and at the end of our exploring
will arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."
TS Eliot 'The Four Quartets"
My sister Gemma showed me a new book she bought. I loved it so much, I bought it too. Gemma is an artist and has a way of seeing things, check out her Tumblr. The book is called 'How to be an explorer of the world' by Keri Smith. It contains many different ideas to help us to do what people should do, as artists, as scientists, as appreciators of the beauty of creation, as human beings. It gives ideas about how to 'open your eyes and see'. It makes clever points, such as, an average tree looks very different depending upon if we view it from far away or close up. It changes again if we choose to look at is as a colour palette. Maybe you decide to study it in separate parts, the bark, the growth patterns, the root system. You could also choose to see how a tree has functioned in a community (a meeting place), or examine the stories that those that live around it choose to tell. What sounds are made by the tree? What does the space around the tree look like? What is it made of? How does the tree change visually over the course of a day? A year? How do different people you love view the tree?
I love this book because I saw immediately that I could use it to see things anew. Perhaps I could consider the Church, or even my faith, as a tree. Taking things in such carefully thought out stages would have the capacity to open new patterns of thought, perhaps it could shift and change the stubborn thought processes I am used to. Teachers should always learn new tricks. So I began. Maybe one day, one day, I might get close to imagining a 'God's eye view', and how different might that be from my own limited thought patterns. The picture to the right helps me to begin to think about that. Can you even imagine what a record of immediate post-Communion prayers and experiences might look like? What it might show you? Even if you only made the simple record below?
The instructions were to write ten things about the place where you are sitting that you hadn't noticed when you sat down. Use you senses. Do it quickly. Do not censor.
1. The television is too loud, there are people shouting and I wish they would stop
2. My feet are on a soft cosy blanket. It is my favourite colour, purple, but I do not like it
3. My toes hurt after a long days teaching
4. I can hear the traffic of people going up and down the Woodstock Road, they are busy
5. I love the trees that I can see, everyday I love them
6. It is not raining, this is remarkable
7. I don't really know how to use the TV controls, they confuse me
8. The carpet below my feet is made of sheep skin. It is cosy on my toes, but I worry about the dearly departed creature.
9. My boots lie where I threw them. Last night I had a dream in which my boss thought they were 'unprofessional'. He might well think such a thing, but has never said it to me!
10. I have a tall stool that I use as a table. There is a glass of white wine on it. There always is. I feel guilty about this.
I am going to follow the advice of my new book and make some 'experience logs' about things I notice in my daily life: location, time, date and a brief note about the thoughts that cross my mind. Perhaps doing such a thing might help me to learn something new. A human being must always be ready to learn something new, be startled by something or change their mind.
A new notebook is required.
UPDATE: Gemma did this experiment too! Here are her findings.