Nearly there, and a new reward

With only $60 left to reach the $1690 needed, things are well underway for “The Swelling Year”. But there’s lots still to be done: a book launch to plan, and marketing for the book. So it’s not over yet, and now there is a special offer for anyone who pledges $40 or more: a digital copy of the 40-poem sequence that got me started on liturgical poetry, Length of Days: 40 Poems for Lent. Want to see where it all began and track the full journey? Go to https://www.pozible.com/profile/matthew-pullar.

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Ready to go…

Well, after months of preparation and two babies born in the meantime (yes, they were twins), the crowdfunding campaign is ready to go. Follow the link to check out project details and rewards for donations. 31 days to raise the $1250 needed to get the book into your hands!

Why Lent makes sense to me (and why I need the other seasons too)

I grew up very Protestant. So Protestant that I remember asking my RE teacher when I was about 10, “What’s the difference between Catholics and Christians?” It was in a “Do you have any questions for your teacher?” section of the workbook, and my teacher diplomatically replied, “Ask your parents about this.” I can’t remember if I asked them or how they answered if I did. But I grew up with a clear sense that Catholics (and probably Anglicans) valued tradition more than relationship with God. As such, I saw all traditions – Lent with them – as meaningless distractions from God.

As a young adult, and a reluctant Anglican, I came to find that Lent was actually a season that fit me quite nicely. My struggles with mental illness had made me acutely aware of my own dust, and had also made me search to recover the much-needed and neglected tradition of Christian lament. Lent, it turned out, offered something I craved in my devotional life.

But the other seasons have been harder to walk through. I am less inclined to the Hallelujahs of Easter or the rejoicing of Christmas. The longing of Advent is easier but I’m still often too much of a Scrooge to mix my lament with hope.

This is why I need all the seasons: because if I had control, the whole year would be Autumn and nothing grows that way. I need the home-ground advantage of Lent but I need also to see budding flowers and be reminded to hope, and I need to sit in the sunshine and celebrate the joys and the victories already here.

Join my seven-year journey through the liturgical seasons by following this blog. And subscribe to get updates on the crowd funding campaign.

“The chariots and horsemen of Israel”

Another preview from the collection, especially for today: Transfiguration Sunday.

The heart seeks Tabernacle:
on mountain-top, by river-bank, it longs
to settle, to hold the Presence safe,
within arm’s reach,
just the length of an Elijah’s-staff away.

Yet the false Tabernacles we weave
as curtains against truth
turn Transfiguration to self-help session
and seek double portions to allay the moment’s loss.

Day turns to night.
The chariot leaves; the mountain calls us down.
Beneath the vision’s light, what will we know
when ecstasy fades and the presence evades
our attempts at tabernacles?

In the heart’s dwelling-place when the moment is past,
will we descend to today’s implications?
When the glow recedes but the portion remains,
will we tend to the horsemen of Israel?

Momentum gathering – and some exciting news

This week has seen lots of progress for The Swelling Year. I’ve finished selecting the poems and the first draft has been through its first check-over by another pair of eyes. I’ve also started the process with Lulu, the publisher I’ve chosen, and done the initial set-up of the crowdfunding campaign at Pozible. Lots of action!

Most excitingly, I’ve teed up a collaboration with my highly talented artist friend Robert Kingdom, who designed the banner for this site. Robert will be contributing some of his artwork to the project, and I’m looking forward to keeping you posted on what this will involve. In the meantime, here’s a sample of his work. Go and check out more at his website. And stay tuned for the next update!

Why “The Swelling Year”?

When I first started writing my way through the church calendar back in 2012, I found that one English poet, John Keble, had beaten me to it in 1827. So I decided to pay tribute to him instead of trying to outdo him. The opening sequence of poems in Keble’s The Christian Year refers again and again to the way that our days and seasons “swell” with the expectancy of God’s glory. And so this seemed an apt image to use in my own cycle of poems.

In 2013, John Keble’s memorial day in the church calendar happened to fall on Good Friday. So here is a snippet from the poem that I wrote that day in memory of him:

If we could pause the swelling of our years
      Enough to let our wounds rest in his wounds,
      We might find hiding places for our shame
And tissue torn to daub up all our tears.
      There all our sorrows sound their sweetest tunes
      Within the broken triumph of his Name.

Stay tuned for more samples from The Swelling Year, and sign up to the mailing list via the “Contact” page to make sure you don’t miss any updates on the project’s progress.