Hong Kong, Simon Butterworth
“I’m going to get personal. Even though I want to hide. I’m going to speak personally because what I’ve found is that what is most personal is most universal”
– Petra Malcolm.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting away.
In the squeaky old car we left the city and ventured out. Out to a little bach, on a no exit street, perched on a hill, by the seaside.
Every time I go to the sea I feel my shoulders un-hunch. Something comes loose. It’s something I know to be true - there is something good for soul about a vast body of water. About the roar of waves. About having that salty, honest air blow out your cobwebs.
After sitting curled up over our books all afternoon we were struck with a fit of energy. This happens to me sometimes - I slip away from the grips of adulthood and just want to be a wild six year old again - carefree in the care of God. We ran out of the house, along that squashy grass that grows in sandy soil, jumping whole trees of driftwood that had come in with the last storm.
We were small people before a vast sunset. It was frustratingly beautiful. I tried to think of words to describe what we were seeing - about how the hues kept changing, slipping into one another and down into the dark of the ocean. I laughed at the tiny silhouette that an aeroplane made - imagining the greatest created feat of man set against this sky; it would still, only be a tiny dark speck.
There is something so compelling, so humbling and so fleeting about this kind of beauty. It’s sad and wonderful at the same time. About how this is the end of another day, and how this showcase, this masterpiece would go on, regardless of whether it had an audience.
The clouds and the colours where glorifying God and it didn’t matter who saw it, or who didn’t. No one had to pay for this, this was for everyone, irrespective of person.
After my nose had gone numb and the sky was fading to black we re-entered the bach. I took to the thesaurus. I felt a strange mixture of delight and disgust at how hollow all the words both the Collins and I had were. It seemed just that there shouldn’t be ready words to pin down that sunset. Human language couldn’t speak the words of what that sunset had said to me, and to my friends who had encountered it with me. But I tried anyway. In the agonising of trying to say something about something greater than myself I was able to chew over the wonder of it, try and hold it in my mind.
And so, some words.
the sun, kindling a fire
of impetuous hues
over silhouettes, small
the unsaying audience
arrested in rapture
The Arcades Project, Christchurch
'The realisation of this project mirrors the intensely shared nature of city-making'
thee old harbour.
A quiet Saturday
I’m realising again that all these little oddities of the day are really quite important to me - to share and hear about the those little pieces.
The boring, and the funny. The strange and the profound. That which passes through the mind and by the eyes.
The storytelling of the everyday. This is who we are. This is what I missed the most about being away - and what I look forward to.
Hearing and sharing the day.
Winter day wood fire