2021 Review Fresh Expressions Thought of the Day


What does pioneering look like?

Perhaps some of you are thinking about the wild west. Cutting blazes on trees to mark a path through the Appalachian forests? Or Royal Naval officers blundering foolhardy into unmapped landscapes determined to preserve their Englishness through custom and dress, even if it meant frostbite and cannibalism.

Books like Kepharts “Book of Camping and Woodcraft” (1906) are practical guides for those who read stories like “The Dog Crusoe” (same year) and have bought in to the dream of the outdoors. The pictures of shelters and tents, or sourdough recipes are over a century old now. At the same time as we are sending helicopters to survey Mars though, people are trecking over glaciers with homemade 1000 year old technology.

Pioneering isn’t just about geographical exploration though. The books of games on my shelf are practical guides which help pioneer the construction of community in the post modernity social wilderness of vanishing industry both urban and rural. Billie Smith was one of Edinburgh’s first guidance teachers. The wilderness she worked in is probably less than a mile away from you.

My bookends of “Ash and Elm” and “My Ninian” are also a life story and a practical handbook. The imaginative retelling of the story of the first named pioneer bishop in the British Isles stands at the beginning. Recent research that can provide solid building material for those who are discovering their identity in Heathen spiritual narratives stands at the other end.

If you’d like to look at a practical guide about what Quartz is, or could be, then I suggest reading this “Grove” booklet. On pioneering mission. It is, at least, an introduction – the thing about wilderness though is that you can only learn to live in it if you learn from the people for whom it is already home.

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