Thursday, April 12, 2007

Now we shall always be together

Some years ago, when I had recently joined Growing Old Disgracefully, (about which I wrote here), I attended a workshop about funerals, and about creating one's own alternative celebration. The workshop was just for members of our Network, which made it easier for us to trust each other and take full advantage of the opportunity. In the event we were greatly moved by the experience, and formed a very close bond. After the workshop I wrote this:

We met, some friends, some strangers,
to look, with courage, at our dying;
to consider our leave-taking
and how it should be marked.

We sought the meaning of our lives
that others might celebrate them.
We touched the pain of things awry
and longed to set them right.

We shared our fears, our feelings,
and with paper, paint and willow
made expressions of ourselves.
We wept, and laughed, and hugged.

We joined our hands beneath the sky,
with lights, and words, and music,
rosemary and forget-me-nots.
We set our spirits free.

We should not travel on alone;
we should always be together.
Before, and after, we have gone,
we shall always be together now.


The workshop was run by Welfare State International, "a collective of radical artists and thinkers who explored ideas of celebratory art and spectacle". Unfortunately the original organisation came to an end in 2006, but has been succeeded by Lanternhouse International, whose projects "projects are celebrations, performances and rites of passage, exploring the poetry of the everyday and the paradoxes of contemporary culture". It is worth having a look at the archive website and the new one if you are interested.

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