Blog

An Uncanny Time

JamesC December 23, 2020 1

This year Sanctuary First is pulling together our creative team to make a series of short reflective Prayers and Poems for you to watch over the Christmas period, The NEW short Christmas Prayers & Poems will be released from the 26th of December to the 1st of January. While you wait, why not check out the past videos we created in 2018, in the resources section of our site: Christmas Poems & Prayers of Reflection.

James from the team discusses this uncanny time and tells us about 7 short films that we are making between Christmas and New Year that invite us to think, when it comes down to it — what are humans?

That bit between Christmas and New Year always feels a bit… uncanny doesn’t it? Our grip on the days of the week start to slide as the normal markers of time passing aren’t there. Many of us will have overindulged on food and drink over the festive period and the normal dress code (if we bother getting dressed at all) is abandoned. The streets are quieter. Less things are open. We spend a lot of time at home wondering about the past and any regrets we have and the future hopes and plans we are not sure if we dare make. We figure we should probably get up and exercise but we don’t quite get round to it. We pick up a pen but then put it down again not sure how to put into words how we are feeling.

In fact… as I write this I realise: all of 2020 has felt like the week between Christmas and New Year! A strange anti-climax out of the normal run of things. So much has been suspended, delayed, cancelled, rearranged. It’s been a year of loss and hope, dread and delight, loneliness and connection. A year of extremes where it feels like everything is happening at once and yet nothing much is happening at all.

We started 2020 at Sanctuary First with two themes: Making Sense Of It and A Quiet Life which were eerily prescient for the way the rest of the year turned out. The two themes invited us to at first re-engage with our senses and the outside world, and then to retreat into quiet and contemplation. We then considered What We Really Need before moving onto metaphors of gardening and baking with My Father, The Gardener. We had little idea that the rest of 2020 would involve us re-evaluating the vibrancy we were suddenly missing, facing a lot of quiet, focusing starkly on what we really needed, and even getting baking and gardening as we were stuck at home.

As a community it has been a real honour to travel together through this difficult time — to develop new ways of working as we aim to provide moments of sanctuary in the midst of the chaos. It’s been difficult, but with God’s grace, the Spirit’s guidance, and our wonderful extended community we have kept going and discovered new ways of being and doing ‘church.’ 

This year has given us as individuals, as communities, as societies, as cultures and as a whole planet of people — a rare opportunity to learn more about ourselves as ‘business as usual’ has been paused. As we pray and hope that vaccines start to bring us a return to normal interaction in the future we must remember the lessons this year has given us and not just fall back into old ways of doing things. If this pandemic has taught us anything — it’s that we all matter and that we all have a part to play.

As we head into 2021 we want to ask a fundamental question: What are humans? Who are we called to be and what are we called to do? How can we come together in this strange turbulent time to live up to our humanity?

Between Christmas and New Year, we will be sharing 7 new short films that we have made using a collection of meditations written by Albert and myself that look back on these past months and begin to explore this idea of ‘what are humans.’ Jack from the team has been working with us to create the films, our hope is that that these pieces will create little pockets of reflection; chances to meditate on our spiritual connectedness to the world around us and our yearning for inner-peace — something many of us are looking for more now than ever. We invite you to take a moment each day from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day to step out of this uncanny time and spend some quiet time with God.

We will be touching on masks, algorithms, meteors, 24 carat gold, graffiti, hallelujahs and the ring of truth… I can’t wait to see how Jack responds visually to the clanjamfrie of metaphors we have thrown in the mix!

I am also really looking forward to engaging with these fundamental existential questions of how we live together as we draw a line under one year and begin, as an entire human race, to sketch out a new chapter. 

It’s time to pick up our pens once more…

James Cathcart