Heaven in Ordinarie www.fosten.com
Heaven in Ordinariewww.fosten.com

News

9 April 2016

Spring has arrived, vigorously ... my new hip is settling in well... and off we go again though never quite as before - se 'The last onion'.

13 January 2016

Having passed 60 at Christmas I'm thinking that it is time to stop worriting on with questions of purpose and mortality, and simply get on with living. 'Re-Calibration' is my attempt to do just that.

 

20 July 2015

Pastoral church newsletters are not usually considered ground breaking literature, but having sweated over this one I thought  it might be of interest to a wider readership than the Norwich Area churches for whom it is intended.

July 2  2015

A day of hot, crackling sun which reminds me of other days like this from a long time ago. The border pinks from our childhood garden which are now blooming here in Pakefield reinforces that good memory. See 'Pink Buttonholes'.

June 15  2015

After weeks of waiting and willing the peony buds to open out into blooms today seems to be the day!

Also a hand out which accompanied two Praying with clay workshops held last Sarurday at the  URC Eastern Synod day out in Cambridge. No expertise was offered by me or required by the particpants but, rather like the peony, creativity bloomed anyway.

April 27 2015

A new week and a new poem relating how events of some 30 years ago came to an unexpected resolution - see 'Miss G's Revenge'. This is followed by a collection of pieces produced for last year's May Day event at the Seagull Theatre.

April 21 2015

Spring is well under way, the sun shines and a quiet few hours have enabled the website to go live. You will see that it is far from complete but some recent material is now available and other archive stuff will appear soon.

March 24 2015

After many months offline the fosten.com website 'Heaven in Ordinarie' is gradually returning. The new site will grow as and when I acquire some 'how to do it' knowledge and find a few moments in which to post material

 

 

Contact

If you have always wanted to ask me something, now is the time to go for it!
ian@fosten.com

...........Heaven in Ordinarie............

Poetry, articles, videos and other miscellany from Ian Fosten

Welcome to this website. The title. 'Heaven in Ordinarie' is borrowed from the 16/17th century clergyman poet George Herbert. In his sonnet, 'Prayer', he harvests his experience and then offers up a basket full of images, none of which explain prayer, but all of which provide a fragment of understanding. 'Heaven in ordinarie ...' is one of those fragments.

Like Herbert, my working life has been within a variety of church settings - and when church is about community, faith, generosity and understanding it is a good place to be. When religion assumes the role of master rather than enabling servant, it is not.  

From a very young age 'God stuff' has made as much sense to me out of doors, in real life events, in songs and poetry as it has within the confines of doctrine and religious tradition - quite often, much more so. Consequently my purpose in writing is to record that 'sense-making' and offer to anyone who choses to loiter here some glimpses of 'heaven in ordinarie'.

 

 

 

 

The Last Onion

 

Today is the day they usually

made and shared a curry. And

in this limbo land of alone-ness,

and for the sake of continuity,

she assembles the ingredients

like before, and before, and before ...

 

She reaches into the basket

and finds the onion, the last onion,

the final, tangible evidence of his

labour, nurture and careful storing.

Her fingers close around the

dry outer skin - as he had so

taken, twisted and prepared it

not so very long ago.

 

She pauses, caught between

today's brave task of making the most,

and yesterday's bright eyes beneath

a jauntily angled cap, the smell of earth

and annual provision.  Through tears,

twice prompted, she takes the onion,

cooks the meal and endures,

for all that is not lost, the taste

of unfamiliarity.

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Christmas Day 2015

Re-calibration

 

For a lifetime, until now, the obvious project

has been to marshal skills

and opportunities; to mix in effort

and an eye for the main chance; some

careful listening for the right tune,

the right possibility, the right coincidence

of disparate fragments from which to form

THE PERFECT MOMENT.

 

And would that then be an end to searching?

A portal opening onto supercharged performance?

A time for fame and accolade?

A fanfare of arrival or, perhaps, a time to touch the Sun -

and burst into an arc of flame?

 

Alternatively, this might just be the time

for glancing back over a shoulder; for noticing

the route from birth to here is not

a wondrous highway,  crossing continents and

reaching for the stars, but, rather more a path

of steady circularity, always within touching distance

of where it all began?

 

Today I fancy that I hear and see and know some folly

behind the driving question: 'Where to now?'

For where we come from, where we go, is only ever

here!

 

For once all forward motion is suspended in favour

of simply being, here and now. And in this unfamiliar pause

I notice that the anxious screech of life's anxiety fades

while in its place is heard, at last, timeless and unfathomable,

the music of Shalom.

 

Retracing Steps

So many footfalls have planted, unconsciously,

their mark upon this place.

Their sound - a thud, a scape, a slip,

has triggered a resonance which echoes

within the passing years and makes

a bridge between what was,

what is and what is yet to be.

 

This day I tread where you

and countless others have stood:

I sense the subtlest tremor in the land,

a strange at-home-ness through the soles

of my feet - a benign familiarity where

(I would have said) I had not previously trod;

an un-remembered kinship with the past.

