Here’s Episode 66 of Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by thirdspace coaching in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living.
One of the weirdest and yet most understandable features of being a human being is how we’ll box ourselves in to an identity – a particular way of being in the world that allows this but doesn’t allow that; a way that we lay out familiar territory for ourselves, fiercely bounded by shame and self-criticism, that easily stops us from bringing ourselves fully to life and from experiencing all that life is bringing us in each moment.
This is our topic for this week, inspired by Anthony Wilson‘s poem ‘When the Holy Spirit Danced With Me in My Kitchen’. The poem is below, and you can read Anthony’s generous and moving response to our conversation here on his blog.
When the Holy Spirit Danced With Me in My Kitchen
the first thing I noticed was his arms,
thick and hairy like a bricklayer’s
with a tattoo of an anchor
as Churchill had.
‘Coming for a spin?’ he grinned,
in an accent more Geordie than Galilee,
and he whirled me
through tango, foxtrot and waltz
without missing a beat.
‘You’re good,’ I said. ‘Thanks,’
he said, taking two glasses to the tap.
‘You’re not so bad yourself,
for someone with no sense of rhythm
and two left feet.’
He gave me a wink.
‘It’s all in the waist.
The movement has to start there
or it’s dead.’
‘You’ll find it applies to most things,’
he went on, grabbing the kettle.
‘Writing, cooking, kissing,
all the things you’re good at,
or think you are.’
He winked again.
‘You don’t mind me asking,’ I said,
‘but why are you here?’
‘I thought it was about time,’
he said. ‘I mean, you’ve been full stretch,
haven’t you, what with your job,
feeling like a taxi for the kids,
your family living far away,
and you ‘in your head’ all the time
as you said to someone last week.’
I looked at him and nodded.
‘I was going to.’
He got down some mugs.
‘Let’s say I was concerned about you.
The thing is, the three of us,
we like you a lot.
We think you’ve got real potential
as a human. You’re kind and humorous.
You’re also a little scatty.
We like that. By the way, that fish curry
you made on Saturday was first class.’
‘You know about that?’
‘Everything you get up to,’
he smiled. ‘It’s nothing to panic about.
Really. To tell you the truth
you could do with loosening up a little.
Try not beating yourself up the whole time.
A little less rushing everywhere
would do you good, too.’
‘I thought you might say that.’
‘Look at me,’ he said.
‘I came to say:
Keep Going, and Relax.
Also: keep things simple.
If you are doing one thing,
do that thing. If you are talking
with someone, listen to them,
do not blame them for being hard work.
Write as if you were not afraid,
and love in this way too.
Be patient with everyone, especially
your relations, who (I can assure you)
think you are rather special.
Make big decisions slowly, and small decisions
fast. Do not make bitterness your friend.
Pray (I will not mind if you use
made up words for this.)
Garrison was right: ‘Why
have good things you don’t use?’
What you have been given to do,
give yourself to it completely,
only by emptying yourself can you become full.’