Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lent inwards leant outwards

leant outwards lent inwards copy

voyage sculpture hull

The photographs show the ‘Voyage’ sculpture on Hull’s Victoria Pier. It leans outwards towards the sea in a deeply symbolic gesture of solidarity towards its unseen and far off sister sculpture ‘For’ on the Icelandic coast at Vik. Sculptress Steinnun Thorarinsdottir said she “was inspired by people who made their living on the sea, and the loved ones who waited on shore, longing for their return.”

These two sculptures express the bond that exists between the people of Hull and their seafaring counterparts in Iceland, forged over a thousand years.

To my eyes the symbolism of leaning outwards towards that which we cannot see but to which we are bound in love is profound, not least in this season of Lent. Set high on its plinth the sculpture embodies an unshakeable commitment to the beloved. It depicts an unchanging attitude of love. An outward looking perspective of grace. Two individual works of art, yet one in togetherness, the sculptures incline towards each other across the expanse of cold ocean which separates them.

The poet Carol Rumens wrote ‘The image of me’ to celebrate the dedication of ‘Voyage’. She says of it: “I am imagining that the sculpture speaks. The message is that only by voyaging can we find out that the foreign is not exotic or dangerous, but very much like ourselves. I think the paired sculptures express that idea, and I wanted to do the same.”

Lent is just such a voyage in faith. The inner soul work of Lent is a voyage across the uncharted oceans of self. A voyage made possible by God who inclines towards us unceasingly and waits to greet us on the far shore of our identity, in the open handed love of Jesus. And Lent inwards, we are then better able to be leant outwards in love towards others, just as was Jesus.


How it hurts my spine
To voyage on land;
Unbraced, to lean
Into the wind
And, sightless, strain
To the far strand.

On the far strand
Where night is day
You’ll find black sand
That sings, they say,
Ships that are horned,
And no friend.

And no friend
Am I, unknown
To myself, a thin
Ripple of ocean,
Cast and christened,
A fixed notion –

Fixed, until
From this aching stand
I leap, and fill
Like a sail, to find
What my shore-bound mind
Could never see –

The image of me.


  1. Love the picture and the poem, maybe we should be lent inwards....

  2. Let's hope that Lent will do just that Sally (which for ministers is quite a feat given the outward leaning busyness.)

  3. Interesting I've just been reading Eugine Peterson's book the Contemplative Pastor; he challenges us to be unbusy and subversive- both of which sit well with me, but may not be so well received!

  4. the pic & poem speak so well together... to be inclined in and out...and just enough off balance to sense the right amount of panic to focus us wonderfully. this is the picture i will carry inside for this lent--thanks for your work, dave.