To begin with, a prayer or invocation.
Let this writing fall onto the page like a leaf, gentle in autumn or as blossom shed with wild abandon in spring, like wind- blown seed, scattered in summer or like a drift of snowflakes in winter, let it drift and settle freely where it will. Let it settle quietly; simple markings, like birds feet on tidal sand.
I’m a 55 year old man, Partner of 30 years to Tia and Father to Hazel and Matty. I live in Somerset, England. I am a gardener, a walker, a thinker and sometimes in the world, a facilitator, coach, teacher. I act as a companion and friendly ear to business executives from all around the world. Business isn’t really my specialty but i have dedicated my entire professional career to working with people, often people struggling with difficult human challenges and this has proved as useful in the business world as it did in my first careers in the fields of addiction and criminal justice. Mostly today i am a market gardener, running a two acre farm in Somerset with Tia and this gives me a great deal of joy and satisfaction because it roots my daily life and rhythms into the place that i find most trustworthy, reliable and consistent which is the natural world.
I love education and love to work with people from all walks of life. When i think of what education means to me i am drawn to the words of St Thomas Aquinas;
‘Teaching is a process that goes on between living souls. The teacher looks not only at the truth of things; at the same time he looks at the faces of living people who desire to know this truth. Love of truth and love of souls – only the two together constitute a teacher.’
This feels right to me and it orientates the way in which i seek to create spaces for learning and development
I love to think and I love to write, prose sometimes, but especially poetry. I love to grow things. I love gardening, walking, working outdoors.I love the wilderness- out there and in me. I value silence, appreciate stillness, love to dance, love paradox, I try to live with my contradictions.
As i get older, I find myself more and more interested in notions of eldership. I wonder about the world, about how there seem to be so few elders and yet so many elderly today. I wonder about the next generation, about the epidemic of attention deficit and its possible causes amongst the young and i wonder a great deal about the very serious concerns that are washing up on our shores today in the shape of the climate crisis, deforestation, ocean pollution and soil degradation amongst other things. I wonder if this is a time of global initiation, a time of kairos that will be requiring of all of us if we are to survive as a species with any kind of dignity intact. I wonder how i can best serve.
I am not a religious man exactly but i do value the principles of faith and faithfulness and i ask questions.For me faithfulness has a root strength that belief lacks. Belief seems to be something that one clings to in hope where faith actually requires a letting go, a ‘surrendering to’ with some courage and humility in the face of the great mystery that surrounds our lives in every direction. I feel a tremendous rush of grace sometimes when i am gripped by this sense of faith i have both in and with the world. It’s something i hope to explore from time to time in this blog space.
I wonder what poets are for in destitute times. The question was posed by Martin Heidegger in 1946 in response to Frederich Holderlin’s elegy Bread and Wine. It’s a question that has vexed me, challenged me and provoked my thinking and my work since I first came across it several years ago. I think Heidegger’s question provides another central organizing principle for this blog. The blog itself is an inquiry into several things including the issue of faith; I wonder about the work and purpose of poetry for guidance and understanding as well as the place for the poet and the poetic mind in our current culture. It is an inquiry too into the human experience of destitution, private and collective and the possibility of redemption as offering a complementary gesture to the destitute state. Maybe it has something to do with ideas of home and homelessness
Heidegger said the poets work must be to help us to grasp the reality of our actual destitution in an alien world that has been abandoned by the gods. We live in a kind of limbo, he suggests, too late for the gods and too soon for being, meaning the capacity for a cosmic and harmonious experience of presence or order in the world. We might imagine he might be pointing to a felt sense of loss with something like the Taoist sense of participation in ‘the way’.
John Moriarty offered an alternative view; that poets are healers who, being healed themselves, might help to heal us all culturally in the visions, myths and rituals we live. Moriarty calls for a re-enchantment of the world which at the same time represents a radical act of disillusioning, a painful emergence, he would say, from the anaesthetic of our cut off, modern ways of living in the world that do indeed seem to have left so many of us feeling privately alienated and destitute. What might it mean to disillusion oneself, to undergo a radical disillusioning that might allow us to look at the world through different eyes, that could offer us something redemptive through the experience of renewed vision? As William Blake put it, ‘the eye altering alters all’.
W.B Yeats once said, ‘there is another world, and it is this one’. Perhaps the sense of destitution or disillusion tells us more about the problem with our current way of seeing than it does about the deeper condition of the world and our place in it. My hope is that this inquiry will provide space to ponder on these things creatively for a while.