Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tie-Dye Ceremony

It was indeed a wondrous Festival of Tie-Dye today. I like to think we were getting back to our roots.

I'd been feeling that with so many Christmassy themes we were starting to lose the essential heart of the Beaker ethos - that we don't particularly own any doctrines or theology at all. So we needed to do something touchy-feely and completely devoid of doctrine. In which case what could be better than tie-dye?

The Worship Focus Table was a delight - covered in nine metres of purple cloth with a beautiful yellow sunburst in the middle - the cloth was long enough to stretch to the South Door, so we could dance towards the Worship Focus along it in bare feet. It's been a bit muddy today so we left our shoes in the Great Hall, and laid out some Astroturf to get that authentic "barefoot on the wet grass" experience.

The walls were decorated with beautiful tie-dyed hangings, each resolutely abstract to avoid any doctrinal resonances. We just wanted to allow people to worship, without cluttering things up with any doctrine or presuppositions about the divine. We let the Beaker Quire have the afternoon off in case they did anything with a  dangerously high theological content, like play a hymn. Instead we programmed a PC to play notes of random lengths, in random voices, at random pitches and random intervals. It left many people with the space to develop their own thoughts and devotions. Although I did get slightly unnerved by the number of times it seemed to be playing Am6, which as we all know is the "slightly edgy chord" and also leaves me a little off-balance.

The "Ministry of the Word" part of the ceremony likewise was stripped from anything explicitly theological - like a reading from the Bible, for example. Instead Morgwn was instructed to shout random spiritual-sounding words out of a thesaurus, together with their alternative meanings. Faced with liturgical expostulations like "Dream! Vision, Imagine, Aspire, Idle" we were able to stretch into our inner beings, freed from an external framework and able to let our minds connect. Young Keith's right and left hemispheres became so connected that he was unable to remain standing and toppled over onto the carpet, but I suspect this was down to his Sunday lunchtime trip to the White Horse.

Finally, the Tibetan gong was struck, to signal the end of our Dream-time. After a reading from a Ted Hughes poem, we danced out again to the accompaniment of the nose flutes and kazoos playing "The Lazy Song." I was glad we closed with something contemporary, but now I feel spiritual yet vaguely unfulfilled. I think I may have to go and find some chocolate.

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