What has always taken my breath away is the utter mystery of creatures, both animate and inanimate. There they are, givens, and here we are, creatures among other creatures, but with this difference, that we are rationally conscious of ourselves and also of these other creatures, and are amazed by them, by their power, their beauty, complexity— shall I say their “glory”?—and want somehow to know them, to encompass them, to participate in them. And then there is their Source, whose presence we may sense under and beyond, even within the creatures (a presence intimated paradoxically by our often experienced sense of its absence), but whom we cannot see or touch. This Source, this Absolute, this reality beyond finitude, is an even greater mystery than the creatures themselves; and it too, like creatures but at a still deeper level, we wish to know and be united with, to participate in.
True art, whatever its mode, enables us to touch this double mystery, which in fact is the one, simple, ultimate mystery, the mystery of being. Art enables us to enter into it and dwell there for a time. Precisely by focusing on and illuminating the particularity of some creaturely reality, it points at the same time beyond that reality to the Creator. In this sense, art has a sacramental function and power. Depending on the artist’s skill, it may enable us to experience for an instant the height and depth and breadth of Reality. And it is joy that we know then— joy because, finding ourselves caught up in that Reality, expanded mysteriously, fulfilled, we taste ultimacy for a moment. The experience is indescribable: utterly ourselves even as we are lifted out of ourselves, we come to rest in our proper place.
What drives me to create is this hunger to touch the mystery of being and to find this momentary rest in the swift course of life on earth. I have been writing poems and taking photographs since I was 13 years old. At the age of 29, at the end of a time of intense searching, I experienced a powerful conversion from ignorant indifference towards the Christian tradition to vital faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Thirsty for Truth if it existed, I had asked God to open my eyes and heart. His answer had been to reveal to me Jesus, the Messiah. After this, it took me a long time to find my new bearings, artistically speaking. Coming to know personally, by revelation though the Holy Spirit, the One whom Christians believe to be the Word of God through whom the world was made, profoundly alters one’s perspective on everything. From being enclosed within four walls, one finds oneself suddenly in an open space full of unexpected wonders, with light pouring down out of heaven, the shadows much sharper than they were before, and all four horizons expanding to infinity. But the infinity is no longer empty, the vast space of the world is no longer blank. Faith finds, in both space and time, the Author of Reality.
He may be found in the beauty of his creatures, in the splendour (and the quirkiness) of their forms. Space and the beings in it are lit up and intensified. They seem bathed in eternity, no longer the mere objects of time’s manipulations. This vision inspires my photography and is the chief reason why the exploration of memory is essential in my poetry. Memory, I believe, relates us not just to the past but also to the future— God’s future. It contains the essences of events, and where these events were good, the essences like perfume distilled from flowers, yield up what one might call scents from heaven.
Faith opens out time. Time deepens, thickening backward, historically and cosmically, and forward eschatologically, to the fulfilment of Creation in the Kingdom of God, beyond the horror of death. All that is, which the Christian believes to be created and not simply the result of chance-plus-time, begins to pulse, dance, shine. What was once ordinary to our eyes becomes extraordinary. Everything is enhanced, luminous, drenched with the Presence of God. And— most wonderful of all— every creature, animate and inanimate, starting with oneself, is now significant, because, by virtue of the Messiah’s cross and resurrection, the tragic dimension of human history is no longer that history’s ultimate measure of meaning.
At the aesthetic level, such a way of seeing things is akin to the natural way of seeing of any true artist. Once I had become acclimated to the new world I was living in, my artistic impulses found themselves perfectly at home there. My ministry as a priest and pastor and my labour as a poet came to complement each other happily. It became my passionate concern to deliver up my experiences on this new world as truly as I could. What follows are a few of my offerings, which I hope may provide a spark of joy to my readers.
As the great poet, Jorge Luis Borges, said, 'Truly fine poetry must be read aloud'. With this in mind, please enjoy the ever growing collection of George Hobson's poems which have been read aloud by the author. Coming soon on this page: poems from his unpublished collection of Love Poems.