Tuesday, 31 July 2012

London 2012 Cultural Olympiad - (and my small part in it.)

 So we've now seen the Opening Ceremony of 2012 Olympics
 and heard some differing views on it;
 not least from M.P. Aidan Burley, who rubbished it, 
and Prime Minister David Cameron, who championed it.

I realise I have become impossibly low-brow 
as my favourite bits came from, 
(and I have my 4 yr. old great grand son's complete agreement), 
 Mr. Bean,
and Dizzee Rascal.

 Not even Kenneth Branagh
 as Isambard Kingdom Brunel declaiming Shakespeare topped them for me I'm afraid.

Still, I digress.
I promised to let you know how my part in the Cultural Olympiad played out,
 as I took part in the Godiva Awakes Carnival here in Coventry.

On Saturday I was a spectator, as the magnificent Godiva Drummers got us all in the party mood.
(Click on the video link below to hear them.  At 5 mins rather long but listen to enough to catch the mood perhaps?)

They led us to hear the Book of Intent, 
 compiled by youngsters from all over the Midlands,
 being read, and then danced out most powerfully,
 by youth dancers, 
some of whom danced in their electric wheelchairs.

This book contains the observations,
 and aspirations of the young people, 
along with their pledges to try and fulfill their own aspirations.
It was full of piercing poetic insight, which I found humbling.
And almost all the while the sun shone!

That night Godiva Awoke,
to a spectacular show staged in University Square,
 which lies in front of the ruins of the old Cathedral, 
 and the steps to the new Cathedral,
which rose out of the war time ashes.
It is a symbolic place of hope for Coventry,
and a place where the real Godiva could have trod 
back in the 11th century.
In this brief look at the end of The Awakening,
 (which you can see if you click on the link below),
Godiva is walking to collect the Book of Intent
 which she then took into the old Cathedral ruins for a time of contemplation.

My own small (almost invisible) part in all this began
 on Sunday morning
when I joined the team from the Belgrade Theatre at 10.45.a.m.
Our ages ranged between 8 and 82 years old, with me at 71,
towards the more mature end shall we say.

From then on we joined hundreds of others
 in lines for costume, makeup,
 general instruction, rallying points, etc.

Here are a few of us, already costumed
 and waiting outside one of the changing stations.

Our team is in there somewhere. I wonder can you guess where?

We did a lot of queueing, (very British),
 and stood in side streets with sound trucks pounding out bone-vibrating music,
(and I mean that literally),
until 1.20p.m.
 when we at last joined the procession of dancers
and began to strut our stuff,
 each carrying a 8.5'/2.59mtres long banner.

The hard part 'til then had been not giving in 
to the rhythm all around us
 and dancing ourselves out beforehand,

The down side of being in the carnival is that you see only the performers around you,
This guy, seen in rehearsals was just in front of us.
 so I am relying on friends and family to provide more photos of the spectacular costumes to slot in here later,
 but you can see a very few by clicking on this BBC video link below.

Our place was in the "Freedom" section of the parade,
 and behind and in front of us 
were ornate costumes portraying this in
gorgeously coloured golds, reds, and yellows.
Designed by the top Jamaican designer of carnival costume 
at the cost of an average thousand pounds each,
you might suppose not all of us were so wondrously attired,
 and you would be right.
Yes, that's me in mid picture, next to my friend Jan,
 both of us resplendent in what I will refer to as "coffee" tees ,
with three stripes of coffee and gold on each cheek.

Though we may have envisioned a different "freedom" colour,
 for us it was just being there that was the colour of freedom.

We had such a ball, and danced around the inner city
 for just over 2 hours.
It really did feel like one enormous party.

Then, like all parties it was over,
and Godiva left us for London,

 taking with her The Book of Intent,
which will be presented at parliament.
On her way she will stop at various towns,
 and her presence at each,
 will again be the signal for community celebration and ceremony.

Dear readers, 
I know this has been a longer than usual blog,
but for us here in Coventry,
the Godiva spirit lives on.

