CALLIGRAPHIC ARTIST Stephen Raw is undoubtedly one of my favourite people. Visitors to his Exhibition at Bramhall Parish Centre today spoke one after another of his smile and his warmth, and of Margaret’s welcoming and supportive hospitality. Stephen’s a man with poetry in his soul and a big, generous and inclusive imagination. And that’s probably what I love about him. Poetry, inclusivity and imagination.
Poets gift humankind with precise, ordered expression, an offering that means something important to them – and that is gift indeed. But there’s also subtext in the gift, an invitation in the poet’s offering, a calling to the imaginations of each and every individual reader to do his or her own interpretation – like the biblical invitation; like the very parables of the Christ. Poetry. From the Greek Poetes – “to make, create, compose …”
Heightened awareness of colours, blended, crafted, melded, become, by way of Stephen’s creative contemplation and patient turn of hand, the universe upon which the gifts of the poets are inscribed. And if poetry calls us etymologically to the root of her subjects, so Stephen’s care-full placing and calligraphy and colouring take us, by means of a grace beyond our telling, to the root of all things – to the depths of imagination. So some of the happy conversations I’ve delighted in today have been hugely energising! I’ve discovered once again that I’m not alone in my being fired and coloured with the passionate conviction that worthwhile THEOLOGY absolutely needs the art and grace of ETYMOLOGY. Our approach to God, to the universe, to our world, to our relationships, to our Scriptures, to the daily craft of our lives, requires IMAGINATION.
Bishop John Taylor’s “Kingdom Come” echoed in my mind throughout the day. Though we may not understand what he meant by it, the bishop wrote, we know what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was:
The time has come; the Kingdom of God is almost here; turn your minds round and believe the good news
Here, Bishop Taylor goes on, is the keynote of the faith of Jesus of Nazareth. Here is the word which, on his lips, moved people with such extraordinary power. If we could resuscitate that declaration so that it conveyed in the terms and in the experience of our world the essence of what it meant to his, might it not stir the pulse and quicken the imagination of a new generation in our own day and restore a clarity of purpose to the churches? Yes, yes, yes! Jesus’ very own poetry invited the people he addressed then, and every generation since, to use their imaginations! (And the Aramaic he spoke, rather gloriously, lends itself to layer upon layer upon layer of interpretation, development and re-membering). Jesus was – and is – anything but a literalist / fundamentalist.
And I’ve been thinking today of my friend Fr Roger Clarke who introduced me to the works of the late poet Sally Purcell – because throughout today (and many another) I’ve “heard” the epigraph to her Collected Poems. It speaks to me of the Grace – and of the Art of God
Y sobre todo tendras / los regalos de mi pecho, / las finezas de mi amor, la verdad de mi deseo …
a translation of which is
And above all you have / gifts from my breast, / the subtleties of my love, the truth of my desire
Thank God The Divine Artist Who, in company with co-creators, invites us all to employ the grace of imagination!