in vivid colour. It is certainly a mystical painting. Christ’s ascension, rather than a literal rising into the clouds from the top of a mountain, is for Dali about Christ’s passing not from the material world into the heavenly world, but into the very centre of the atom. Christ is not leaving the world, he is entering its atomic structure. The ascension is not so much a movement up and away but a movement out from the singular flesh and being and into the very core of all flesh and being. Notice that though Christ’s body is resurrection pure, beautiful, healed of the wounds of torture and death, his hands and fingers are extended, claw-like, in anxiety and pain. This passing is no easy passing because Christ must not only go through the horror of First Century crucifixion, which we know he already has, but through the modern horror of nuclear and atomic manipulation by humankind to evil ends. Christ has conquered death and a broken world is being restored and yet humankind is still hell bent on destroying the world and everything in it. Dali’s wife and muse, Gala, is above the atom, gazing at Christ’s face and weeping. As usual, Dali does not let us gaze on Christ’s face. But the muse has mystical insight; she does see the face of Christ and it makes her cry. Art, beauty, feminine compassion, the antidote to the masculine war games of atomic bombing, can only look on and weep, crying for the hopelessness of the progress-crazed human condition, but moved also to tears of joy in the realization that the Cosmic Christ is in all and, though his struggle is potentially eternal, he will never give up. Not only that, but the mystic one, who gazes on the face of Christ, will be drawn by the force of Christ’s movement into the same atomic portal into which he goes. Christ does not leave us orphaned, he has gone to prepare a place for us and he will come and take us to himself. The Holy Spirit overarching the atom and Christ links the weeping woman with the atomic Christ, her head is the Spirit’s head, her body is the Spirit’s body. I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. There is no separation between the ascended Christ and the mystic. The mystic is he or she who prays through the Spirit in us. If you go for a walk and just notice, with wonder, the beauty of a flower, the song of a bird, the texture of a leaf, the Christ in the eye of the stranger or known one, or even just the material in the concrete slab you walk on, then you are, in that moment, mystic!

Ok. What am I trying to say? Huh?

I don’t know what happened on that mountain in any literal way. But I don’t think it is important to know how it works. The ascension is about truth far deeper than historical or scientific facts or any other kind of knowledge humankind can work out for itself. If Christ stayed on the mountain, then by now the whole world would be at his feet worshipping him. But that would be meaningless. Christ would be no more than an idol onto which all the world would project its collective and individual responsibility. This would be abeyance to supreme power but it would not be love. Christ’s purpose, Christ’s being, Christ’s message, Christ’s new commandment, is love. Christ ascends from the idol so that he comes to us in every cell, every atom, every particle, in the very DNA of the universe. This is how much Christ loves us. Well, he loves us more than that but I think I’ve stretched my capacity for language enough now and it’s nearly time for breakfast. Blessed Ascension to you!




•March 20, 2017 • 2 Comments

ffynnon-fair-cefn-001.jpgTHEY SAID to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves…

The Samaritan woman is able to attract the people of her village to the Messiah because she has met him and received from him the Living Water. She is able to lead the people to where he is, that they might also drink. They meet Christ, drink the Water and so believe. They are Saved.

But what does all this mean for us? What is the Living Water? How do we get it and how do we bring the people to receive it for themselves? After all, we can’t just go down to the local well and meet Jesus there, can we? And we can’t then run back to Crofty, or Llanmorlais, or Pernclawdd, or Llanrhidian and tell everyone to come and meet the Messiah.

We can’t even go down to St Illtyd’s well by Llanrhidian church and get that water either, can we? Well, no, and then again, yes we can. We can do all of these things.

There are clues all over the place in our readings today and throughout the Bible. But the clues are particularly intense in John’s Gospel. Here’s one very powerful clue: ‘…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth… God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’

And another – ‘Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’

Jesus teaches as a spiritual master teaches. There is nothing literal here. Jesus uses metaphor to take us to the deeper reality, to the essence of being. This essence of being is not mortal, it is Divine. True being is enlivened, animated by Holy Spirit. It is the true nature of our being, made in the image of God. To become conscious of the animating Spirit is to drink of the Living Water. This is the Water for which all souls cry out, consciously and/or unconsciously. Everyone we can ever meet in our lives is thirsty for this Water. That’s why Jesus says ‘the harvest is ripe.’ But he also says ‘the workers are few.’ A traditional interpretation of that is that not enough people are willing to go out and bring in the harvest for God. For me, that’s not quite right. There have been times when the church has been pumping with ministers, congregations and evangelists. But I don’t think all that necessarily brings in the harvest at all. I sense that what Jesus is talking about is that there are but few who are qualified to do the harvest.

