Sunday, May 31, 2020

Process Notes on Pentecost Poetry Project

On May 13, my pastor sent me a FB message asking me how I'd like to participate in the Pentecost worship service which he planned to create in advance.  I asked what he had in mind.  Here was his response:

"I have begun sending out some readings and some prayers for people to film themselves and send it back - looking to you for a reflection or creative reflection (as creative as you want) if that speaks to you - as long as I get video by wed May 27"

Of course I said yes.  Here was my original response:

"Yes--I'd be happy to do come up with something. Pre-recording offers all sorts of possibilities (fire pits, wind, streamers, candles) FUN!!!! Thanks for including me!"

I had thought about filming our firepit and filming the wind blowing something--traditional imagery for Pentecost.  But then, I went in a different direction.

As I walked through my neighborhood, I thought about the Pentecost messages I was seeing.  I thought about making short films and creating poems to go with them.  But the first morning that I took my camera with me, I realized I could actually speak as I was filming.

Some of the material I thought about before filming.  But I'm a poet who thinks on her feet, who makes interesting connections where most people would see none--years and decades of teaching also have kept me nimble in that way.  Here's a clip that demonstrates what I did for several mornings:

In the clip, the goose turns its head just when I needed it to do so--a lovely serendipity.  But the goose also gives a shake--that made my brain leap to the idea of a God who doesn't shake us away, a God who "shakes off all that might disappoint a lesser god."

I was doing this filming in the very early hours of the morning, so I kept my voice down.  I also recorded lots of other sounds along with my voice--most notably birds, but also in some very early morning shots of the anchored boats, the sound of a very windy morning and perhaps some distant thunder.  I didn't see many people along the way, and the houses were mostly dark--occasionally, however, I did wonder if my neighbors wondered what I was up to.

I want to believe that each segment acts in the best way of poems or parables.  As I worked on these, I was looking for ways to create metaphors that would make us pause, make us say, "Hmm.  I never thought of it that way."  I have hopes that one or two will stick with people long after they've seen the whole thing.

For those of us who have been going to church for awhile, we're used to ideas of the Holy Spirit as wind or tongues of flame.  Those images wouldn't have the same power as the ones I collected.

Of course, I realize that the oddness of some of the images might also not have the same power as a really good video of flame. 

I can't put the whole video here, but this link should take you to my YouTube channel, where you can see it.  If you would like to experience the whole worship service, go here.

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