We conjour up the darkness and forget about the light. The day after the night before I find myself a year older and experiencing the ever widening gap between what I know and what there is to be known. But that's ok. I'm also growing correspondingly at ease with the mystery and the wonder. Today, All Saints Day, happens to be the anniversary of my birth. I've always tried to take note of it both as a celebration of my walk along the path of life and my journey of faith. I join with millions of Christians around the world remembering, celebrating and practising gratitude for those who have travelled the way before us. It's a day full of illumination, a day that reveals new stories, reminds me of ancient truths and shines out as a salve to the increasingly bemusing modern incarnation of the night before.
Appropriately I found myself taking stock, reflecting and wondering as I visited the Laing Gallery in Newcastle to take in an exhibition on the work of Paul Nash. His work as a war artist particularly interests me since I first encountered his paintings on a visit to the IWM in London many years ago. I've spent the last eight weeks or so on a project writing songs in response to paintings contained in the new Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Viewing Paul Nash's work today there were so many paralells as I discovered more of the way this artist "made visible what had previously been over-looked". The quote refers to a series of paintings in which Nash represented standing stones as geometrical shapes set in a recognisible landscape, contending that the forms are there...it's just that people didn't look closely enough or perhaps long enough to see them. The mining artists did excatly that - looked long and deep and showed us how it felt to be there, down the pit and part of the community. In my line of work as a musician I share that sense of trying to enable a different way of seeing, to approach concepts, issues, life at large and in detail, with a different perspective, giving permission to review the ordinary and raise the mundane to the extraordinary.
Back to today, and the night before. How poor we will be if the masks and spookery, the horror and the darkness are where it ends. Please don't misunderstand me, this is no simple dismissal of something distasteful or excessive, something foolish or fake. No. The thing is I believe it. I've been looking all my life and I believe it deeply.... and it does not end in the darkness. I believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the life everlasting. I believe in the one in and through whom all things were made and by whom that which was previously over-looked may be seen. May peace visit you on All Saints Day.