Tag: poem

The power of place

A group of us at my church recently shared in a Quiet Day led by our Archdeacon Vanessa.

Her addresses were about different aspects of Prayer – Prayer and silence; Prayer and Place; Prayer and Time; Prayer and the Senses.

Each one has its own way of inspiring and creating reflection. We were encouraged to engage with the gift of silence to ourselves, each other, and especially to God. We were also encouraged to receive the Gift of prayer to us from God and seek the Holy Spirit at work within us. In a beautiful phrase we were to sense ‘God speaking to God from within.’

Looking at Prayer and Place, Vanessa prompted us to think of the places where God has been easily found. She herself, spoke to us of Lastingham in the Cleveland Hills in North Yorkshire. Here the Saxon monk Cedd, pupil of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, set up a monastery. This same Cedd brought the Gospel to Essex, to Bradwell which was consecrated by his presence and his prayer.

I haven’t been to Lastingham for many years but Vanessa opened up the memory and the experience within me. Below is the poem that I felt encouraged to write.

With it is a poem by Piers who was at the Quiet Day. Inspired, this time by the Abbey of Bec Hellouin in Normandy. Bec in the past supplied us with three Archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc, Anselm and Theobald. Bec still has a special relationship with Canterbury Cathedral. Today, only the tower remains of the Norman Abbey but a community of monks live in buildings near the tower. A sister community of nuns live in a convent a short distance away and on Sundays and Feast Days, the monks and nuns worship together. The serene and beautiful worship in their chapel inspired the first of the poems.

Both locations express the essence of what Vanessa spoke of to us. Thin places where heaven touches earth and God feels very near.

l’Abbaye du Bec

In my mind’s eye, I return:
cream quietness…
light bathing ordered stone,
the scent of sung prayer hanging low.

Immanence re-discovered.

Piers Northam
10 July 2021



Lastingham

I come to this place,
deep in the hills,
where silence and conversation
meld into stillness.

God is here,
his sanctuary a stone rainbow
over the seeker after meaning.

What am I looking for in this place,
where the one who drew others to their knees,
poured out his soul?

I sense and seek the company
of the one who prayed here first,
in the shadows of sweeping arches,
pillars and faint light.

Seemingly impermeable rock  
– steeped in suffering and joy;
pain and perfection; faltering hope
and confident determination – 
enfolds me as I kneel with Cedd:

exhaling uncertainty…
…inhaling God’s blessing and his love.

Geoffrey Connor
10 July 2021

Photos:
The Apse Chapel Pennant Melangell Church Mr.G
Abbey Church Bec Hellouin Piers Northam
Crypt, Lastingham Church. Parish of Lastingham

Dawn Chorus

My friend, Joyce Smith, has sent a Tweet about Nature’s heralding of Spring. Last Sunday was International Dawn Chorus Day (there’s always something for everyone!) and this Robin obliged by turning up in Joyce’s garden and giving a deeply spirited performance.

It got me thinking and so here’s a poem –

At the Break of Day

The Orchestra of Light tunes up;
Trying out riffs and practising scales
Cock clears his throat, ‘Ahem …  a-doodle-doo!’
Songthrush bustles importantly
into the auditorium –‘They rely on me to begin, you know.’
‘Not so’, cuts in Robin, with Blackbird on the wing,
‘We are well-known early risers
our song is eagerly awaited!’
Little Wren, never one to push,
slips onto the stage, 
apologizing profusely for her small stature.
‘Small, but beautifully formed’ says Mr Owl
on his way to bed,
‘sing me to sleep little one.’
The chiffchaff flies into the melée
of slowly gathering sound
as Chaffinch and Sparrow take a bow.
Mr Cock raises his beak,
‘Ladies and gentlemen, shall we begin?
Please open your music
at the ‘Dawn Chorus’,
written, I believe, by God.’

Mr. G.

12th May 2021

Gethsemane

Christ in Gethsemane. Michael O’Brien

Gethsemane

This is his Passion.
Darkness wraps around his very being,
not a warming cloak  but a shroud.
Silence, punctured by friends
snoring off  the wellbeing of food,
minds sloshed with wine.
Alone with the shivers of the night,
everything in him protests.

Sometimes, when we know our destiny,
our minds close.
Not this! No! Never!
But our hearts are our undoing:                                 
our resolve begins; ends there.

So he battles with his need to say ‘Yes’,
for himself, for others,
for us.
How else can the world know what it is to be loved?

Kneeling on the damp ground,
tense, numb,
scared, uncertain, he waits.

And the Father waits too as demons and angels whirl,
stirring up the black air, a vortex of cosmic battle.
Below them, sweat drops as blood.

And still the Father waits, listening expectantly,
daring to hope…

God wrestling desperately with God
with everything – just everything – at stake.
This really is the Passion.

He sighs, deeply,
calm descends.“Yes, let it be.”
The Father wraps his love around him
– and so too around us.

Holy Tuesday 2021

(inspired by St. Luke 22:39-46)

[Mr G]

Watering Holes

The posting we did a little while ago, which centred on Elephants, inspired my friend Gill Henwood to write a poem about ‘Watering holes’, places where we find refreshment in our journey through life. A journey which is spiritual as well as physical. Gill is fed, too, by the countryside of the Lake District where she lives. Nature is always a source of opening our hearts, minds, souls and Cumbria is one of those places which are ‘thin’, places where God is very near and where heaven and earth are within touching distance. In these difficult days, Gill takes up her theme of Living Water.

The ‘tarn’ referred to is Tarn Hows and the ‘Lake’ is Coniston Water.

Watering Hole

Elephants gathering at precious watering holes 
weathering the drought of hot summer, 
water, life-giving, cleansing, refreshing, 
joyful in splashing spray
and, if you have a trunk, 
spraying about!

We in our Covid drought,
seek  a precious watering hole
where  God provides
the living-water we need
to weather this long unseasonable time.

So the little beck wriggles its way down fell,
trickles under ice
to find its way into the tarn
before waterfalling through woods
into the tributary that feeds the lake.

Shower us.
Refresh us
with your living spring of water. *

*John 4:14

[Gill Henwood January 2021]

The Beck at Tarn Hows photographed by Gill Henwood