“Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed.”
We went out for dinner tonight in a lovely french restaurant with more bared breasts on show than an arthouse production of the Lysistrata. You know it’s good art when there’s a nipple showing.
I decided to Google “Christianity” and “breasts”. There were 484,000 results and my favourite from the first page was this one:
Breasts are wonderful things. Back in October 2006, the magazine Third Way printed my first ever article and it was all about breasts. In fact, I just found out you can still read it in the online archive! Commentary, p.20 if you want a peruse.
2006 was a difficult year. I realise now it wasn’t just a difficult year for me: my parents, my brother, my family and some of my friends – those who knew what was going on – were all affected as well. But as the months rolled on, I began to see light through the cracks in my darkness. That summer I met Simon Jones, editor of Third Way, in the beer tent at Greenbelt Festival where, tanked up on organic ale, I regaled him with God-knows-what in the way of anecdotes and attempted wit. He told me that if I wrote something about breasts, he would publish it. And publish he did!
Seeing my words in print was a turning point. That, and being part of the first Beer & Hymns at Greenbelt that year. I read and re-read the page, pausing each time to see that yes, that was my name at the end. Finally, after many hollow months, I had worth.
Sometimes, when I’m a bit pissed, I thank Simon. I must have done it quite a few times now. Same goes for Dave and Tim. That’s partly because my relationship with all 3 of them goes hand in hand with a pint or plenty of Winkles Old Peculiar; I may need to leave off a catch up until after Easter Sunday this year.
The first line of my article read:
“The Bible is largely reticent on the subject of breasts, which is a pity because in contemporary culture they seem to be everywhere.”
Not much has changed over the last 9 years, then.
Except that it has and thank God for that. I don’t think I will ever be able to completely shake the weight of 2006 from my shoulders, but perhaps I shouldn’t try to. Not to create my own Slough of Despond or equivalent wallowing hole, but because otherwise I might not be able to appreciate what, and who, it took to move on.
The poet David Whyte expresses some of what I mean most beautifully:
Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.
‘The Journey’, from House of Belonging.
Anyway, that’s what the breasts reminded me of tonight.