Monday, June 09, 2008


last night saw the last ikon gathering of the term in the black box.

this is the piece i wrote and performed.
the blurb that follows was not used last night and is intended for the ikon wiki, where a written version of the gathering is being constructed as we write.


:: Nothing::

When Pilate asked, “What is truth?”
The man who stood bound and barely upright
before him with swollen eyes and bloodied split lip

“What is truth?”

What Pilate got for an answer
was the terrible gift of silence…


I have nothing.
Nothing to sell.

What is to come
Is not a commodity,
Will not be
Cannot be
Packaged, marketed, advertised, pitched, branded,
Bought or
There will be no free binder with part one,
No special offer for new subscribers,
No interest free credit for 12 months,
It cannot be charged to your account.


I have nothing.
Nothing to say,
Or at least, nothing worth saying…

What is to come
Cannot be written.
If I write – I write out of DISsatisfaction
Every line, every Word,
Is a striving, desperate attempt
To uncover truth
To express the real
The authentic
The meaning filled
And every stroke of
the nib on the page
is Failure.


I have nothing.
Nothing to speak.

What is to come
Cannot be said.
Not uttered,
Not mentioned.
What is to come
Lies deep beneath words
In the place where there is only silence.
The closest we can manage most of the time is
A cry of despair
A howl of pain
A lover’s gasp
The first breathe of air we draw
And the last we exhale.

What is to come
Cannot be explained
Cannpt be systemised
Or made doctrinally correct.
It can only be done


What IS to come?

I do not know…

But something that is more like nothing
Pulls Hope from me
Drags me on when I would give up.
For what is to come
Is not an answer
But a Possibility…


Blessed are you who are at the end of your rope
For you know just how much you need,
How priceless Hope really is

It is you
Who see the man with swollen eye and bloodied lip
For who he really is
You, who have nothing,
(Not even words…)

You, in your desperation,
You will hear truth in that
Terrible silence that is a gift…

You who have Nothing,
You who have Nothing to lose,
You who expect Nothing,
You who have felt
The Loss
And the cost.
Who are empty
Like a tomb
You, who are a cup -
Perpetually waiting…
Waiting to be filled.
You who are without
Anymore words…

You are closer to something like truth
Than you have ever been…


I have Nothing.
Nothing to sell.
Nothing but hope in Hope itself


Silence is a terrible gift.
Nothing… is a gift.


Author’s afterword:

This piece returns to a theme I have explored time and again in ikon gatherings: hope in absence – finding life in spite of pain, particularly loss, and in spite of ourselves.
The starting point came from Jon Hatch, who in discussion noted the idea that writers (and indeed all creative artists), can be seen to create out of dissatisfaction rather than satisfying fulfilment. We write another line or paint another painting because of what we have not yet said – that art is an attempt to express that which is just beyond our fingertips. But we keep coming back to try again. This resonated and so I took it away to see where that frustration took me. Since many of the other elements in the gathering were selling something, and prefiguring the gift we were to later offer those present, the authentic alternative appeared to be to have Nothing to sell, or to say. And of course, that inexpressibility is an echo of our idolatry in trying to pin down the unnameable name of the divine.
This piece marries, and again, not for the first time, my own motifs with central images from Frederick Buechner’s “Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairytale”, which has influenced and haunted me more than any other theological text– particularly that of Pilate and Jesus meeting, and gospel, “as silence before it word”.
See also, John D Caputo’s “The Weakness of God” – specifically, the notions of the “to come” and “hope in hope itself”.


  1. ah brilliant. i was going to ask you today where the 'hope in hope itself' came from. i loved your piece last night.

    hope in hope itself. i remember hoping so hard in someone else and reading something about not trusting in man but 'putting your hope' in god, as if you could physically lift it out of its place and set it elsewhere. quite handy at the time. thanks for the memory. xx

  2. SO GOOD!!
    thank you.

  3. This is so powerful, thank you...
    will ikon be at greenbelt this year?

  4. hey cary
    long time no speak - jude has filled me in tho...
    would you be ok with this finding its way to the gb website?

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  6. Paul

    feel free to steal it for the site. i feel genuinely honoured.

    we're tarting up the ikon site this week and putting all the material from the gathering up, so please link to

    yes, ikon will be at gb although in a different form to usual. we get to have a year without the 'big event'and instead provisional plan is we are doing an interactive creative workshop for practitioners from emerging communities to what we now call 'evandalism' and some kind of Q&A, or is it Q&Q session (which'll probably have some kind of ikonic twist) to explore provocative questions for the emerging community. and ourselves.

    so, yeah, it's gonna be a different year but i'm hoping also more relaxed than usual. doing the centaur thing is a privilege but also a lot of very hard work. we'll put a lot of effort into this but it'll be v different. a kind of going behind the scenes.