Monday, February 21, 2005

Into the Wilderness

Right, all you kind souls who've been enquiring as to the success or otherwise of "Into the Wilderness".
In the cold light of dawn, having swept up sand from all sorts of unlikely places and surveyed the damage that one carefree teenager can wreak with a taper injudiciously applied to a length of sari fabric, I can nonetheless record that on balance it was a Good Thing :-)
There follows more information than any of you will either need or want...but it's good for me to review it aloud, so here goes. Feel no obligation to read on!

The church adapted itself beautifully to this new phenomenon...I was really pleased with the way the lighting worked, with the uplights on their dimmest setting and pools of candlelight at many of the stations. The meditations music from Late Late Service Deep Peace CD was absolutely right, and stilled almost everyone instantly.
I never got round the whole trail myself, but had a pretty good time just sitting by the door, with it all unfolding gently around me.
Due to time constraints and the size of the Youth Group, we had to start people off in groups of 4 and despite suggestions that they might prefer to alter the order of stations, provided they remained within the same zone (there were 3; the inward journey; encounter with God and the journey out) they seemed rather intent on clumping together to start with at least.
We used the font for a "letting go" meditation at the very beginning and one rather lovely thing that happened was that people started using the water the cross on each other's foreheads before they moved on...pilgrimage is a group activity.
Some stations held them for ages. One, "Shaping", involved reading lines from ps 139 and then using clay to respond to them. EVERYONE spent ages with this and even those who'd been rushing round at top speed seemed to become still as they worked here
They moved on from this to holy space...bread and grape juice set out on a tablecloth just inside the altar rails, with beanbags and suggestions that they just chill and be with God; again something I'd not envisaged happened...because they tended to arrive there in twos, though they weren't talking, some groups gave each other the bread. It felt as if some powerful stuff was going on here.
All of them had a very positive response to the "Impressions" station (that's right, the one for which I need the sandpit and the not-so-dry sand) .and the buried treasure scrolls seemed to strike a chord too.
Initial feedback suggests that even those who mostly whizzed along the trail say they got something out of the experience...and two or three specifically came to find me and tell me that they'd found it helpful. (I do have the Visitor's Book...but feel rather that I shouldn't be reading that, since most of the comments are addressed to God).
So...all in all...

Would I do it again?
Another "Yes". In fact I'm hoping to use much of the same material, plus some specific Passion tide material, in the week leading up to Palm Sunday. (If anyone has any bright ideas of how I could somehow combine alt.worship with traditional Stations of the Cross, I could do it in Holy Week itself....but at the moment that looks rather a daunting impossibility...).
But it was, as all you alt.worship gurus know, a very labour-intensive activity, which I would really have struggled with if my family had not been on half term and feeling obliging. At the moment I cant see anyone in the congregation who looks a likely ally for future creations, so they'll have to be very thinly scattered through the year, unless that changes.
It was a water-shed for me, as I've really struggled with the building's limitations since arriving here, but last night I saw the whole thing differently...but then, transformation is rather the point of the exercise, I think.


1 i z said...

Sounds like it went supremely well.

I hear what you're saying about teh time/input commitment though. Maybe once you've sufficiently stretched a few expectations, you'll be able to find others to take some of this. After all one of the more interesting parts of 'alt worship' to my mind, is when it involves the participants in the creation of the worship, taking them beyond 'en-user' status.

As for the sari - I may be calling on you to relate the tale at the next festival briefing I have to do, when someone moans about having to flamecheck drapes! ;-)

dave paisley said...

Now that's a great story. And yeah, you can't pull that off every week. Even the pros don't try that :O

Humble Secretary said...

Rock on, dude. Sounds cool.

Mark said...

Great stuff. Sounds like a lot was happening. Thanks for sharing the story.

Sally said...

Sounds wonderful. Spiritually uplifting. I know about the time consuming thing, haivng done quite a few myself in the past...but soo worth it. well done..x

Serena said...

Hi Kathryn,

Just dropping in again - sounds like everything went really well (once the sand crisis had been averted!). I'd love to see trying something like this with my youth group at home - sounds like this sort of meditation would be a very powerful experience for some of them.