 Though our emblematic marionette has gone for now,
her dedication to courage, freedom, and justice,
remains very much part of the on-going life of the city
through the Cathedral's Peace and Reconciliation Centre,
and our modern day Godiva,
Godiva is a focus and rallying point for the many 
diverse cultures and faiths of the city,
and an enabler for us to look beyond what is different,
and to celebrate, reinforce, and liberate
 the rich human potentiality in our midst,
here and the world over.

I am so proud and happy 
to have had the priviledge of being 
very small part in this particular
Cultural Olympiad event.

Be Blessed

Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympic Coventry - Godiva Awakes

Photo:- http://www.london2012.com
Though as I write we are a couple of hours away 
from the beginning of the Olympic Ceremony 
which will officially open the 2012 Games, 
here in Coventry the games have already begun.

As you can see the exclusive Olympic rings are evident in the city, 
as is the welcome for our visitors.

We are already into the third day 
of the  Olympic football competition 
being played out here in the former Ricoh (now Olympic) Arena.

(I have to admit I am not a great fan of the Olympics
but can boast about the ingenuity and industry of Coventry,
as the Olympic torches used for these 2012 Games 
were designed and made here in the city.)
At this moment we can only surmise
 what the Opening Ceremony in London will be.

There are hints that Britain's history will be rolled out
 in one form or another.

Here in Coventry we are in no doubt that our summer festivities,
 beginning tomorrow, 
 continues the story of the Lady, Godiva,
 who is very much part of our city, and our country's history.

The centrepiece of a weekend 
of street theatre and carnival is to be 
The Awakening of Godiva.

She is the heroine who speaks uniquely 
of the need for justice, courage, and hope,
 in the face of oppression and injustice,
 so she remains a meaningful figurehead for our celebrations.

I am slightly amazed to be taking part in the carnival in her honour,
albeit I will merely be one of the hundreds
 taking part in the procession.

I am hopeful my ancient legs will be up to dancing
 through the streets on Sunday,
 and that the threatened rain will be light and refreshing
 and not a deluge.

I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy the
 Olympic Opening Ceremony, 
should you be watching.

Also that wherever your legs carry you this weekend
you will know joy and freedom,
as Godiva would have wished you.

Be Blessed

Friday, 13 July 2012

Kissed by the Dew

Being kissed by the dew is refreshing
but as I've mentioned the dew has been rather heavier 
than we 'd like here of late.

Though we have got off more lightly than many,
this is a corner of our patio 
when the dew was exceptionally heavy. 

In fact we were experiencing
a deluge of dew
 at that particular moment.

Seeing it, and all the
 news coverage of the floods,
 makes the skit that's popping up all over Facebook
almost believable.
... or wherever you are,
may you spend this weekend walking very few fish,
but relishing a fine refreshing dew.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
... like the dew of Hermon
 Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; 
For there the LORD commanded the blessing-- life forever.

Be Blessed

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Appraising the Day - Post Wimbledon

I have to admit I'm not much of a sports fan
 accept when Wales,
 (or any of the other Celtic nations)
 are playing England at rugby.
Then I'm afraid the old tribal blood gets roused 
and I shout for the Celts.
Not proud of it but there it is!

Still, watching Wimbledon this last weekend
 gave me food for thought.

Whilst owning their competitiveness and deep desire to win,
 I was impressed as I heard tennis professionals,
 one after the other,
 coolly appraising their performances.
They could equally well say ,
"I was able to play some brilliant tennis out there today...",
as to unabashedly claim the moments
 " I lost concentration in the second set..." 
" I didn't feel able to move around the court as well as I'd like..." 

Most gracious,
 ( and perhaps more difficult?) 
they could say of their opponent,
"He /she played really well."
"He / she was the better player..."

