Sunday 22nd November: ‘Differences’

Sunday 22nd November: Differences

We had two different hosts for November’s assembly, Rob and Mikey, who led us through an inspiring itinerary on the theme of ‘Differences’.

To start things off, Louise Taylor read her poem, ‘The Lightbulb’, which she described as ‘a poem about a journey to make a difference’.  In the poem, when insecurity surfaced, her confidence was bolstered by ‘Nick’ who spiritedly advised ‘when the light goes on, start dancing’ and declared that ‘we are the creators of all that we see’.  My favourite was the heart-warming line, ‘I’ve learnt much from my mistakes; so I think I’ll make some more’. Great advice!  (Louise’s book, ‘You can’t cook a poem like an egg’ is available here).

For our Science Slot, Richard Robinson gave us a fascinating insight into the behaviour of bees…as well as that of human beings.  He opined that ‘we are individuals, we are ourselves, we are different, but we like to gather as a crowd and share things together: sadness; joy; wonder‘.  He made the comparison that bees, like us, are individuals but like to group together in order to share information and experiences: it’s just a matter of balancing the two!  He stressed the importance of different voices and opinions in discussions, and heralded the benefits of parliamentary democracy.  He concluded:  ‘Vive la difference: difference gives you traction, but it is more than that….La Vie is only possible if there is la difference’.

Our main speaker was Ali Lapper, MBE, a disabled British artist who was famously featured on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth from 2005-2007 as the subject of the sculpture ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’.   Born without arms and with shortened legs and institutionalised from birth, Ali spoke of the term used to describe her at a young age, ‘a strange little creature’.  In her childhood, Ali was not initially aware of her differences as she grew up amongst 250 children like her.  As she got older, she strived to look like everybody else in the broader population, and was fitted with prosthetic limbs, though these were so artificial that she related more to the Daleks on TV than to the people around her.  She felt different, ugly, and people surmised that because of her disability she would not be able to have children.  When she learnt to drive, she felt as though she’d been given wings and her independence allowed her confidence to grow.  She moved to London and, determined to avoid returning to care, she embarked on the pursuit of a ‘normal’ life.  But she still felt different.  During her fine art degree, she began to question (as so many of us do at some point in our life) ‘what do I look like?  How do I feel about myself?  How do I feel about the way I look?’.  She became aware that as a human being, she experiences compassion, love, anger, frustration and empathy just as everyone else does, and learnt to accept herself as she is, no longer striving to fit an image influenced by the perceptions of other people.  Gradually, though, she began to realise that perhaps she wasn’t so different to everybody else…..and was disappointed!  She realised that she’d liked being different!  She has subsequently spent her life embracing being different.  She enjoys being who she is.  She advocates: ‘embrace the difference and be proud of it!’

Our final reading was an interpretation of our anecdotal ‘This Much I Know’ slot, and one of our regular congregants, Sam, read an incredibly personal poem, titled ‘Different’, which summed up the theme beautifully.

As always, we were accompanied by our wonderful choir and band, with guitarists Paul and Chris choosing to interpret the theme by playing their unconventional ‘Flying-V’ guitars.

Do come and join us for our next assembly on the THIRD Sunday in December (20th) when we will explore the tradition of ‘Feasts’.  We will also be having a food collection for the Brighton Food Bank so please bring along un-opened, in-date non-perishables.

And if you would like to join us for our festive social, come along to the function room at the Northern Lights on Saturday 12th December from 7pm (see our events page or Facebook for details).

Look forward to seeing you in December!

Jo x

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