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Dan Flavin

The Surface of God

Gary’s Essay for his 1st Eucharist at St John & St Stephen’s. 25 June 2017

Dan Flavin – The Surface of God

Light and Nothingness
Dan Flavin’s simple yet powerfully evocative light installations are beguiling to the eye and the senses. His fluorescent tubes poised at geometric angles evoke a new awareness of our surroundings. Yet Flavin describes these pop-art works as simple and without depth, ‘they are only surface, don’t look for meaning.’

Only surface, without meaning?… yet look again; what a surface is revealed! These light-works intensify the everyday into an experience of oddness; light, shadow, texture and silhouette become vividly re-imagined or re-encountered through the saturation of colour. The surface reveals and is revealed; the viewer is immersed and reintroduced to a moment of presence in the world, and re-acquainted with the material and texture of the everyday.

Maybe in the Eucharist/Holy Communion we see something of this; Christ as ‘the surface of God’ is revealed and revealing, drawing us to an awareness of ‘the other’ as divine and human; clothed in nature and wonder, branch and leaf. We are invited to feast on Christ – the one who draws all things together.

Myth and symbol.
Post/modernity opens a world of truth beyond the rational and to look deeper at myth and symbol; through the living metaphors of baptismal water and the bread and wine of Eucharist we are caught up into the revelation and salvation of God incarnated in our mortal flesh.

Sacramental action is encountered in symbolic or mythic narrative. ‘The crucial function of myth is to make sacred history.’ This Eucharistic liturgy embodies a reality made real within our rehearsal, yet the mythic form remains fluid, undergoing processes of evocation, elaboration and interrogation.

Embracing otherness.
Although Eucharist can represent something reassuringly familiar it also remains deeply strange; but this strangeness may be the point! ‘Despite our attempts to contextualise worship in culture, communion points us beyond our present context, it relativises our best efforts to be relevant’.
‘In every religion’, Chauvet suggests, ‘one observes a break between the ritual “scene” and the “scene” of ordinary life’. To participate fully in the symbolic language and action of the Eucharist requires ‘a language that breaks away from the ordinary’. Ward calls this ‘de-contextualisation’, the point where contextual theology bows and gives way to the otherness of sacramental activity – to let the abstract to be abstract.

Agape – hospitality and encounter.
Yet at its heart Eucharist remains a simple meal – an agape – and simple hospitality is disarming. The table becomes a place of radical welcome; as in Babette’s Feast it ‘interrupts the narrative’, announcing joy in places of hostility. ‘Meeting at a table with a group of strangers has the incomparable and odd benefit of making it a little more difficult to hate.’

Here then, the communal body of Christ is a dynamic in-between-ness of the giving, receiving, and charitable sharing of God’s gift. Divine and human desires enter into a deep sense of intimacy and reciprocity in this Holy Communion. Community is nurtured.

So the inclusive feast of a simple agape meal honours the coded symbols of the ritual, whilst also subverting them. The symbolic ‘code’ of Eucharist is really no code at all, presence gives way to absence as our multi-faceted interpretations allude to its continuing non-containability.

Any time you’re on the earth, kiss me.
So we join together this morning; prayers rise like incense, bodies move and bow; voices sing and silence is known; heaven meets us in our flesh. Like the light of Flavin’s art – the strangeness makes our senses come alive – in taste, touch, sight and sound. We are reminded that the work of our hands, the struggles of life, and the gifts of God meet through earth, flesh, wheat and grape – making bread and wine divine. The blessing of God is within human endeavour; a real presence in material things.

So come, taste and see; all are welcome.

Gary

 

 

  • Img Copyright. David Urbanke 2013.
    http://davidurbanke.tumblr.com/page/29

 

 

HolyWeek-2015-8

Holy Week with the Existentialists: Easter Sunday – Resurrection

Easter Sunday – Resurrection
Mt. 28:1-13; Mk. 16:1-20; Lk. 24:1-49; Jn. 20:1-31

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

The garden is so beautiful this morning… Early sunlight breaks through the trees warming the glistening grass, dawn’s expectant mist clings to the earth.. brooding, poised, waiting… The chorus of birdsong is vivid, spring’s colours come alive, the night exhales into day, the world feels different.

Shouts can be heard; women running away through the garden, in the distance, yelling or screaming – it’s hard to tell, but their is a flavour of excitement in their voices.

A surprise – a resurrection – but not as we expect; quiet, subdued, wiser, beautiful, and unexpected. The kiss of desire runs deep in the fabric of time and space, like a new light breaking through an eclipse.
A resurrection not by escaping this world, but by embracing it. Life and love combine in the stories of nature, seasons, people and G-d. Contours of hope and possibility weaving through each moment, each experience.

It had seemed like love was exposed, absorbed, devoured, contained…
But now we perceive that love itself is exposing, absorbing, devouring … beyond containing.

Tenderly embracing both anguish and transcendence, love overcomes fear, overcomes hatred, overcomes empire, overcomes war, overcomes death, overcomes racism, overcomes sexism, overcomes ecological destruction, overcomes indifference, overcomes boredom, overcomes greed, overcomes division.

Love wins.

Prayer

Give thanks for life, for the gift of a new day with new possibilities. Resurrection is all around you, all the time.

Honour and treasure the gift of life, its kaleidoscope colours, its pain and joys, its light and darkness…

To celebrate something means to share it; reflect on how to make space for others – so that they to can enjoy the gift; spread love, offer hope, work for justice, remain discontent, challenge the powers, remember the other – be enriched by them … and release the joy!

 

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

I Believe In You by Talk Talk     (Gary’s path)
Home Sweet Home by Tommy Lee    (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here


Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

HolyWeek-2015-1

Holy Week with the Existentialists – Palm Sunday

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

 



Palm Sunday – Hope & Expectation
Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-44; Jn. 12:12-19

“… When I am moved by a painting or by music, by clouds passing in a clear night sky, by the soughing of pines in early spring, I feel the distance between me and art and nature dissolve to some degree, and I feel at ease. I then feel that there is, briefly, no past and no future, and I am content… And when I think of someone I really care for, I feel an exchange of understanding and acceptance that is the measure of love. This is how the saints feel about God. . .”

Ralph Harper, On Presence

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

Some people speak of ‘flow’ to describe when we are working, or thinking, or acting in a way that is productive yet totally natural. We almost can forget we are even doing it! Flow is allowing ourselves to be carried by a moment.

“Be Bold, Be Beautiful, Free, Totally, Unlimited”

When did you last feel that you were doing something good, productive, creative? Were others in support of you? Examine the feelings of that moment.

Prayer

Allow your thoughts and prayers to dwell on these suggestions and moods.
As you are moved, let your prayers be guided by these; pray for the world, your community, and those you know.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:
Low Burn by Underworld      (Gary’s path)
Second Life Replay by The Soundtrack of Our Lives      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here;