<-- Google Analytics START --> <-- Google Analytics END -->

john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009
    Psychogeography and the hospital lift
    At St Bride's this morning to give the Theology and Modernity discussion group a paper titled Towards a Theology of Urban Walking, featuring some material you'll know if you've heard me at Greenbelt, and quite a lot you won't because it's new [download pdf here].

    Excellent conversation afterwards as we each offered attempts (in the words of Will Self) 'to unpick this conundrum, the manner in which the contemporary world warps the relationship between psyche and place'. Particularly memorable was John's confession that in all his years as a hospital chaplain he'd never regarded the numerous daily journeys up and down in the hospital lift as anything other than functional. Having heard me describe the functional - motorway service stations, shopping centres etc - in terms of their promise, potential, deep meaningfulness, John realised that he'd missed out on a world of profound experiences by keeping quiet in the lift.

    After all, we realised, the journey in a hospital lift is for most people a significant one: for the person visiting their loved one just recently rushed into an emergency ward; for the new member of nursing staff en-route to a challenging assignment; for the doctor knowing they're about to have to face making a difficult, life or death decision, for the vulnerable chaplain pondering what they'll find when they meet the distressed family... Journeys in hospital lifts are crucial, consequential, even transformational. There's so much to be said, in a hospital lift, which could be significant, and so little time in which to say it. The challenge of breaking a silence, winning trust, making meaningful conversation - all in a matter of seconds: one which John wishes he'd taken up. Me: I feel a hospital lift poem maybe coming on.

    Towards a Theology of Urban Walking: pdf