As somebody who has always found it easier
 to dwell on my weaknesses 
than to be aware of  my strengths
I looked at Andy Murray's 
monumental match against Roger Federer
 in the Men's Wimbledon Finals
 with new eyes.
Whilst not wanting to live in a cloud cuckoo land 
where I am oblivious to my faults and failings,
I don't need to be so hard on myself 
that I don't see that there are two sides to the coin,
 and that there is some good stuff going on as well.
Murray's Supporters       BBC Sports News
In fact, there are things about myself I can appreciate
 and give thanks for 
(un-British as this may be),
Andy Murray  BBC Sports News
because after all I'm not alone in all this,
 (or perhaps especially),
when I feel most as though I am.
Murray's Supporters       BBC Sports News
I may weep over my failings at times for sure,
but may I mostly weep 
because I am touched by the knowledge of the gifts 
I have been given 
by a love greater than I thought possible
BBC Sports News
It isn't healthy or whole to deny our strengths
and to be continually hard on ourselves
anymore than it is to deny our weaknesses 
and be blind to our faults.
BBC Sports News

 I need to embrace ALL that I am.

Be Blessed

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Quality of Light

Yesterday the bruised and dolorous skies healed for a few hours 
and the rain gave way to beautifully warm sunshine,
so a friend and I drove through the Cotswolds
 to Moreton-in-the-Marsh.  

 We had planned to go last week,
but as we were about to go we were treated to giant hailstones
 which dented the roof of her car and persuaded us to postpone!

We are not made for such weather extremes
 here in moderate Britain.

Normal service was resumed weather-wise 
as the rain started up again in the night,
and today we seem to be seeing the fulfilment 
of the met. office warnings of yet again
 getting a month's worth of rain in a few hours.

It has simply been raining without a break , 
with heavier storms arising in the midst of it.

Walking in the park despite the rain, 
I realised there was something different.  
Then it struck me that the quality of the light had changed
The grey lowering skies have made the weeks of rain
 even more dis-spiriting 
yet today the sky was strangely bright
 whilst the rain was no less heavy.

You could almost swear that the sun was about to break out.

Seen through the lens of my phone camera 
a break in the rain looks imminent
   but there wasn't any let up at all,
 and still it rains hours later.

It got me to thinking 
about the times I have felt life was impossibly dark
and only on looking back have I realised
 that all along there had been enough light (just),
to keep me moving forward.
I know that for many the weekends do not allow enough time
 to recover full strength and energy
before there has to be that plunge into the next week
 with all it's new demands,
and all you seem to do is yearn
 for some break in the weight you carry.

I pray that in some way this weekend you will feel 
the benefit of the renewing light
which keeps you yearning towards it.

Be Blessed


Wednesday, 4 July 2012


I so admire those folks who blog faithfully everyday,
 or at least on a regular and frequent basis.

As you can see from the list of blogs I follow
 there are one or two of these lovely people
 from whom I benefit each day

Sadly I know that I am not destined to be one of them because, 
except for the matter of faithfulness to daily neccessities and relationships,
  I tend to go with the flow,
and my flow seems to have many tributaries
so I blog by fits and starts.

I find it very hard to stick to one thing
 when there are so many exciting and attractive 
 possiblities to be explored, 
and energy is limited.

I like to hold things loosely, 
or even keep my hands 
a little empty 
so that I can pick up whatever comes along
 and give it the attention the moment demands.

I painted the little water colour of the bowl 
with this thought of emptiness in mind.

Is it waiting to be filled, or has it just been emptied?

As with each breath we take,
 there has to be an emptying,
a breathing out,
before there can be a fullness,
or a breathing in;
and then just as our lungs are at their fullest,
 they empty themselves,
in readiness for that fresh intake of air.

It can seem scary to find ourselves going through a time of 
upheaval or change,
bereft of the old certainies;
temporarily empty of purpose or a sense of clear direction perhaps.

It's then we can remember that just as we need that fresh breath to maintain life, 
so we will inevitably find new things are begining, 
even as we anguish the passing of the old.

There is something very beautiful about the expectancy of emptiness.

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure.
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again,
 and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
 and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy  and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these
 very small hands of mine. 
 Ages pass, and still thou pourest,
and still there is room to fill.

Rabindranath Tagore   Gitanjali

Be Blessed