Chapter 1

 Posted by at 4:27 pm  Atelier, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Aug 122008

It’s surprising to find myself in this place – about to “start again” – not quite believable.
But perhaps it’s not accurate to think of it as starting again. I have the sense of a concentration of forces – emotional, psychological, spiritual – and from that a new wave gathers force “out there in the ocean.” Lightning flickers, thunder rolls around the darkening horizon. Old stuff and new stuff – simultaneously.

To add another element, I’m bothered by the, apparently contradictory, notions of fiction and non-fiction; they force a certain discomfort around which nothing can be finally settled. Is it true or did I make it up?

In a recent conversation two questions emerged:

“Who’s taking care of you?”

“What is sufficiently interesting to you?”

And then a third one came to me as I waited for a train:

“How do we begin to understand the notion of liberation?”

The wish for freedom, like the waves forever washing and dispersing energy on to the beach; waves of my moment by moment decisions, many banal, some more interesting, interspersed at irregular intervals by larger, more far reaching decisions, like applying to become a priest, and for the last two years wrestling with what is called a process of discernment, to test out whether I and others continue to support that project; and God, of course, there to deepen the discourse.

There are the ways that I haven’t been free over the last years and my consequent hopes to be liberated to balance those deficits. As a single dad I have been constrained to be a parent, to be around, to cook, to keep house, to hold that emotional space of home, to stay open.

It’s all change now; my daughter’s nineteen and off to UEA.

And at the same time as I was learning to be a single dad I was also working through a rather protracted mid-life crisis. Using various forms of therapeutic endeavour, plus the stalwart walking, talking and writing I tried to examine the problem and come to a solution. At times I thought my path would be that of the writer. But no, it doesn’t appear to be. Or at least only writing in the context of something else. Instead I seem to have found my way to the priesthood. At least, I have been accepted and am about to engage in the four years of formation at a seminary in Rome.

My Childhood on the Russian Steppes

 Posted by at 3:05 pm  Atelier, OUT in the WILDERNESS  Comments Off
Aug 072008

wake up, a weight is pressing down on my chest, now, then, there is a blizzard,
a white out, and the sky is going black, I can’t breathe.

walk from the corner at the end of the village, along a long straight road
lined with poplars, walking up the gentle slope, faces turned against the wind
from the East, eyes squinting into the low sun, sometimes we turn to see
through the stinging snow towards the dark squat hangers of the squadrons of our
people, the narod, and sometimes we could hear the sound of the
bombers like thunder in the air, but today there is only the moaning of the
wind from the East, straight from Siberia as the old ones say, we walk on to
the quarry, and into the canyon of snow, great drifts rising on either side,
and it is our mission, we have to dig our way through to our people, the narod,
to dig the tunnel to the other side where they are waiting. This is where we
learnt to make sacrifices. Suddenly there is a cry from within the darkness of
the tunnel, and the word comes back, they have broken through, but the hole is
still too small to pass through, too small for a man, but for a boy we think it
is possible, they say, and their eyes turn towards me and I know what it is I
have to do, hands lowering me down by my legs into the tunnel, my arms reaching
out towards the other side through the small hole, and the other hands touching
mine, taking hold, and beginning to pull, as if I am become the tunnelling
machine myself, some pulling, some pushing, but the hole is too small, we have
to try harder, they say, all are longing for that final breakthrough when all
our people, the narod, can all finally be reunited again, those
on one side who have hold of my legs and those on the other who hold my arms,
and my face is pressed hard up against the icy tunnel wall, and inside it has
become still and it is growing darker, and outside there is the sound of the
wind and the rustling of the drifting snow, and now, then it is becoming black,
because black is also the colour of light.

Headache for two days

 Posted by at 11:19 am  Atelier, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Aug 012008
I dont know, I thought to myself, the Rules, and
over the next two days with enough pressure to give me a migraine the
following formed:


These are the rules for writing

these are the rules for making

songs, a good life, a good death, and gone


I don’t think so, a honey voice

golder than gold, Patacara, Guardian of the

putting her finger on it.

‘Putting her finger on it’, you’ll know the
translation of Thig. V. 10 by Thanissaro I expect, I first read it at the end of
The Mind Like Fire Unbound, and it always makes a strong impression on me. What
I didn’t know ’til I googled and read about her life is that Paticara is called
The Guardian of the Vinaya. As for ‘golder than gold’, go to Sappho fragment 156
(from If Not Winter translation by Anne Carson), all that is left are two half lines
which run together:
    polu paktides
            … far more sweetsounding than a
    golder than gold …
So there is also the honey (- mele -). I don’t know what else Patacara has to say (ie that
has survived), elsewhere another Sappho, perhaps with  headache or during that time of the month, one line fragment (51) goes -
    ‘ouk ‘oid’ ‘otti theo duo moi ta
        I don’t know what to do
                        two states of mind in