At the end of February we investigated Drought, or the barren places in our lives that leave us feeling distanced from God. We set up the venue at the pub as a metaphor for this. Folk were welcomed into a space that was made completely barren as all the comforts had been removed - no chairs, no tables, no drinks. The floor was covered entirely with newspaper with a small rock pile in the centre of the room.
A short video highlighting various disastrous events such as floods, wildfires, terrorism, famine, earthquakes, and homelessness was played as a start to the evening. It's these kinds of events that lead people to question where God is and the film was set to a very eerie piece of music by Tom Waits entitled "God's Away on Business". By this time we were all beginning to feel the room's sense of Godlessness.
Everyone was then invited to take a closer look at the articles on the floor and to circle the ones that were particularly negative. After this, Psalm 42 was read, which ties in the idea of "thirsting" for God when we experience negative events in our own lives. It also expresses the feeling of abandonment that we sometimes feel from God really well.
The feeling of being alone, that God has left us, led us to an activity. Each person took a rock from the centre of the room and moved it away from the pile to a distance that they personally felt from God. The rocks in the room ended up in many different places, some nearer to the centre, and others at the very edge, each on a personal scale.
We then again reflected on the feeling of drought in our spiritual lives with readings from Peter Rollins' The Prodigal Father as well as The Dark Night of the Soul from the 16th century and The Cloud of Unknowing from the 14th century. This demonstrated that for centuries, people have experienced many of the same emotions and distance from God that we sometimes think of as being unique to modern life.
As a final act, everyone was asked to peel back the newspaper that sat below their rock. This revealed a foundation covering the entire floor of small print of the word "God", taking us from being in a place were God is nowhere to a place where God now here, is present. In fact, God was, and is, everywhere. All of the remaining newspaper was then ripped away, not only revealing God in all places, but also acting as a cleansing experience. The words of Jesus on the cross were read "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" These words really hit home in the sense that Jesus also experienced the feeling of abandonment and drought. The fact that Jesus was also human, and this shared experience of drought actually brings us closer rather than farther from God.
We'll be discussing these themes in greater depth at our next evening which is 14th March at 7.30pm in the same venue.