 

And, having stood and waited purposefully

in this place, I journey home only to find that

home has been extended and enlarged: the walls

and boundaries are the same but beneath my feet

what once felt solid and unyielding has become porous

and generations past seep insidiously upward permeating

me and mine and all who've yet to come this way.

Pink Buttonholes

In memory the Anniversary Day

would be hot sun that

crackled, somehow.

While yet the grass remained

dew-wet

a scissored choice was made;

a snip, a twist of silver foil,

a pinning-on parade;

the deed was done.

 

For weeks we had rehearsed

the songs;

“I’ll walk with God; He’ll hold

my hand”;

“We are the Peacemakers!”, youthful

voices sang - though

how the roof might actually be raised,

I couldn’t see.

 

Now, if I try or work up a pretence

I might recall the scent

of border pinks;

more certainly the taste of

simple, eager expectation

lingers yet;

an ancient song to younger ears,

if heard at all by those who have

so much - much less.

 

Pink buttonholes, you see, enfold

so many riches -

gathering, anticipation and mutuality,

for three;

and memories of a crowded church

where God was celebrated

in community.

 

 

 

 

 

Miss G's Revenge

 

She had become my enemy

(though she was dearly loved by students whom she'd taught)

for with advancing years

and solitary living her critical eye

had drained resources from a generous view

of other people's actions - mine, for sure.

 

Consequently, outward civility was undermined

by posted notes outlining my inadequacies and faults,

until the day I bearded her in her den

and faced a choice -

either I dismantled her unjust accusations, one by one,

or I pitied her alone-ness and let her be ...

I chose the latter course and we declared

a truce - uneasily

 

Later on she offered me a cupboard,

a wooden cube, large and unwieldy.

Politeness led me to accept

and down three decades Miss G's cupboard

has accompanied me from place to place,

never having a proper use, always

a little too large, too deep, too square ....

 

Until I was presented with the possibility of release:

the cupboard's space was needed - finally it had to go.

And so one windless dusk, full-primed with newsprint

and loaded with cuttings from a hateful tree,

I set the match .... and how the cupboard roared

and flared as flames shot twelve feet in the air

and scorched me with intense heat.

 

So mighty was the conflagration it did not last for long

and I, well warmed by fire and achievement,

sat back and toasted the departure of the past.

 

Next morning, just at breakfast time,

the doorbell rang and on the doorstep

stood a neighbour with some words to say.

Suddenly I was ten years old, shuffling nervously

from foot to foot as he berated me for reckless  fire-raising 

and his garden full of ash.

Fulsomely I apologised and he left, his anger vented,

my pounding heart in over-drive, and, in some celestial roost,

Miss G smiled, triumphantly, a quiet smile of victory.

 

 

Freedom, Justice, Humanity

A preface to 'Timothy Winters' by Charles Causley and dedicated to the courage, conviction and memory of Kitty and Tom Higdon and the children of the Burston School Strike 1914 - 1939.

 

Part 1

Tension mounts, the teams assemble;

ideologies are laced tight;

the Sponsor's logo is displayed

prominently.

 

This is more than a game;

at stake is life, death and, more importantly,

power, reputation, control and a place in history.

Here is the playing field where

'catch 'em young' can make his mark;

where innocent enthusiasm can be  distorted

to serve unwholesome ends;

where dreams and wonder are replaced by

THOSE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

 

The outcome of the match will be the raw material

from which your league tables can be ground.

 

A summoning whistle sounds;

spectators roar their tribal chants;

a ball is placed upon the centre spot -

it bears a child's face.

 

 

Part 2

The Children at Chare Ends

I pictured the children

(through His eyes it seemed)

scoop and shape

and mould and cast

and make of crumbly,

slippery randomness

creation’s joy:

 

and fancied,

on the soft,

sea-scented breeze,

I heard His voice,

 

'Let the children come ...'

(that they might be themselves)

 'and do not stop them...'

(shovel them or slap them

 into adult bucket shapes)

‘for the kingdom ...'

(glorified in castles, towers

and tunnelled moats;

homeward, teatime wandering

and sandy hand held tight)

'belongs...'

(peace, pleasure and

at-home-ness, summer filled)

‘to such as these.'

 

Part 3

'Timothy Winters'  by  Charles Causley

 

'Timothy Winters'

Timothy Winters comes to school

With eyes as wide as a football-pool,

Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:

A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

 

His belly is white, his neck is dark,

And his hair is an exclamation-mark.

His clothes are enough to scare a crow

And through his britches the blue winds blow.

 

When teacher talks he won't hear a word

And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,

He licks the pattern off his plate

And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

 

Timothy Winters has bloody feet

And he lives in a house on Suez Street,

He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor

And they say there aren't boys like him anymore.

 

Old Man Winters likes his beer

And his missus ran off with a bombardier,

Grandma sits in the grate with a gin

And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

 

The welfare Worker lies awake

But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,

So Timothy Winters drinks his cup

And slowly goes on growing up.

 

At Morning Prayers the Master helves

for children less fortunate than ourselves,

And the loudest response in the room is when

Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

 

So come one angel, come on ten

Timothy Winters says "Amen

Amen amen amen amen."

Timothy Winters, Lord. Amen

 

                                                    Charles Causley

 

 

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