This qualification is not any kind of material or worldly qualification. It can’t be gained by studying theology or training to be a priest or evangelist. It can’t be gained by working out the most profound philosophical or scientific argument at any given time or even of all time. Rumi says …the Man of God is not learned of book but made wise through truth. The qualification Jesus speaks about, the only qualification that is relevant, is simply that of drinking the Living Water and in so doing to become conscious. That’s it! That’s all. In becoming conscious, we worship in spirit and truth. All the trappings of religion, education, false perception, judgemental thinking, need to control or cling, well they just crumble and die, fade into the dust, blow away in the wind. When we have this Water, when we worship in Spirit and Truth, we are ready to make the harvest. Until we do it, it doesn’t matter how ripe the harvest, we can’t do anything to help.

I mentioned Illtyd’s well and I truly believe you can find the Living Water there. I expect Illtyd did, just as St David did on the cliffs of West Wales and Teilo in the Pwll Du Valley. But they found it not by any kind of magic. It was their sensitivity to the thin place. If the well helps you to be sensitive then go there. But the true thin place is within your heart. You don’t actually need to go anywhere to find it. Just stay, right here, right now. The gate to the kingdom of heaven is open. The harvest is ripe. God bless you.

Take a System Break

•March 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

THE WORD world in the Gospels doesn’t mean creation. It implies the systems that human beings come up with to administer their societies. So, it really means, The System or else it sometimes refers to the people who are caught up in it. The System is almost always going to be in diametric opposition to the Way, the Truth and the Life, by its very nature, that it is conceived in the first place as a means of control and stabilization. The conscious follower of Christ, born (again) of the Spirit, is like the wind, not controlled nor stable. (S)he is in the world but not of the world. Hiraeth for the kingdom of heaven is the emotional mist in the psyche of the follower of Christ.

So, who are we, if we say we are Christ’s body, and what is our purpose?

If we just take a break from our programmed, religion-doctrined ideas about God, it is not too difficult to realise that much of our language about God Almighty, Lord, King etc is misleading. I am not saying it is wrong to make intercession to the Lord God Almighty, we know when we do that there is a transference of meaning in the power of those words. But what I am saying is let’s do it consciously. Let’s notice, when we pray or read, the vulnerability which God chooses to reveal in the New Testament. Jesus takes no System titles for himself and he does not seem to envisage his followers taking over the world. If we take away our indoctrined lenses, we can see in the Gospels that the most Jesus seemed to hope for is that his disciples might become a little flock (Luke 12:32), or like a little salt, leaven or yeast (Matthew 13). Jesus imbues the patience and humility to trust a slow leavening process.

We are programmed to worry that our churches are not full of people waving their arms in Christ-praising ecstasy. But that was never the plan! Christ’s hope was and is that there’d be just enough people who, like Abram in our Hebrew Bible reading today, Paul in the New Testament, or like the psalmist, are prepared to walk out of the safety of systemic country or kindred, lift up their eyes to the hills and go faith to be the leaven in the dough and so save the entire world from blind delusion and self-destruction.

Muster live at Club Integral

•March 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

and to think it was once enough for me to listen to the Jesus and Mary Chain. Thank you Dan

Dan Powell

James and I did Muster at The Others in Stoke Newington a couple of weeks ago, we liked it enough to put it on Soundcloud. I also got to play in a trio with Annie Kerr and Kev Moore at the same event as Gus Garside was indisposed (by Storm Doris, he was stuck in Manchester).

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•February 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there…”                                                                                                                            ~ Exodus 24.12

feet in the wild.jpg

Come away o human child, to the waters and the wild…

     “…WITH A FAERY, hand in hand, for the world’s more full of weeping, than you can understand…” I love the bardic melodies in the poems of the Irish mystic, WB Yeats. They feel to me as natural as the sea. Yeats’ words seem to dance like the notes and grace notes of a Gaelic reel, so free and yet so deeply laden with the hiraeth of a wandering soul that somehow walks the shrouded lines between catching a glimpse at something and the realisation that probably that something can never really be retold. The voices in the poems seem at once lonely and yet wholly befriended and befriending. In Stolen Child, the reader is called, through Celtic mythology, into contemplation and so to discover a more innocent wildness of being than the sad and disconnected world that has become the political and social landscape of our lives.

