Piccadilly Circuitous…

Bet you thought the statue in Piccadilly Circus was called Eros.  But you’d be wrong.

That’s just one of the many, many surprises uncovered when a group from the nearby St James’ Chuch set out for some serious wandering on their first Street Wisdom.   I understand most churches celebrate Lent in a traditional, rather sombre way.  But St James isn’t most churches.  And this is clear the moment you arrive to find the courtyard bustling with market traders, an espresso bar buzzing with customers and a pews dotted with snoozing rough sleepers comfortably catching up on missed sleep.  And Lucy Winkett, who organised the Street Wisdom, isn’t the normal vicar.   Her approach to Lent – and life – is anything but trad.  Which is how she and her colleagues came up with the idea of  “Loitering within Lent”, a series of experiences designed to make people reflect on life from different perspectives.   When she heard about Street Wisdom, she felt iy would fit in perfectly – and she was right.

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I didnt notice till half way through the Tune Your Senses phase, what the sign next to us was saying…

With someone ‘up there’ providing gorgeous pre-spring weather and a post-card perfect setting,  the event was a rich and rewarding experience not just for the participants but also for Jo and I.   We learned about how even an ugly strip of torn black plastic, or the scent of lavender or some gently moving planks of wood can spark off a revelatory insight.   We were touched the youthful appetite to learn within some more ‘senior citizens’ and by the age-old wisdom in some Generation Y-ers.  Our erudite participants introduced us to a great quote by Rilke and we heard the word ‘panoply’ used in ordinary conversation.   We met Joey the dog.  And learned the real name of that statue we thought we knew so well.     Turns out it’s not Eros but the Angel of Christian Charity.   Amazing what you learn when you really look!

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Judging by this plaque on St James’ back door,
we are not the first people to have had the idea that
wisdom is everywhere when you really look around you

If you took part and want to add your own comments, please do so below.   Thanks for inviting us!

5 thoughts on “Piccadilly Circuitous…

  1. It was so fantastic to hear the stories of our group who had walked familiar streets finding new things to see. I was very moved by the energy this way of travelling generated amongst us: These streets in which people are both incredibly rich and desperately poor came alive for me in a completely new way. And the links that emerged with the Wisdom character in the Bible, who is a woman who stands at the crossroads and calls for justice, was wonderful for those of us who took part in this event from a Christian perspective. Thank you: a great experience.

  2. The event brought about a subtle shift in my understanding, in particular about my mother. On our walk, I was given a few assignments, two of which were “notice what attracts you, and notice what doesn’t” then later, “notice the beauty in everything you see”.

    It was easy finding beauty in Piccadilly, with its magnificent architecture, intricate art in every shop window, and the kindness of the city embedded in things like a public toilet, zebra crossing, maps, rails, etc.

    Amongst the things which I found unattractive were CCTV cameras, and grand posters of pompous and contrived models. Yet t-he most striking thing I found unattractive was -striking because it brought forth a deep issue in me- a sign that read “happy mother’s day”. I thought I’d already come to terms with my mother and I’s shared past. Why then, this feeling of repulsion? I was obviously still bound by our relationship.

    For 45 minutes we were asked to loiter, with a question in mind.
    My question inevitably became “how else can I approach my mother and I’s relationship?”

    Instead of walking around the city, I lay down on a pew inside our church. Having loitered for the past hour with honed awareness, when I lay on that pew, my mind and heart was relaxed, and receptive.

    Then the answer came. “Be a good example” it said. “Love her, accept her.”
    I felt relieved somehow.

    I don’t know how this insight will change our relationship. I don’t even know if I can live up to that insight. Yet indeed I was given insight, which was unexpectedly brought about by ‘Street Wise’.

    Thank you David and Jo for facilitating a nurturing event.

    • Thank you, Amy. You write beautifully about your experience. And remember, you can keep using the streets and asking the questions as relationships develop.

  3. “Street Wisdom” sounded distinctly odd to me. How could one possibly find an answer to any of life’s questions on the streets? I joined the group on a “give it a whirl” impulse and found it to be a profound experience. Being old and inevitably experiencing the physical and mental deterioration of loved ones, my question was “How do I cope with the future – particularly the prospect of widowhood?” Solitary, reflective walks form the basis of the course and it was on one of these that a visual image impacted on me most powerfully giving a pointer to the way forward. The specific details are not likely to be helpful to others, so I don’t give them here; suffice it to say it was an experience of such depth and power it is helpfully colouring my life now and I expect it to wield its influence long into the future. Street Wisdom is an astonishing experience. “Give it a whirl!”

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