At Reconnect’s recent outdoor worship event – Fresh – we explored the subject of lament. Here are some reflections from the event.
We all know how to celebrate and that’s a good thing – but lament?
We are in probably one of the least favoured months of the year (unless it’s your birthday month!). People living in the UK are good at weather, but we’ve all noticed how warm January has been and how many signs of spring there are – daffodils coming up in the second week of January, rhododendrons flowering, trees budding … spring in January? How come!?
January is named after the Roman god ‘Janus’ who looked both ways – past and future. Our world and its changes make us have ‘a double take ‘.
We may know that our council; Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council have declared a ‘climate emergency‘ as have 264 of the 408 other councils round the country and as has our government.
An emergency usually means flashing blue lights, urgent rapid action – using whatever resources we can to address the problem.
There is a lot going on to tackle the problem, but still we kind of hope it all just goes away so we can get back to normal and celebrate the spring flowers.
We know deep down that we need to act, but before we can, we need to find the energy and conviction to do so.
How do we ‘become bothered’ enough to begin a change?
The first step is to count the cost – notice the loss, or lament. This has been part of how communities over time have come to terms with difficult situations like the people of Israel who wrote the psalms, one of which, Psalm 80, addresses in the sense of ‘things being wrong ‘.
So, we need to look at the difficult things and look into ourselves and see how we feel and how we might use the energy experienced in loss that feels like anger or rage to begin a change.
These two pieces remind us of the connection we have lost with the others that share our world.
‘I wore a black coat, being fresh from college,
With striped trousers,
And indeed, my knowledge would have been complete, had it included the bare moor, where nature brooded over her old, inscrutable secret.
But I didn’t even know the names
Of the birds and the flowers by which one gets
A little closer to nature’s heart. ‘
(Extract from ‘The Minister’ by R.S.Thomas)
A Lament got Lost Words (Malcolm Guite)
‘To graceful names and lovely woods farewell
To acorn, adder, ash, to beech and bluebell,
Farewell old friends I name you in my sonnet
Buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet farewell, your friends are brick, our books are barren
No dandelion or fern, hazel or heron.
We’ll go no more alone, no more together
The mountain thyme is gone and gone the heather.
The clinging Ivy’s gone and soon to go the kingfisher’s blue bolt, the mistletoe
Nectar, newt, and otter, pasture, Willow
To their last rites my muse comes footing slow
We’ll hear no more the heaven -scaling lark
We’ll all go down together in the dark. ‘