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Creating new spaces...within reach of what's familiar

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

I think of these gatherings as ‘flash faith mob’, or ‘pop-up church*’, and love the collective creativity that goes into making them happen. I love that they retained that sense of innovation and surprise when we moved online.

I loved dancing in the kitchen with the kids and Seamus, and the simple joy and craic of that.

I loved that we were connected on our nature walk to people in different parts of the country. I loved seeing how our kids got engaged in a new way with aspects of the Christmas story, through technology – so often a point of tension here: the star gazing app opening up the wonders of the night sky; appearing on screen giving a new avenue into the story of the 3 Wise Men. I was deeply touched by the privilege of hearing from others about their connection with Jesus and was reminded what a powerful role imagination can play in making that connection.

I love in all of this, as with previous events, that we draw on a tradition with which we are all familiar, but we take it outside the familiar confines of church, and give it some breathing space.

As I sat down to write this piece, the image of a space at the back of Bolton Street Tech came to mind. A friend of my Dad’s was involved in designing it, and my Dad often spoke about it, in awe at the creativity with which a new building was connected to what was already there.

For me that space is a powerful image of what we create together. I wrote a little about that space earlier in year and wanted to refer to it here, as I see each of us as the bricks with our own individual ‘earthy depths’ that come together to create something that ‘looks and feels complete’.

I crossed Bolton Street to get out of the bright bright sunshine

And get a better look

At this building my Dad had so often talked about

Finding I couldn’t see over the hoarding,

I headed in to look for where

This new building

With Kingscourt Brick

-Deliberately thrown up in any order-

Met with the old Georgian one

Des, the architect,

And my Dad-

Childhood neighbours and friends-

Together figured out that

With just enough shale in the clay

The bricks would turn partly green and blue

As they burnt

I walked into the opening

Arriving beside the pond

An open area, with steps

That came together at a angle

To form a meeting space

A connecting point

Quite different from how I had imagined them all these years

One Tyrone man’s great craft and design

Admired and enthused about with great awe and respect

By another

It made me think about what I want to be about

Creating spaces that allow people to connect

Within reach of the old

Allowing people to come out

Near water, and within sight of the sky

And return again to what’s comfortable and familiar

If that’s what they want

Trusting that there’s no need to carefully organise the building blocks

That the earthy depth of what’s already there

Will mean what they form together

Will cohere

And look and feel complete.

© Patricia Higgins

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