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Posts Tagged "Pentecost":

A Breath of Wind : Chris Fewings

A painting of the supper at Emmaus by Tintoretto

Tintoretto – The Supper at Emmaus, 1543


Friday. Saturday. Sunday.
Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday.
Thursday. Friday. Saturday.

He’d slipped away from us
on a Thursday, and we knew
it wasn’t like the other times –
he wasn’t coming back.
Course, Luke said he’d heard
a voice: stereo, pillars of light:
“He’ll come in the same way.”

Maybe he was right. The Sunday after next
was different. It wasn’t like all the times we’d spent
reminiscing. Cleopas broke some bread;
Miriam’s face was radiant; we shared it,
not just with each other, but with strangers
who’d never met him, and were hungry to hear
about the empty cave.

Trying to explain it in Aramaic
was hard enough; putting it into Greek…
“Empty.” “He was here.” “It was him,
by the side of the lake, teasing us.”

Teasing? Like Galilee again,
the first few weeks – tired, confused,
mocked by those we’d belonged among
for giving up the business, but
deeply, deeply happy, even when we weren’t
guffawing at his jokes,
or laughing with the sudden laughter
of a baby’s who’s dropped and caught.

And then the next day:
the first one who could walk again
when we told the tale.

© 2010

Poussin: St Peter and St John Healing the Lame Man, 1655

See other posts by Chris Fewings on Lay Anglicana

Cells In The Body Of God’s Universe? – Chris Fewings


The Christian Pentecost, celebrated tomorrow, crowns the 50 days of Easter. It’s a reincarnation of the risen Christ in the body of believers animated by the “Creator Spirit”. This rich sequence of spring festivals deserves a second look whatever your creed. You don’t need to assent to a fourth-century formula of the Trinity to enter into the poetry of the earth breathing new life, inspiring a babble of praise.

For most churchgoers in Britain, Easter pretty much finishes with Sunday lunch on Easter Day. After that, there’s only the rest of the chocolate, a few stragglers at evening services, and the bank holiday family outing. Following the intensity of Holy Week, with its numerous re-enactments of Passiontide events, there is no equivalent excitement in Easter week. There are Easter hymns for the next couple of Sundays, but few make much of the fact that the season lasts a full seven weeks, longer than Lent, whose 40 days still feature in the popular consciousness.

For over a thousand years the western church has buried a startling welcome to sin in the middle of the long and glorious Exsultet traditionally sung by the deacon on Easter night: “O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which merited such and so great a Redeemer.” This echoes Julian of Norwich’s equally startling medieval dictum, made famous by T. S. Eliot in Little Gidding: “Sin is behovely”, which I take to mean “appropriate”. For sin read separation: whatever separates us from each other, from the rest of creation, and from the source of everything. Pride, the ego’s attempt to rise above all around it, is the sin of Lucifer.

In a fascinating essay in the book Ecopsychology*, Mary Gomes and Alan Kanner probe the relevance of our sense of self to the environmental crisis, focusing on the early development of the child. So far as we know, newborn babies make few if any distinctions in their experience, not even between “self” and “mother”. These develop with time, but differently in different cultures: in ours we have built up the fiercest distinction ever known between humans and the rest of the biosphere, which has simply become a resource we can exploit in any way we please. This attitude, combined with our ingenuity, has led the biosphere to the brink of the sixth great extinction – the first conscious one. The essay discusses the “separative self” – we are still dependent on our environment for each breath we take, but our actions are based on the illusion of independence.

But separation is behovely. The child’s ego must be allowed to develop. Language, even thought, depends on making distinctions; a word or concept defines something by excluding other things. The fatal flaw arises from making separation absolute. Redemption is a dialectic: we think ourselves separate, rise up on angel’s wings, then are dashed down when the reality of total interdependence calls us back to earth. Like a parent picking up a fallen toddler, life sets us back on course, hopefully a little wiser. We fall at another hurdle, learn a little more. Eventually we may learn respect for our limitations, teamwork, even love – but we can and must still strike out on our own, to fall back again into the loving arms of interdependence, learned in a new way each time.

Easter, observed just after the first full moon following the equinox, is – like spring itself – a blaze of light bursting in on darkness. The light of Christ is an invitation to the dance – come closer, go to arm’s length, be pulled back. In our era we are better at learning this in relation to each other than in relation to the earth itself. We pull further and further away, crucifying not only other species, but our own fullness as part of an ecosystem. Even most models of environmentalism paint us as caretakers of a separate “natural world”. Paul’s cosmic Christ calls us to more than this – rediscovering ourselves as cells in the body of God’s universe.

This article was printed in the Face to Faith column of the Guardian in 2008, under the name Chris Duggan.

The discussion on the article is still on the Guardian website. My favourite comment is “Where does Jesus stand on subsidies for wind and solar power? Oh, he’s too busy dancing in the new moon or something.” Some others engage more deeply with the article.

*You can read part of Ecopsychology at Amazon:  ECOPYSCHOLOGY: Restoring the earth, healing the mind ed. Theodore Roszak et al. (2002)

The image is Creator spirit by: David Perry via Seed Resources

A Language Understanded Of The People: Chris Fewings


It doesn’t matter much.
Sing it in colloquial, Church Slavonic,
Double Dutch. It’s all Greek unless
We feel the flicker of the angels’ tongues
Weaving a language from the elements:
East light outpoured, words’ texture, gesture; sense.

© Chris Fewings 2010


Editor’s Notes

1. I offer a couple of  links, which you may or not find helpful (or impertinent). I love Chris’s writing, which is both spare and full of echoes at the same time, rather like T S Eliot.  So (please forgive, Chris): ‘understanded of the people‘; Church Slavonic.

2. This is Chris’s website, which I urge you to explore.

Here is what he says about his writing:


In my writing and reading I explore


A couple of my articles have appeared in the Guardian newspaper, on translating concepts between belief systems and on ego and interdependence.


3. The illustration is ‘Angel of Light Clouds’ by Jonathan Miller, downloaded from the Twelve Baskets website under licence.

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