I have had three “Moments of Nakedness” recently. By this I mean moments when you feel so close to something, a thought, an understanding, a person, a moment of seeing or hearing, that you feel like you are naked within this moment of before it.
The first one was while watching the commemorations for the First World War battle of Paschendale, on the TV, held at the Menin Gate in Ypres in Belgium, through which hundreds of thousands of British soldiers, mostly very young, marched to their deaths at the front not far away a hundred years ago. One of the worst and most wasteful battles ever. This ceremony, with a relatively few involved, was grief-stricken, moving, beautiful, tear-jerking, in a way that the larger scale commemorations at a huge battlefield cemetary nearby next day didn’t match. At the Menin Gate, it was intimate, a “naked moment” for all involved.
The second one was listening to a piece of music composed jointly by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass, called Passages, performed live for the first time at the Proms in a packed Albert Hall. The piece is meditative, sad, uplifting and fun at different times, a merging of Eastern and Western music and thought. For all the hugeness of the Albert Hall, it was a moment of intimacy, a special moment between all the players, which reached the audience, and even to me watching on catch-up TV…. a Naked Moment. I’ve sent for the CD of this work, but it won’t be the same as this engaging live performance…..
The third moment was at the end of a tough summer school in New Testament Greek I have just been doing for two weeks at a cathedral near me. Sweating it out with all that difficult Greek grammar, nearly gave up at times, and was one of the worst in class. Nevertheless, all worth it on the last afternoon, when we slaved away at two short New Testament passages translating the Greek. One was from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel, and the other was from the Last Supper account, in Luke’s gospel. It took us hours just to work at these short passages. And yet, it was so real, you felt like you were in the same room while the Last supper was going on, or beside the Sea of Galilee; you could smell the sea, see the large crowd, it was that close and real. Reading it in translation doesn’t have the same effect as this, and it was quite unexpected! A real moment of nakedness…..
In the above quilt wall hanging, called “Presence”, I tried to depict a feeling of closeness, presence, of another person, a spiritual moment of closeness. No pretenses, no hidden agendas, no formality, no polite conversation, just you and them. What I call a moment of nakedness.