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" If the world is a tree,

we are the blossoms "

Novalis

A Glimpse into the Magic of Lewes

January 19th, 2008

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‘THE ANGELS KEEP THEIR ANCIENT PLACES’

A Glimpse into the Magic of Lewes
by Philip Carr-Gomm

Illustration: Lewes Castle and Tump by Will Worthington

Many people feel drawn to Lewes in East Sussex, sensing that it is in some ways magical. Could this be true? The poet Francis Thompson, who lived in nearby Storrington, wrote ‘The Angels keep their ancient Places’ and Lewes is undoubtedly ancient. Let’s see if there are likely to be angels here too… Read more

Nakedness and our Ability to Share Intimacy

January 19th, 2008

One of the limitations of this blog template is that the comments on each post are hidden until you click on the comments line and this means that some wonderful contributions may not get the airing they deserve.

Recently Maria commented on a post and I find her expressing ideas I’ve been trying to express in some posts here in such a beautiful and articulate way I want to present them in a post, rather than them languishing (perhaps!) in a comment.

She mentions how she went to a dance performance at Brighton University, just down the road from us:

[It was] a contemporary piece that dealt with the taboo of love between an older woman and a younger man. The female dancer was in her sixties, maybe older. There was a key moment where she appeared alone and naked with a bowl of water and began to simply wash herself. In our culture, the very act of a woman of her age stripping naked in public might sadly for some have been a challenge, particularly in the wider context of the dance piece where the sexual interaction between her and the young man was so powerfully explored. In this one simple moment of her being alone and naked, utterly exposed to the audience with all its potential prejudices and negative preconceptions, her body expressed such moving tenderness, poignancy and power. It was an incredibly intimate moment. There we all were, a theatre full of clothed strangers watching what felt like, to me at least, the unveiling of someone’s soul. It made me feel very tearful and not a little naked myself. I keep thinking of Blake’s notion of the body being an extension of the soul, and it seems to be that in true nakedness, physical and psychological, the soul speaks. It doesn’t matter how much we use our emotional and intellectual defences to cover up or hide ourselves, the body seems reluctant to join in with the lie. We can deny what we feel and yet our bodies are shaped by what we have experienced, sculpted by our emotions, and so to undress is to expose our story. When someone has the courage to stand truly naked before us, the courage to share that story, something deep within us has the potential to be unveiled too.

That’s it! The reason why spirituality and psychology are such fascinating fields to explore comes from the fact that we know how much potential exists in each soul. Sometimes that potential is expressed and we see great art, great ideas, wonderful acts of generosity and nobility. But most of the time it seems that the majority ‘go to the grave with the song still in them’ as Thoreau put it. And that’s the fascination for me with spirituality and with the concept of nakedness in its deepest sense: the question and the challenge then becomes “How can I take off all the layers that cover this soul, this radiance, this potential inside me that wants to shine?”