Lent is a call to our deeper selves, urging us into the deserts and wastelands of our consciousness, offering us the space in which we might remember or discover whom really are, beneath the layers of anaesthetic sold us so easily and enticingly by the philosophic traders in the material. “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there…”, says I AM   to Moses in our reading from Exodus. We are told the prophet stayed there 40 days and 40 nights.  “Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves”, remembers Matthew in the Gospel passage. On the mountain, in the wild, God shows what is real. For the one who will stop a while and steal a gaze into the mist and so be graced “eyes to see”, the one who contemplates by opening the heart and so finds a blessed descent from the noisy mind, who listens for the melody of the poet, for this one, and perhaps only for a moment, the veil of truth is lifted.

If all this sounds a bit exclusive, and Moses and the fishing-for-men big three does, doesn’t it – well, according to the Gospel, if the Gospel really is the Message of Jesus Christ, it is not exclusive at all! Every breath and every word on Jesus’ lips breathes and teaches that God wants to reveal God’s self to every single one of us! So, come on. Take some time. There is much going on in Gower this Lent, in churches and outside. Come with us or travel alone but anyway come away o human child, to waters and the wild


•February 3, 2017 • 1 Comment

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? ~ Isaiah 58. 6-7


       RELIGION and spirituality may walk hand in hand, like lovers, and sometimes they do. All too often though, religion is arrested and enchained by rulers and oppressive control systems. The various prophets recorded in Isaiah speak into this condition. Paul speaks into it. Jesus speaks into it. Every biblical reading, any Sunday or any time we open the Bible, speaks into it. Religion contains many gifts and it can set us free or it can be used to tie us up and disable our spirit. Then we might use religion ourselves to close down our hearts and drug ourselves with programmes of fake happiness, not because we want to but because unconsciously we are trained that way. Jesus says, “Wake up!” “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…”

We all know what is real, deep inside. When you go into the garden this week, you might be filled with thoughts of what you must do to prepare the garden for Spring and Summer and you might start clearing, digging, planting… but then suddenly you might notice the earth, the life around you, and sense, in a way words can’t say, that you are one with the earth and the breeze and the life…and you will fall into prayer. And after a while, or straight away, your prayer will have no words. And you might know that you are in the presence of God. You might even realise that that Presence is not separate from you, that actually nothing that really is, is separate from you. Ah now, the chains? Where are the chains? Just let the prayer and the noticing go on… Heddwch chi…


•January 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’

 ~ 1 Kings 17.8-9


“I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar … for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

       GOD has told his mightiest living prophet of the day to go somewhere, it could be anywhere, and he will be fed by a woman whom God himself has prepared for the task. But when Elijah gets there, he finds the woman hasn’t really got any food at all and she doesn’t seem to be aware of any high purpose she might have. In fact, she has given up any expectation of getting through the famine of a long drought and simply wants to scrabble together a tiny last meal to share with her child before they lie down together and wait for death to take them from their misery. No doubt the last thing she thinks she needs right now is a wild-eyed, matty-haired man of God asking her for something to eat!

We could think about Elijah’s faith in following through on a seemingly hopeless situation but this isn’t really about him. He’s been fed by ravens in the wilderness and sucked water from a rock to quench his thirst, so this probably doesn’t even seem too unpromising to him now. No. This is about the woman.

When Elijah commands her to do as she says she intends to except that she must feed him first, she does what he says! Why? Is she just so desperate that she’ll do what this loser says because he is forceful enough, and she and her son are going to die anyway, so what’s the point in arguing about it? Well, no doubt there is a Dylanesque element of, “When ya ain’t got nothing, ya got nothin’ t’lose” about it, but there is something more than that here. When the man of God speaks to her, there is something deep inside her that knows that what is happening to her is of God.


Because deep down inside, every creature, everything that lives, knows the Maker and recognizes authenticity. God really has prepared every single one of us!

        What will it take to make us see?

                                                      And then if we see, what are we going to do to wake the others?

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