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Wonderful Life

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It's A Wonderful Life- Celebrating  the 'In-between'

"Strange isn't it? Each person's life touches so many other lives...." - Clarence Oddbody - guardian angel (2nd class)

Easter Saturday 2005 was an evening to gather around the wood-burning fire in the Yurt, make music, tell stories and celebrate the lives of people that have made a difference to us. The idea behind the evening was to mark the coming of spring (equinox) and Easter Saturday which are both 'in-between' times. Everyone brought something that was wonderful to them - for a creative exchange.

As usual with our "get-together's" it's always a surprise as to who actually turns up. This was a great night with a  yurt-full of mixed groups of people which made for a rich evening. The evening began with an impromptu drumming circle and ended with thoughtful reflection. Some of the highlights were an electronic saxophone improvising hauntingly with  didgeridoo and drums, a reading of Matt Harvey's very funny performance poem Curtains, Becca Brewin leading us in a Canticle of Celebration (click here for text) and a time for silent thought. A Tree of Life installation was used to catch thoughts and responses written on scraps of coloured paper. (click here for feedback) The well known Franz Capra film was a starting point to gently explore issues of in-betweeness. We focused on extracts from the film, projected onto a hammock, for reflection and response.

Below are some reflections on the film and the evening.

Why on this night of all nights do we.... watch this film?

It's a Wonderful Life - a film usually associated with Christmas is well-suited to Easter Saturday and for reflection on the 'in-between' times.

The life of George Bailey was lived in-between two world wars. The place is Bedford Falls, somewhere between faith and un-belief. The moment is pivotal.
He is a man in mid-life colliding with crisis. An in-between angel (no wings yet) is sent in response to prayer. We are held in suspense as the film re-caps his small-town life. We watch as a young boy and man full of dreams and big ideas, with a suitcase ready to escape, gets stuck. At crucial moments in his life, moments of decision and on the threshold of action, he is interrupted by some need in his immediate community. He dives in to rescue others. He dives in to rescue his brother from drowning – it leaves him deaf in one ear. He dives in to save the family business and the homes of those in his neighbourhood. Then one crucial day he comes to a place when it seems to him that the only diving in that can usefully be done is the diving in to his own death.

But first he gets drunk. Drunk, lost, strange to himself, on the edge. Confused, he hovers over the deep and dark waters of Bedford Falls but typically, as he contemplates action, someone beats him to it.
An in-between angel, Clarence Oddbody, understands something of the man he is serving, pinches his nose, holds his breath and dives in first. True to form, George momentarily forgets himself, his predicament and resolve, and dives in to rescue his rescuer. In the water, part hearing, part deaf, alive but with death- taste in his mouth, he is fully immersed in the in-between.
They emerge.
It’s dark and a deeply resentful George utters a wish- "I wish I’d never been born". Clarence grants his wish as only angels can and leads him deeper into the empty spaces. He encounters a world in which he never was. A place that’s not a place, both familiar and strange. A place of non-recognition and mistaken identity full of betrayals and denials. This is the crux of the story, a place where the self is subsumed.
This is a film well-suited to times ‘in-between’.

March 26th 2005

This is the week when we have marked the spring/vernal equinox.
A time when night and day are equal in length
In-between cold and warmth, dark and light.
Today is Easter Saturday, a time of un-knowing and confusion, of being painfully aware of what’s not there.
A time of scattered energies.
A time before rumours of early shoots
A time where remembered words and promises mock.
A time suspended, hanging.
A time after Tsunami.

We stand at the threshold
We are neither child nor teenager; neither teenager nor adult; neither young nor old.
We are in-between homes, relationships, jobs, the pink filter paper of the pregnancy test.
We have stepped from security to uncertainty, from one state to another.
We can only sit in the darkness and breathe.
We breathe, needing the mid-wife to pull us through.
The mid-wife sits in the dark with us.
She is with us.
She is intent on bringing us through.
Through birth, through disease , through death and devastation.
She keeps us breathing, she measures time by our breath and calls out to us in the emptiness of in-between space - until we’re through.

Nick Cave - Wonderful Life Lyrics